Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Court Beauties of Fifty Years Ago

By A. P. Taylor, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory, Sunday, June 12, 1910.


About half a century has passed since the glorious reign of Kamehameha IV and his beautiful consort, Queen Emma, days of court life which commanded the admiration of distinguished royal guests of foreign nations, days rises(?) a coterie of beautiful Hawaiian women comprised the train of the Queen(?), whose charm of manner and ease(?) caused many a heart-flutter among the foreigners who were guest of the monarch.  Of all that galaxy of Hawaiian beauty only two or three remain alive, and like the Empress Eugenie(?), the most beautiful woman atop(?) a European throne in her time, they too have become more or less obscure as time and politics have changed the trend of lives and careers.  Of all who were gathered about the throne of Kamehameha IV, only Queen Liliuokalani, Mrs. Nakuina and Mrs. Pratt remain alive.
The Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, great granddaughter of Kamehameha I, ranked next to her cousin, the Royal Princess Victoria Kamamalu, at the court.  Next came the High Chiefess Lydia Kamakaeha (afterwards Queen Liliuokalani).  Next came the High Chiefess Elizabeth Kekaaniau (Mrs. Pratt), then the High Chiefess Mary Ann Kinoole Pittman (Mrs. Ailau), then Miss Martha Swinton and Miss Nancy Sumner.
Miss Mary Ann Kinoole Pittman, court lady, was the third bridesmaid of Queen Emma, when she married Liholiho, Kamehameha IV, Princess Victoria being the first bridesmaid, and the High Chiefess Lydia Kamakaeha (Queen Liliuokalani) being the second.  Miss Pittman was considered a very beautiful girl, her complexion being marvelously clear.  She was a daughter of Benjamin Pittman, a capitalist, and her mother was the High Chiefess Kinoole, who with her sister Kahinu Beckley, were known as the Princesses of Hilo.  She was a court favorite.  The homes of her parents in Hilo and Honolulu were the centers of much social activity.  After Mrs. Pittman's death the family moved to Boston.  A brother, Benjamin Pittman, is a member of the firm of Hollinger & Co. 
Miss Martha Swinton, court lady, was noted not only for her beauty, but she was loved for her beautiful voice,
and was considered one of the most accomplished women of the court.  She was the second daughter of the sheriff, Harry Swinton, of the Swintons of Scotland, her mother being a Hawaiian of the priesthood families. 
Miss Nancy Sumner (Mrs. Ellis), court lady, was an accomplished and queenly beauty.  Her father William Sumner, was one of the wealthy land owners of his time, and was the of Captain Sumner.  Miss Sumner was another pet at the court.  She was partly English, Tahitian and of the Hawaiian gentry, and was one of Princess Victoria's closet friends.  
The Chiefess Kiliwehi was the wife of the High Chief Hoapili Ka'auwai, adopted daughter of Prince Kealiiawanui and Princess Kekauonohi.  Kiliwehi and Kekauonohi accompanied Queen Dowager Emma to England when the Hawaiian queen visited Queen Victoria.  She was a close companion of Queen Emma, and was very fair and a handsome woman. 
Jane Swinton (Mrs. Brown) another close friend of the Princess Victoria, was the eldest of the Swinton sisters.  She was a great favorite of royalty and was noted for her wit, being a most fascinating and brilliant conversationalist.  Harriet Swinton was another beautiful girl of the period of 1860. 
The High Chiefess Marie Kaha'awelani Beckley (the late Mrs. Kahea), a court lady and first maid of honor to Queen Kapiolani in King Kalaukaua's court, was a sister of George C. Beckley, Sr.  Like that of her cousin, Mary Ann Pittman, her father's home on Alakea street was a great center of social life for the navy officers and noted visitors from foreign nations.  Lord Bereford, the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord Dean and many others were frequent guests at the Beckley home. 
Miss Emma Metcalf (Mrs. Nakuina) was the daughter of Theophilus Metcalf, scholar, planter and capitalist.  Her marriage to Hon. Frederick Beckley was one of the grand functions of 1867, the king, Kamehameha V., honoring her marriage by sending a guard of honor, composed of soldiers, to be stationed on duty in the grounds during the wedding and reception.  She was a great favorite of Kamehameha V., and at court and in private life.  She was lady in waiting to Queen Kapiolani, her husband, Hon. Fred Beckley, being the king's chamberlain during the earlier period of his reign, resigning to become royal governor of Kauai.  She was highly educated, and is considered an eminent authority on land matters and water rights, and is the only woman today occupying a judicial position in the Hawaiian Islands. 
Mary Ann Tressilyn Beckley, "The Rose of the Pacific" was the only daughter of Doctor Tressilyn, companion of Doctor Rooke.  She was considered the most beautiful of the Hawaiian group about the throne and was given her title to beauty by Kamehameha IV.  At the time of her marriage with William Beckley, a dance was given in her honor the next evening, when the King christened her as "The Rose of the Pacific".  She was the ward at first of Doctor Rooke.  No social activity at the court, the consulates or on the warships was considered complete without Mary Ann Tressilyn Beckley.  She was also prominent in church work, being a devout Roman Catholic.  It was she who made the first effort to raise money to purchase seats for the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  She was a staunch friend of the royal family up to the time of her death and she was deeply devoted to Queen Emma and Princess Bernice Pauahi bishop and was much loved by them in return. 
When the Duke of Edinburgh came to Honolulu in H. M. S. Galatea, these were some of the ladies who helped to entertain the prince and suite.  They assisted the King, Princess Ruth, Queen Dowager Emma, the High Chiefess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the High Chiefess Lydia K. Dominis (Queen Liliuokalani) and the High Chiefess Elizabeth Kekaaniau Pratt.  At the reception and ball at Iolani Palace, Miss Caroline French Poor (Mrs. Bush), was the only Hawaiian lady who danced with the duke.  Mrs. Poor was always a favorite at court.  Her quaint and polished manner charmed the duke greatly.  She was the daughter of Mr. French, a wealthy merchant, and a Hawaiian princess.
One of the most novel entertainments given for the Duke was a luau at the seaside home of Queen Liliuokalani, then the wife of the governor of Oahu.  The King was host, and he gave an example of how his grandfather, Kamehemeha I., was loved by the people, of how he could go to a distant place and how the chiefs with their retinues would bring food and water, such as pig wrapped in banana and ti-plant leaves and stuffed with hot rocks; suspended on kauila sticks, cooking as they were being carried to the King's table.  At this luau each and every clan was represented, and their rank shown by the feather leis, capes and tapa pa-us.  Never since has there been such a display of rare royal feathers and sweet-scented pa'us which were worn over dresses.

This was the occasion when many ladies were asked to come forward and take their proper places, their foreign husbands being omitted from the invitations.  The popular High Chief Kalakaua (afterwards King) being the King's chamberlain at the time, and he explained matters very satisfactorily to the husbands. 
The ladies marched in double file, following the chiefs of their various clans.  The line of march was from Helumoa, the present Seaside Hotel grounds, to the Liliuokalani home farther along the beach, where a large tent had been raised.  Under this tables were laid and spread with maile and anapuhi leaves.  There were no dishes or food upon the tables.  As each chief and his or her clan and retinue passed under the lanai, each person placed her dish or calabash in proper order on the tables.  The tables were set in a few minutes, and interesting process to the duke, who sat with his Majesty, Kamehameha V.  The King, duke and suite and chiefs took their allotted places and watched with interest the seating of the chiefs and the members of their clans, not a break being noticed.  Three pretty girls were selected to wait upon the duke, these being Sally Tripp, Mary Ann Bush and Evelyn Townsend.
At a short distance from the seats of the King and duke, Makua, the famous hula dancer of that day, danced alone before the distinguished guest and his Majesty, to the accompaniment of a chant by two men with their native drums. 
Amongst the part Hawaiians in this assemblage were the pretty little Brickwoods, on, Miss Kalahikiola Brickwood, being the ward of the King, who became the wife of Lieutenant, afterwards Rear-Admiral, Houston, United States Navy, a son being Lieut. Com. Victor Houston, U. S. N., now in charge of the lighthouse service in the Hawaiian Islands.  Other part Hawaiian women present were the Poors, Wilsons, Bushes, Sumners, Lewis, Tripp, Buckle, Afong, Beckley, Davison, Adams, Davis, Cummins, Brown, Swinton, Parker, Toleman, Weed, Previerre, Rogers, Jones, Janet, Brickwood and many others who mingled with the pure Hawaiian chiefs.

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