Jul 28, 2015
The Genesis of the Ward 'Ohana
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
share this article
more stories to discover
Ward Village Foundation: Investing in Hawai'i
Sep 29, 2014
Ward Village Foundation awards 8 new grants
The Dawn Patrollers
Dec 02, 2016
'Dawn patrol', or looking for waves at sunrise, is an integral part of surf culture.
This is What Village Life is All About
Apr 20, 2016
What it takes to build a thriving urban community in the heart of Honolulu