Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A New Role

I spent the morning yesterday repackaging 10 antique quilts into storage boxes at the Queen Emma Summer Palace in Nu'uanu Valley. The palace is one of two Hawaiian royal palaces operated by Daughters of Hawaii, a lineage society like DAR or the Mayflower Society. In this one, you have to have an ancestor who was living in Hawaii by 1880. In my case, that is my Hawaiian great-grandmother Kina.

Emma (1836-1885) was the wife of Alexander Liholiho, who reigned from 1855-1874 as King Kamehameha IV. Emma was responsible for establishing Queen's Hospital, today the 500+ bed hospital where my father spent two weeks in November and December, 2008. Emma brought medical services to the Hawaiian people (distinct from others who lived in Hawaii). It was at her invitation that the Anglican church came to Hawaii, and that two Anglican nuns arrived to open a school for girls. The story handed down in my family is that Emma called on all her relatives and friends to send their daughters to the new school. That was 1867.

When Kina was old enough, she left Hana on the island of Maui to attend Queen Emma's school, St. Andrew's Priory, in Honolulu. She wouldn't stay long, for at 14 she gave birth to her first child. She was only 19 when my grandmother, her 5th child, was born in November 1888. By September 1891 Kina was pregnant with child #7. Daughters 5 and 6 were by her current partner, who put the two little girls in the care of the nuns at St. Andrew's Priory, and took Kina to California. The couple returned to Hawaii the following month and separated shortly after. Their daughters remained at the Priory until they married. Our family owes a great deal to Queen Emma.

The quilts which were the object of yesterday's exercise had been part of a 3-month exhibit in the Summer Palace, and were demanding attention. We folded them in acid-free paper, repackaged them in their storage boxes, and returned the boxes to their shelves. It's fun to be back in an all volunteer museum setting. Although this one is quite different from -- and substantially older than -- our little museum in Groveland, there are lots of similarities. The real work is done in the basement, with minimal storage room. The quilt boxes fight for space with shelves of koa bowls, china, clothing, the family bible, and artwork from the second half of the 19th century. This is in addition to the whole furnished house that makes up the museum upstairs. There are photo albums, a box of unsorted photographs, CDs with more photographs. The Daughters need a real librarian to organize their meager library -- our HRC library in Groveland is every bit as good for its purpose as the Daughters of Hawaii book collection. The DOH clipping file is far more extensive than the GYGM files, but I suspect the GYGM databases are at least equal to those of DOH.

Now it's decision time. The History Committee meets on Tuesdays. They are a small working group. The Quilting group meets on Wednesdays. They are a social group. I cannot run away for two meetings every week. So do I work for two weeks with the History committee and two weeks with the quilters? Do I pass on the quilting and just do the history work? I don't think so!

Look for good things. Give thanks. Don't forget to pray ....

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