Mr. Bayard to Mr. Curry.

No. 263.]

Sir: I inclose for your information copy of a letter from the captain of the Morning Star to the Rev. Judson Smith, concerning the condition of affairs at Ponape.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
[Inclosure in No. 263.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Bayard.

Dear Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your courteous favor of the 23d ultimo, and I desire to express my gratification with its assurances of attention to the various aspects of the Caroline Islands question.

The captain of our missionary ship, the Morning Star, which is our regular means of communication with those islands and with our missionaries resident there, has written a full account of what he saw and learned at Ponape, and sent the same to me by a trading vessel bound to San Francisco. As this proves to be a very clear and compact narrative, I have thought it well to send a copy for your perusal. Some phases of the situation on Ponape, both before and after the insurrection, are brought out more distinctly here than in any other account which has come to my hands.

By way of explanation I will add that the course pursued by the Morning Star, as here referred to, was from Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, the port of departure, direct to Ruk or Hogolu, the central group in the Caroline Islands, where two missionary families reside, Messrs. Logan and Treibu and their wives. From Ruk the Star sailed eastward some 500 miles to Ponape and landed mail and supplies for the missionaries and left one additional missionary, Miss Lucy L. Ingersoll, m. d. From Ponape the Star went on eastward about 300 miles to Kusaie, where two missionary families, Messrs. Pease and Walkup and their wives, and two single ladies, missionaries, Misses Smith and Crosby, reside. Here also mail and supplies were landed. The Star then set out for a missionary tour among the Marshall Islands and the Gilbert Islands, and my letter from the captain was left at Jaluit, one of the former group.

If you have any later tidings from Ponape, by way of Manila, it would be very welcome here, and especially so to the friends of our missionaries on that island. I have taken the liberty to prefer a similar request to Mr. Voigt, United States consul at Manila; but his first duty would of course be to your Department, and he might not feel at liberty to let me know all that has come to his knowledge. I owe very much to his politeness hitherto, and our missionary friends are under very special obligations to him for his efficiency and kindness in Mr. Doane’s affairs, and in other ways.

Since my last favor to you I have added to my other duties the official correspondence with our missions in the Turkish Empire. I wish now to speak a word of the present situation at Constantinople. * * *

I am, etc.,

Judson Smith,
Foreign Secretary American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
[Page 415]

Mr. Garland to Mr. Smith.

Dear Sir: We are now nearing Jaluit, in the Marshall Islands, on our way to the Gilbert group.

Before this reaches you I presume you will have heard something about affairs in Ponape.

Upon arriving at Ponape we were much surprised to find the island in a very unsettled state. It seems the Spanish came there in March, and soon after, not being able to get along well with the natives, several fights occurred, which resulted in the killing of about forty Spanish and eight or ten Ponapeans. All who remained of the Spanish at the date of the Star’s leaving Ponape, August 18, were imprisoned in the store-ship Donna Maria de Molina, and had been there since July 2.

Below is an account of the affair as near as I could get it from Mr. Rand and others. Many little items are mentioned as leading up to the climax, which happened on the morning of July 4.

First I will give a proclamation issued by the governor. You will get the meaning, but perhaps not the true translation. It is not dated.

“His Lordship Don Ysidro Ponsadilla, captain of frigate and governor of eastern region of Carolines and Pelews, does make known that the Government of His Majesty Don Alphonso XIII, and in his name, Donna Maria Christina, Regent of the Kingdom, has designated him to represent Spain in this country, to promote the happiness and well-being of the natives, and to administer justice equitably.

“No one will be troubled on account of his religious belief. It is designed to increase trade, agriculture, and industries, that the comforts of civilization at present initiated may continue and increase.”

That is very short and very sweet. The story begins March 14, 1887, when the Spanish steam transport Manila arrived in Jamestown Harbor, Ponape, with a Spanish governor, lieutenant-governor, a bishop, and seven priests, officers, and garrison—in all about seventy-five persons.

The first of the mission to call on them was Mr. Rand. He went on board the 14th and was introduced to the governor as the “school-teacher.” The governors first inquiry was for Mr. Doane, at the same time asking if he lived in his house on the hill from the ship, remarking, “If he don’t, I shall.”

When landing the first time the governor said of the house, “It is a good one; we will occupy it.” He then tried to rent a house of a native who lived in it and wanted it for himself. He finally got it by threatening to take it without rent. This house was on the mission grounds. March 16 they began to land on Mijinong, a part of the mission premises deeded to Mr. Doane and his successors for the Christians. Kenan is a part of Mijinong, and (according to Mr. Rand) was deeded to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1870.

I believe Mr. Doane had given the governor leave to land on Mijinong, but don’t know why.

A boundary was drawn at or near the limit of Kenan. Afterward they had no regard for boundary, but cut trees and built roads wherever they liked.

In a few days the governor and priests went on shore to live, stopping in temporary houses.

Whatever was on the land in the vicinity they took for their own use without saying a word to anyone—taking native houses, digging their yams, shooting chickens, taking Mr. Doane’s limes, etc. They also tore down a native house near the mission to get the lumber for their own use. A Capt. Jumpfer, who came from Manila on the transport as a passenger, was told by the governor that the missionaries owned nothing on Ponape—that the land all belonged to Spain.

At the time of their landing Mr. Doane was at Kenan building a new church.

About three weeks after they landed Mr. Doane sent to the governor these questions:

Will the missionaries be allowed to translate the Bible into the Ponape language? Will schools be allowed to be carried on in Ponape? Will Protestants be allowed to preach? Will the Government protect women and girls and prevent their being carried into brothels against their will? And similar others. The answer to every question was “yes,” verbally; for he said he had no time to write it out. At this time Mr. Doane had a long talk with the governor. The governor began by saying he was no Jesuit, but came to civilize the natives, not to make Catholics of them, nor to trouble the missionaries. This conversation caused Mr. Doane to think the mission work would not be interfered with.

Soon after this the governor tried to induce Leban Nut, the chief who once owned the land, to swear he never deeded the land to Mr. Doane. He succeeded. Several of the old witnesses also declared the same. Then the governor wanted [Page 416] Leban Nut to sell him the land including Kenan. Before this a white man had been influencing Leban Nut against Mr. Doane, also telling him that the Spanish would make him a great chief.

Upon hearing what the governor was doing, Mr. Doane got a paper signed by chiefs and others who knew about the land, saying it was deeded to Mr. Doane by Leban Nut, and showed it to the governor. He had already seen the Mijinong deed and pronounced it illegal. One reason was, the marks of the chiefs were not upon it; only their names, they having touched the pen while their names were being written. Mr. Doane thought this sufficient. In a proclamation, the governor had said all deeds must be shown and proved within six months. Soon after several deeds wore carried in by foreigners and others, but the governor didn’t look at them, saying he had no time. All mission deeds were offered, but he did not examine them.

The principal interpreter was one Manuel, a man brought from Kusaie on the Star in 1883—he had been wrecked there several months before the loss of the Star. He was very bitter against the missionaries, and Mr. Doane in particular, he having prevented his getting a piece of land at Oua, upon which to open a liquor shop.

Also some of the white men, traders, etc., began to pour into the governor’s ears tales about the missionaries, Mr. Doane getting a good share. They raked up old affairs of long ago. One accused Mr. Doane of tabooing the natives from selling him cocoanuts, and intends to sue the board for $5,000 damages.

April 11 Mr. Doane sent a protest to the governor against his buying land already the property of the mission and of which he held the deed. April 13, about noon, a squad of soldiers came and arrested Mr. Doane and placed him on board the Manila, with orders from the governor that he was not to communicate with friends without his permission. Mr. Rand called next day to see him, but could get no permit; neither would the governor tell him what the arrest was for, except that he was under the law. At the time of Mr. Doane’s arrest the natives asked Mr. Rand if they could go and take him out of the ship. Mr. Rand then went over to Kenan, where the natives were gathered, and held a long talk with them. Many had guns with them and would have made an attempt to take Mr. Doane, if Mr. Rand would only say the word. He put them off by telling them it would be worse in the end for all; so they went home, and so did Mr. Rand. Next day he sent inquiry for Mr. Doane; reply came back, “He is well.” Kenan is about 12 miles from Oua.

April 16 the governor went on board and, showing Mr. Doane his letter (protest), asked if it was his writing; he answered yes, then, pointing his finger, the governor said, for that sentence I sentence you to fifteen days on this ship exclusive of the three days he had already been a prisoner. The sentence referred to is “I further protest against the arbitrary manner in which you have dealt.” The word arbitrary seemed to be the stumbling block,

After his sentence he was allowed to see all who called. He was allowed 43 cents per day to live on, but must do his own buying through a servant. The governor then handed him $3 for one week; he passed it back, saying he could buy his own food, but had to give the governor a receipt for that amount. The commander of the vessel took Mr. Doane to his table and was very kind to him.

During his imprisonment the governor was continually asking foreigners about him, trying to find something against him.

About April 29 Narcissus, one of the teachers, was sent for. He is a Manila man, and can talk Spanish. He was questioned all about Mr. Doane’s affairs and doings on the island, and was asked what Mr. Doane had the chiefs and natives at Kiti for, just before the Spanish came, also, if he had not sent to the States for a man-of-war, threatening to flog him if he didn’t tell all that was done at the meeting. Narcissus said, and stuck to it, that nothing was said about the Spanish or political affairs, but that it was purely a religious meeting. The governor next asked about the lands. Narcissus said the land was given by the natives to God, and for the missionaries to use for God. The governor then told him that the natives could not do that, for the land always belonged to Spain. He then forbid Narcissus preaching on Ponape and gave him five days in which to think the matter over. Then, if he would give up preaching and come over to the Catholics, all would be well; if not he would be flogged, put in irons, sent to Manila and be placed in a dungeon. For five days he was not allowed to preach or see Mr. Doane, and on Sunday soldiers went to the church to see if he was there.

The priests were with him much of the five days, and succeeded in bringing him over except in one thing—he said he would never cease praying to Christ and they told him he might keep on. He was at once set to work taking the census. He had been baptized a Catholic in Manila and they claimed him on the strength of that. They told him he belonged to them and so they could do as they pleased with him, but as Mr. Doane was an American they could not flog him. Two days before Mr. Doane’s time was up, the governor wrote him he was to remain longer on new [Page 417] charges, riot saying what. Mr. Rand then went to the governor, but could get nothing out of him except that the charges were of a new character and that he was getting in evidence against him. Foreigners were now getting up a paper against Mr. Doane to pass in to the governor. Some were down on him for preventing some of their deviltries, and some raked up old grievances, all trying to get the good will of the Spanish. Three papers were then started for Mr. Doane, one signed by the mission, one by loyal foreigners, and one by chiefs. Two of these were carried in to the governor by Mr. Bowker. The governor said, tell Mr. Rand I have read them; I understand them and will file them officially. During all this time they were trying to get the natives over to their side, giving them liquor, tobacco, etc. They succeeded in driving many from their religion, but did not get them to join their party. Sunday was a day of cock fights on shore.

The governor had made the first and second chiefs of each tribe “little governors,” with power to punish “little offenses.” Accordingly the king of the Metalenim tribe, which includes Oua mission, put four persons in irons for adultery, which is one of the “little offenses.” The governor sent and ordered him to release them. He refused, thinking the messenger was drunk and lying. Officers were then sent, who took them out. This was May 15 or 16.

The same day the king was told he must send thirty men to work for government, and each tribe was to send thirty men each week, and to supply their own food and have no pay, this order of things to go on as long as the governor wished. Some had to bring their food 20 miles. No one was exempt except the two “little governors” in each tribe. The work was building houses and making roads.

The king was then called before the governor, who threatened to take away his title and flog him, and if he ever disobeyed again he would put a ball and chain on him, and set him to work on the road. Ponape chiefs are high-toned, in some respects, and this sort of thing didn’t suit them. These things are mentioned as leading up to the climax. At the same time the king was asked whose were the schools at Oua, and when told they were in charge of Messrs. Doane and Rand, he said, you must stop the day school, and it was done. He also said, we have brought you teachers and preachers. They are the ones you are to listen to. We want no American teaching here. About this time (May 16) the governor sent a letter to Mr. Doane, saying, I have adjudged all the land Mijinong back to Leban Nut, except the church and dwelling. This, of course, included Kenan.

May 31 the Spanish ship Donna Maria de Molina arrived in Ponape with supplies, and to remain as a store ship, and on June 2 Mr. Doane was transferred to her. Here he was well treated and had the freedom of the ship. On the 15th he was transferred back to the Manila, and sailed the 16th for Manila. Mrs. Rand sailed for home on the same vessel, the mission thinking it necessary that some one should see the board about these matters.

The day the Manila sailed Manuel, the interpreter, told the Kenan Christians that if they tried to hold services the next Sunday the Spanish would break it up, and threats of like nature were continually coming in. The meeting was not broken up. Mr. Rand was there. The governor also came in for a short time, he said, to make a sketch.

Before sailing Mr. Doane had written a farewell letter to several of the churches; foreigners told the governor, and he at once sent and got it and had it translated into Spanish. Towards the last of June natives were told to hold no more feasts, not to tattoo their bodies, to kill all their dogs, etc. Then another message came, ordering all the chiefs to come to him July 1 to have their titles taken away, and from that day the law about feasts, etc., was to be enforced. Their rifles, guns, and pistols had already been taken from them about May 1, also a few old rusty cannon, and now another search was made all over the island for any guns which might yet remain among them. As will be seen later, the natives succeeded in hiding quite a lot of them. The chiefs and men worked up to July l; on that day they stayed away.

It seems foreigners reported the natives were to hold a council of war, and the interpreter told them they were to be punished by having their mouths sewed up, and be hung. So they gathered together the night of June 30 to see if it was so. This was with the Jakoits tribe near Kenan. The Kiti and Metalanim chiefs took their men home that night, fearing an outbreak. July 1, near noon, the governor sent Manuel to Jakoits to tell the chiefs to come to him, to consult about workday, etc.; they, thinking they were to be punished, refused to go. Then a second message was sent, a sergeant going, too.

The Jakoits chief was ready to go, but others prevented him. The sergeant returned without them. Then the second lieutenant, the sergeant, twenty soldiers, and Manuel were sent over. Before this, Manuel had told the governor that the Ponapeans were cowards, and if he would kill a few of them the others would then obey. Upon reaching Jakoits, the soldiers formed at both ends of the feast house, where the chiefs and men were gathered, some inside, some outside. They had no [Page 418] arms In sight. Without saying a word to them, the order was given to fire, which was done by the soldiers, and five natives fell, one dead, one died soon after, and three others were wounded.

The natives then made a rush for what few knives and guns they had and fought the soldiers, killing fifteen or sixteen, including the officers and Manuel. Manuel, after being shot, begged them to spare him, saying he was their friend. Yes, said they, and now we will reward you, which they did by cutting off his head. The fight lasted but a few minutes. Saturday, July 2, the natives gathered on and near the mission grounds and found the Spanish all in the fort. A skirmish occurred, in which five Spanish were killed, and a large boat from the store ship captured by them. This day the natives fought mostly from behind trees and a lumber pile.

Sunday, July 3, the natives held their meeting as usual. While the bell was ringing the governor sent from the fort to Edward, the teacher, saying he was ready to stop fighting and wanted to be friendly—that the natives were in the right, for God had helped them and not the Spanish. Edward went to the fort and field quite a talk with him, then went back and conducted the meeting. The governor’s secretary went, too, and staid through the services. During service a boat took a load of boxes on board. After service the boat took another load, including the priests. When a short distance from the shore, a native, who thought the governor was trying to escape, fired on the boat. Then the fort opened on the natives. They returned the fire, which was kept up till 2 a.m. July 4. The Molina also dropped several shells among them. At 2 a.m. those in the fort made a rush for the water, trying to get onboard the ship, and were all killed. The governor, his secretary, second lieutenant, and doctor were killed in the water up to their waists. Before the rush several soldiers left the fort. Some of these escaped and are now living on good terms with the natives. The soldiers were Manila men, the officers Spanish. It is supposed about forty Spanish were killed and not over ten natives.

July 5 Edward came to Oua from Kenan, and reported the natives resting, and that they would take the ship the night of the 5th or 6th, but they wanted the captain to send away the women and children. Mr. Rand sent Edward back to try to stop the natives, intending to go over himself the 6th. The natives didn’t want Mr. Rand to go on board the ship, fearing the captain would keep him and so prevent their firing on the ship. Mr. Rand could not go the 6th, but sent a Mr. Oldham instead. The captain of the Molina said he did not know what the fighting was for, and wished to stop. Oldham then went to the chiefs, and they agreed to let the ship alone if the Spaniards would let them alone, and signed a paper to that effect drawn up by Oldham.

After the fight the natives destroyed the town, carrying away whatever was of value to them. July 8 Mr. Rand went to Kenan. The chiefs wan ted him to ask the captain to take all hands out of the ship and let them burn it, saying they would stick to their word and kill no one. He told them it would be worse for them in the end, and so they gave it up. They then wanted the captain to see the captain of the next Spanish vessel that arrived, and ask for a council before any more firing was done, that they might show that the Spanish began the troubles. He said he would and that a council would be held.

Interfering in their tribal laws had much to do in bringing on the war.

When talking with Mr. Rand, they said, What is the use in living under such men; we were the same as slaves. They would rather die fighting than to live in such a state of affairs, and declare that if the Spanish fire on them again they will fight till the last Ponapean is killed; and Mr. Rand says they mean it.

Thus far the fighting was done by the Jakoits and Nut tribes; but the others were in a heat to get there, and were only held back by the old king at Oua and Mr. Rand.

When the fighting began, the white men who had been so bitter against the missionaries found they had business somewhere else. Several of them put to sea in boats July 2 and have not since been seen. If Ponapeans could have their way, the island would soon be anything but a “paradise for beach combers.” They see now very plainly who their friends are.

August 16 I went to Kenan and on board the Molina with Mr. Rand. We are the first who have been on board since July 3, and no one from the ship has been on shore. They are prisoners. The ship is housed in and covered with galvanized iron and everything ready to repel boarders. We were on board an hour. The captain had said to Mr. Rand that when the Star came he wanted to see the captain, and the first question he asked was if he could charter the Star to go to Manila.

The Molina had been dismantled and her sails and rigging sent to Manila; therefore she could not go. On shore at Kenan things looked desolate. Mr. Doane’s house was several times struck with bullets. Roads had been cut through the mission’s premises in several directions. No flag was allowed on Ponape except the Spanish. Mr. Rand could not even fly the American flag over his own house.

The natives ask why can not America take the island?

Work still goes on on the new church at Kenan. They are very careful not to get [Page 419] anything Spanish worked into it. Three day schools were stopped by the governor, but so far the training schools are not troubled. The second governor told Narcissus that the schools in Kusaie were to be disbanded, for they could not have foreign schools on their land. He asked many questions about them, who they belonged to, etc.

The commander of the Manila says when he returns in September she will bring priests for Yap, Oullai, Pelews, and Kusaie.

Mr. Rand has all he can attend to at present. The natives come to him for advice and ply him with all sorts of questions about the future. At the mission they are in great anxiety as to what will happen when the Spanish return from Manila. It is certain that if they begin by killing natives all Ponape will rise and fight.

The Ponapeans are now well armed. With us everything is going on well; but we have had a continuous calm since August 1. Missionaries are all well so far.

In haste,

G. F. Garland.