Description of the Voyage of the S.S. Abergeldie to Hawaii 1883

Description of the Voyage of the S.S. Abergeldie to Hawaii 1883

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The SS Abergeldie made its route around South American stopping in Coronel, Chile before heading to Honolulu. It arrived in Hawaii and the Portuguese immigrants were brought ashore on the 5th of May.

There were 140 cases of measles reported, but no deaths due to the disease.

Locals Liked to Watch the Immigrants

In the articled “Scenes at the Immigration Depot” there is a description of the Portuguese immigrants who have arrived on this ship.  What surprised me is that the writer encourages his readers to come down at noon when all the immigrants are lounging about.

Apparently, people watching was a thing in the 1880s.  I imagine the arrival of each ship was a big occasion.  And, if that ship brought people from faraway lands it was a chance to see what they looked like and how they dressed.

I wonder how our ancestors felt being “on display” as it were.  It was almost as if there was a new exhibit at the zoo.

Did All Azoreans Want to Migrate to Hawaii?

There is an assertion in the second excerpt that the “entire population” of the Azores wanting to migrate to Hawaii.  Could this really be true? Granted, many did.  But, I’m doubtful that they all wanted to leave.  I think our writer exaggerates a bit.

It is true that conditions were awful in the Azores.  Crops were failing and there was quite a bit of poverty.  Life was hard.  Forced conscription in the Portuguese arming made for tension.  Hawaii may have seemed like utopia especially with the promises that contract labor promised.

Still, we know that everyone did not migrate.  In fact, I still have cousins in the Azores today.

I think this statement was a bit of a sales pitch.  Much like the descriptions of the passengers as happy upon arrival.  Happy to get off that darn ship!  I would guess they were more exhausted and relieved to be on terra firma again.


The Steamship, Abergeldie, under the command of Captain Watson, arrived in Honolulu port Thursday, 10 May 1883, 62 days from St. Michael, Azores, having on board nearly a thousand Portuguese immigrants. A visit to the vessel yesterday showed them to be in good health and for their general appearance, we judge, they will be a valuable addition to the population of the Islands. Notwithstanding the fact that a thousand souls had been confined to the limits of the steamers deck for more than 2 months (62 days). They look cheerful, healthy and in fact as though they had a good time. Leaving St. Michael’s on the 2nd of March, 1883 at 5:45 a.m., they reached the Straits of Magellan on the 28th of March and passed through it at 5 p.m. on the 30th.

Good weather was met crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Coronal Harbor was reached on 4 April 1883 at 11:25 a.m. Coronal Harbor is in the coast of Chile. Here the steamer coaled, but being delayed in getting a full quantity required, the vessel did not get away until 9:30 p.m. on 9 April. The voyage thence to Honolulu was a delightful one, notwithstanding, which the Islands of Hawaii Nei were hailed with delight by the passengers. The vessel carried on board 945 passengers all told. There were 15 births and 9 deaths, the latter all children. There were 140 cases of measles, but no deaths from that disease. The Captain and doctors had the pleasure to report a clean bill of health, upon the arrival of the vessel, Abergeldie; the measles which had quite a run during the voyage, having disappeared, and the deaths which had taken place having being comparatively few and confined to the young children of whom there is a large number on board.

The passengers spoke in the highest terms of the treatment they received during the voyage. They all joined in signing flattering testimonial to the Captain and its officers, also to the Medical Officers, Chief Steward, storekeeper and to Mr. John C. Halbert, the supercharge, through whom they have requested that their expressions of gratification should be conveyed to their friends and relatives at home. They report that the provisions furnished them have been of the best quality, and abundant in quantity. Particular pains were taken by Colonel G.W. MacFarlance, especially arrangements be made to give the immigrants enough and the best foods for the trip.

Consul Senor Coravarro congratulated Colonel MacFarlance for his successful carrying out of this instructions to Messr. Hoffrung & Co. The trip by the British steamship Abergeldie took 62 days from St. Michael to Honolulu. Many employers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the steamship Abergeldie with the Portuguese immigrants on board. There is now a decided opinion sitting down in favor of the Portuguese immigrants as the best for population and the various industries of these Islands. Germans, Norwegians and other northern European immigrants are now regarded as of very doubtful value in the way of promoting population or subserving industrial enterprise in these Islands. They are uncertain about their stay and look to the broad public lands of America and Australia for new homes; whereas the inhabitants of the Islands of the Azores Archipelago, Madeira and the Cape Verde Group find here a perfectly congenially settling place, and one thoroughly adapted to their previous habits and conditions.



A thorough inspection of the large number of Portuguese immigrants which are now quartered in the Immigration Depot show them to be in a healthful condition, contented and happy. They have been engaged in washing up since their arrival and now presents a very clean appearance. An abundance of wholesome and substantial food is provided for them from day to day, and they seem hearty and pleased with their prospects.

Owing to the failure of the orange and grape crops in the Azores Archipelago, where they came from, the whole population of those Islands are anxious to emigrate to Hawaii. Thus, what is a loss to Azores is a gain for us. These Portuguese are likely to prove the most reliable and valuable immigrants that can be obtained for purpose of repopulation and industrial enterprises. They are docile and accustomed to a climate very similar to ours. There women are prolific, shorter and used to toil. Besides, the Portuguese are not given, as a loss, to intemperance or sedition. They are contented with a fair living and are saving and thrifty. Beyond a doubt these immigrants will prove a very valuable acquisition, both as laborers and inhabitants of the country. It would be well to take advantage of the crop failure in the Azores, and the present consequent inclination of the people there to emigrate to the Islands by providing passage for as many more as can be readily employed here.

(Excerpts from The Pacific Commercial Advertiser Weekly, Hawaii State Library.)

A brief summary of the trip can be found in the 5 May 1883 edition of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser.

More brief stories under “Local and General Items” about the Portuguese leaving the ship from 5 May 1883 edition of the Daily Bulletin

© 2003-2017 Melody Lassalle

2 thoughts on “Description of the Voyage of the S.S. Abergeldie to Hawaii 1883

  1. Thank you, I forwarded this to family members, many of whom were excited to get it. Our da Costa side of the family came to Hawaii aboard the Abergeldie.

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