Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "Hawaiian Mission," Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 322-25
HAWAIIAN MISSION consists of the Latter-day Saints residing in the Territory of Hawaii, or on the Hawaiian group of islands lying in the Pacific Ocean between 18 and 23 degrees north latitude. The mission is divided into nine conferences, or districts, namely: Hamakua, Hilo, Kohala and South Hawaii on the Island of Hawaii; Honolulu and Oahu on the island of Oahu; Kauai (embracing the whole island); Maul (embracing all of that island except the Lahaina peninsula); and Molokai (embracing the islands of Molokai and Lanai and part of Maui). The Hawaiian Mission at the close of 1930 had a L. D. S. membership of 14,455, including one High Priest, one Seventy, 466 Elders, 151 Priests, 276 Teachers, 527 Deacons, 9,734 lay members and 3,560 children.
In 1843 four missionaries were called by the Church authorities in Nauvoo, Ill., to open up a mission among the inhabitants of Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. They sailed from New Bedford, Mass., in October, 1843, and after a long and tedious voyage by way of the Cape of Good Hope, three of the Elders arrived at the Island of Tubai May 1, 1844, one of their number having died at sea. It was the intention of these missionaries to commence their labors on the Hawaiian Islands, but finding the natives of Tubai anxious to have them stay with them, they remained on the South Pacific Islands, where they soon afterwards established the Society Islands Mission (q. v.)
In the latter part of 1850 a number of Elders, who for a short time had been employed around the gold diggings of California, were called by Apostle Charles C. Rich to open up a mission in Hawaii. Responding to the call, ten Elders, who had left their homes in Utah the year before, embarked on a sailing vessel at San Francisco, landing at Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 12, 1850. The names of these Elders were Hiram Clark (who had already filled several missions for the Church and was chosen as president of the mission to Hawaii), Henry W. Bigler, Thomas Morris, John Dixon, William Farrer, James Hawkins, James Keeler, Hiram H. Blackwell and George Q. Cannon. They were the first L. D. S. missionaries to labor on the Sandwich Islands. The following day (Dec. 13) they ascended a mountain near Honolulu, each carrying a stone.
An altar was erected, around which they knelt and offered prayer. It was then decided that Pres. Clark and Elder Whittle should remain on Oahu, while the rest, traveling two and two, should go to other islands. Not knowing the language, and being unaccustomed to the food and habits of the natives, some of the Elders soon became discouraged, and Elders Whittle, Blackwell and Dixon returned to America. On Feb. 10, 1851, Pres. Clark baptized a native boy, about 16 years of age, who could speak English quite well; this seems to have been the first native baptized on the Hawaiian Islands. Pres. Clark also baptized a white man named Blake, in whose company he shortly afterwards went to Tahiti (Society Islands). Elder Thomas Morris also left the islands, which left only five of the original company of Elders in Hawaii, namely, George Q. Cannon, James Keeler, William Farrer, Henry W. Bigler and James Hawkins. Elder Hawkins, after Elder Blackwell left, labored alone on the island of Hawaii, while Elders Cannon, Keeler, Farrer and Bigler remained on Maui. Elder Cannon, who already had acquired, in a remarkable manner, a knowledge of the Hawaiian language, made a trip alone around the island of Maui. While on this tour he baptized three well educated Hawaiians, namely, Napela, Uaua and Kaleohano, who later were ordained to the Priesthood and did splendid missionary work for the Church. Napela visited Salt Lake City in 1866 and received many blessings while there. Elder Cannon baptized many other natives, and the other American Elders also met with some success.
A branch of the Church was organized Aug. 6, 1851, in the village of Kealakou on the island of Maul, the first L. D. S. branch organized on the Hawaiian Islands. On Aug. 18, 1851, a conference was held at Honomanu, on Maui, on which occasion branches of the Church at Keanea, Wailua, Waianu and Honomanu were organized and several natives ordained to the Priesthood and appointed to preside over the branches. On this date, less than eight months after the arrival of the missionaries, the Church membership in Hawaii numbered 220; 196 of these were on the island of Maul. On Aug. 20, 1851, three other Elders from Zion, namely, Phillip B. Lewis, Francis A. Hammond and Joseph Woodbury, accompanied by their wives, arrived on the islands. Elder Lewis had been sent to succeed Elder Hiram Clark as president of the mission. The arrival of these Elders and others, who subsequently joined them, gave a fresh impetus to the mission, and at the close of 1853 the Church on the Hawaiian Islands had increased to 4,000 souls, and branches were functioning on all of the inhabited islands of the group. These branches were organized into conferences, one on each of the smaller islands, and more on the larger ones.
It was deemed advisable to establish a gathering place for the saints on one of the Hawaiian islands instead of encouraging their migration to America and a tract of land was therefore purchased by the Church on the island of Lanai, to which agricultural implements, building materials, seeds, etc., were transported in small boats and carried from the shore to the village on the shoulders of the natives. Elder Ephraim Green was placed in charge of the settlement, which was called Palawai, to which cattle, transported in scows (flat bottomed boats), were sent to the great amazement of the natives. Soon afterwards Elder Thomas Karren and Joseph F. Smith, the latter recently arrived on the islands, arrived at Lanai, to assist in the work of colonization. On Oct. 3, 1854, a townsite was surveyed on Lanai called the City of Joseph, and as fast as native saints could be taken care of they were gathered from the different islands to Lanai.
In 1854 the translation of the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language was commenced by Elder George Q. Cannon, assisted by Elder William Farrer and two or three educated natives. In 1855 the book was published in San Francisco, U. S. A., under the supervision of Elder Cannon, assisted by Elders Joseph Bull and Matthew Wilkie.
In 1858, in consequence of disturbed conditions in Utah, the missionaries on Hawaii were called home by Pres. Brigham Young and the mission was left in charge of native Elders.
In 1860 Walter M. Gibson, a man who had traveled quite extensively, joined the Church in Salt Lake City. After locating temporarily in Utah, Elder Gibson was called on a mission to the South Pacific Islands. But calling at the Hawaiian group en route and finding many members of the Church there, he concluded to commence operations among them. Representing himself as having been sent by Pres. Brigham Young to preside over the saints on Hawaii, and exhibiting his Elder's certificate, he established himself at Palawai and set up an organization to his own liking and, contrary to the order of the Church, he assumed extraordinary leadership. Courting the favor of the wealthier natives, he ordained them Apostles, High Priests, Bishops, etc., and set them apart to preside over the saints in different parts of the islands, receiving from them tribute in money, pearl shells, farm produce, etc., and even charging them for their priesthood certificates. Finally, some of the leading native saints, who had known the first missionaries, reported conditions to Pres. Brigham Young, who, in response, sent Apostles Ezra T. Benson and Lorenzo Snow, with Elders Joseph F. Smith, Alma L. Smith and Wm. W. Cluff, to Hawaii to investigate conditions. They arrived at the end of March, 1864, and their investigations led to the excommunication of Walter M. Gibson, while many of his followers were rebaptized and reinstated as members of the Church.
When Apostles Benson and Snow returned to America, they appointed Elder Joseph F. Smith, who had previously labored as a missionary on the islands, to preside. He was assisted by Elder Alma L. Smith, who succeeded him as president of the mission later the same year.
As Walter M. Gibson had defrauded the saints of their property on Lanai, a new gathering place was selected in 1865, to which the saints at Lanai were encouraged to come. The so-called Laie Plantation, containing about 6,000 acres of land, was purchased for the Church by Elder George Nebeker in the interest of the natives. This property is located on the northeast coast of Oahu. Elder Nebeker presided over the Hawaiian Mission for eight years (1865 to 1873), during which time a sugar factory was established at Laie to give employment to the native saints, who also raised much farm produce as well as sugar cane. Meeting and school houses were erected as well as a number of private residences, and thus Laie became a permanent L. D. S. settlement-a gathering place for the native saints and the headquarters of the Hawaiian Mission. In 1919, however, the Hawaiian Mission Office was moved to Honolulu.
As a number of Hawaiians were anxious to gather with saints from other parts of the world to the headquarters of the Church in Utah, in order to receive their blessings in the temples, and for other purposes, the Church in 1889 purchased a ranch in Skull Valley, Tooele Co., Utah, and there established a Hawaiian colony, known as Iosepa, where for some years the Hawaiian emigrants, in charge of Elder Harvey H. Cluff, a former missionary to the islands, engaged in farming and stock-raising. But the climate not being suited to the Hawaiian colonists, the settlement was discontinued about 1910 and most of the saints were assisted by the Church to return to their native islands, with a promise that at some future day a temple should be erected there for their benefit. (See Hawaiian Temple.)
Following is a list of presidents of the Hawaiian Mission: Hiram Clark, 1850-1851; Philip B. Lewis, 1851-1855; Silas Smith, 1855-1857; Henry W. Bigler (pro tem), 1857-1858; Native Elders, 1858-1861; Walter M. Gibson (without proper authority), 1861-1864; Ezra T. Benson and Lorenzo Snow, 1864; Joseph F. Smith, 1864, Alma L. Smith, 1864-1865; George Nebeker, 1865-1873; Fred A. H. F. Mitchell, 1873-1875; Alma L. Smith (serving a second term), 1875-1876; Ward E. Pack, 1876-1878; Simpson M. Molen, 1878-1879; Harvey H. Cluff, 1879-1882; Edward Partridge, 1882-1885; Enoch Farr, 1885-1887; William King, 1887-1889; Ward E. Pack (serving a second term), 1890-1892; Matthew Noall, 1892-1895; Samuel E. Woolley, who presided for twenty-four years, 1895-1919; E. Wesley Smith, 1919-1922; Eugene J. Neff, 1922-1926, and William M. Waddoups, 1926-1930; he presided at the close of 1930.