Description of the Voyage of the S.S. Amana to Hawaii 1886

Description of the Voyage of the S.S. Amana to Hawaii 1886

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The iron ship, the Amana, with contract laborers from Madeira arrived in Hawaii on 22 April 1886 after 170 days at sea.  There were 140 men and 101 women on board.  In addition, there were 140 children under the age of 16.  It was a harrowing journey marked by bad weather and illness.  Over 5 months at sea for a new life in Hawaii.

Rough Seas

The Amana took 170 days to travel from London to Madeira and then to Hawaii.  They hit bad weather as they came around Cape Horn.  High winds made for a rocky passage.

It took two months to get through this poor spell.  Two months in which the passengers had to stay below deck.

They made port at Coquimbo, Chile at the captain’s request.  He was worried they may run out of provisions.

Many Illnesses and Four Baby Deaths

As might be expect when hitting such bad weather, the voyage was marred by illness.  At one point 150 passengers were ill.  The illnesses ran the gamut from bronchitis to pneumonia to something called pyrexia.  Pyrexia is a fever brought on by another disease.

I don’t think it is surprising that so many became ill.  So many people on board a ship for 5 months, and 2 of those months without getting a breath of fresh air.  It’s no wonder illness spread quickly.

10 babies were born on this trip.  4 did not survive.  One was born with severe birth defects.  One died of tabes masseter (wasting disease).  Two others died of pneumonia.

What is remarkable is that despite so many passenger becoming ill, some with life threatening conditions, those 4 babies were the only ones that perished on the voyage.

5 Months at the Immigration Depot

I’m not sure if this normal.  Although the article below states that the passengers had all been spoken for, they did not leave the immigration depot until September 27th.

Could it be that there was so much illness on board ship that they allowed the immigrants to recuperate before sending them to plantations?

Almost 6 months at sea and then 5 more months in detention.  Have you any doubt that your ancestors had inner strength?

The Arrival of the Amana

The British iron ship Amana, 1,299 tons register, Captain Alexander Becket, arrived in port yesterday afternoon, 170 days from London, and 147 days from Madeira. She left London April 6th, Iand arrived at Madeira on the 22d. At the latter place she embarked Portuguese immigrants, and sailed on April 29th for this port.  Captain Becket reports very heavy weather at Cape Horn, and they were some considerable time in rounding that point. From the Horn to latitude 30 north, the vessel experienced
the roughest kind of weather, the seas running mountains high, with gales of wind from the northwest. On several occasions they could not show any canvas at all. The Amana put in at Coquimbo August 10th to take in a few stores, as Captain Becket did not want to take the chance of running short. She
left Coquimbo on the 12th, and pleasant weather was encountered during the remainder of the voyage.

The island of Maui was sighted on Wednesday afternoon, and the Captain reports that it was raining very hard on that island, and they saw two beautiful waterfalls.

The Amana was anchored in the stream and has on board 146 men, 101 women, (15 males and 57 females, 12 to 20 years) 140 children from 1 to 12 years, and 16 infants. Four infants died during the passage, and there were 10 births. Soon after the vessel came to anchor, Honorable A.S. Cleghorn, Inspector General of Immigration, accompanied by Senhor A. De Souza Canavarro, Portuguese Commissioner, paid an official visit to her. The Honorable Mr. Cleghorn went all over the vessel and found her in excellent order, a credit to the Captain and Officers. It is wonderful how clean the vessel is after such a long voyage and having so large a number of people on board. The tender for the transferring of the Portuguese immigrants from the ship Amana to the Immigration Depot at Kakaako was awarded to J. Simonson at 10 cents a head. They were all safely landed yesterday afternoon, Sep 24, 1886 at the Depot of Immigration, who paid the most attention to their comfort.

It is understood that the whole batch of the immigrants are already spoken for, and that shipment to their various destinations will commence on Monday, Sep 27, 1886.
To Messrs Skinner & Co.

I beg to report for your information that during our long and tedious voyage there have been 10 births. The mothers and infants in each case being well. There have been 4 deaths…all infants. Of these 2 cases on board in a hopeless state, one suffering from a general deformity of the trunk and limbs of an unusual nature, and the other from an uncurable tabes masseter (a wasting away of a muscle which raises the lower jaw and aids in mastication). The remaining two died from pneumonia, due to the exposure and insufficient clothing off Cape Horn. The amount of sickness has at times been very large especially during the long continued wet, cold and stormy weather off Cape Horn, when for nearly 2 months the people were unable to come on deck. At one time there were over 150 suffering from illness more or less severe. Several had cases of erysipelas occurred, and 2 almost fatal cases of pyrexia, besides several of pneumonia, bronchitis and rheumatic fever so that there is great cause for thankfulness that the death rate had been so small. In any effort to care for the welfare and health of the immigrants, I have been ably seconded by Captain Becket between whom he and myself have the most cordial and friendly feelings during our long voyage.

The Chief Officer and second mate have also done all in their power to make things comfortable during the greater part of the voyage and has ably carried out my instructions and have proved himself energetic in the very thankless task of making people keep themselves clean. The storekeeper Mr. H. Britton, has had the entire control of the stores and the feelings and arrangements of the emigrants. It is therefore, unnecessary for one to refer to those departments farther than to state that the food supplied to the emigrants has been ample for their health and requirements. In fact, I am of the opinion, that, in very few ships have the emigrants been so well-fed and cared for. There certainly has not been the slightest cause for any complaint either as to quality and quantity of their rations.

I am, gentlemen, Yours obediently.

J.A.W. Wardale, S.R.E.R.
London, M.R.C.S. – England
Surgeon in Charge – 23 Sep 1886

The tender for transferring the Portuguese immigrants that came on the SS Amana by Mr. W.O. Atwater to their destinations from the Immigration Depot, Kakaako, 27 Sep 1886 were sent thus:

Haiku Sugar Co. – 37 men, 32 women, 67 children
G.W. MacFarlance & Co. – 2 men, 3 women, 1 child
Koloa Sugar Co. – 14 men, 10 women, 33 children
Hamakua Plantation Co. – 15 men, 14 women, 30 children
Father Sylvester, St. Louis College – 1 man, 1 woman, 1 child
Star Mill Co. – 5 men, 3 women, 2 children
Paia Plantation – 36 men, 32 women, 66 children
East Maui Stock Co. – 3 men
Messrs. Flye & Meier, Waimea, Kauai – 10 men, 9 women, 13 children
Kilauea Sugar Co. – 10 men, 10 women, 22 children
R.R. Hind, Kohala – 5 men, 2 women

The total amount sent to all destinations were 138 men, 116 women and 235 children. The emigrants are a fine looking people that ever arrived on these islands. The greatest pains were taken by the London agent, Messrs. Skinner & Co. To provide for their comfort during the long voyage. Senhor A. De Souza Caravarro, the Portuguese Consul, and Commissioner, informed Messrs. George W. MacFarlance & Co. the local agents, that all the immigrants were loud in praise of the kind treatment they received on board the Amana. There was a great demand for this class of immigrants, and if doubled the number had arrived, they would all have been secured. Many applications could not be filled.
(Article original appeared in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 24 Sep 1886)

In the article, Creditable, it is reported that by the 29th of Sept all but two passengers had been sent to plantations.  It does not say why those two had lingered.

A short article about passengers being transported to the mainland (first column, small article)

In the Water Front, the Amana’s arrival is briefly summed up.


© 2003-2017 Melody Lassalle

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