Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peter Cushman Jones

Peter Cushman Jones was born in Boston on December 10, 1837; his father was Peter Cushman Jones, a Boston merchant, and his mother, Jane (Baldwin) Jones.

Young Jones was sent to the Boston Latin School and to “Bakers” School, in preparation for Harvard, but the lure of business was too strong, and as a young man he went to work as an office boy (at a salary of $50 a year.)

Led by an adventurous instinct, he set sail for Hawaiʻi, landing in the Islands on October 2, 1857 on the ship ‘John Gilpin.’

On the day of his arrival, as he passed up Fort Street jingling his 16-cents in his pocket, Henry P Carter, a clerk in C Brewer & Co, remarked, “Another Boston young man come to town to seek his fortune. We had better give him $10,000 and send him home again.”  (Story of Hawaiʻi)

Jones and Carter later became fast friends and close business associates for 20 years at Brewer.  Interestingly, Jones worked his way to the presidency of C Brewer & Co.

In 1892, with his son, Edwin A Jones, he formed a partnership under the name of The Hawaiian Safe Deposit and Investment Co., which has since become the Hawaiian Trust Co.

It was in 1893 that Jones, a 60-year-old businessman, persuaded close friends Joseph Ballard Atherton and Charles Montague Cooke to join him in organizing a new bank in the Islands.  Four years later on December 27, 1897, Bank of Hawaiʻi became the first chartered and incorporated bank to do business in the Republic of Hawaiʻi.

The charter was issued by James A King, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Hawaiʻi, and signed by Sanford Ballard Dole, president of the Republic. Bank of Hawaiʻi operated its first office from a two-story wooden building in downtown Honolulu.  (BOH)

But all was not business for Jones; strongly religious, he served for years as a member of various church boards, a deacon of Central Union Church, president of the Board of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association and director of the YMCA.

Jones gave money for the establishment of the Portuguese Mission, and built the Pālama Chapel, which later grew to become Pālama Settlement, where social welfare work of every nature is still carried on.

A call into political activities came early in his career.

“I never cared for politics although I have always felt it my duty since I became a voter, to cast my vote for those I believed to be the best men, and at all times during the reign of Kalākaua, I felt that it was safe to vote against his followers.”  (Jones, LDS-org)

He was sent to Washington, DC, as the bearer of dispatches from the kingdom having to do with the final signing of the Reciprocity Treaty, which gave Hawaiʻi free trade with the United States.

On November 8, 1892, Queen Liliʻuokalani appointed him Minister of Finance. He was a member of the Wilcox-Jones cabinet until January 12, 1893.

(That cabinet resisted the distillery, lottery, and opium bills, and was dismissed on January 12, 1893 when a Noble of the Reform Party switched allegiance, allowing the Queen to dismiss the cabinet that was preventing her from passing those bills.)

Mr. Jones was an influential figure in the revolution and served on the executive and advisory council of the provisional government.

He helped take over the government building including the treasury and financial records. All four of the Queen's cabinet ministers came to the government building and agreed to turn over the station house and barracks to the Provisional Government.  (Morgan Report)

In testimony in the Morgan Report, Jones stated, “It took about ten minutes to read the proclamation of the Provisional Government, which was read from the steps of the government building facing the Palace. During that 10 minutes about 50-60 armed men supporting the revolution arrived. Within 30 minutes there were 150-200 armed men. The reading of the proclamation finished at 2:45 on January 17.”

When later questioned about these events, "Senator Frye asked. ‘You were at the Government building frequently. Did you ever see, during this revolution, any of the American soldiers marching on the streets?’ Mr. Jones. ‘No.’”

“The Chairman. ‘Did you, as a member of the new Government, expect to receive any assistance from them?’ Mr. Jones. ‘No.’ The Chairman. ‘Do you know whether or not your fellows were looking for any help?’ Mr. Jones. ‘I never knew that they were.’ Senator Frye. ‘As a matter of fact, did they give any assistance to the revolution at all?’ Mr. Jones. ‘No’.”

"The Chairman. ‘Let me ask you right there, is it your belief that that revolution would have occurred if the Boston had not arrived in the harbor?’ Mr. Jones. ‘I believe it would have gone on just the same if she had been away from the islands altogether.’"  (Morgan Report)

Jones served briefly as Minister of Finance in the Provisional government.  However, “The strain of office and my utter unfitness for the high position caused me to entirely break down, and that with the sudden death of my only son Edwin on July 10, 1898, made me unfit for business for several years, culminating in a severe sickness in November 1902, and it was not until 1906 that I felt like assuming any responsibility.” (Jones; LDS)

On February 26, 1902 Peter Cushman Jones, Ltd leased the vacant lot it owned at Merchant and Alakea Streets to Joseph William Podmore (a former English sailor who opened his own firm for insurance, shipping, commission and as agent for others, and, a real estate investor.)  He built the Podmore Building.

Jones later acquired the building and donated it to the Hawaiian Board of Missions for use as a permanent home. It was later used by the Advertiser Publishing Co. Ltd who published the Honolulu Advertiser there until 1928.

Jones Street, near University and Oʻahu was named for Peter Cushman Jones.  The name was changed when a prospective renter of a fine house on this street said: “I’ll not live in Honolulu on Jones Street!” The landlady got busy with a petition and had the name changed to Alaula Way (Way of the Dawn.)  (Clark)

Peter Cushman Jones died in Honolulu on April 23, 1922 at the age of 84.

The image shows Peter Cushman Jones (age 79.)  In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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