The Genealogy Project Begins
The name of this blog isn’t completely accurate. I’m actually researching my family history, which includes (largely) the Ka’aihue family in Hawai’i. My mother has the Ka’aihue name, as handed down from her paternal side of the family. I know I have a huge family – roughly 35 cousins (from her siblings alone), however I grew up in California, away from the islands, the culture and my extended family. Once I realized how big of a project this was going to be, I decided to start this blog as a way to chronicle my findings and possibly discover/meet members of my family I never knew existed. I will be doing the research whenever I have free time away from work and my little one at home. It’s only been three days and I’m already deeply intrigued with my new undertaking.
A few days ago I had the ingenious idea of pulling together some family history for my mother, since her birthday is in a couple weeks. She’s actually coming to town to visit next week, and I figured I could Google some information, throw together a family tree and give it to her while she’s here. Boy was I way off base. I started off with some basic information. My mom has 11 siblings that lived past infancy. I knew my grandfathers name on both sides of her family, as well as her maternal grandmother’s last name. I know some of her cousins, and also know we have several family members who are, shall we say local and semi-national “celebrities”, for lack of a better term. I also heard the rumor that we had royal blood, but I didn’t know which royal family. And thus, the search began.
As I began digging and Googling and searching through genealogy sites, I started to oddly feel connected to these people whose names I viewed on census lists from the 1900’s. Some I had heard stories about, some I’m sure had stories that were lost over time, and lived lives wrought with poverty and dispair. I started learning things about my heritage, my culture; things I hadn’t thought to question before. In researching our connection to the royal lines of Hawai’i I came across the story of Queen Lili’uokalani. A story I’ve read before but never touched me as it did now that I’ve come to feel connected to all of these entities from the past. As I started to unearth more names, census lists and death certificates, I started to develop a strange fascination and urge to uncover as much as possible about our family as a whole and where we came from. I wanted to find out as much about our ancestors as possible. What were their occupations? How many times were they married? Can I get a Google map of where they lived? If you have ever tried to research your ancestry, I’m sure you’ve found that once you hit the wall, you tried digging around any other names that were connected to your family tree. That’s how a little family tree turned into a long term project.
When you think back to the rural Hawaiian islands in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, what do you think life was like? I had never posed this question to myself until recently, when I started to notice that every time I went up one person (generation) in our history, that person had about at least 3 siblings, more often than not, that number was between 8 and 12. No, I’m not kidding. You were reading above when I mentioned my mother has 11 siblings, weren’t you? And yes, those are only the ones who lived into adulthood. My grandmother Helen Leilani Wills had 3 siblings. Okay. Nothing so unusual. My grandfather, David Kala Ka’aihue had 6 siblings. One of those siblings had 9 children. Just one of them! I haven’t even started to wrap my brain around the rest of them and their families. That is a small but relevant example of the Hawaiian people having nothing better to do than reproduce. Hah, I’m sooo kidding. But really, what was there to do back then? Dad would work, mom would stay at home and take care of the kids, have more kids, and then take care of grandkids. I bet the population of Hawai’i would have dramatically decreased had there been Satellite TV or The Internet. Who would want to make a 10th kid when you could be watching Andrew Zimmern eat semi-boiled goats testicles? On a serious note, I started to research some of the families that married into our family, hoping to find more records or information. As I started adding people to our family tree, I finally started grasping the enormity of this project. There was no way I’d be able to get this done for my mom in one week. I don’t think I could get this done in one year. Sorry, mom!
I decided to follow through and try to get as much done as possible. I posted on Facebook about it and got my cousin Lee to help as well. We’ll see how many others in the family are willing to help. I’m sure there will be those who are going to read this and think to themselves snidely “What is she doing that for?”. To those people I say: Welcome to my blog, please enjoy this nice tall glass of STFU juice.
I plan on posting my findings and updates on my progress, but also will post interesting historical facts or things I’ve learned about the Polynesian culture as a whole. I hope to bring awareness of the Polynesian people to the masses, and am excited to have you here, learning along with me. As you may have already discerned, this blog will also contain a mix of humor and sarcasm. If you are easily offended, don’t let the virtual door hit you on the way out. If you think we may be related please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. To those who join me on this journey, E komo mai, and I hope you enjoy the ride!