Born in Glens Falls, New York, Charles Reed Bishop (1822-1915) sailed from New York City in 1846 with William Little Lee to seek opportunities in the Oregon Territory, but during a stopover for provisions in Hawai‘i, he remained there instead and formed a partnership with William A. Aldrich selling merchandise to supply the California Gold Rush.
In 1850, he married Bernice Pauahi Paki, an ali‘i of the Kamehameha dynasty, despite the objections of her parents, since she’d been promised by royal Hawaiian custom to Prince Lot Kapuaiwa (Kamehameha V).
When she died in 1884, he wrote: “I know you all loved her, for nobody could know her at all well and not love her. For myself I will only say that I am trying to bear my loss and my loneliness as reasonably as I can looking forward hopefully to the time when I shall find my loved one again.”
Immediately after his wife’s death, Bishop set in motion the process that resulted in the establishment of the Kamehameha Schools in 1887 and contributed his own funds for the construction of several of its buildings.
He later wrote: “Being interested in her plans and wishes and because of her very generous gifts to me…I decided to carry out her wishes regarding the schools and promised to do something toward a museum of Hawaiian and other Polynesian objects…I soon reconveyed to her estate the life interests given by her will and added a considerable amount of my own property.”
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum was established by him in 1889 as an enduring memorial to his wife.
First Hawaiian Bank, with seven of its 62 branch banks located on Kaua‘i, was founded in Honolulu in 1858 by him as Bishop &Co.
Bishop also served several Hawaiian monarchs in appointed positions in the Hawaiian kingdom. Following his death in 1915, Lili‘uokalani said: “In common with those who have known Mr. Bishop for a lifetime, I feel the news of his death most keenly, and can truly say that his loss to Hawai‘i and the Hawaiians is irreparable.”
Source: The Garden Island