Judge Lyle A. Dickey (1868-1946) was the son of Charles Henry Dickey, a lawyer and general business agent in Honolulu who served as a lieutenant in the Fourth Illinois Cavalry during the American Civil War.
His mother, Anne Elizabeth Dickey, was the daughter of Rev. William Patterson Alexander and Mary Ann Alexander, American Protestant missionaries to the Kingdom of Hawaii who were stationed at Waioli, Kauai, from 1834 to 1843.
Dickey graduated from Yale in 1891, earned his law degree from the Chicago School of Law in 1894 and practiced law in Chicago for a year before returning home to Hawaii in 1895 to continue his practice of law in Honolulu.
He served as judge of the District Court of Honolulu from 1901 until 1904, and was the judge of the Fifth Circuit Court on Kauai from 1912 to 1919, after which he went into private practice in Lihue until his retirement in 1941.
In the aftermath of the bloody confrontation between striking Filipino sugar workers and police at Hanapepe on Sept. 9, 1924, in which 16 strikers and 4 policemen were killed, Dickey served as the defense attorney for 72 strikers indicted for riot.
Of those defendants, 56 were convicted by a jury in Judge William C. Achi’s court in November 1924 and were imprisoned.
Dickey, an authority on Kauai history, collected and studied Hawaiian string figures, and was the author of “String Figures from Hawaii.”
These string figures, called “hei,” which predate Captain Cook’s arrival in Hawaii in 1778, are made by looping string around and between one’s fingers to form complex patterns.
By 1928, Dickey had amassed a fairly complete collection of 115 Hawaiian string figures representing love affairs, animal life, turtles, shrimp, fish, crabs, geography, mountains, springs, places, potatoes, stars, bridges, houses, fishnets, calabash nets, eyes, navels, breasts and people in well-known stories and legends.