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High Chiefess Kinoʻole
John Mix Stanley - 'Mrs. Benjamin Pitman (High Chiefess Kinoole-o-Liliha)', oil on canvas, 1849.jpg
Portrait by John Mix Stanley 1849 at the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem
Born c. 1825
Hilo, Hawaii, Kingdom of Hawaii
Died August 16, 1855 (aged 30)[1]
Honolulu, Oahu, Kingdom of Hawaii
Spouse Benjamin Pitman
Issue Mary Pitman Ailau
Henry Hoʻolulu Pitman
Benjamin Keolaokalani Pitman
Father High Chief Hoʻolulu
Mother High Chiefess Charlotte Halaki Cox

Kinoʻoleoliliha Pitman (c. 1825–1855), also written as Kinoole-o-Liliha, was a high chiefess during the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was known as Mrs. Pitman after her marriage. In the Hawaiian language, kino 'ole means "thin"[2] and liliha can mean "heartsick".[3]


Her father was High Chief Hoʻolulu. Her paternal grandfather was High Chief Kameʻeiamoku, one of the royal twins (with Kamanawa) who advised Kamehameha I, and her paternal grandmother was High Chiefess Kahikoloa. Her mother was High Chiefess Charlotte Halaki Cox, whose father lent his name to Keeaumoku II, the Governor of Maui.[4] Her father and uncle Hoapili were chosen to conceal the bones of Kamehameha I in a secret hiding place after his death.[5][6] They placed the bones of the king in a cave along the coastline;[7] it was a great honor to be the last to touch the bones of the king.[5] Her brothers were the High Chief Kaiheʻekai[4] and the High Chief Moʻoheau-nui-i-Kaaiawaawa-o-ʻUlu[8] and her only known sister was the High Chiefess Kahinu-o-kekuaukalani,[9] who married William Beckley (1814–1871),[10] the hapa-haole son of Captain George Charles Beckley (1787–1826),[11][12] an English sea captain and close friend of Kamehameha I,[13] and his Hawaiian wife, the Chiefess Ahia (1792–1854).[8][12][14] Some of her famous cousins are: High Chief Kamanawa II and High Chief ʻAikanaka, sons of her uncle High Chief Kepoʻokalani and grandfathers of Queen Liliʻuokalani and King David Kalakaua; the High Chiefess Kapiʻolani, daughter of her aunt High Chiefess Kekikipaʻa; the High Chiefess Keouawahine, daughter of her aunt High Chiefess Loewahine and grandmother of Princess Ruth Keʻelikolani; and Kuini Liliha, the daughter of her uncle the High Chief Hoapili.[4]

From her father she inherited vast lands in Hilo and Olaʻa.[6][7] King Kamehameha III granted her control of the ahupuaʻa of Hilo, thereby making her high chiefess. It was customary that when the lehuas started to bloom, the first blossoms had to be strung into the leis for Kinoʻole. These flowers were called the "Lehuas of Panaewa".[7] This is one of the remnant traces of the kapu system which gave the noble class special privileges and sacredness.

She married Benjamin Pitman, born in Salem, Massachusetts[15] who had arrived in Hawaii from New England in 1833.[6][16][17] Pitman was a prominent businessman in Hilo and Honolulu. He owned a store[6] or ship chandlery in Hilo[15] and in Honolulu took up banking.[7] This marriage, an example of a businessman marrying a landholding high chiefess. Such marriages paved the way for the ranches, plantations, banks and other businesses, through the investment of foreign capital.[18]

Gravestone at Waiola Church, Lahaina

In the 1850s, the Pitman family moved to the new capital of Honolulu. They built a beautiful two story house named Waialeale ("rippling water") at the corner of Alakea and Beretania Streets, which later became the site of the Honolulu Gas Company office. Surrounded by an iron fence, the walks were paved with tiles.[7] She died in Honolulu, on August 16, 1855, soon after the construction of her new home. She was buried at the Waiola Church, on Maui, where her headstone now stands.[1] However later reports claimed she was buried on the Island of Hawaii, her ancestral home, and her remains were taken to Hilo with a large entourage of relatives and friends. The people of Hilo, reportedly, swam out in great numbers to the boat and bore the casket on their shoulders.[7]


Kinoʻole and Benjamin Pitman had three children:

  1. Mary Ann Kinoʻole Kaʻaumokulani Pitman (1838/41–1905),[19][20] later Mary Ailau,[21] an intimate friend and bridesmaid[6] of Queen Emma, who married Kamehameha IV. In her youth, she was known as the "Belle of Hilo Bay".[7] She married in late life to Jack Ailau (1860–1894), a printer and musician of Honolulu. She died childless at Hilo in 1905, ten years after her husband.[16][22]
  2. Henry Hoʻolulu Pitman (1845–1863), served in the American Civil War as a private in the Union Army, was taken prisoner and imprisoned at Libby Prison, and died after being released on parole in a prisoner exchange in February 27, 1863.[7][23][24]
  3. Benjamin Franklin Keolaokalani Pitman (1852–1918), married Almira Hollander (1854–1939), from Brookline, Massachusetts,[25] His wife Almira was credited with helping the women of Hawaii achieve suffrage in 1918.[26][27] Among their descendants is Theodore Pitman, great-great grandson of Kinoʻole who donated some of his great-great grandfather's manuscript that accounted the events of the early period of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[7][17][28][29]


The Pitman Tablet was sculpted by her grandson Theodore Baldwin Pitman in honor of the sesquicentennial of Captain James Cook's arrival in Hawaii and the Pitman family of Hawaii.

Pitman Street in Hilo was named for her husband,[30] but later changed to Kinoʻole street in her honor.[31] The Kinoole Baptist Church, is located at coordinates 19°41′42″N 155°4′10″W / 19.69500°N 155.06944°W / 19.69500; -155.06944.[32] [33]

In 1851, Benjamin Pitman bought the "Post Boy", a 44-ton topsail schooner built in Auckland, New Zealand that had arrived from San Francisco on November 22, 1850. It had been previously sold to a native by the name of Philip Nation who registered and ran her for a time under her foreign name. Pitman changed her name to the "Kinoole" after his wife. The "Kinoole" plied as a windward packet on various routes, with occasional trips to Kauaʻi. She was sold to R. Robinson and J. A. Simmons in 1852, Jas. Dawson and Paniani in 1853, D. Fredison and T.E. Cook and P.H. Treadway in 1856, A. K. Clark and O. H. Culick in 1858, and later to E. W. Clark and S. L. Austin.[34] On February 1, 1859, the "Kinoole" sailed from Honolulu and landed on Kealakekua Bay two days later. Onboard was the President of Punahou School who wanted to see the recent eruption of Mauna Loa.[35] On August 24, 1860, she finally wrecked on the shores of Niʻihau.[34]

After her death on August 16, 1855, Pitman remarried, but after his second wife also died, he took his three children to attend schools in Boston.[7] Besides short trips back to Hawaii, her daughter Mary did not return to Hawaii until 1881.[36] Their son Benjamin remained in Massachusetts where he married Almira Hollander Pitman; they visited Hawaii in 1917. Kinoʻole's descendants from her son Benjamin still live in Massachusetts. Many of her descendants were named after her.[7]


  1. ^ a b Grave Marker of Kinoole. Lahaina, Hawaii: Waiola Church Cemetery. 
  2. ^ Pukui and Elbert (2003). "lookup of Kino'ole". on Hawaiian dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  3. ^ Pukui and Elbert (2003). "lookup of liliha". on Hawaiian dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  4. ^ a b c Christopher Buyers. "Kauai Genealogy". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  5. ^ a b "Nu'uanu, O'ahu -- Memories: Mauna 'Ala". Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  6. ^ a b c d e George S. Kanahele (1999). Emma: Hawaii's Remarkable Queen. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 68, 152. ISBN 0-8248-2240-4. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Ancient Hawaiian Lineage in Bostonian Coming Today – Benjamin F. Pitman, Whose Blood is That of Chiefs and Monarchs, to Meet Remaining Relatives He May Find in Islands". Honolulu Star-bulletin. January 30, 1917. 
  8. ^ a b Mrs. Almira (Hollander) Pitman (1931). After fifty years: an appreciation, and a record of a unique incident. The Plimpton Press. pp. 150–153. 
  9. ^ Our Family History and Ancestry. "Kahinu-O-Kekuaokalani-I-Lekeleke HOOLULU". Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  10. ^ Our Family History and Ancestry. "William Charles Malulani Kaleipaihala BECKLEY". Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  11. ^ Our Family History and Ancestry. "George Charles BECKLEY". Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  12. ^ a b Bob Dye (1997). Merchant prince of the Sandalwood Mountains: Afong and the Chinese in Hawaiʻi. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 80, 150–153. ISBN 0-8248-1772-9. 
  13. ^ Cristina Bacchilega (2006). Legendary Hawai'i and the politics of place: tradition, translation, and tourism. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-8122-3975-X. 
  14. ^ Our Family History and Ancestry. "Loaa K AHIA". Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  15. ^ a b Sally Engle Merry (2000). Colonizing Hawai'i: the cultural power of law. Princeton University Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-691-00932-5. 
  16. ^ a b "Death of an Old Kamaaina". Hilo Tribune. February 14, 1905. 
  17. ^ a b Ben Wood. "Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Museum given manuscript of early Hilo businessman". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  18. ^ Shirley Hune; Gail M. Nomura (2003). Asian/Pafciic Islander American women: a historical anthology. NYU Press. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-8147-3633-5. 
  19. ^ Peggy Kai (1974). "Chinese Settlers in the Village of Hilo before 1852". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 8. Hawaiian Historical Society. p. 64. hdl:10524/221. 
  20. ^ Our Family History and Ancestry. "Mary Ann Kinoole Kaaaumokulani PITTMAN". Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  21. ^ Edith K. McKinzie; Ishmael W. Stagner (1983). Hawaiian Genealogies: Extracted from Hawaiian Language Newspapers. 1. University of Hawaii Press. p. 48. ISBN 0-939154-28-5. 
  22. ^ Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Catherine C. Summers (1999). Material Culture: the J. S. Emerson Collection of Hawaiian Artifacts. Bishop Museum Press. pp. Page xii. ISBN 1-58178-006-0. 
  23. ^ Mrs. Almira (Hollander) Pitman (1931). After fifty years: an appreciation, and a record of a unique incident. The Plimpton Press. p. 21. 
  24. ^ Cole, William (May 31, 2010). "Native Hawaiians served on both sides during Civil War". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  25. ^ Henry Fritz-Gilbert Waters (1940). The New England Historic Genealogical Society. 94. New England Historic Genealogical Society. pp. 127, 143. 
  26. ^ "Mrs. Pitman Get Credit For Bill. Wife of Hilo Man Instrumental In Securing Congressional Action on Hawaii Suffrage Measure". The Hawaiian Gazette. LII (61). Honolulu. July 30, 1918. p. 8. 
  27. ^ "Statement of Mrs. Benjamin F. Pitman of Boston, Mass". Extending the Right of Suffrage to Women: Hearings Before the Committee on Woman Suffrage, House of Representatives, Sixty-fifth Congress, Second Session on H. J. Res 200. January 3, 4, 5, and 7, 1918. Washington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1918. pp. 341–344. 
  28. ^ "Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin F. Pitman "At Home"". Honolulu Star-bulletin. February 17, 1917. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Mrs. Almira (Hollander) Pitman (1931). After fifty years: an appreciation, and a record of a unique incident. The Plimpton Press. p. 139. 
  31. ^ Pukui and Elbert (2004). "lookup of kino'ole". on Place Names of Hawai'i. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  32. ^ "Kinoole Baptist Church". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  33. ^ Mary K. Pukui; Samuel H. Elbert; Esther T. Mookini (1976). Place names of Hawaii. 2. University of Hawaii Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-8248-0524-0. 
  34. ^ a b Thos. S. Thrum (1886). All about Hawaii. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. 77. 
  35. ^ James Jackson Jarves and Henry Martyn Whitney (1872). History of the Hawaiian islands. H. M. Whitney. p. 225. 
  36. ^ Bishop Museum, Catherine C. Summers (1999). Material culture: the J. S. Emerson Collection of Hawaiian artifacts. Bishop Museum Press. pp. xii. ISBN 1-58178-006-0.