Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sereno Edwards Bishop

Sereno Edwards Bishop was born at Kaʻawaloa on February 7, 1827; he was son of Rev. Artemas and Elizabeth (Edwards) Bishop (part of the Second Company of missionaries to Hawaiʻi (arriving April 27, 1823) and first stationed at Kailua, on the Big Island.)

Mrs Bishop had been a girlhood friend of Mrs Lucy G Thurston, who had preceded her to Hawaii as a missionary, some four years earlier. Mrs Bishop died February 28, 1828 at Kailua, the first death in the mission.

Mr. Bishop, Sr subsequently married Delia Stone, who was a member of the Third Company of missionaries (December 1, 1828.)

The missionaries’ house was usually in a thickly inhabited village, so the missionary and his wife could be close to their work among the people; the missionary children were typically cooped up in their home.

With hundreds of children all about them, missionary children had no playmates except the children of other missionaries, most of whom were scattered over the Islands, meeting only a few times a year.  (Thurston)

“In the early-(1830s,) Kailua was a large native village, of about 4,000 inhabitants rather closely packed along one hundred rods of shore (about 1,650-feet,) and averaging twenty rods inland (about 330-feet.)”

“Near by stood a better stone house occupied by the doughty Governor Kuakiui. All other buildings in Kailua were thatched, until Rev. Artemas Bishop built his two-story stone dwelling in 1831 and Rev. Asa Thurston in 1833 built his wooden two-story house at Laniākea, a quarter of a mile inland.”

“The people had ample cultivable land in the moist upland from two to four miles inland at altitudes of one thousand to twenty-five hundred feet. It is a peculiarity of that Kona coast that while the shore may be absolutely rainless for months gentle showers fall daily upon the mountain slope.”  (Bishop)

Sereno Bishop was sent back to the continent at age 12 for education (he graduated from Amherst College in 1846 and Auburn Theological Seminary in 1851,) he married Cornelia A Session on May 31, 1852 and returned to Hawaiʻi on January 16, 1853.

His observation of Honolulu at the time noted, “The settled portion of the city was then substantially limited by the present
Alapaʻi and River streets and mauka at School street. There was hardly anything outside of those limits and the remainder was practically an open plain.”

“Above Beretania street, on the slopes and beyond Alapaʻi street, there was hardly a building of any nature whatever.”

“At that time there was a small boarding school for the children of the missions at Punahou, under direction of Father Dole. This little structure alone intervened between the city and Mōʻiliʻili, where about the church there were a few houses.”  (Bishop)

Bishop assumed the position of Seaman’s Chaplain in Lāhainā.  The Bishops remained nine years at Lahaina, where five children were born to them (two of the boys died at a young age.)

After 10-years in Lāhainā, he moved to Hāna and later returned to Lāhainā and served from 1865 to 1877 as principal of Lahainaluna. Mr. Bishop considered the work which he did among the native students at Lahainaluna was among the most fruitful of his life.

He left his mark at Lahainaluna, physically, in the shape of the grand avenue of monkey pods on the road to Lahaina, which he personally planted.  (Thurston)

Bishop had a reputation as an amateur scientist with interests particularly in geology.  Bishop’s contributions as an atmospheric scientist were sufficiently prominent to be mentioned in the Monthly Weather Review.  (SOEST)

Rev. Sereno Bishop, a missionary in Hawaiʻi, was the first to provide detailed observations of a phenomenon not previously reported - he noted his observation on September 5, 1883.  It was later named for him – Bishop’s Ring (a halo around the sun, typically observed after large volcanic eruptions.)

Bishop’s observations followed the eruption at Krakatoa (August 23, 1883.)  His findings suggested the existence of the ‘Jet Stream’ (this used to be referred to as the 'Krakatoa Easterlies.')

"It now seems probable that the enormous projections of gaseous and other matter from Krakatoa (Krakatau) have been borne by the upper currents and diffused throughout a belt of half the earth's circumference, and not improbably, as careful observation may yet establish, even entirely around the globe."  (Sereno Bishop)

Bishop made other volcanic observations; a hundred years ago, he noted Diamond Head was made in less than a hour’s time and is “composed not of lava, like the main mountain mass inland, but of this soft brown rock called tuff.” (Bishop, Commercial Advertiser, July 15, 1901)

In 1887, he moved to Honolulu and became editor of "The Friend," a monthly journal, founded in Honolulu in 1843, "the oldest publication west of the Rocky Mountains."

Bishop was identified as “the well-known mouthpiece of the annexation party” and criticized by royalists for his comments.  He remained in Honolulu and died there March 23, 1909.

The image shows Sereno Bishop. (1902)   In addition, I have added others similar images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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