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Dreaming Of Kilauea, Kauai: The Second Home of my Ancestors

Updated on February 13, 2015
This is the district my ancestors lived in.  No wonder they adapted so quickly.
This is the district my ancestors lived in. No wonder they adapted so quickly. | Source

To Walk In My Ancestors Footsteps

I don't really have the money to travel. And, I'm physically disabled to boot! But if I had my druthers, I'd love to take a trip to Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii. You see, that's where my Portuguese ancestors lived. Kilauea is very much a part of my family history.

It would be an amazing adventure to see the landscape that my ancestors knew, to walk through the cemetery and visit the church, to smell the ocean breeze, and to listen to the music they enjoyed. I can imagine my ancestors working and playing in those very same places.

I think it would be an incredible. This page is how I would imagine it. Join me in this journey.

[Photo courtesy of: guuzi at Stock.xchng]

From my private collection, the Pacheco men, Kilauea, Kauai, ca. 1904
From my private collection, the Pacheco men, Kilauea, Kauai, ca. 1904 | Source

The Portuguese Brought the Ukulele to Hawaii

Well, not my ancestors, but somebody elses! Not many people know that the ukulele was brought to Hawaii in the 1880s by Portuguese immigrants. Jose do Esperito Santo and Augusto Diaz are given credit as being the first to adapt the small Portuguese guitars known as the cavaquino or braguinha to create the instrument known as the ukulele.

I wonder if my ancestors enjoyed ukulele music. Maybe some of them played the instrument.

Why Were My Relatives There?

You need to go back to the sugar plantation era to find my ancestors in Hawaii. It was 1882. They came from the villages of Maia and Achada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. They were poor laborers who owned no land. They were uneducated with no hope for advancement.

When agents for various Hawaiian sugar plantations came to the villages to recruit laborers, the poor peasants were ripe for recruitment. If you signed a plantation contract, you got free housing, a little garden of your own, medical care, education for your children, and a salary. My ancestors would never have this opportunity in the Azores. So, my Great Great Grandparents signed sugar plantation contracts, picked up their roots, and left the Azores for good.

My Pacheco relatives were assigned to the Kilauea Sugar Plantation in Kilauea on the island of Kauai. The de Braga's went to another plantation first. By 1890 both families lived and worked on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation.

I wonder what it was like for them to be so far from home. What it must have been like to live in a small secluded village on Sao Miguel Island and then to be introduced to the plantation life with different ethnicities all living together. Culture shock would be an understatement.

It would be great to visit the places that made up their world and try to experience what they might have gone through.

Map of the Island of Kauai

A markerThis is the town where my ancestors' lived -
kilauea, kauai, hawaii
get directions

Bring the Kilauea Landscape into your Home

The Kilauea Lighthouse Point is an iconic view. It is easily recognize by those you haven't even been to the islands.

Sky Wall Decals can be adhered to your walls without a mess. They are safe for painted walls, too. Just peel and stick to any smooth location.

Can't get to Kilauea? Bring Kilauea to you! This is a beautiful shot of the coastline with the famous lighthouse standing out for all to see.

Historic Photographs of the Hanalei District

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of Hanalei Pier.  Photograph taken by R.J. Baker.Waioli Mission House, Hanalei, Kauai, HI, ca 1933.    [Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, American Historic Buildings collection,]Haraguchi Rice Mill with Hanalei River running through it
View of Hanalei Pier.  Photograph taken by R.J. Baker.
View of Hanalei Pier. Photograph taken by R.J. Baker. | Source
Waioli Mission House, Hanalei, Kauai, HI, ca 1933.    [Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, American Historic Buildings collection,]
Waioli Mission House, Hanalei, Kauai, HI, ca 1933. [Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, American Historic Buildings collection,] | Source
Haraguchi Rice Mill with Hanalei River running through it
Haraguchi Rice Mill with Hanalei River running through it | Source

Our Ancestral Homelands

I think it is something magical to visit one's ancestral homeland, to visit the same places your Grandmother or Great Grandfather called home.

Have you visited your ancestral homelands?

See results

A Visit To The Cemetery

My Great Great Grandmother, Ana Jacinta (de Mello) Pacheco, was a widow when she brought her children to Hawaii. Despite the fact that she lived there for 20 years, there are no records of her existence on the island. That is, except for her tombstone.

I would love to visit the Kilauea Catholic Cemetery. There I would visited the burial sites of my relatives. I would stand before Ana Jacinta's grave site with it's fallen, crumpled stone. And, I would know that she had been there, that she really did exist.

There are several relatives buried in this cemetery. Though I have photographs of the tombstones, it would be wonderful to walk through, read the names, and leave flowers. Then others would know that there are people out there who still care.

Kilauea School founded in 1882.
Kilauea School founded in 1882. | Source

The School in Kilauea

My ancestors were probably part of the first class

The Kilauea School in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii was established in 1882. It's listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It once bordered the Kilauea Sugar Plantation.

The school opened the same year my ancestors arrived in Kilauea. My Great Grandfather, Theodoro Pacheco, was 6 years when they settled in Kilauea in 1882. I bet he was one of the first children to attend the school!

Portions of the complex are from the original school, however, the main building was built in 1922. This means that the descendants of my great great uncles and aunts attended this school.

I would still like to walk around the grounds and imagine my great grandparents walking to their lessons or playing with their friends. I would like to have a look inside the classrooms. I wonder if any of the school's history has been preserved. I am sure there must be photographs of the Pacheco's and their descendants who have attended this school over the generations.

Take A Tour Kilauea Point

Explore the Hanalei Region

My ancestors lived in the Hanalei District. This is the place they called home. In fact, I have relatives living there today.

You may know it for its famous lighthouse. Its background is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

There's more to the island of Kauai than a lighthouse. Explore a lesser known area of the Hawaiian Islands. This handy guide can help you find the spots you might otherwise miss. Take the time to explore Hanalei and Princeville where my ancestors called home. You'll be happy you visited this island that a little further away from the tourist magnets.

A photo that my cousin took of the church, September 2014.
A photo that my cousin took of the church, September 2014. | Source

The Church Where They Were Married

The little Catholic church in Kilauea has a long history. Father Sylvester Strappers arrived in Kilauea in the early 1870s. As a community was growing around the Kilauea Sugar Plantation, he decided to establish a congregation in the area. He built the church that is still there today.

The church has an unusual octagonal shape. It's built from lava rock. There are frescoes created by the artist, Jean Charlot.

Very little information is available out St. Sylvester's Church. It is mentioned in "Pioneers of the Faith: History of the Catholic Mission in Hawaii (1827-1940)" by Robert Schoofs, c 1978. There is no mention of the church being rebuilt, which would be quite an accomplishment. St. Stephen's located in Moloa'a and built in the same era, was destroyed by constant tidal activity. Other churches were destroyed by weather and accidents over the decades.

My Great Grandparents, Theodoro Pacheco and Maria de Braga, were married in the church on 22 Dec 1895. Many of their cousins and the children of their cousins were also attended this church.

Places To See In the Kilauea Region

Kilauea is part of the Hanalei District, which includes some beautiful landscape as well as historic points. Here are some points of interest for you to explore.

The Hanalei Region Today

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Princeville     [Photo courtesy of: Bobamnertiopsis, Wikipedia,]Kilauea Point    Lower Hanalei Valley    Kilauea Lighthouse   The Hanalei Valley
Princeville     [Photo courtesy of: Bobamnertiopsis, Wikipedia,]
Princeville [Photo courtesy of: Bobamnertiopsis, Wikipedia,] | Source
Kilauea Point
Kilauea Point | Source
Lower Hanalei Valley
Lower Hanalei Valley | Source
Kilauea Lighthouse
Kilauea Lighthouse | Source
The Hanalei Valley
The Hanalei Valley | Source

Explore the National Refuge

One of the finest wildlife refuges can be found at Kilauea Point. It was established in 1985 to preserve an ecosystem unique to the Hawaiian Islands. It's where you'll find the famous lighthouse and the National Marine Sanctuary.

Secrets of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Secrets of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Go in search of red footed boobies, the nene, and sea birds at this beautiful refuge.


Thanks for coming along for this trip to Kilauea

Sharing The Journey

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    • Tangled07 profile image

      Tangled07 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens and I truly hope you get to go there one day soon :)

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 6 years ago

      I have been there. It's absolutely beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Did you know of a Manuel Pacheco?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Aloha!

      My mother was born in Kilauea and her name was Katherine Kam Lin Kung!

      My grandmother was Antonia Freitas!

      I know most of the Chinese side of our family emmigrated to Oahu but the Portuguese side stayed mostly on Kauai!

      I hear that my grandmothers brother (Willie Freitas) still lives in Kilauea and hope to meet him and other Freitas family members that I can find when I visit next week!

      I will be there from 2/10-2/17!

      Nice hearing from you all!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I came across your article while researching pics and articles about the Kilauea Sugar Mill. I grew up in Kilauea and went to school with several of your Pacheco relatives. I learned some new info from one of the comments below about the headstones. I've seen the small graveyard, but was always afraid to venture there. It is interesting that one of the big names (Titcomb) is buried right there in probably one of my relative's back yard.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @MelRootsNWrites: A good place to start family search is to go to St. Catherines in Kapaa, Kauai and visit their cemetery!

      I did early this year and found so many families names that were so familiar and most likely related which is to be sorted out in the future!

      I took pics of everything it seems and also from the church's wedding, death + birth files that I transferred to a cd!

      One thing is that when I visited St. Sylvesters Church in Kilauea, Kauai when I left I continued down the hill and following the road 180 degrees around until I noticed a tiny cemetery that looked like it was a private one!

      To my surprise there was 3 head stones and 1 was of a man named Charles Tittcomb!

      I might have spelled it wrong but just type that name in and you will be totally surprised at the history just sitting in someones back yard!

      Kinda a cool story of a man who wanted to marry royalty but was denied but in the end was given a title by King Kamayamaya and was allowed to marry into the royal family and then was granted lands in Hawaii!

      His name is involved in the founding of the Kona coffee industry on Kauai!

      Check it out as it was very interesting!

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 6 years ago

      Genealogy can indeed offer a glimpse in History -- I like trying to figure out how people must have lived in earlier times. Your Grandparents sure made a good choice signing those contracts!

    • auntjennie profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from Canada

      I really enjoyed your look at Kilauea. I didn't know who created the ukulele and I even picked one up on trip to Hawaii.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 6 years ago from California

      Thanks you both! Kilauea is beautiful. I guess if you have to labor in a field all day you might as well do it with a gorgeous backdrop ;)

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      It was wonderful to journey with you through this part of your family history...what a beautiful place your ancestors chose to settle think of being given land to farm, what interesting times those must have been.

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image

      Grandma-Marilyn 6 years ago

      great lens. It must be nice to be able to visit your homelands. I have visited my Cherokee part but that is all. I feel though and have all my life that the Indian part of me is the greatest part. I even felt more Indian than anything else when I was very young.