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ISLAND HISTORY: ‘Akamai’ crewman William Brash’s recollections of 19th century Kaua‘i

Born in New Zealand, the son of William and Mary Brash, William Brash (1842-1929) arrived in Honolulu with his parents on the American whaler “Fame of New London” in 1844.

He attended the Honolulu Free School, and in 1854 he obtained a position on the steamboat “Akamai,” plying between Honolulu and Hanama‘ulu, and Honolulu and Hanalei.

In 1915, he revisited Kaua‘i and reminisced about those days.

“Kaua‘i has changed a great deal since those old days,” he said.

“There were no roads then — only trails which were widened in the neighborhood of settlements to accommodate the road carts and carriages of those times. But there were good times here, and everybody seemed to be happy. Every time we came to Kaua‘i we would buy the carcass of a bullock from William Harrison Rice, so as to have fresh meat on board. There were only two sugar plantations on Kaua‘i in the days when I came to the island regularly that were large enough to be called such — Koloa and Lihu‘e.”

After a couple of years aboard “Akamai,” he quit the sea to enter the Pacific Commercial Advertiser as an apprentice.

Brash was present when the first issue of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser came off the press on July 2, 1856.

“ I remember how the men crowded into the press room and how they stood around waiting to get the first papers. Besides helping set up the paper, the printer’s devils were newsboys. As soon as the paper went out, the other two boys and I went out in the streets and sold the papers. They sold for 12 1/2 cents apiece.

“The paper’s owner, H. M. Whitney, persuaded me to bank a dollar a week, and at the end of five years I had a thousand dollars. That thousand dollars I put away was later invested in sugar and it made me well off in my old age.”

In 1877, Brash joined the Wilder Steamship Co. as purser, was soon in charge of the freight department, and remained in that position for 30 years.
Source: The Garden Island

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