Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 11

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"Honolulu 1848

Mr. Dominis' house stood a considerable distance back from the street having a carriage way and garden in front.  It was a square frame building with broad piazzas around both the upper and lower stories.  Inside a wide hall ran from the front door to the back, on one side were the parlor and dining room and on the other side two rooms that were sometimes used as bedrooms but were then unoccupied.  Upstairs was another wide hall going across the house with bedrooms opening on it.  All the floors were covered with white matting.  All the long French windows had green outside blinds and everything looked so spotless and cool it was very refreshing in the warm climate.  We were taken to a pretty bedroom and found it extremely pleasant to have so much space to move about and dress in after the little stateroom we had occupied so long.

At dinner we were introduced to Mr. Baker and Mr. Williams, two gentlemen who took their meals with Mrs. Dominis, but did not sleep in the house.  Mr. Baker was a good looking, lively young man and we soon became friendly.  Mr. Williams, though a young man who was so deaf it was difficult to converse with him.  Evy had learned the finger alphabet for the deaf and dumb and could talk to him in that way.  John was only sixteen and he and I were very good friends in a short time.  Mrs. Dominis was so kind and pleasant we soon felt quite at home.  Mr. Brewer's house was quite near and Uncle Charlie came to see us most every day.  The house, the garden, and the climate were all charming, but we were anxious about out mother.  It was two weeks after our arrival when John came back from the office one morning and said the ship was coming in.  We became very excited.  I ran upstairs and out on the piazza from which we had a glimpse of the harbor, hoping to see the ship but I could not distinguish it at that distance.  I ran down again to ask John more questions.  He said it would be some hours before she anchored and her passengers could come ashore.  John went to the wharf to meet my mother and bring her and the children to the house.  At last we saw the buggy (which John had procured somewhere, there were only a few in Honolulu at that time) coming through the gate.  Our mother and little Matilda were in the buggy while Fanny and the Mexican nurse girl with the baby were in one of the native carts.  As I ran down the steps to meet them I heard Fanny exclaim "Is that Essie?" in the most astonished way.  If she was surprised at my appearance, I was equally so at hers, though only eleven years old her dress came to her feet, the waist low in the neck with the waist line almost under her arms.  She wore a large old-fashioned bonnet of red silk and her hair was rolled up on her head.  I still had short skirts with the pantelettes that all young girls wore at that time.  My hair was braided and tied with ribbons.  I still looked like a child.  I suppose Fanny expected me to be a young lady.  I was delighted to see my mother again, but she did not look exactly as I remember her.  She had lost her bright complexion and was quite pale and her hair, which she had worn in short curls on her forehead was now plain and smooth.  But after a few days I became used to her appearance.  I suppose she must have been anxious about us and wondering how we would appear after our long separation.  Four years at my age had changed me from a little child to a girl, almost grown.  I was pleased to hear her say I was much prettier than she had expected me to be.  I had not thought before of my own looks.  I had never imagined myself pretty.  I was used to hearing people speak of me as a sweet child and supposed they only said that because I was not pretty and they wanted to say something nice.  I must have improved in appearance during the voyage for I was surprised when people in Honolulu seemed to think me pretty.

My little sister Matilda (she was not called Tilly until she went to school) was a beautiful child, she was about three years old, her hair of golden brown, curled in soft rings around her head.  Her eyes were deep blue and her features almost perfect.  I was charmed, but found it difficult to talk to her as she could not speak English and I only a few words of Spanish.  She had named herself "Maniche."  No one knew why and she was called by that name for some time. 

When mother saw how odd Fanny looked compared with other girls she made her some dresses like mine and braided her hair in a girlish way.  She was quite pretty then but not nearly as handsome as she was at sixteen.  Our mothers dresses were of handsome material but little out of style.  She had a big old-fashioned bonnet but fortunately we had brought some with us for mother and Fanny.  Aunt Clara had foreseen they might be useful.

The people in Honolulu at that time were divided in two sets.  The Missionaries who disapproved of dancing and of course never went to parties.  The other set were composed of Consuls of different countries and the business men, with their families.  There were few young ladies in the town then so we were quite an acquisition.  Evy being seventeen was really entitled to be considered as such but, Fanny and I though so young were invited to all the parties and had as many partners as if we were quite grown up.

The Dominis family mentioned in Essie's memoir is the same Heather over at Nutfield Genealogy has written about extensively.  Heather is related to the Dominis family through her aunt who is the very same Mrs. Dominis mentioned in Essie's memoir!  Small world isn't it?!

Heather and I are also related in another way:  Essie's sister Mary Gertrude Smith Mott was married to Comfort Gordon Healey (they were my 3rd great-grandparents), a cousin of Joseph Edwin Healy (Heather's 4th great-grandfather).  Our shared Haley ancestor being Comfort Haley (1754-1821) of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  Comfort was married twice, first to Abigail Allen (1753-1795) who is Heather's ancestor, and second to Mrs. Hannah Ellis Tinkham (1765-1862) who is my ancestor.

My Aunt shared Essie's story with Heather not long ago and since then Heather has been making our ancestors proud by sharing it with fellow Dominis descendants and the people of Hawaii.  I'm jealous that Heather will be going to Hawaii soon and will get to see all the places mentioned in Essie's memoir, including Washington Place where the Dominis family lived and welcomed Essie and Evy in 1848.   Be sure to check out Heather's wonderful posts on the Dominis family and Hawaii over at her blog Nutfield Genealogy.  This collaboration of posts was Heather's idea and I would like to thank her for coming up with it and for being so patient with me as I slowly transcribed and got  my act together.  This has been so much fun that I hope we'll be able to do some sort of collaboration again some day.


  1. Yes, Leah, this was fun! We'll have to do a Haley/Healey project. I look forward to it, too.

  2. Transcription is such an act of love. Thank you for sharing it with us as well as Heather.


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