Warren County Historical Society Presents …


The Digital Version “REWIND”


December 15, 2016




Warren County’s Hawaiian Connection



William Little Lee (left) and Charles Reed Bishop (1846)

            The life of Charles Reed Bishop, born on the bridge that connected Glens Falls and South Glens Falls, is well known by history buffs in the area.  As a young man he traveled to Hawaii and became a leading citizen there, marrying into the Royal Family, and making a name for himself as one of the greatest benefactors the Kingdom of Hawaii has ever known.


Charles Reed Bishop


          Bishop was born on the toll bridge that crossed the Hudson River at Glens Falls on January 25, 1822.  He grew up and went to school in the area.  He attended Glens Falls Academy through the eighth grade, ending his formal education.  , as well as having his first jobs here.  He worked on his grandfather’s farm (Jesse Bishop) and in mercantile establishments, and inventoried and ran a lumber yard.  His background in farming, bartering, bookkeeping, repairing wagons, clerking and accounting made him knowledgeable in the principles of commerce and industry.

          Charles and William Little Lee, a friend from Sandy Hill (Hudson Falls), were interested in going to Oregon, so they packed up and went to Newberryport, Massachusetts.  From there they sailed on the ship HENRY, planning on going to the Oregon Territory.  Charles was going to work at surveying; William was planning on practicing law.

          The ship encountered bad weather and storms and ultimately, after an eight month journey, anchored in Honolulu Harbor in the Kingdom of Hawaii for provisions and repairs.

          The pair decided to stay in Hawaii where Bishop got a job in mercantile and trading and later at the United States Consulate in Honolulu.  Later, after signing an oath to “support the Constitution and Laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom,” he was appointed Collector of Customs for the kingdom.

          Charles Bishop eventually married Princess Bernice Pauahi of the Hawaiian Royal Family.  He was made a lifetime member of the House of Nobles, joined the Privy Council, became Collector General of Customs, helped organize the Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society, opened a bank under the name Bishop and Company [the predecessor of First Hawaiian Bank], and generally without realizing it, laid the foundation for his leadership in the community. (From Charles Reed Bishop, Man of Hawaii by Harold W. Kent).

          Charles Bishop left Hawaii after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Royal family.  He spent about the last ten years of his life in San Francisco, California.  After his death, his ashes were returned to Hawaii where they were buried next to his wife in the Kamehameha tomb.

          Charles Reed Bishop’s impact on Hawaii continues to this day.  The Royal Museum of Hawaii is called the Bishop Museum.  More can be found on Charles Reed. Bishop in a Rewind column published in February 2009.


A memorial to Charles Reed Bishop in Hawaii. He ashes are interred in the Royal mausoleum next to his wife.


William Little Lee, originally from Sandy Hill, NY, spent his adult life in service to the people of Hawaii.  Photo courtesy of the internet



William Little Lee

            William Little Lee was born in Sandy Hill, New York on February 25, 1821.  He attended local schools before going to Norwich University, a military college in Northfield, Vermont.  He later graduated from Harvard Law School.

            It was Lee’s idea for he and Charles Bishop to travel to the Oregon Territory.  He was planning on practicing law and Bishop was going to become a surveyor.

            Lee turned out to be only the second person in Hawaii with any western-style law training.  On December 1, 1846 he was appointed judge of the island of Oahu and served on the Privy Council of King Kamehameha III for the rest of his life.  In January of 1848, William was named Chief Justice of the Superior Court.  Three years later, he was elected to the House of Representatives in the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom where he helped write the Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii (1852).

            On December 15, 1854 King Kamehameha III died; his nephew took the throne as Kamehameha IV.  In January, 1855 Lee was named Chancellor, and in March 1855 to 1856 he served as an envoy to the United States.  While on a mission to meet with President Franklin Pierce and other political leaders, Lee and his wife, the former Catherine E. Newton, sought medical advice.

 In September he returned to Hawaii.  His health declined and he died in his adopted territory on May 28, 1857, probably from tuberculosis.



A Royal Connection for the United States


Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki

Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop, wife of Charles Reed Bishop

Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop

          Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop was a woman of intelligence, compassion and foresight who understood that her standing as a Hawaiian princess was to serve her people.

          Pauahi Pākī was born on December 19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i to high chiefs Abner Pākī and Laura Kōnia Pākī.  She was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, the warrior chief who united the Hawaiian Islands under his rule in 1810.

           Pauahi was reared with strong Hawaiian values and a bicultural education.  She was an excellent student, gifted in music, and known for her generosity and kindness.

          At the age of 19, Pauahi married Charles Reed Bishop, a young American businessman who had made his way to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i from Glens Falls, New York.  Charles became a pillar in the kingdom government and was a successful businessman, banker and philanthropist.  He and Pauahi enjoyed traveling the world with particular fondness for museums and art.  With no children of their own, they shared a deep commitment for the well-being and education of Hawaiian children.

          As the last royal descendant of the Kamehameha line, Pauahi inherited thousands of acres of land, much of it from the estate of her cousin Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani.  Her inheritance, about nine percent of the island chain’s total acreage, made Pauahi the largest landholder in the kingdom.

         After Pauahi’s death, Charles Bishop began the process that resulted in the establishment of the Kamehameha Schools in 1887.  Pauahi’s estate was basically land rich and cash poor, so Bishop contributed his own funds for the construction of several of the schools’ initial buildings on the Oahu campus.  In addition, he founded and endowed the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in 1889 as an enduring memorial to his wife.

         “Being interested in her plans and wishes and because of her very generous gifts to me…I decided to carry out her wishes regarding the schools and promised to do something toward a museum of Hawaiian and other Polynesian objects…in order to accomplish something quickly without sacrifice or embarrassment of her estate, I soon reconveyed to her estate the life interests given by her will and added a considerable amount of my own property on Oahu, Hawaii and Molokai…”(C.R. Bishop letter to Samuel Damon, 1911)

This article was prepared by Warren County Historian Stan Cianfarano for the Warren County Historical Society.  Resources include documents in the county Historian’s office files, and photos are from the internet.


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