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#24 Swanley

Prospective Citizens are Greeted by Hundreds of Relatives and Friends

Eight hundred and sixty nine Portuguese men, women and children left Madeira and St. Michael Islands for Honolulu aboard the British steamship Swanley, and although three infants died on the way, about eight hundred and seventy four arrived in Honolulu yesterday morning, there being eight births on the voyage, December 12, 1909.

It was an eager crowd which lined up the rails of the steamer when the vessel arrived off port as she passed in and tied up at the channel wharf, and there were hundreds of their Country’s men and women ashore anxious to see old friends and relatives. In fact, so many of the Honolulu Portuguese swarmed over the road between the wharf and the Immigration Station to see the new arrivals, and to talk and weep with them, that Inspector-in-Charge Raymond C. Brown had to use fire ropes to keep the crowds back.

The S.S. Swanley brought 511 adults, and they were a likely looking lot of people. They did not all look like agricultural laborers. Many wore clothes of the city, cut, a la Azores styles, and some appeared even dudish. Some of the men went ashore wearing jaunty hats of straw or felt, some carried canes and sported gold chains and watches, some carried dogs, parrots, game cocks, while accordions, guitars, and mandolins were numerous among the musical instruments. Many of the women were exceedingly trim in tight fitting dresses, wearing hats, akin to the peach basket style of several months ago--but it must be remembered the Immigrants have been at sea nearly two months.

The Immigrants came ashore soon after the vessel tied up and were immediately escorted to the Immigration Station where the usual examinations will be held. It will continue all of today, and when passed, the immigrants will be free to go where they choose. The Planters will look after as many as want to go upon the Plantations.

The S.S. Swanley, which was chartered by A.J. Campbell, the Board of Immigration’s special agent to secure immigrants in Portugal, left Ponta Delgada, St. Michael’s, on October 18, 1909, with 758 immigrants, and left Funchal, Madeira, October 26, 1909, with 111 more, making a total of 869. The agents had expected to gather at least 1300 immigrants, and the vessel was heavily provided to meet the hungry demands of such a large number. That provisions was made to feed this large number of mouths may be learned from the fact that on arrival here yesterday, December 12, 1909, Captain Steele found that he had left 23,000 pounds of flour, 6,000 pounds of assorted beef, 2,000 pounds of salted pork, 1,000 pounds of sugar, 3,080 pounds of rice, 14,000 pounds of feed poultry, 9,000 pounds of hard bread, 4,400 pounds of beans, and a large number of other provisions. The immigrants did not care for Bologna sausages or cheese, and there is a big quantity left. About 1,200 loaves of bread were baked each day.

Doctor Gaspar and Doctor Ritson, the two Portuguese doctors accompanying the ship, report that the health of the immigrants has been excellent throughout. They speak highly of the food furnished bythe steamship to the immigrants, and speaks highly also, of the fact that the morale of the people were above criticism and that they subscribed to all the disciplinary rules of the ship.


As to the effort to keep the steamer clean with so many people aboard the doctors state they have always found the ship clean and orderly. Each day, sixteen sweepers were employed to keep the immigrants quarter’s clean. The decks were kept very dry, they say, owing to the vigilance of the sweepers, and also because there was a plentiful supply of dry sawdust. After the officer’s inspection, disinfectant was sprinkled under the bunks and over the decks. They state the air had been excellent and the ventilation perfect.


The morning staff is also given a send-off. Two English nurses, Miss Hale and Miss Metcalf, did excellent service among the people, and as a result there was very little serious illness.

However, when the S.S. Swanley was in port yesterday there was considerable filth on the decks. The iron decks were sticky with filth which was disagreeable to walk over. Scuppers were filled with dirty liquids, and corners were crowded with odds and ends of eatables. Even near the galleys, old vegetables and dirt had accumulated. The stairways were slippery with filth which many feet had placed there after being in contact with the iron decks.


Nevertheless, the people were quite cleanly in appearance. Some among the immigrants appeared to wish to show off their good clothes. One young man spent considerable time in adjusting his clothes before coming on deck. His wife assisted in getting his tie on straight, and when it came to creasing his felt hat and turning down the rim fore and after to give the headgear a rakish appearance, his wife again took a hand and finally with a look as if to suggest “Is my hat on straight?” the young man picked up a light walking cane, and taking his wife by the arm, sauntered forth to set foot upon the outpost shores of America. They were fairly well off with this world’s good, too, if statements made by ship’s officers are certain. Many of them flashed jewelry and not a few when pulling money out of their pockets displayed gold pieces.


Captain Steele hopes to make another trip with immigrants, but a Portuguese who recently returned from the Azores says that there is not much prospect of getting any more, at least not in large numbers. The S.S. Swanley was to have brought 1300. A little more than half that number could be brought together. The steamer waited for five days over time and it is said that this waiting will be costly as there was to be a demurrage charge of $25.00 a day for waiting.

The S.S. Swanley is a big freighter of 4,640 gross tons, net 2,907, she is 300 feet long, her breath is 51 feet. Captain Steele is a big, bluff, hearty, laughing skipper. He has had much experience in handling large bodies of people. In the South African War he commanded vessels which transported thousands of soldiers over seas.

H. Hackfield & Co. are agents for the steamship Swanley.

Threatened Consul With Death, Until Cooled Off With The Hose

Angry Portuguese, threatening that they would kill their Consul and daring the immigration officials to lay hands on them, swirled around the front entrance of the Immigration Station yesterday. They were drunk and noisy, cursing officials and everyone else in sight and the only way that could be found to cool them off was to turn the hose on them.

The turbulent ones were exclusively recent arrivals in Hawaii and their actions and language brought the blush of shame to those Portuguese in the crowd who had been born here or who had lived here a number of years. The rioters were from among those who had arrived here three years ago on the S.S. Heliopolis and who have been working in the various plantations in Oahu since, having gathered in town now to greet their friends and relatives from the steamer Swanley.


On Tuesday, when the Immigrants landed, R.C. Brown, Inspector-In-Charge of the Immigration Station, found himself and force of helpers confronted by a surging crowd of resident Portuguese who had gathered to meet the newcomers. Those ashore thought it was their privilege to rush forward and embrace their friends, to talk to them and advise them as to their future course. Brown gave the orders to clear the entrance to the channel wharf and then to drive the people back to a respectable distance so that the local people and the Immigrants should not come in contact. In order to get the crowd back, ropes had to be used. Even then the local people shouted to the Immigrants. “Do not sign up for work in the Plantations---come to us.” In one instance an immigrant guard and one of the outside Portuguese came to blows and the guard had the best of it.


After the Immigrants were passed in the big station the outside people tried to get over the fence into the yard. They became so persistent that the guards had to push them back by force. Late in the afternoon the station hose was brought out and water was laid on the crowd. This somewhat dampered their ardor, but few of the rougher ones determined to retaliate.


Some of them, armed with rocks, came close to the fence and let go their missiles. One struck guard Houghtailing on the forehead, inflicting a bad wound.


Whenever he came to the gate, this rowdy element persisted in buttonholing the Consul and finally became abusive. When he was out of hearing, they became more and more abusive, heaping drunken curses upon his head and declaring if he left the grounds they would kill him.

One drunken Portuguese, not yet a citizen, became so enraged at what he considered to be the arrogance of the Federal Officers, that he almost tore his coat off. He stamped upon his hat and called upon the official to shoot him. Yesterday the crowd outside the gates was dense as ever and police officers had to be summoned to guard the entrance. The hose was turned at a few of the worse again, but many of them had been drinking, were drunk and noisy and the cold water only made them abusive.

They called for the Consul-General, Canavarro, and demanded he admit them, not only into the grounds, but into the rooms occupied by the Immigrants. The Consul explained that the Immigrants were in the hands of the Immigration officials and that he had absolutely nothing to do with the people until they were passed on.


At half-past one o’clock yesterday afternoon, the first immigrants passed out of the gates into the streets and went over to the channel wharf where the baggage was held in the keeping of the Customs authorities. In one hour the immigration officials passed one hundred and sixteen people. On the manifest some of them stated to have declared they had $25.00 or $50.00 or $10.00, but when some of the fifty-dollar ones were examined and asked how much money they had, they said they had 25 cents or 10 cents. One man with a family of seven declared he had not a cent. When asked where he expected to get supper on no money, he shrugged his shoulders. However, most of them had friends outside or have friends or relatives on other islands.


Six marriages took place before all were passed out yesterday. The Consul-General and the Catholic priest had the ceremonies on hand, and this little feature of the day added not a little to the interesting incidents cropping up.

When the Immigrants were asked whether any of them were anarchists, they looked surprised and many answered with very emphatic denials that they were other than goodly, orderly, subjects. Others shrugged their shoulders. One family was apparently quite well-to-do. The members went forth into their new world dressed quite a la mode, the men swinging canes, the women carrying fashionable black leather bags. The women wore light flannel suits. One man carried a suitcase which was of the expensive kind. Most of the women carried babies in their arms.


The Consul-General was informed early by some Immigrants that the food with which they had been supplied on board the S.S. Swanley was unfit to eat. The Consul-General notified Mr. Brown and requested that officers make an investigation. Accompanied by other immigration officials they went aboard and asked to be allowed to go into the refrigerators and other supply rooms and look over the provisions.

They brought out balls of cheese, English Bologna sausages, bread, beans and other materials. They tasted these, ate portions and found them to be as good as are found in any of the restaurants. The Bologna, being of English make, was not so highly seasoned as that to which they had been accustomed, but it was excellent. The bread, two days old, was good and compared very favorably with bread from the local bake shop.

The Immigration officials supplied excellent meals in a tent erected near the station. The luncheon consisted of tender beef steak surrounded and submerged with gravy, big thick slices of bread, tea and a few other substantial things. The tired immigration officials, not having time to go up town for their luncheon, sat at the tables and partook of the same food with the immigrants.


The Immigrants were passed out at the front door, and into the street, going over to the wharf for their trunks and general baggage. Few went to the Planter’s shed to look for work, but as many of the Portuguese waiting yesterday for immigrants are relatives or on plantations, it is supposed that a large number will work on the sugar estates. Local Portuguese advised them to take this course, and not try to get work in town at once. A double quartet of immigrants are being held for further examinations as to the state of their mentality. Four of them at least, be returned to their native isles.


R.D. Mead of the Planter’s Association stated last evening that a large number of Immigrants have applied to the Association for work in the Plantations. They will be accommodated as quickly as possible.

Settlement of A Large Number of Them on Hawaii

Between fifty and sixty Portuguese families of the old guard that have been here for nearly a quarter of a century are about to be placed upon homesteads at Hakalau, Hawaii. This is upon the lands whose lease to Hakalau Plantation Co. is about expiring.

Land Commissioner D.W. Pratt leaves on the S.S. Claudine for Hilo today, the main purpose of his visit to the island of Hawaii being the placing of these Portuguese homesteaders upon the plots allotted to them. He will be absent for about eight days, returning on the S.S. Kinau a week from Saturday. On the way to Hilo, the Commissioner will attend to some land matters at Kahului, Maui, while the steamer is in port.

After the installation of the Portuguese homesteaders at Hakalau, Mr. Pratt hopes to be able to obtain a release of other lands on Hawaii, where-as another lot of the sturdy Portuguese Yeomanry may be established in houses of their own. The putting into effect on such a credible scale for a start of the government’s policy of domiciling the agricultural laborers of the islands has a happy significance in happening contemporaneously with the arrival of fresh levies of agricultural laborers from the islands under Portugal’s dominion. All the more so, that in this respect, the policy of finding homesteads for Europeans already here had been well advanced, practically before it was known that the people just arrived could be induced to come here. The fact is an earnest of a fair deal to the newcomers.

Excerpts taken from the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. State of Hawaii Library on microfilm, State of Hawaii Archives.

Thank you to Sandy Sakai for this contribution.
© 2003 Melody Lassalle

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