Dr John Atcherley of Hawaii and his family

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My thanks to Barbara Lang and Lili’u Tomasello for providing most of the photos on this page, and for giving me permission to use them. Credits for photographs from other sources are given with the images in question.

On 9 March 1893, at the age of 27, Dr John Atcherley (pictured right) departed Liverpool, England aboard the Aurania, arriving at New York on 20 March (with, according to the passenger list, six pieces of baggage). From there he travelled to San Francisco, before completing the last leg of his journey via the steamship Alameda. He reached his destination—the Hawaiian port of Honolulu—on 7 April.

The purpose of John’s journey across the globe was to cover the medical practice of his brother-in-law Dr Frank Leslie Miner, while the Miner family took a vacation for three or four months. But while John took many more sea voyages during the remaining 47 years of his life, none of them took him back to England.

John Atcherley’s granddaughter, the late Lily Mae Atcherley, told the following story: “Soon after Dr. John Atcherley arrived in Honolulu, he was called upon to see a woman who was quite ill. Dr. Atcherley spent several days and many long hours tending to his patient’s needs, but he was unable to save her life. It happened that this woman was Hannah Keola Kinimaka. Her daughter also held fast to her mother’s bedside — and it was during this trying episode that Mary Ha’aheo Kinimaka met her future husband, Dr. John Atcherley.”

Mary Kinimaka (pictured above) had now lost both her mother Hannah Keolaokalaau (Allen) and her father, David Leleo Kinimaka (pictured below), who had been commander-in-chief of the Royal troops of Hawaii and a member of King Kalakaua’s Privy Council; he had passed away on 10 March 1884, aged 32.

Mary also had a special relationship with Hawaii’s royal family. Athough the king, Kalakaua, was the biological son of Kapaʻakea and Keohokālole, he was the adopted or hānai son of Kinimaka and Haʻaheo, which made David Leleo Kinimaka his hānai brother. In the photo below, Mary is shown standing behind the last Queen of Hawaii, Kalakaua’s sister Liliʻuokalani (1838-1917).

Mary Ha’aheo Kinimaka married Dr John Atcherley at Kawaiae (or Kawaihaekai) on 27 Oct 1894, receiving as her wedding present from the king three portraits depicting Kalakaua, Kapiolani and Poomaikalani. Dowager Queen Kapiolani and Prince David Kawanakakoa also sent wedding gifts shortly after the marriage.

There is much for me to write about the lives of John and Mary Atcherley, particularly the turbulent times of 1909 when John, who believed he had a cure for leprosy and that a rival doctor was trying to steal it, was confined for a time in an asylum for the insane. After his release he took his family to San Francisco (where they were enumerated on the 1910 US census) and then to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. While there, he joined the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR) in 1915 and served aboard HMCS Shearwater as Surgeon during World War 1. He is pictured below (sitting far right) with the other officers of that vessel in 1919.


Photo © and dedicated to the memory of the late Dave Perkins, used with the kind permission of Paul Benyon, webmaster of Late 18th, 19th and early 20th Century Naval and Naval Social History. Click on the image to see a larger version on that website.

In the early 1920s the Atcherley family returned to Hawaii, where six of John and Mary’s seven children children had been born (the seventh, Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani Atcherley, known as “Bobby,” was born in Vancouver in 1912). One of the four boys, David Barkley Sanford Atcherley, had died in infancy, but the others all grew up to marry at least once, and all but one had children of their own so that today John and Mary have many descendants.

The oldest child of the family, Sybil Dorothy Kuliaikanuu Pai Atcherley was photographed in Honolul in 1900. aged 4 years and 10 months. She married Bert Johnson in the 1930s, but before this marriage she had a daughter, named Dorothy Barbara Atcherley.

Dorothy Barbara Atcherley wed Benjamin Franklin Kneubuhl II (who was known as Benny) and with him had four children, the two oldest of which are shown in the photo below.

The adults pictured from left to right in the photo above, which was taken in the late 1940s or early ’50s, are Mrs Benjamin Kneubuhl, Sybil Dorothy Atcherley Johnson (who died in 1977), Dorothy Atcherley Kneubuhl and Benjamin Kneubuhl I. The two children are older siblings of James Paul Kneubuhl, who has kindly given me permission to use the photograph on this site, along with another picture of his mother Dorothy Barbara Atcherley Kneubuhl, who died in 1992. The original pictures from which these images are taken can be viewed on James’s Flickr photostream by clicking on them.

James’s brother Benjamin Franklin Kneubuhl III (known as Buzzy) passed away in 2012. Photos and information about Buzzy’s life as a surfer in the ’60s (and beyond) can be found online: A Paipo Interview with Buzzy Kneubuhl. James has also added a set of photos from Buzzy’s memorial service to Flickr.

John and Mary Atcherley’s second daughter, Lani Mary Ulwin Atcherley (1900-1984), had obtained a licence to marry John Garcia Jr in 1920, but the couple did not actually marry and instead eloped to Kauai. This did not prevent them from holding a luau for 200 guests at their home, Keoni Lani, in 1970 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! Nor did it prevent the Reverend Father Vladimir Garasevich from bringing a blessing from the Pope.

Lani and John Garcia are pictured left, walking either in Honolulu, where they lived until at least 1940, or in Waimanalo, where they spent their latter years and where the photo below was most likely taken.

John and Mary Garcia had two children: Ulwin Lili’u Garcia (1921-2003) and Jack Atcherley Garcia (1923-2002).

Jack Atcherley Garcia married Thelma Carolyn Gogui (1915-1995). The couple had two children, but later divorced. Jack then wed Delphine (1921-1986). Jack worked at Dillingham Shipyard at Honolulu.

Ulwin Lili’u Garcia (pictured right, and below with her husband) married Max Kalani Eckart and with him had nine children. More information on the genealogy of the Eckart family can be found on the History of Families Landgraf and Eckart website created by Michael Klein (registration is required to access family trees).

Do you have any photographs of the Hawaiian branch of the Atcherley-Kinimaka family and their descendants, which I could use on this website? If so, please get in touch through my Guild of One Name Studies page. Thank you!


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