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ISLAND HISTORY: Naval Officer William Reynolds resided at Malumalu from 1852-61

Born in Pennsylvania, William Reynolds (1815-1879) joined the Navy in 1831, was promoted to midshipman and lieutenant in 1841, and served as an officer with the U. S. Exploring Expedition, or Wilkes Expedition, as it is also referred to, which explored the Pacific from 1838 to 1842.

Commanded by Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes (1798-1877), the expedition was comprised of 82 officers, 342 sailors and nine naturalists, scientists and artists aboard a squadron of six ships.

The expedition visited most of the Pacific island groups, including Hawai‘i in 1840, surveyed more than 280 islands, survived shipwrecks and attacks by hostile native islanders, and mapped Antarctica.

Reynolds returned to Hawai‘i in 1851 on leave from the Navy.

In 1852, he leased 100 acres with his wife, Rebecca, at Malumalu, Kaua‘i – located about one-quarter mile or so east of where today’s Puhi and Hulemalu roads intersect, an area also known as Grove Farm Field #10 – and resided there in a thatched-roof house atop the pali above the Huleia River.

At Malumalu, the Reynoldses were members of a small community modeled after the Brook Farm Colony (1841-47) of novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and his fellows – a utopian experiment in communal living in Massachusetts.

Other members of the Malumalu community, in existence from about 1850 until the mid-1860s, were Judge and Mrs. Jacob Hardy, Judge and Mrs. Edward Bond, and Mr. and Mrs. James Marshall.

Several hundred Hawaiians occupied thatched houses in the vicinity.

While in Hawai‘i, Reynolds also worked as a U. S. naval storekeeper in Honolulu, until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, at which time he sailed back to the United States and active service with the U. S. Navy.

In 1867, as captain of the “U.S.S. Lackawanna,” he returned again to Hawaii for a 18 month tour of duty.

On one particular cruise to Kaua‘i, he gave a demonstration of naval gunfire at Hanalei, entertained residents aboard ship, and transported missionaries to their General Meeting in Honolulu.

He later served as acting Secretary of the Navy and retired as a rear admiral in 1877.
Source: The Garden Island

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