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Catalog Record
Mss 252 1852-1860 R364
Volume 1

Adra C. (Braley) Ashley was the wife of Captain Edward R. Ashley. They were married in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Early in their marriage she accompanied him on a whaling trip in the Pacific. They resided in Hilo, Hawaii, for three years, from 1857 to 1860, during which time they had their first child.

While travelling home from Hawaii, Adra kept a diary describing the journey. Adra wrote this volume to one of her "whaling sisters" in Hilo and gives a thorough account of family life on ship, including illnesses, games, and even arguments.

One of the most interesting passages in the diary discusses a visit to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands on December 20, 1859. After the visit, Adra described her impressions of the wharf, the market, encounters with the native islanders, and supper with a family of English missionaries, the Beals. Of this experience, she wrote:

The wharf was lined with natives and they all wanted to shake hands and say Good Morning! (for that is the way they accost strangers instead of Aloha as the Hawaiians do[)]. The [market] building was full and it seemed as though there were about five hundred Kanakas around me at once each one trying to get nearer than the others to make me buy his eggs, shells, corals, pine apples, piggs [sic] and chickens. O what a hurly burly! I thought I should fly. One old man seemed to be a little more considerate than the rest, sat down and fanned me. And I felt quite grateful to him, for it was exceedingly close... We visited all the public buildings, which consisted of a schoolhouse, and meeting house and very respectable looking ones they were. Over five hundred children attend that one school. Mr. and Mrs. Beals are the teachers. The Kanakas were very much pleased with Eddie and one nearly insisted on buying him for a hundred coconuts, but we thought we might do better and refused him.


Adra Ashley's diary of her voyage to Hawaii is in Ship William Wirt Collection.

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