THE FAMILY TREE
PHOTOS COURTESY ESTELLE DREW
Taken in the 1930s, Estelle Drew and Loretta Morgan's mother, Lillian Jones Halualani, standing, third from left, is surrounded by her sisters-in-law. (2)
The Komomua family poses for a portrait in the 1800s. (3)
Four generations: Estelle Drew, standing, with her great-grandmother, Mary Akona Jones, left, her baby Marlene Drew and her mother, Lillian, in 1944. (4)
Drew and Morgan's great-grandparents, John Akona and Nakue'a Pekelo Akona. Click to Enlarge
Close-knit Kaneohe clans will gather to honor 12 kamaaina
Leialoha Kaluhiwa gestures to the two women across the table and tries to make this simple: "They're my first cousins and my stepsisters. But I call them 'auntie' because they're older, for respect."
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Ko'olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club:
» When: 3 to 8 p.m. Aug. 4
» Place: Kualoa Ranch
» Tickets: $30; tables of 10 are $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000; to fund scholarships for area students
» Call: 235-8111 or e-mail email@example.com
Then, singling out Auntie Estelle, the woman on the left: "She was my mother's maid of honor -- twice. Once when my mother married my father, who was (Estelle's) uncle, and then when my mother married her
Well, that was simple.
At the table on this day, Kaluhiwa is joined by Estelle Drew and Loretta Morgan. Drew and Morgan are sisters -- maiden name Halualani. That much is easy to digest. They are here to talk about their extended family, reaching back to the 1800s, one of the oldest in the Kaneohe area.
It is deep connections such as these that form the spirit of "Celebrate Kane'ohe," a series of events marking the 70th anniversary of one of the town's oldest community groups, the Ko'olaupoko (Windward Oahu) Hawaiian Civic Club. The theme: "No Kane'ohe mai au ... We are rooted in Kane'ohe."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sisters Estelle Drew, left, and Loretta Morgan, with a book they put together on their family, the Komomuas of Kaneohe. It's 559 pages long.
A scholarship luau Aug. 4 will honor 12 Kaneohe kamaaina, a third of them somehow related to the women at this table. When you can trace your family back through five generations of large families, you're talking a lot of relatives. Add the two generations that follow these women and you've got a total of about 2,000 relations.
In 2003, for a family reunion, the Halualani sisters worked on a Komomua family history -- 559 pages thick.
"When we went to the reunion," Kaluhiwa says, "they told me I had 79 first cousins."
It's a confusing tangle, but crystal clear to these women living amid it all.
For example, the tangle that began this tale: The women started out as cousins, Kaluhiwa's mother being the sister of Solomon Halualani. But then Solomon's wife died and Kaluhiwa's parents divorced. A few years later the widower married the divorcée, his former sister-in-law. Kaluhiwa and the Halualani girls became stepsisters.
Well, that was simple.
It's all worthy of a soap opera, except that there were no hard feelings. The two men remained cribbage partners, Kaluhiwa says.
"I always say, our family has always gotten along."
» The Rev. Benjamin W. Parker: A congregational minister who established one of the first public schools in Kaneohe
» Harold K.L. Castle: Contributed many acres of land for public schools and community facilities
» Henry Ho Wong: Guided development in the area for 50 years and made contributions to churches, schools and other organizations
» Dr. Fred Reppun: A family physician and advocate for preserving the rural character of the area
» Joe Harper: Active community worker, advocate and planner, once was dubbed "mayor of Kahaluu"
» Don Ho: The famed entertainer who got his start at Honey's Lounge in Kaneohe
» Alice P. Hewett: Community volunteer, especially active in youth athletics and community sports
» Evans H.M. Yim: A founder of the Kane'ohe Business Group and leader in commercial and business development
» Emily Kau'i Zuttermeister: Kumu hula and song composer who helped preserve traditional dance and mele
» Rosamond Swanzy Morgan: Historian and member of the Morgan family of Kualoa Ranch
» Ulysses Henry Jones: Handled land and water resource management for the Heeia ahupuaa
» Bryan Clay: Castle High School graduate and world decathlon champion
Ohana has deep and binding roots in Windward Oahu
St. Ann's cemetery, a modest strip of green bounded on three sides by the Windward Mall, could well be the family gravesite for sisters Estelle Drew and Loretta Morgan. Pointing out names on the few dozen headstones, they seem related to almost everyone buried there.
Near the entrance, their grandparents, Ulysses and Mary Napo'e Jones. Next to them, their great-grandmother, Nakue'a Pekelo Akona, born in 1852; died in 1928. Nearby, aunties, uncles, cousins, in-laws -- Drew and Morgan rattle off the family connections.
Farther in lies Joseph McCabe, their mother's cousin's husband, who died on Dec. 7, 1941. The family lost four cousins in the Pearl Harbor attack, all civilian workers headed to the shipyard in a single car.
The family traces its history back to a Kohala man, Komomua, and his marriage to a high chiefess of He'eia, Koa'o Moku Moku o He'eia, in the 1800s. Drew and Morgan are of the Jones line in this family; other clans include the Adams, McCabes, Rowans, Sylvesters, Scotts and Wongs, the Komomua family branching out as men from many places married in.
CRAIG T. KOJMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jerry and Leialoha Kaluhiwa, left, Estelle Drew and Loretta Morgan visit St. Ann's cemetery in Kaneohe, where much of their family is buried.
During their childhood much of the extended family lived in the Haiku area, on a single stretch of road. "There was my grandfather and grandmother and all their children. My father bought the property next to that. And so on and so on," Drew says.
"Actually, our family was big enough to be called a tribe," adds Morgan.
It was a community of small farms growing pigs, chickens, taro and flowers. A stream ran through the land, bringing fresh springwater -- and a supply of freshwater opae, or crayfish. "Above, we used it for drinking water, below you bathe and wash dishes," Morgan recalls.
Their parents, Solomon and Lillian Jones Halualani, had five boys and three girls, plus one adopted girl. Their grandparents had 20 children, biological and hanai. "Hawaiian-style," Drew says, start with your own kids, "then you adopt."
Drew has three children; Morgan has five. When it comes to grands and great-grands, they count on their fingers, running through names and consulting each other, pretending they can't keep track.
"I have three, or two, no three great-grandchildren," Drew says. "I think I have 11 grandchildren," Morgan says.
Drew, at 85, has the clearest memories of the early times. At a young age she was sent to live with the Joneses, in keeping with a tradition, she says, that grandparents have a certain preference of their first grandchild. This was before the move to Haiku, when her grandparents lived down where King Intermediate now stands, and her parents were living in town.
Drew's recently written account of those years tells fragments of the story in her own words:
"The year was 1927 and I was 5 years old. I think my mom decided to send me with my Papa Tutu Man and Tutu Napo'e to Heeia. I entered kindergarten at St. Ann's ... it was wonderful. ... Lunchtime we would go home. On our way my uncles and I would pick sweet guavas and California plums and eat them. Tutu Napo'e would have our poi and fish ready or whatever our parents would send down for us."
Her grandparents were still adding to their family, so Drew had an uncle who was just a year older than her and an aunt who was younger. "It was a different kind of aloha."
Grandpa Ulysses was a police captain and a lawyer, called a "10-cents lawyer" because he'd often take food or livestock in trade for services. His Hawaiian name was Loio Uleki, Lawyer Ulysses.
Drew remembers her grandparents' home as large and comfortable, with five bedrooms, "and we had the best outside toilets. We had five sizes -- small, medium and large, so the kids don't fall inside."
"My Papa Tutu was a good fisherman. Before, we were able to catch turtles and eat them. My Papa Tutu would bring them home alive. We had a big yard, so he would let us kids ride on them before slaughter. ...
"My Auntie Girlie would pull our taro, cook it, and then everyone would clean and pound. Uncle Billy was the main man to pound our poi. He had a good hand and his poi would not sour too fast."
CRAIG T. KOJMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alice Hewitt stands at the grave of a favorite auntie. Hewitt is a cousin of Estelle Drew and Loretta Morgan. She hails from another branch of the family -- the Rowans, which includes sumo champion Chad Rowan.
Enter now Alice Hewitt, who hails from another branch of the family -- the Rowans. Her great-grandmother was sister to Drew's great-grandmother. Hewitt's branch of the family includes sumo champion Chad Rowan, a cousin, and kumu hula Frank Hewitt, Alice's son.
And enter Leialoha Kaluhiwa, Drew's stepsister, also well-versed in the family genealogy.
Hewitt says her grandmother, Theresa, had three husbands "and my grandfather had quite a few wives."
"It was common in those days," says Kaluhiwa.
"Nobody condemned," Estelle adds.
The idea, Hewitt says, was to preserve the family line, which protected the family land. If a couple couldn't conceive, it was acceptable for the man to "borrow" a presumably more fertile wife, and vice versa.
"I used to call my grandfather the stud of Heeia," Hewitt says.
"They had to sleep together because neva have artificial insemination," Kaluhiwa adds.
Whatever degree of truth lies in that sociological observation, the fact is that through the generations, most of that family land has remained in the family. Even as the Crown Terrace subdivision came up around them in Haiku, the Jones descendants remained. They subdivided their property and many still live in the area, including five of Drew and Morgan's siblings, now in their 80s.
"If you're going to give up the land, you have to sell it to someone in the family," Hewitt says.
"So our kids better pay those taxes," Drew adds.
"During summer everybody would go to pick mountain apples. That was a wonderful time. So much fun, not a dull moment. I wish my children could have seen my time. But I know that is not to be."