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NEWS

Ambrose Hutchison Memoirs
Now Available

Photo (detail) of Father Damien and friends: William T. Brigham; Courtesy of the Congregation of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus), Rome

Ambrose Hutchison: “Recollections of a Lifetime at Kalaupapa”

Pre-order now for limited-edition books available in January
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Ambrose Hutchison among those pictured in the last photograph taken of Father Damien on Feb. 26, 1889, less than two months before Damien died. Ambrose is to the right of Damien, near the top with a house shown behind his head; he’s the hapa-haole man with the facial hair.

"I was taken from my home at Honomaele, Hana, Island of Maui by a squad of native Police headed by the Sheriff of the District and locked in a prison cell like a felon without food and drink and sent to Honolulu. From there a cursory examination by Dr. McKibbin a government physician and I was sent to the (Kalaupapa) Settlement . . . “

These blunt and solemn words begin the remarkable story of Ambrose Kanewalii Hutchison who was separated from his family at the age of 22 and forcibly isolated at Kalaupapa on January 5, 1879 for the rest of his life. After an amazing 53 ½ years at Kalaupapa, he died in 1932 at the age of 76.

Upon Ambrose’s death, a sheaf of handwritten pages were sent to Leuven, Belgium for safekeeping in the Sacred Hearts Archives.

A portion were also preserved in the Hawai‘i State Archives. When the significance of these memoirs was recognized, Kalaupapa history buffs were provided with a never-before-seen account of early life in Kalaupapa.

 

Now, these unpublished memoirs have become the basis of a new book -- “Yours Faithfully: Ambrose Hutchison. Recollections of a Lifetime at Kalaupapa,” edited by Anwei S. Law, historian and award-winning author of “Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory.”

 

Anwei says that Ambrose “left for us the story that no else could tell.” He was Resident Superintendent of Kalaupapa for 10 years and a leader of the community for much of his life. He was close friends with Father Damien, Mother Marianne, Rudolph Meyer, and Queen Kapi’olani. 

 

Anwei went farther then just editing the memoirs. She did additional research that resulted in information about Hutchison not previously known and photographs not often seen. She also identified Ambrose in three of these photos —the first time this has happened. Throughout the process, Law worked closely with Ambrose’s relatives, Mercy Hutchison Bacon and Mercy’s daughter, Monica Bacon.

 

This limited-edition book of 233 pages will be available for sale in January as part of Kalaupapa Month 2023 activities. Each book costs $50, including shipping and handling. To pre-order, contact info.kalaupapa@gmail.com

 

“Yours Faithfully — Ambrose Hutchison: Recollections of a Lifetime at Kalaupapa” is being published by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa in association with the IDEA Center for the Voices of Humanity, the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center and the Damiaan Museum in Belgium. Initial support for the book came from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities and the Damiaan Museum.

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