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The founding of Kamehameha Schools 1883 to 1887

May 24, 1883
Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani passes, leaving over 300,000 acres of land to her cousin Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Pauahi is the last remaining descendant of Kamehameha I.

October 16, 1884
After a short and painful fight with breast cancer, Bernice Pauahi Bishop succumbs to the disease at Keoua Hale. Black and Mellen write in their book that “from the hour of her death until the morning of her funeral, it rained continuously, until, at the appointed time the heavens cleared, and the sun shone brightly”.

The Will
13 Codicil

While Pauahi does not explicitly state that attendees of the schools must be Hawaiian, many feel, including her husband, that the message is implicit. Pauahi does, however, decree that teachers at Kamehameha must be of the Protestant faith. Bernice Pauahi appoints the following men to be her trustees:

Charles Reed Bishop

Samuel M. Damon

Charles M. Hyde

Charles M. Cooke

William O. Smith

April 9, 1885
The first meeting of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Trust Board of Trustees was held at Keoua Hale 21 Emma Street with Bishop chosen chairman for the evening. (Kent, Harold. Charles Reed Bishop)

December 23, 1885
The official prospectus of the schools is publicly announced:

…it is intended that the course of study shall be specially adapted to the circumstances and needs of our island community, present and prospective, with no rigid requirements designed to turn out finished products of one particular pattern…

April 1 1886
REVEREND WILLIAM BREWSTER OLESON is hired from Hilo boarding school to become the first principal of the Kamehameha School for Boys at an annual salary of $3000.00 with house and pasturage. He pens the school song, “Sons of Hawai‘i” together with Theodore Richards who adapts the tune from Yale’s “Wake, Freshman, Wake”  and chooses the school colors based on Yale school colors. Very early on Christmas day 1888, Reverend Oleson’s son Charles stepped through a glass window and cut an artery in his leg; he lost so much blood they could not save him.

May 20, 1887
Hawaii Newspapers publish advertisements for the opening of a school for boys.

September 6, 1887
Construction of the School for Boys begins with the Principal’s house, dining hall, dormitories 1 and 2, waterworks, kitchen, workshop, laundry, bathhouse, storehouse, stable, water-closet, and blacksmith shop. The cost is $37,722.68.

There are two opening dates for the schools:

October 3, 1887
Kamehameha Schools for Boys opens for students and holds classes. By October 12, 37 boys over the age of twelve are enrolled, with 4 teachers. (L. Hudson)

November 4, 1887
Opening day ceremonies take place with much pomp and circumstance. The front page of the November 8, 1887 Hawaiian Gazette Reports,

King Kalakaua addressed the boys in Hawaiian and his remarks were then translated into English. He told the boys that the name the school bears is the name of one who was famous first of all for habits of industry in the fields before he became famous as a warrior. Intelligence in doing their work well was the main thing to be strived after  by the pupils.