The Hawaiian Royal Family of Santa Cruz
The Monterey Peninsula can sometimes look like an island when viewed from the Santa Cruz side of the bay, and some assume it must be Hawaii.
Yet while Hawaii is 2,472 miles away, like this bay-scale illusion, Hawaii is closer to Santa Cruz than you might think, in spirit and history.
When English explorer James Cook named Hawaii the “Sandwich Islands” in 1778, the islands were four Polynesian kingdoms. This changed when King Kamehameha conquered the other three kingdoms between 1782 and 1810, uniting the islands under one government. As a major port for international shipping, it has adopted certain Western standards so that its government is recognized by the world community.
The Hawaiians were not very well received when they first appeared in California in 1818. They were part of the crew of the Argentinian pirate Hippolite Buchard, who came to liberate California from Spanish colonial rule, causing the evacuation of Santa Cruz. and Monterey.
Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1820 and moved to annex Hawaii. But in 1830 a friendship was so established that King Kamehameha appealed to California for vaqueros (Spanish cowboys) to tame a population explosion of cattle invading the islands. British explorer George Vancouver brought them back from Santa Barbara in 1792. Two of the five vaqueros sent by the San Francisco Presidio were Filipe Armas and his brother Joaquin.
Since they mastered cattle, the Hawaiian word for cowboy has become “paneola”, derived from “Espanola” (“Spanish”). The Armas brothers settled in Santa Cruz in 1845, purchasing the western half of today’s Adobe Mission on School Street, where Filipe served as the city’s first sheriff.
In 1857, Lyman Swan and his wife, Antoinette Marie, moved into the old Cathcart House at the northwest corner of Cathcart and Front streets. Antoinette was part of the Hawaiian royal family through her mother. Her Mexican father, Francisco de Marin, served as Kamehameha’s interpreter, business advisor, and physician. He married Lahilahi, daughter of a Scottish trader and relative of the king. Antoinette’s father died when she was 5 years old and she was raised by the Englishman Dr. TCB Rooke, also married to the royal family. This made her the sister-in-law of Queen Emma of Kamehameha IV.
Her sister married the American consul John Coffin Jones. In 1838, Jones introduced King Kamehameha III to Johann Sutter, who the king hoped would lead the formation of a European-style army for Hawaii. But Sutter wanted to settle in California, so the king assigned him 10 Hawaiians, who helped him found Sutter’s Fort, the land gateway to California. The Hawaiians settled in the Sacramento area and even established a colony at the confluence of the Sacramento and Feather rivers.
New research by Geoffrey Dunn and Kim Stoner reveals that Lyman Swan indeed fled Hawaii in 1854, to escape accusations of forgery. Yet the King and Queen still viewed Antoinette as a beloved member of the royal family. In 1884, Antoinette became Queen Kapiolani’s chamberlain, looking after her interests in Hawaii, while her husband remained in exile in Santa Cruz. Kapiolani was sterile and therefore took a great interest in his nephews, the sons of his late sister Princess Victoria.
In 1885, the Queen sent her nephews to Antoinette, so that they could attend St. Matthew’s Military Academy in San Mateo. These sons of Kawananakoa were Princes David (17), Edward (16) and Jonas “Cupid” (14), plus the nephew of Antoinette Richard Gilliland (19), son-in-law of John Coffin Jones. The four cadets spent summers with Antoinette in Santa Cruz, keeping rooms at the nearby Wilkin’s House Inn on the northwest corner of Pacific Avenue and Cathcart Street.
Antoinette mothered them, serving her husband’s poi and Hawaiian bread, along with other delicacies.
The princes were very popular with the Santa Cruzans. They rode around town on rare big wheel bikes, dressed in their gray military uniforms with feather necklaces for hats. They swam daily at the mouth of the river, performing spectacular dives from the railway bridge. During one dive, Prince Edward hit rock bottom and ended up with stiff necks.
Curious about the unfamiliar wood of the local redwoods, they had 15ft redwood surfboards machined locally and tested them on the beach. The princes created a fashion for redwood surfboards in Hawaii and made Santa Cruz the birthplace of continental surfing.
The happy monarch
The Princes’ family was quite musical. Their uncle was King David Kalakaua, “Taffy” to his close friends, and publicly called “the merry monarch”. A well-educated and astute politician, he instituted a Hawaiian cultural renaissance. He brought back the Hula dance, which had been banned by the missionaries. His mastery of stringed instruments elevated the ukulele, taro patch fiddle and Hawaiian lap steel guitar. The King and his sister were songwriters, both writing national anthems for Hawaii.
Although he campaigned on the slogan “Hawaii for Hawaiians,” Kalakaua was also pragmatic and inclusive, creating the most ethnically diverse cabinet Hawaii has ever seen. The King lifted US tariffs on Hawaiian sugar and coffee, granting the United States “most-favored-nation” trade status. This brought Santa Cruzan Claus Spreckels to the islands, buying 41,000 acres in West Maui for sugar cane and building the world’s largest sugar refinery in nearby Spreckelsville. Spreckels expanded their wharf at Aptos in 1872 to ship lumber to Hawaii.
As an opponent of American calls to annex Hawaii, Spreckels became the king’s trusted ally, loaning him large sums to fund elegant public buildings, palaces, and events. Because of this exceptional influence, the Sugar King was sometimes referred to as Hawaii’s “other king”.
In 1874, Kalakaua became the first monarch to visit the United States, and in 1881 he was the first ruler of the world to tour the world, including Santa Cruz County. To make an impressive display, he struck medals in San Francisco to wear on his uniform, representing the Order of Kalakaua, the Order of Kapiolani and the Order of the Star of Oceania. He presented copies of these medals to dignitaries he met on his world tour, bringing much praise and goodwill to Hawaii.
During the tour, he stopped in Watsonville and a horse-drawn carriage brought him to Spreckels ‘Aptos Mansion, where he enlisted Spreckels’ support to design Hawaiian coins, currency and stamps at the San Mint. Francisco. In return, Spreckels gained unprecedented access to water sources for his cane fields in Hawaii. The two then took the train through Santa Cruz to see Big Trees Park (now Henry Cowell’s) and headed to San Francisco for an enthusiastic public reception. When Spreckels built their 1887 sugar factory in Watsonville, the California and Hawaii sugar company was actually the industry of Watsonville and Maui.
In 1887, Queen Kapiolani and Antoinette were in England as guests of honor during Queen Victoria’s empire-wide jubilee, receiving respect from Europe. Returning to Hawaii, Prince Edward returned to Hawaii from illness and died of typhoid fever. The king faced political problems, which began when his 1883 dream of uniting all the Pacific islands into “Oceania” was killed by Bismark, who opposed “interference” in the possessions. colonial times of Germany. Now the king’s free spending policies and the hijacking of cabinet members have resulted in the formation of the “Hawaiian League,” a group of white business and sugar plantation owners armed with guns, who have threatened to overthrow the government if their political goals were not met. . They removed many office holders, suppressed Hawaii’s constitution, replacing it with the “Bayonet Constitution.” The king was so demoralized that the United States saw an opportunity to successfully lobby to establish a US military base at Pearl Harbor.
Austerity is now the king’s watchword, so as not to inflame the conservatives. This could be seen in the miserable expression of the “Merry Monarch” and in his tame clothing. The royal family spent more time in 1888 in their beach house and boathouse than in the new palace.
The last time Antoinette saw Kalakaua was at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on January 20, 1891. The sick and dejected king had come to California as a guest of Rear Admiral George Brown, to escort him up. moral. Kalakaua was obediently dressed and left Hawaii without fanfare. But the love he felt among the people of San Francisco brought a last smile to his lips. Then the 54-year-old man died at the Palace Hotel of Bright from the disease. On his deathbed was his friend Claus Spreckels. Horrified Hawaiians who gathered to celebrate their monarch’s return turned to mourning when his coffin left the ship instead.
But the Spreckel most affected by Kalakaua’s death was Claus’ young son, Rudolph. The young Brandon shocked his brothers John and Adolph by fighting for native rights in Hawaii so vehemently that he narrowly escaped the bullet from an angry white farmer assassin.
In 1894, white landowners declared Sanford Dole unelected president of “the Republic of Hawaii,” which was fought by Prince Cupid in the Wilcox rebellion of 1895. Cupid spent a year in prison, but when the United States annexed Hawaii, Prince Cupid became a territorial delegate to the Hawaiian Congress in 1903, and for the next 19 years advocated for a Hawaiian state.
Back in Santa Cruz, the Swans run the Avenue Bakery, later a partnership with son-in-law Alfred Mellor, called the S&M Bakery. Alfred and Arista Mellor were popular Vaudevillians. When Antoinette Swan died in 1906, her funeral was held at Calvary Episcopal Church and she was buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
The story of “Merrie Monarch’s” repeated itself in 1908, when Prince David died at the age of 40 in a hotel in San Francisco.
Ross Eric Gibson is a former history columnist for the San Jose Mercury News.