In ‘long overdue’ honor, memoirs of former Kalaupapa resident put on display

Updated: Jan. 22, 2020 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the library at Windward Community College, an exhibit sheds new light on Kalaupapa.

For 53 years, Ambrose Hutchison lived there as a Hansen’s disease patient.

"He was one of the earliest and I think one of the most important witnesses for the cause of Father Damien. He knew Father Damien very closely. I believe they were best friends," Kalaupapa historian Anwei Law said.

Hutchison was sent to Kalaupapa in 1879 when he was 20 years old. As the settlement’s superintendent, he kept ledgers of Kalaupapa’s residents and wrote about them in his memoirs.

"He tells you so much. It's over 200 pages," Law said.

Ambrose’s writings talk about time he spent with Father Damien and Sister Marianne Cope. He writes about the move of female Hansen’s patients from the Molokai settlement to Oahu, and escorting Queen Kapiolani on a tour of the homes of Kalaupapa residents to see firsthand the poor conditions they were living in.

Law helped create the exhibit to honor Hutchison and to share his story.

"It's long overdue," said his relative Mercedes Hutchison Bacon.

"We're so grateful that he had the education, and the passion to remain there with the community and be an advocate for them," Monica Bacon said.

Hutchison wrote his memoirs in the 1920s.

“There are things in there you won’t learn anywhere else,” Law said.

Hutchison passed away on Kalaupapa in 1932. He was 73.

"He outlived all of the major figures that we know about or we read about in Kalaupapa's history," Law said.

On Thursday, Law gives a lecture on Hutchison’s writings called “The Story No One Else Could Tell.” It starts at 5 pm in the community college’s library.

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