Obituary of James Dowsett

The following is the obituary of James I. Dowsett, a.k.a. Kimo Pelekane, from the Hawaiian Gazette. Dowsett was a significant land owner in Honouliuli. The article carried several subtitles, including “Citizen passes to great beyond at advanced age,” “As a native of Honolulu, Had a most interesting career,” and “Confidant of Monarch—successful in business—Funeral.”

James Isaac Dowsett, one of the best known citizens of Hawaii nei and a man all his life held in high esteem by his fellow men, died Tuesday night. The end came at the Queen’s Hospital at 7:25 P. M. quickly the news was telephoned over town and expressions of regret and condolence and proffers of assistance came to the family by the hundreds.

James I. Dowsett was born in Honolulu. The house in which he first saw the light of day and which was built by his father, still stands and is occupied. It is the 2-story building in Union street, next to the old bell tower fire station. The parents of Mr. Dowsett came to this country from New South Wales, where they were married at Sydney in 1825. The mother was originally from England. She died here July 4, 1860. The father was a sea captain. He lost his life at the hands of savages in the South Seas. He went ashore from his whaling vessel with a boat’s crew and all were murdered by the natives. The elder sister of James I. Dowsett was the first wife of Capt. Howland, a sea captain. The younger sister is Mrs. M. C. Monsarrat of this city.

The wife of Mr. Dowsett was the beautiful Miss Annie Ragsdale. There survive Mr. Dowsett seven daughters and four sons.  Two sons have preceded their father to the grave. There are a number of grandchildren. By the death of James I. Dowsett, a blank is left in the community. He did not care for public office. Had he yearned for political preferment any office was at his disposal for many years. He was appointed a Noble of the Kingdom by Kamehameha III and was friend and confident of Kamehameha IV and V. His advice was often sought by the monarchs and was given as one entirely disinterested and he held the trust of those in the highest positions as well as the implicit confidence of the common people. He was a great favorite with the native Hawaiians and spoke their language beautifully. Mr. Dowsett was quiet in the conduct of business, but was capable and successful as a man of affairs. In the earliest days he soon saw the opportunities for money making in the whaling industry and was a capitalist in that field. He still has pending Alabama claims, showing that when the fleet was young he was active as promoter and manager. He had since reaching man’s estate owned schooners plying in Hawaiian waters, had extensive land and stock interests and owned the salt works at Pearl Lochs. He owned an undivided one-half interest in the quarantine Island and reef property more generally known as belonging partly to the Sumner estate. Mr. Dowsett amassed a large fortune. Up to the very day he was compelled to take to his bed he was at his office in Queen street, where he handled merchandise and schooner business and dealt in livestock. There were always natives about the place. The Hawaiians called Mr. Dowsett “Kimo Pelekane” (Jim the Englishman.) They would ask him about anything and everything concerning their interests.1

1“Obituary of James Dowsett (Kimo Pelekane),” Hawaiian Gazette, July 17, 1898, p. 2.

Related Documents

There are thousands of references contributing to the history of Honouliuli Ahupuaa. From those references are found classes of information covering such topics as

•  Residency: land ownership and access;
•  Paakai: salt making;
•  Kai lawaia: fisheries and access;
•  Ranches and the land development programs in Honouliuli;
•  Water development, railroads, and the Ewa Plantation; and
•  Military condemnation of Honouliuli lands and offshore waters.

The selected narratives categorized as Land Use: Development Period provide eyewitness accounts to historic events. While there are few identifiable references for the immediate area of the Hoakalei program, the narratives give us an historical context for understanding changes on the land since western Contact.