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American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Morning Star 1884  

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Morning Star 1884

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Beautifully engraved certificate from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions issued in 1884. This historic document has an ornate border around it with vignettes of the Morning Star ship and the inside of a church. This item has the printed signature of the company’s treasurer, Langdon S. Ward, and is over 125 years old.

Below is a memo written to his sailors by Chester W. Nimitz, Admiral, U.S. Navy Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas in First Printing February 1945

It is now a century lacking ten years since the first "Morning Star" sailed from these islands to bring Christianity to the people of the Marquesas and Micronesia.

Albert S. Baker has written an interesting account of the "Morning Stars" and of the men who "combined theology with navigation."

Those "Morning Stars," all five of them, were on missions of conquest even as we are today. The task of those men was outlined in Honolulu in 1870 at the Hawaiian Evangelical Association, where it was said, as reported by Secretary Clark of the American Board, "Not with powder and balls and swords and cannons, but with the loving word of God and with His spirit do we go forth to conquer the islands for Christ."

Today it is our duty to follow the sea-trails of those "Morning Stars," the trails left by those small brigs, barkentines and steamers.

Our duty in sailing on a mission of conquest is both fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate because we know by taking those islands we are liberating a people who again will be able to practice the Christian virtues brought to them by those early missionaries. Unfortunate because we do this work with sword and gun, and swords and guns must bring death for some who go with us on this mission.

The days of those "Morning Star" missionaries were hard. They fought their tiny ships through heavy storms and heavy seas — and they had to fight the lassitude of nations governing Micronesian lands to do their work.

But on Micronesian islands we have occupied we have seen the enduring evidence of that work. The men who sailed on those "Morning Stars" planted a seed of faith which the years and the cruel strain of Japanese conquest could not wither. We are proud to follow their trails.

Chester W. Nimitz, Admiral, U.S. Navy Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Morning Star History

The story of the "Morning Stars" is a thrilling one. Nothing ever so aroused the interest, enthusiasm, and support of children and young people in foreign missions, and continued it through age. How it came about is briefly as follows.

In 1853 a mission south to the Marquesas Islands had been started, at the request of a chief who had come up in a whaleship to ask for it from the Hawaiians. This at one time covered seven islands. In carrying it on, it had been necessary to charter small and uncomfortable vessels at high prices to take out missionaries with their supplies and to send mail and delegates annually to encourage and look after them.

For both missions some arrangement seemed necessary to get proper food to the missionaries, for the transportation of those who became sick, as a protection against the idea that nobody cared what became of them on the part of many evil men occasionally turning up at the islands, and to allow them to go from island to island in the groups to extend their missionary efforts.

Conditions grew worse. In Micronesia such a long time elapsed before the first mail arrived after the mission was established, that Mr. Snow's mother had been dead two years before he received the sad news. And at another station there where food was scarce and the variety limited, a missionary came so near starving that when a vessel arrived with supplies, he was so weak that he had to be carried on board the vessel and carefully nursed back to health.

In 1856 Dr. Lowell Smith reported on his return from a visit to the Marquesas, "I found our friends all in their usual health, cheerful and happy in their work; but they had been obliged, for several months, to look a little too much on the 'shady side.' Brother Bicknell (an English mechanic) had sold his handsaws, plane irons, chisels, hatchets and adze, and one or two razors in exchange for food. And the native (Hawaiian) missionaries had parted with most of their knives and forks and spoons for the same purpose. They said they would soon have been obliged to part with their clothes if their supplies had not come to hand." If only they had their own missionary packet!

The children of England had built the mission ship "John Williams." It was worth considering. Titus Coan proposed that the American Board be asked to invite the children of the United States to take ten cent shares of joint ownership in such a missionary vessel, to be called "Day Star," and he was instructed to write the proposal to Boston. The proposal was favored, with but one change; the name to be "Morning Star."

The appeal was made in August, 1856. Actual shares in a vessel going among distant islands on Christian errands speedily became very popular in many states. And in one Hawaiian Sunday School the children took about 300 shares.

The money sought, and extra for maintenance, was raised, and the "Morning Star" was built in three months at Chelsea, adjoining Boston. She was a hermaphrodite brig (square-rigged foremast and fore-and-aft mainmast), of only 156 tons. She was launched Nov. 12, 1856, and cost $18,351. Manned and provided, she sailed from Boston on Dec. 2, 1856, under Capt. Samuel G. Moore, with the prayers and wishes of a multitude, and the old song "Waft, waft, ye winds His story."

A severe gale soon began, and they were forced to anchor in the lee of Cape Cod, off Provincetown, with a bark one side and a schooner the other. The next morning, after a change of wind, the other two were seen high upon the shore amid the breakers, but the "Morning Star" held fast. After three days a tug towed them around the point of the Cape.

Touching at Rio de Janeiro for repairs, she reached Cape Horn Feb. 24, 1857. Snow-capped Mauna Kea was seen April 20, and leaving Hawaii, Maui, and Molokai on their left, they arrived at Honolulu April 24, 1857. This was seven years after the organization of the Hawaiian Society of Foreign Missions, which had sent their own missionaries, in addition to the missionaries sent by the American Board, to the Caroline Islands in 1852, and now were to send them to the Gilbert and Marshall groups also.

As the "Morning Star" neared Oahu, they met a small schooner, whose captain, Orramel H. Gulick, shouted "Welcome to the Morning Star." Rev. E. Bond was on board returning from Oahu to Hawaii, and writes, "The long looked for missionary ship was a thing of life and beauty, adorned with nearly her full complement of snow-white sails, and sitting so daintily upon the water. 'Beautiful,' we exclaimed. 'Nani,' said our ninety native passengers, 'nani loa,' — 'very beautiful!' and so she was. With unmingled admiration we scanned her elegant proportions, her neatly turned stem, her graceful prow, her modest but significant figurehead, her perfect lines, her tall and beautiful tapering masts." He and Capt. Gulick went on board and warmly welcomed Rev. Hiram Bingham Jr. and his smiling young wife to Hawaii and a missionary life in the Pacific, and took a timely gift of watermelons, coconuts, and sweet and Irish potatoes.

Before me is a time-worn "Order of Exercises at the Presentation of a Signal (Flag) to the Morning Star, Honolulu, April 29, 1857." Addresses were made in Hawaiian by Hon. John Ii and in English by Rev. S. C. Damon, songs were sung in both languages, one "The Morning Star" and one "The Missionary Packet," prayer was offered in Hawaiian by Rev. L. Smith, the presentation made by Rev. R. Armstrong, the reply by Capt. Moore, and the benediction by Rev. E. W. Clark, while amid the thousands assembled near the vessel, the new flag was hoisted to the mast-head by Capt. Moore.

As the "Star" is pictured sailing past Boston Light with all sails set, she has a pennant or streamer with "Morning Star" on it on the foremast and the national flag at the mainmast. The former is described in Mrs. Warren's book as about twenty feet long and twelve feet wide, of white bunting, with a star directly under the center of the word "Morning Star" and a dove in the lower right hand corner, all of sky blue.

Mr. Asa Thurston, son of the pioneer missionary of Kailua, Hawaii, went as first mate on her first trip to the Marquesas Islands, leaving Honolulu just one week after her arrival. She took reinforcements and delegates, after ceremonies attended by a full house at Kawaiahao Church.

Titus Coan writes that the "Star" arrived at Hilo on her return July 7, 1857, and remained two days. "Hilo was jubilant. Parents and children came hastening in from all quarters, winding over the hills and along their footpaths and filling our streets .... The children ran and shouted and others 'caught the flying joy.' The joyful event was celebrated by a grand meeting in the church, the foreigners of Hilo joining with the natives in the celebration. Rev. J. S. Emerson, the delegate, brought a cheering report of the beginning of the missionary work by the Hawaiian missionaries in the Marquesas Islands." The people, old and young, brought gifts of fruit and vegetables, fish and flowers, when she sailed.

August 7 the "Morning Star" sailed for Micronesia, with Capt. O. H. Gulick as second mate, since (as he himself told the writer) he preferred to be mate of the missionary vessel "Morning Star" rather than to be captain of his own schooner in our islands. He was but 27 at this time, two years married. He became first mate under Capt. John W. Brown in 1859.

Capt. Moore only made the one round trip to Micronesia but two to the Marquesas, Capt. John W. Brown replacing him June 30, 1858. Capt. Gulick, second mate, "bears the most unequivocal testimony respecting Capt. Moore's abilities as a commander," and Rev. P. J. Gulick, "who was a passenger to and fro unites in the testimony of his son."

At the end of the "Star's" second trip to Micronesia and Capt. Brown's :first trip, he says, "The qualities of the 'Morning Star' have been well tried on this passage, and I think a more able and well-behaved vessel of her class in heavy weather, is not yet built."

On her first voyage to Micronesia she had sailed about 10,000 miles, and her practical value for the work had been all that was expected. It was said that the little vessel had already performed a service that would warrant the whole expense of building her.

It is interesting to note some of the dangers the little vessel survived on this first voyage. As they always had to use great care in entering or leaving harbor in Micronesia, on this occasion, at one place in Ponape, a boat was sent ahead to tow the vessel out. Finding her progress checked, the captain thought that the tide had turned, and called out, "Pull ahead, boys; pull strong." Just then the mate looked over the side, and thought he saw bottom. Taking the lead with which they were sounding to that side, the captain found, instead of the fifty feet he had been getting on his side, only five feet, the reef being perpendicular and the vessel lying alongside it as at a wharf. A kedge anchor was put out and she was safely hauled away.

She had arrived off Kusaie to end in a calm. In the night all hands were called to help work off the vessel from the breakers where she was drifting. They had to work hard for forty-five minutes, with great sweeps thrust out of portholes to use as oars. Then in the morning they found that they had drifted forty miles away, and it took them until the next evening to sail back. This last happened again and again, here and there. At times as many as 150 natives helped haul the "Star" into a lagoon with ropes, and at first the small boats had to search out the channels by which to enter. At one time the rope to a kedge anchor parted when all hands were hauling upon it, but more rope was soon out and the vessel brought safely through.

Early in 1860 Capt. Brown's mate was Capt. Gelett, as Titus Coan refers on his trip of that date, to the "mate, Capt. Gelett, a good Christian man, who had commanded many a ship." And Capt. Charles W. Gelett became captain of the "Morning Star" late in May, 1860.

On her first visit to Micronesia, leaving Honolulu August 7 and sighting the first island August 26, she had finally left Rev. Hiram Bingham Jr. and wife, he 26 and she 23, as the only American missionaries in the Gilbert Islands, on Dec. 2, 1857, a year to a day from their sailing in her from Boston. This was their station until health required their return to Honolulu just before the last year of the first "Star's" annual trips south and west.

She had finally become so worn that it seemed best to sell her when she had ended her return to Honolulu on Dec. 12, 1865, and build another vessel

In 1866 children and young people were asked to take stock in a new vessel, any excess over the amount needed in addition to the money from the sale of the first "Star," to be used for running expenses and keeping the second "Star" in repair. Twelve thousand dollars was sought, but $30,000 was finally realized; three or four thousand of the 150,000 stockholders being Hawaiians. As to the number of owners of the first "Star," Mrs. Warren, in 1860, dedicates her book to the 200,000 stockholders!

The writer found a certificate of stock in the first "Missionary Packet, Morning Star," dated "Missionary House, Boston, 1856," and made out to "Walter A. Preston," in a second-hand book recently bought in Honolulu. It has "American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions" across the top, then a picture of the brig "Morning Star" not quite as finally built, as it has only three square sails on the foremast instead of four, and under it "He spake to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him. —Mark 3:9." It is signed "James M. Gordon, Treas."

A second "Morning Star" certificate of stock for one share, belonging to the writer's mother, is dated June, 1866, bought when she was 21. It has the same form, only a correct picture of the first "Star," and under it "Surely the isles shall wait for me. —Is. 60:9." It is signed by "Langdon S. Ward, Treas. A.B.C.F.M."

I have seen an elaborate certificate in Hawaiian for money for shares in the second "Star," which may be translated as follows. At upper left is a square for the amount of money; at upper right a square for the number of shares covered; between and below, "Agreement of the Board of the Evangelical Association"—. Below this is a picture of the first "Star," with "Mk. 3:9" printed in full at the left side of the picture, and "Isa. 60:9" at the right. Under the picture is "of Hawaii," finishing the sentence begun above the picture. It then states, "This is to make known that there has been given by you, (Name), (Amount) for shares of the new Morning Star. Honolulu, July, 1866. E. O. Hall, Treasurer."

The third certificate of stock, which was issued in 1870, for what was needed beyond the $18,000 insurance obtained for the second "Star," was probably a duplicate of the second certificate for the following reasons. A certificate for two shares in the fourth "Star" belonging to the writer, dated "Missionary Rooms, Boston, January 1884," is quite elaborate. It has both a picture of the large new "Star" to be, and the second "Star" (the Board being too honest to call it the third, although it was an exact duplicate of the second and so no new picture was necessary), the same kind of a brig as the first only larger, marked 181 tons, and strangely with only four square foremast sails instead of the five of pictures elsewhere. A description of the third makes her also 181 tons, built on the same model, by the same firm, and so, as was said, an exact duplicate. We read of the third "Star" that the expression was often heard, "How like the one that was lost! It almost seems as if she had risen from her watery grave."

The certificate of the fourth "Star," as said, is quite elaborate. At the top it has, inside a star with radiating beams, "Share 25c" (no longer ten). Under it is a small picture of a "Star" entering a lagoon; to the right a congregation in church; to the left a picture of the fourth "Star" as a bark of 400 tons (but which turned out to be a barkentine of 430 tons) with all sails set, except the (here) furled five square sails of the mainmast, and black smoke issuing from her hollow mainmast smokestack. The same verse from Isa. 60:9 is around the top of a circle around her, and the name, etc., beneath. Under this picture at the left is the picture mentioned of the second "Star."

Below the center picture the name of the "Board" is printed in full, while beneath it we read, "One dime annually from each shareholder will pay the running expenses of the vessel." Below this is the usual form filled in and signed by the same treasurer as the second.

I have before me a facsimile of one of these new kind of yearly ten cent shares. It has the "Board's" name in full at the top, with "Shares 10 cents each" under it. Then "This certifies that Ruth Crowell is owner of ten shares in The Children's Morning Star Mission for the year 1898." Under this to the left is "F. H. Wiggin, Treasurer. 1 Somerset Street, Boston," while to the right it reads, "Attest, John Clark Hill," with "To be signed by pastor, superintendent, or teacher," under it. The whole left side of the certificate has a corrected picture of the fourth "Star" placed sideways, with sails only partially set.

The next year the form of the yearly certificate was radically changed. The size is about the same, with the same picture, but at the center this time, printed rather faintly in green as background, with "Morning Star No. 4" very small under it. At its right is the very much smaller two-masted schooner "The Hiram Bingham," under all sails with flags flying, and the similar schooner "The Robert W. Logan" at its left. These two schooners were used for interisland missionary service in the Gilbert and Caroline groups.

Across the top of this certificate is printed "He spake to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him." Just below at the left is "1899." Under this is "The Micronesian Navy," printed large, and a third line printed small, "Shares 10 cents each." At the right, large, is "The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions," in three lines to balance the left. Across the center and the ships it reads, "Certificate for Five shares in the Micronesian Navy, owned by ______ ______ ______." Under this at the left is "Frank H. Wiggin, Treasurer, Congregational House, Boston." To the right it reads "Attest ______ ______ ______," with "To be signed by Pastor, Superintendent, or Teacher" just below. Across the very bottom runs "The isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust."

It has not been possible to find a copy or description of a certificate of ownership in the fifth "Morning Star," a small steamer.

The second "Star," also a hermaphrodite brig, was built at East Boston. She cost $23,406, and was launched Sept. 22, 1866. She sailed from Boston under Capt. Hiram Bingham, Jr., on November 13, 1866. She reached Honolulu March 15, 1867, after only 122 days. We read that "2,000 Hawaiian Sunday School children marched to the wharf to see 'their ship.' " She sailed from Honolulu March 28, 1867, the plan for her yearly trips being that she should go first to the Gilbert Islands to take advantage of prevailing winds and currents, and then 1,000 miles northwest to Ponape, visiting other mission islands on the way, etc.

Capt. Bingham thus sums up the first voyage of the second "Morning Star" to Micronesia. "During this cruise of the 'Morning Star' we have visited sixteen different islands, seven of them a second time, two a third time, and one five times. We have carried supplies and mails to twelve missionary families, have had as passengers all the families but one, have had occasion to accommodate at different times nearly one hundred different individuals in all, have found our little vessel none too large for the work to which she has been called. She has proved herself well adapted to the work, and gives good proof of thoroughness on the part of the builders. Long may she be spared to be sent on many similar errands of mercy." Alas, she was spared only three years in all!

Much of Micronesia is in the doldrums, that region near the equator subject to calms, squalls, and light baffling winds, as well as strong ocean currents and a torrid sun. Often the "Stars" were in danger or badly delayed as they drifted helplessly about miles from the anchorage.

In one "report" to her young owners, the "Star" is made to say, "I came down flying from Ponape — I am going back 'wallowing.' I am doing the very best I can, and am glad no one complains at my slow progress. The only approach to complaint is the natural remark, which rather mortifies me: 'Now is the time for a steamer. O, for the power of steam!' Well, I am sorry, and would gladly do better. I am thinking of the dear ones at Ponape and Ebon, waiting for my return." But it was many years later before even auxiliary steam-power became a reality.

Rev. Capt. Bingham's health would not even let him continue here, so in 1868 it was arranged for him to take yearly trips to the Gilbert Islands, where he had formerly labored, to give counsel and assistance, remaining at Honolulu otherwise, engaged in translating the Bible, etc., for these islands. It is stated in the annual report of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association that just the right man had been found to take the "Star" after Capt. Bingham's retirement in 1868, in Capt. Tengstrom.

On Oct. 18, 1869, after only three years of service, the "Morning Star" left Kusaie for Honolulu, but in the evening was found to have gotten into a strong current and to have drifted dangerously near the island. Boats were lowered to tow, but she had to be anchored and held, when a severe squall struck her. She tried to sail out of danger, but failed and struck the rocky reef, broadside on, in a heavy surf. The missionaries and all on board, with some of their possessions, were saved in a boat, and, after waiting a month, reached Honolulu on Feb. 8, 1870, in a chance vessel which came along. The wreck was inevitable, and no blame was attached to it.

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