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[TIMELINE] Hawaii's Merchant Prince - Chun Afong (1825-1906)

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  • madchinaman
    HAWAII S MERCHANT PRINCE http://www.downwindproductions.com/fort_derussy3.html In the nineteenth century this site was the Chun Afong Villa, home to the first
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29 3:37 PM
      HAWAII'S MERCHANT PRINCE
      http://www.downwindproductions.com/fort_derussy3.html


      In the nineteenth century this site was the Chun Afong Villa, home
      to the first Chinese millionaire in Hawai'i and his large family.
      Chun Afong came to Honolulu in 1849 and within six years made a
      fortune in retailing, real estate, sugar, rice and opium. He was a
      member of King Kalakaua's privy council, and married Julia
      Fayerweather, of royal Hawaiian blood. Together they had thirteen
      daughters and three sons.

      In 1893 (the year Queen Lili'uokalani was illegally deposed by
      American businessmen), one of the Afong daughters, Henrietta
      Patrinella Kealaiki, married naval officer William Henry Whiting, a
      descendant of George Washington and a Civil War hero. The event was
      termed "the wedding of the year" by the Pacific Commercial
      Advertiser. The couple spent their first night as husband and wife
      at the Afong's Waikiki villa.

      The Afong property was located close to Ka'ihikapu loko, the largest
      fishpond in Waikiki at thirteen acres and likely established by the
      fifteenth century.

      The loko was named for one of Waikiki's pre-contact chiefs and
      celebrated in the legend of `Ouha and Mamala. `Ouha went to
      ka'ihikapu loko after the great surfrider Mamala left him for Chief
      Honokaupu. At the pond, `Ouha offered a basket of shrimp and fish to
      the women of the area. When he opened the basket, the creatures
      leaped out, and `Ouha fled in shame as the women laughed at him. He
      shed his human form and became the great shark-god who patrolled the
      coast between Waikiki and Koko Head.



      =========



      Hawaii's Merchant Prince
      by John Hollen
      http://hawaiimagazine.com/hawaiimag/detail.aspx?
      aid=2970&cid=700&category=


      -

      Among the early merchants Chun Afong became well known for his many
      successful business ventures. He arrived in Hawai`i in 1849 and
      married a member of the Hawaiian aristocracy. A part owner of the
      Pepeekeo Sugar Plantation on the island of Hawai`i for many years,
      he eventually sold his business holdings and in 1890 returned to
      China to spend the rest of his days, a goal desired by most men who
      came from China. (http://www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/hpd/hpcal89.htm)

      -


      One of the great talents of the late James Michener was his ability
      to take historical information and weave it into a wonderfully
      readable tale. He did this with great success in Hawaii by changing
      the names of the people involved and taking a little literary
      license with some of the facts. It's all historically accurate, but
      only in the broad sense, sort of like a spoonful of sugar to make
      the history go down.

      Not so with Bob Dye's new book Merchant Prince of the Sandalwood
      Mountains, Afong and the Chinese in Hawaii. Dye chronicles the life
      and times of his wife's great-great grandfather, Chun Afong, a man
      who arrived in Hawaii in the mid-1800s from the Pearl River Delta
      region of China and, through business savvy and hard work, became
      one of the richest and most prominent members of Hawaii's Chinese
      community.

      Although Merchant Prince focuses primarily on Chun Afong, his life
      and the struggles of Chinese immigrants to Hawaii, it's also a story
      for anyone interested in Hawaii during that turbulent, formative
      period.

      The people who pass through Afong's life are a historical Who's Who
      of Hawaii. Afong arrived during the reign of Kamehameha III and left
      during the final days of King David Kalakaua (in fact, Afong was a
      personal confidant of the king). Other names that are familiar to
      anyone who has spent time in Hawaii $#151 names such as Dole,
      Davies, Alexander, Baldwin, Bishop, Dillingham, Judd, Schofield,
      Spreckles, Wilder, Castle, Cooke and more $#151 are sprinkled
      throughout Afong's story.

      But Afong's life was more than famous names. As Dye says in the
      Prologue: "Afong not only went to the right places at the right
      times, he prospered in businesses that bankrupted others. Where
      other entrepreneurs saw Hawaii to be at the periphery of empire,
      Afong saw the Islands as the strategic center of a dynamic East-West
      market, free from the costly revolutions and wars that plagued other
      regions."

      Merchant Prince is also a personal story, and the personal dynasty
      Afong headed is the kind of thing they make television miniseries
      about. He had 20 children (16 by his Hawaiian-American wife, Julia,
      four more born in China); his son Alung was the first Chinese
      student to attend Hawaii's famous Punahou School. Afong's personal
      life, and the various relationships and entanglements of his
      children, friends and other family, his relationships with the rich
      and famous in Hawaii, mansions in Macau, Oahu's Nuuanu Valley, and
      his villa on Waikiki, all of this makes for a tale of great scope
      and intrigue.

      Afong's life has been written about before. American novelist Jack
      London "put words in his mouth" as Dye puts it, in his 1909 short
      story Chun Ah Chun, and Afong's great-grandson, Eaton "Bob" Magoon,
      Jr., brought his story to Broadway in 1961 in the musical 13
      Daughters, with the late Don Ameche as Afong.

      Those stories pale when compared with the real thing, however. Bob
      Dye is a respected Hawaii journalist and occasional contributor to
      Hawaii Magazine. His research is impeccable, but it's the larger-
      than-life story of Afong and his impact on Hawaii that will
      ultimately grab you and keep you engrossed.

      If you like Michener's Hawaii but long for real people doing real
      things, Dye's tale of Chun Afong and his turbulent, successful,
      fascinating life is one you'll want to read.

      Merchant Prince of the Sandalwood Mountains was published by the
      University of Hawaii Press. Hardcover, $35.


      ======


      CHINESE IN HAWAII
      http://www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/hpd/hpcal89.htm


      The Chinese have had contact with Hawai`i from as early as 1788 when
      some Chinese arrived on board the British ship lphiginia under
      Captain John Meares. This ship was engaged in the lucrative fur
      trade between the northwest coast of America and China and wintered
      in Hawai`i until Spring 1789. In celebration of the 200th
      anniversary of this early encounter, 1989 was heralded as the Year
      of the Chinese.

      The relationship between Hawai`i and China grew with passing years
      as sailing ships bearing furs to China stopped in Hawai`i for food,
      supplies, fresh water and repairs during the winter months. It was
      also a place for crew members, which included Chinese, to go ashore
      to relax. Tales of Hawai`i were told in China and after 1791 when
      the Chinese learned of sandalwood in Hawai`i the islands became
      known as Tan Heong Shan (Sandalwood Mountain), a name that remains
      in use even to this day. This wood was an important material for
      Chinese craftsmen and between 1810-1825, the height of its trade the
      monarchy derived a substantial income from sandalwood. The trees
      were harvested but not replanted, and after 1840 sandalwood was not
      exported.

      Enterprising Chinese considered Hawai`i a land of opportunity in
      contrast to conditions in China in the early 19th century. In 1802
      Wong Tze-Chun settled on Lana`i and grew sugar cane. With simple
      equipment he extracted juice and processed the sugar. He decided it
      wasn't feasible, so packed his equipment and returned to China.
      Other entrepreneurs came and established small sugar plantations on
      Hawai`i, Maui and Kaua`i in the 1820s and 1830s. They also setup
      other businesses and stores, and operated their own ships which
      brought workers from China. Many of the workers were employed in
      stores owned by relatives. Money earned was dispatched back to China
      to support other family members.

      Among the early businesses established during the 1830s was Samsing
      and Company, manufacturer of sugar at Waimea, Kohala and Hilo, which
      also had other enterprises. Another, Tyhune Store (Tai Hoong Wong),
      sold western and Chinese items and also owned vessels which shipped
      goods to and from China and serviced their neighbor island branch
      stores. The Atai Company owned the Canton Hotel in Honolulu.

      Among the early merchants Chun Afong became well known for his many
      successful business ventures. He arrived in Hawai`i in 1849 and
      married a member of the Hawaiian aristocracy. A part owner of the
      Pepeekeo Sugar Plantation on the island of Hawai`i for many years,
      he eventually sold his business holdings and in 1890 returned to
      China to spend the rest of his days, a goal desired by most men who
      came from China.

      In the 1840s, some of the sugar plantations were sold to western
      companies who used efficient steam engines. There was a great need
      for cheap labor, so the first load of Chinese laborers recruited in
      the Fukien and Canton ports, were brought on contract to Hawai`i in
      1852. Life on the sugar plantations was difficult, so at the end of
      their contract many workers returned to China or went into Hawai`i's
      urban areas to do other jobs.

      Rice cultivation was easier and many found employment on rice
      plantations owned by fellow Chinese. Often these rice plantations
      were established on former taro lands. Rice grew well in the
      islands, and much was exported to California and even to China. The
      industry continued into the twentieth century and brought an
      excellent income to owners. Chinese were also active in the poi
      industry, frequently growing the taro for their poi factories.

      With the increased demand for sugar and rice plantation laborers,
      the Chinese population greatly expanded in Hawai`i during the late
      1870s and 1880s, with over 1,000 people a year arriving during this
      period. After Hawai`i's annexation in 1898 by the United States,
      that nation's labor exclusion law affected the number of laborers
      brought to Hawai`i, but many Chinese continued to come independently
      as teachers, craftsmen, doctors and business people as well as wives
      and children of those already in Hawai`i. They became settlers and
      their children received good educations and helped Hawai`i to become
      what it is today. Their impact economically, socially and
      politically was outstanding and well known.

      The Chinese introduced many flowers, fruit trees and vegetables to
      Hawai`i in an effort to have things they were familiar with from
      their homeland. Coming from south China where the climate was
      tropical, the plants adjusted well to Hawai`i's balmy climate.
      People have enjoyed lichees, pomelo, certain species of mangoes,
      star fruit, dragon eye and others. The Chinese brought in popular
      lei flowers such as pikake, pakalana and stephanotis. A large
      variety of Chinese vegetables have become a part of Hawai`i's varied
      ethnic dishes: to name a few, won bok, mustard greens, Chinese
      parsley, lotus root, and various melons.

      The Chinese have become a part of the Hawaiian scene and yet retain
      many Chinese customs. The Narcissus Festival helps keep Chinese
      traditions alive for the younger generation and most of the other
      festivals such as New Years, Ching Ming, and the Moon Festival bring
      families together and involve food which other ethnic groups have
      learned to enjoy.
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