The Kauai Historical Society’s early days

At a meeting held on Thursday evening, May 7, 1914, at the Library Rooms of the old Lihue Union Church in Pua Loke, the Kauai Historical Society was organized with William Hyde Rice — Kauai’s last governor — as president, Rev. John M. Lydgate, vice-president, and Elsie Wilcox, secretary- treasurer.

The society was established by them to collect and preserve information and data relative to the bygone history of Kauai, and all persons interested in the history of Kauai were eligible for membership, with meetings being held quarterly.

On June 18, 1914, the Kauai Historical Society’s second meeting was held at the church library, Mr. Rice (1846-1924) presiding, with the first order of business being Elsie Wilcox’s reading of a letter from Josephine Wundenberg King offering her assistance to the society in the way of reminiscences of historical interest around Hanalei.

Then Rev. Lydgate, Samuel W. Wilcox and others recommended, and it was thereafter so voted, that Rev. Orramel H. Gulick, William O. Smith, Frances Johnson, William. E. Rowell and Judge Jacob Hardy be elected to honorary membership.

Rev. Lydgate, followed by Robert W. T. Purvis, then presented their talks on the fate of the USS Saginaw, which encompassed its shipwreck at Kure Atoll on Oct. 29, 1870; the attempt to get help by five Saginaw volunteers sailing to Hawaii in a longboat — a voyage that ended in the deaths of four of them when the boat capsized in rough seas on the reef offshore of Hanalei Bay on Dec. 19, 1870 — and the rescue, on Jan. 4, 1871, of the remainder of Saginaw’s 88-man crew stranded on Kure Atoll.

Afterwards, Rice recited and defined a number of ancient Hawaiian proverbs and related a section of his collection of Hawaiian legends.

Finally, it was decided that one of the features of the next meeting would be the submission of facts of a historical nature in and around Waimea by Judge Christopher B. Hofgaard.


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