Snail Mail

Postcard finds way home after 106-year journey

LIHUE — On this date in 1907, the post office in Washington, D.C., sent a postcard from Kauai to Pittsburg, Kan.

“Some postcards take longer than others to find their way,” said Ginger Pedersen, a Florida author, historian and Kauai Museum member. “I am mailing this back to the Kauai Museum to complete its round-trip of 106 years.”

The postcard penned by Gay and Robinson co-founder Francis Gay to Congressman Philip P. Campbell found its way to the Kauai Museum on Friday after being acquired by Pedersen in Florida.

“That’s his signature,” said Chris Faye, Kauai Museum curator, after receiving the card from Pedersen. “I’ve seen enough documents signed by him, and I recognize the signature.”

Although she couldn’t be certain, Faye believed Campbell was in Hawaii around the time period of Aug. 6, 1907, the original date of the postcard, working with a film crew.

“The first movie ever made in Hawaii featured Congress people,” Faye said. “According to a Garden Island newspaper of the period, Philip P. Campbell, a Congressman from Kansas for 20 years, was scheduled to visit Hawaii in 1915.”

Faye’s statement ties in with the face of the postcard depicting a sailboat winging toward “Cocoanut Island” in Kaneohe Bay with Gay writing “With aloha nui from us all and wishing you a very pleasant trip.”

The scene of the boat first attracted Pedersen’s attention at a Florida postcard show on Aug. 10.

“I didn’t read the inscription until I was home that evening,” Pedersen said in an email. “When I saw the name Francis Gay, Makaweli, I knew who it was.”

Pedersen said she spent part of her childhood on Kauai, and after moving away, has returned for five visits.

“I think I was the only person who attended the show who could have made that connection to Kauai and its history,” she said. “The card is also a ‘private mailing card,’ which means the message had to be written on the front of the card. The back of the card could only contain the recipient’s address.”

Faye said Francis Gay, who lived from 1852 to 1928, was born in New Zealand and was of Scottish ancestry.

He arrived in Hawaii with the Sinclair family in 1864. Gay’s mother, a Sinclair, married a sea captain, who brought the family from New Zealand to Hawaii.

Gay and his cousin, Aubrey Robinson, formed a partnership as Gay and Robinson at Makaweli in 1889 for cattle ranching and sugar cane cultivation.

Gay worked as the ranch manager while Robinson, a lawyer, managed business affairs, which included the ranch, stock breeding and sugar concerns.

Gay served as a legislator in the Territory of Hawaii, where he probably met Congressional parties who came to Hawaii on fact-finding visits, when the then-territory was soliciting federal funding for road and harbor improvements.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.