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    Lorenzo Lyons Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages, 7.75" x 12.5", Waimea, Hawaii, September 10, 1832. Only months after arriving in Hawaii, the Congregationalist missionary writes to his sister in Greenfield, Massachusetts, about his journey and arrival to Hawaii.

    A native of Massachusetts, Lorenzo Lyons (1807-1886) was ordained a minister in the Congregationalist Church in 1831. In November of that same year, he and his wife left their home bound for the mission fields in Hawaii. They landed on the islands on May 16, 1832, four months before writing this letter. On July 16, they arrived at Waimea, "12 miles from the seashore." Lyons quickly learned the language and built his Waimea parish into Hawaii's largest mission station. This is the first letter that he had written to his sister. "You are no doubt anxious to hear from us. . . . yes there were seasons when everything was dark before us & when a grave in the depth of the ocean appeared our only doom. . . . But by wise & kind Providence we outrode the storm, escaped the perils of the ocean and are now trading the soil of uncivilized man." The missionary found that most of the population was receptive to his teachings. Though there was no translation of the Bible into the language of the Hawaiians, Lyons predicted that "the whole Bible will be translated into this language we cannot say under 4 ore 5 years perhaps."

    Lyons' letter includes many details about the Hawaiians and their customs."They eat with their fingers & several from the same dish. The dish which is something like a large pumpkin shell is placed on the floor. They sit around it some on their feet & some on their knees -- There eating is done very lazily. After eating they liked their pipe & smoke a while. . . . The houses were something of a desolate aspect, with the exception of a few occupied by foreign residents, there are grass huts looking like so many haystacks directed in a large field. The inhabitants amount to 5 or 6000 souls. . . . This field is white to the harvest and many laborers are needed. . . . Something is doing likewise to destroy the use of tobacco which is a very great evil. It is smoked in great quantities & to great excess by all classes sexes & pages. . . . The Chiefs are all friendly to religion apparently - & most of them are members of the church."
    The missionary writes about the difficulties of traversing between islands. Not only were there great distances between them, but the "unpleasantness" of the boats and crew added to the rigors. "The vessel is most generally small & filled with all manner of things pigs, goats, cats, dogs, fowls &c. besides a multitude of natives whose almost naked forms & manners of eating & sleeping &c are almost intolerable to an American." He further describes their gardens, the climate, the physical environment, and their work as missionaries. By the time he wrote this letter, he was already "preaching in the language of his people."

    Page one contains some cross-hatched text. Tape repairs reinforce the weaknesses at all folds, as well as over some holes in the letter. Small amounts of text have been lost. A transcription of the letter is included.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    13th-14th Tuesday-Wednesday
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