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James Robinson, who survived a shipwreck sailing the Pacific, eventually made his home in Honolulu.

Jul 28, 2015

The Genesis of the Ward 'Ohana

'O Ke'alekūpuna ke kilo, nāna nō e kuhikuhi nei i ke ala e naue aku ai.

The pathways once traversed by our ancestors are the same paths that we should follow toward success. Just as Victoria Ward cared for her beloved land, so to do we; following in her footsteps to preserve her unique heritage.

Join us for Ward Wednesdays – a series of blogs where we recount the stories of old and immerse ourselves in the history of Victoria Ward and her 'ohana.

The lineage of the Ward 'ohana traces its way back to an ali'i from Hawai'i Island as well as a young seafaring English entrepreneur, fixated on growing his shipbuilding business in the Islands. Below, we're highlighting the original roots of one of Hawai'i's most influential families.

In the tumultuous years that followed King Kamehameha's venture to unite the Hawaiian Islands in the late 18th century, there was a diaspora of sorts among many ali'i (ruling class) and maka'ainana (citizens). Just as the islands began to come together under the unity of Kamehameha the First, Westerners were beginning to make their way to Hawai'i's shoreline in droves. Some were missionaries looking to spread their beliefs and others were simply out to make a buck off the growing whaling and shipping industries that were taking root in Lahaina, Maui and Honolulu. In the wake of these turbulent years, a young Hawaiian woman, Kamakana, whose family originally hailed from Hawai'i Island and served Kamehameha the First, was making her own life on Maui. With the recent arrivals of Europeans, it was common for many Hawaiian chiefs to employ Westerners. Enter Jean Previere, a Frenchman skilled in negotiation who had taken an eye for Kamakana. In one of the first marriages between a Hawaiian and a foreigner, Kamakana and Previere were wed. Previere proved to be a savvy businessman and connected deals between the ali'i and foreigners in the Islands while he and Kamakana made their home on Maui. They eventually gave birth to Kaikalani Rebecca Previer, who would go on to wed James Robinson, an English seafarer and intrepid businessmen. Just a few years later, their family would grow and they would welcome their daughter Victoria into the 'ohana in 1878.


Victoria Ward's mother, Kaikalani Rebecca Previer, was the daughter of one of the first marriages between a Hawaiian and Westerner.

When Victoria was a child growing up in Nu'uanu in the mid-to-late 1800s, Honolulu was by no means the metropolitan city it is today. At the time, just getting to Nuuanu from the harbor was a journey in and of itself. The roads were largely composed of mud and the primary means of travel was horseback. Growing up, the family spoke both Hawaiian and English in the household interchangeably. Victoria was well educated, well spoken, and well connected. She was, by all accounts, quite the catch.

When the vessel Ocean first docked into Honolulu Harbor after 14 days at sea in 1853, C.P. Ward—a native of Kentucky and proud Southerner—must have been taken aback by what he saw before him. Amid the picturesque valley and small harborside town, C.P. saw many things, but most of all, he saw opportunity.

Henry Walke painted this watercolor of old Honolulu Harbor in 1843 while serving aboard the USS Boston.

When Ward arrived in Honolulu, the whaling industry had reached a crescendo and the area that surrounded the harbor was abuzz with businesses catering to mariners and traders. Soon, Ward took work as a Custom House shopkeeper where he was tasked with overseeing the transfer of goods to warehouses set up by the government. For more than two decades, Ward held this role, which he used to develop a number of lucrative side jobs that saw him become a prominent figure and notable member of the Honolulu social scene. Among his friends, Ward regularly rubbed shoulders with Johh Dominis and Lydia Paki, who would later become Queen Lili‘uokalani.

CP Ward, a passionate Southerner, moved to Honolulu in the 1850s and would go on to marry Victoria Robinson.


Although the tale of how CP Ward and Victoria Robinson met has been lost to history, the two were thought to have run in many of the same circles before they began dating. In 1865, in a dinner at Queen Emma's home, the two announced that they were betrothed. And on June 1, 1865 the duo were wed with the entire Royal Court in attendance.



A young and soon-to-be wed Victoria Robinson.

Following their marriage, the newly dubbed Ward Ohana eventually built their fabled home, Dixie, in Honolulu and raised seven daughters while simultaneously shaping the future of the city through a series of land and business deals. The rest, as they say, is history.


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This is not intended to be an offer to sell in any jurisdiction where prohibited by law. Ward Village is a proposed master planned development in Honolulu, Hawaii that does not yet exist. Exclusive Project Broker Ward Village Properties, LLC. Copyright 2017. Equal Housing Opportunity. Exclusive Project Broker for Ke Kilohana - Locations LLC. Copyright 2017. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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