Thursday, July 30, 2015


Hawaiian and Chinese signatures

During the whaling era in the 1800s, many Chamorro men left Guam, but a few foreign whalers decided to remain on Guam! Some people left, some people came.

In 1857, four Hawaiians and a Chinese man (probably coming by way of Hawaii) petitioned the Spanish Governor permission to stay on Guam until they could leave to return home or go elsewhere.

The four were seamen and the Chinese man was a cook.

Their names are very difficult to decipher. The Spanish spelled their names one way, and their signatures above show something different. One name is clear : Kaainoa.

In order to stay on Guam, the five had to

1. Promise to obey the laws of the land.

2. Not incur debts that would prevent them from leaving the island.

In order to guarantee condition number two, one William Hart, a resident of Guam, had to agree to be their guarantor and assume any and all financial obligations for any of the five.

Eventually, a Spaniard on Guam, Carmelo Gil de Orberá, became guarantor for two of them.

I am sure that, in return, the five men had to do some work for their guarantors.

It is unknown what eventually happened to these Hawaiian and Chinese settlers. We don't see their names again in the records, unless new ones come up. Perhaps they left the island. Perhaps they stayed and died without establishing families. I suspect the former.

Their presence on Guam shows that our elders of the 1800s were familiar with the bigger world out there. Spaniards, Filipinos, Chinese, Americans, British, Carolinian islanders.....and Hawaiians were known to them.

They also used the widespread term for Hawaiians at the time - kanaka - which carries today some negative feeling for some.

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