Lookin’ back at the good ole days

  • Contributed Kekaha resident Chris Cook is a former editor of The Garden Island, and will discuss the arrival of missionaries on Kauai at Saturday's Old Timers' Day at The Storybook Theatre of Hawai‘i in Hanapepe.

  • Courtesy Chris Cook This portrait of George Prince Kaumuali‘i was printed in 1822 in a Foreign Mission School fundraising engraving titled "Four Owyhean Youths," based on portraits by Samuel F.B. Morse.

  • Mark Jeffers / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Community members read through pieces of history at The Storybook Theatre of Hawai‘i’s Old Timers’ Day event in 2019, in Hanapepe.

  • Mark Jeffers / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Old Timers’ Day in Hanapepe is marked by a tour of the town, including The Storybook Theatre of Hawai‘i’s location in the center of town.

  • Mark Jeffers / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Gerald Hirata, president of Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji in Hanapepe, talks about the late U.S.Sen. Sparky Matsunaga at a previous Old Timers’ Day in Hanapepe.

Hear stories about Hawaiian history in Hanapepe on Saturday during The Storybook Theatre of Hawai‘i’s fourth annual Hanapepe Old Timers’ Day, when storytellers come out to bring the good ‘ole days back to life.

It’s a day of music, history and food. Starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8, the gathering features special guests out and about in Hanapepe, telling stories of the past.

Slides and photos are all on tap, as well as plenty of talk-story opportunities.

MCS Grill is providing lunch for a donation at 11 a.m., and then at noon Chris Cook takes the stage for the main event.

In the spotlight this year is the Rev. Samuel Ruggels, a young Connecticut man who established a mission church and school at Hanapepe in the late 1810s.

Telling the story is Cook, a local author and Kaua‘i trustee on the board of trustees of the Hawaiian Mission Houses.

Cook said this topic comes at the perfect moment, as the Hawai‘i Mission Bicentennial is being commemorated across Hawai‘i in the spring of 2020.

Two days of events are scheduled on Kaua‘i on May 2 and 3, with breakfasts, tours and a historic re-enactment of missionaries landing at the Russian Fort in Waimea.

The Ruggels story on Saturday will take the audiance through the life of the young man, who took big risks and was one of the first two American Protestant missionaries to land on Kaua‘i.

The other of the two was also named Samuel, last name Whitney. When the two landed on Kaua‘i on May 2, 1820, they had with them Humehume, long lost son of King Kaumuali‘i.

Humehume had been sent to New England for education when he was a child.

Kaumuali‘i met the group when they landed that day, and then granted land and support to missionaries as they settled.

The story touches on the founding of the Hanapepe mission station in 1824, and provides insight to missionary life in the 19th century.

“The roots of the pillars of Hawai‘i’s modern society trace back to the contributions of the American missionaries,” Cook said.

Examples he cites are spreading literacy through printing and opening schools, making Hawai‘i one of the most literate nations in the world within a generation, introducing Western medicine to combat introduced diseases that were killing off the Native Hawaiian people, bringing Western law that complimented the kapu laws of the ali‘i, and melodious music and singing that led to the Hawaiian music of today.

After Cook’s telling of the story of the Ruggels Mission Station, Storybook Theatre is hosting a town walk throughout the afternoon, where participants can get more information about the history of Hanapepe and its relation to the rest of Kaua‘i.


Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Roger Hokansson February 7, 2020 11:33 pm Reply

    why celebrate invaders and disease bringers? me as an outsider wouldn’t

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.