The Sandwich Islands, Stowaways, and Sugar Plantations

Who says history is boring?
Not when you’re in my family.

This is a story about my great-great-great grandpa.
Isn’t that great?

Andrew Jackson McKenney Sr. (Image courtesy of Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

See how you're related! Click to enlarge.

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge.

He name was Andrew Jackson McKenney Sr. He was born in the spring of 1840, in Stetson Maine.

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Why Maine? That’s because it’s where his ancestors settled. John McKenney’s great-ancestor was actually a Scottish soldier in the Scottish revolutionary war. Apparently, he was part of an army that tried to “place their own Prince Charles on the throne of Great Britain as the rightful heir of the Stuart monarchy. They were defeated by the military dictator, Oliver Cromwell, and the English forces at the battle of Dunbar and Worchester. (Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

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Think, Braveheart.

Unfortunately his ancestor and many other Scots were captured as prisoners of war and exiled to Boston where they served a year-year indenture. After seven years John McKenney moved his family to Maine where his family could establish roots.

So, that’s why Maine.

Legend has it that that Andrew Jackson McKenney was also born with a rebellious spirit because when the civil war broke out, he decided leave Maine as a stow away on a ship. The ship sailed around Cape horn to the Sandwich Islands, aka Hawaii.

Possible route of the ship he was on

Possible route of the ship he was on

Once in Hawaii he made friends and worked for the Rowan family on a sugar plantation near Kaneohe, Oahu.

Photograph of Kaneohe Hawaii

Photograph of Kaneohe Hawaii

How a typical sugar cane plantation would have looked on Hawaii.               ( courtesy of http://aam.govst.edu/projects/cmietlicki/images/images_2/sugarcane2.jpg)

How a typical sugar cane plantation would have looked on Hawaii. ( courtesy of http://aam.govst.edu/projects/cmietlicki/images/images_2/sugarcane2.jpg)

Mr. Rowan died a few years later. Within a year of his death, Andrew McKenney married the widowed Mrs. Rowan, (Louisa Grace Richards). Andrew was 21 years old, and Louisa was 30 when they were married. Louisa was originally born and raised in Cornwall England, but decided to live in Hawaii after finishing a world cruise with relatives and her sister. Before settling in Hawaii, they also spent some time living and working in Australia before coming to Hawaii.

Louisa Grace Richards. (Image courtesy of Don Earl McKenney Jr).

Louisa Grace Richards. (Image courtesy of Don Earl McKenney Jr).

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Kaneohe, Hi. What their land might have looked like.

Together they worked on the six acre sugar plantation. Allegedly their plantation was on the western fringe of Kaneohe, with the Puu Keahiakahoe mountains overlooking their land.
Interestingly, Andrew Jackson become friends with King Kamehameha V and was appointed his advisor and a uniformed member of the Palace Guard (Donald McKenney Jr).
(This fact gave me serious “cool points” when I lived in Hawaii during middle and high school.)
Allegedly his official sealing ring still exists and is owned by one of his decedents.

Example of a sealing ring which was a ring with a seal for impressing sealing wax. It was used often by important people to authenticate their documents.

Example of a sealing ring which was a ring with a seal for impressing sealing wax. It was used often by important people to authenticate their documents.

A few years later, Andrew McKenney suddenly passed away at the age of 38 on September 20, 1878. Although the cause of death was listed as “brain disease” it is uncertain. Family stories say that “he went blind and lost his hair shortly before death (Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

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Final resting place of Andrew Jackson McKenney. He was buried on the sugar plantation property, which is now on undeveloped state land. (Image courtesy of Don McKenney).

The location of the burial site is just west of the dead end of Kulukeoe Street (a residential area.) To the west of the burial site is the state mental hospital .

Don McKenney made a grave marker for Andrew McKenney. It is now mounted on the boulder that marks his burial place .

Don McKenney made a grave marker for Andrew McKenney. It is now mounted on the boulder that marks his burial place .

Because Andrew had passed away, Louisa was left alone with four kids to raise. (The three boys from her previous marriage were grown and out of the house.) The younger boys Andrew and Edward were sent to live in Utah with a half-brother named Charles Rowan.  Louisa married her third husband Robert Brown but quickly divorced him in 1881. She then took her daughters and sailed to San Francisco. The oldest Rowan sons, remained in Hawaii. George married a Hawaiian woman and raised his family. William Rowan died around 1887.

Louisa came back to Hawaii ten years after Andrew had passed away to visit.

Louisa came back to Hawaii after Andrew had passed away to visit. She is on the old McKenney place, most likely close to Andrew’s burial site. This is the last time she visited this place before returning to the states.

After a trip back to Hawaii during the late 1800s, Louisa and her two daughters returned to California and settled in the Oakland, California area. Although she spent the remainder of her life in the States, (until 1908) I can only imagine that part of Hawaii always remained with her. Or, as they sing in a popular Hawaiian song, Aloha Oe.

Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe Farewell to thee, farewell to thee
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace, One fond embrace,
A hoʻi aʻe au ‘Ere I depart
Until we meet again Until we meet again
ʻO ka haliʻa aloha i hiki mai Sweet memories come back to me
Ke hone aʻe nei i Bringing fresh remembrances
Kuʻu manawa Of the past
ʻO ʻoe nō kaʻu ipo aloha Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
A loko e hana nei From you, true love shall never depart
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