Rose Atcherley and her marital difficulties – Part 2

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Mrs. Miner’s story was in brief as follows: She married Dr. Miner In Leeds, England, in 1886 and they came to Honolulu within a year. Shortly after their arrival here they had slight tiffs, but the first serious trouble arose out of her going into the office one day while the doctor was treating a patient. He followed her from the office and accused her of prying and spying upon him. He struck her on the head and told her to “Get to — out of here!”—The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 November 1900.

I think it would be fair to say that the marriage of Frank Leslie Miner [] and Rose Atcherley [] did not get off to the most promising start, and that their relationship remained rocky thereafter. Perhaps the only surprise is that it was not until 1900 that divorce proceedings were initiated (by Rose). Although the local press reported on the court proceedings in detail, those details varied somewhat. For example, The Honolulu Republican’s account of the same evidence described by The Pacific Commercial Advertiser above (plus subsequent altercations) attributed the following words to Rose:

Our first serious trouble was in 1887, in Honolulu, less than a year after our marriage. He was furious over a trifling matter. He told me to go to hell and kicked me. Shortly after this he struck me behind the ear which left a scar that I still have. Another time I was fixing the mosquito screen to our bed and he took exception to something and called me a d–n fool and struck me on the head.

miner-f-l-the-daily-bulletin-14-oct-1889The office / operating room incident must have taken place during or after October 1887, the month in which Dr Miner moved his business (ahead of schedule) to the new family home, the Makee Residence. (The advert, shown right, is from The Daily Bulletin of 14 October that year.) The doctor’s recollection of the events described above was, as might be expected, rather different to his wife’s. His evidence, as recounted by The Honolulu Republican, was as follows:

His wife could not brook the idea of the doctor treating women. She became cold and [repellent]. When he approached her after using [the operating] table she would shriek ‘Don’t kiss me; you can’t kiss me; you have touched that woman; I can’t allow myself to love you,’ and so on. […]

Dr. Miner giving specific acts of violence committed upon him by his wife. Once when he had a woman on the operating table the wife forced her way into the room and he was forced to lead her out and lock the door. He did not swear at her and did not hit her or kick her. He said he never struck her with a bag of money behind the ear, as she has sworn that he did. He denied in toto the mosquito net trouble; did not call her ‘a d–n fool’ and did not strike her on the head.

Whatever the facts about their private troubles may have been, all that the Honolulu public were aware of at the time was that Dr F L Miner was engaged in business as a physician. For example, a little over a month after the Miners arrived in the Kingdom of Hawaii, Frank was one of two doctors who attended to a native Hawaiian named Akahi. A “heap of corrugated iron” had fallen on this unfortunate man, on the afternoon of 28 May 1887, leaving him with a jaw and nose which appeared to be broken and a tongue which hung several inches out of his mouth, while “thick blood streamed freely.” Both medical men decided that the case was hopeless.

An even more distressing case came the doctor’s way in July 1887. A three year old girl, Malie Pahiehie, was sexually abused by Liwai Kawaa, and Dr Miner was called upon to attend to and examine the child, then later give evidence in court. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser took the view that “The details of the affair are unfit for publication”, and I shall follow their lead (although at least one other newspaper of the time did not).

More medical misfortunes followed. In August 1888, “Prince Kunuiakea was roughly handled about midnight of Thursday near the boat landing in some kind of a row”, and “Dr. Miner, who attended him about one o’clock in the morning, found him pretty badly battered.” In July 1889, the superintendent of the Electric Light Station attempted to uncross tangled electric and telephone wires on the roof of the Merchant’s Exchange. The resulting burns to the fingers on his left hand were so bad that Dr Miner had to amputate one of them.

One Monday during the following month (August 1889), between 4 and 5 pm, “Dr. F. L. Miner received a telephone message to proceed at once to the house of Mr. George Wond on Punchbowl street.” On arriving there, Dr Miner found Mr Wond’s seven year old son “covered all over with blood, a small hole over his right eye and nose, another just over the heart, two in the end of his thumb, and his right leg and thigh peppered with holes.” The child claimed that another boy had shot him, but it turned out that he had found a large powder cartridge in the vacated yard next door, which had exploded while he was playing with it. Luckily the wounds were not serious and a reasonably rapid recovery was expected.

In September 1889, Frank attended to Joseph Palau, a member of a detachment of the King’s Guard. During the firing of a salute in honour of the King’s arrival, one of the guns went off prematurely and the charge struck Palau’s hands and chest. Due to the injuries to his fingers, it seemed likely that miner-rose-and-gladys-in-honoluluthis member of the detachment would ultimately have to undergo the detachment two or three of his own members.

Meanwhile, on 15 June 1889, Rose had given birth to a daughter, Gladys Vera Miner [] (mother and child are pictured left, in Honolulu – for a larger version see Fanny, Jessy, Rose and Lily Atcherley). This might suggest the possibility of improved relations between Dr Miner and his wife. Sadly, testimony given during the couple’s divorce proceedings indicates otherwise:

Mrs. Giles was the nurse to Mrs. Miner when Gladys was born. The father waited on the mother and was kind and considerate. She said Mrs. Miner was fault-finding and disinclined to be pleased with anything Dr. Miner would do for her. […] She said the only thing the doctor insisted on doing was to read a chapter from the Bible one evening. Mrs. Miner objected to this.

Although it seems that things were still dire domestically in 1889, Frank and Rose did attend the social event of October that year in Honolulu. On the night of the 23rd a grand reception and ball was given by King David Kalākaua and Queen Kapiolani at Iolani Palace, in honour of the Prince and Princess of Bourbon and suite (who were visiting the Hawaiian islands).

The reception began at 9 pm, when their Majesties the King and Queen “descended the grand staircase and entering the throne room took their positions on the dais.” They were accompanied by their Royal Highnesses, Princess Liliuokalani and Princess Poomaikelani, their Highnesses, Prince Kawananakoa and Prince Kalanianaole, and several attendants.

Iolani Palace must have presented quite a picture to the visiting  dignitaries and guests. Honolulu’s Daily Bulletin related that: “Every approach to the palace presented a scene of gorgeous resplendence. The illumination of the building and grounds has never been surpassed in style or degree. From basement to battlements on every side the noble pile was profusely hung with rows of colored lanterns […]. These myriad lights were interspersed with the glittering rays from the permanent rose-shaped incandescent lamps on the outer walls. Every door and window poured forth a welcoming glow from the electric crystal chandeliers richly bestowed within. The paths in the grounds were lined, the trees and shrubbery decked, with hundreds of colored lanterns closely ranged in right lines and curves, all with such consummate art as to yield an effect of exquisite harmony to every point of vision.”

hawaii-iolani-palace-kalakaua-on-steps-1882King Kalākaua (centre) with staff on the steps of Iolani Palace, 1882

After the reception, during which the royal visitors, diplomats and Ministers of the Crown, naval officers from the USA and Great Britain, and members of the general public were presented to the King and Queen, came the ball. Once again I will let The Daily Bulletin do the talking: “The throne room in which the dancing was done presented an entrancing spectacular view during the programme. Many of the ladies were richly dressed. The distribution of brilliant military and naval uniforms was in large proportion to the sober evening dress suits of civilians, while many a manly breast bore splendid decorations that scintillated with distinction at every moment. With the specious floor completely occupied a picture of kaleidoscopic beauty, combining the poetry of both motion and color, was displayed whenever the music sounded.”

For Frank Miner, this occasion was an opportunity to socialise with Honolulu’s elite, who no doubt included members of his clientèle, and a chance to escape the troubles of his daily life. Was it the same for Rose? I suspect not. One of the many things made public during her divorce case in 1900 was that Rose had little time for Honolulu or its people. The Honolulu Republican of 24 November 1900 observed that “Mrs. Miner showed a decided repugnance to Honolulu.” Earlier in November, before the court hearings began, Dr Frank Miner went much further:

The doctor, in his own answer, takes the Honolulu people into his confidence enough to let it be known that his wife does not like them a little bit. He says he has worked many years to build up a practice here but his wife has persistently tried to get him to leave Honolulu for good and all and to take her to England. He says she thinks the people of this city are not fit to associate with her. Hating them and the place as she does, she keeps him in hot water about leaving.

In 1890 the Miners did leave Honolulu, though only for a few months. On 24 August that year, “Dr F L Miner, wife, child and maid” were among the passengers departing “For San Francisco per R M S Alameda”. They arrived back at Honolulu, as passengers of the S S Australia, on 14 November. On the day following their return, The Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported that: “Dr. and Mrs. F. L. Miner have returned from their three months trip to the States, greatly benefited from the change.”

In reality, the Miners’ sojourn in the States had been one of the lowest of the many low points in the couple’s troubled marriage.

> On to Part 3.

Picture credits. Notice in The Daily Bulletin, 14 Oct 1887: Taken from page image at Chronicling America, no known copyright restrictions. Rose Miner, née Atcherley, and Gladys Vera Miner: Digitally restored image based on a scanned photograph kindly provided by Barbara Lang. Iolani Palace: Photo by D Ramey Logan, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licenceKing Kalākaua with staff on the steps of Iolani Palace, 1882: Public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons.


[1] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Nov 1900, page 7. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] The Honolulu Republican, 20 Nov 1900, pages 1 and 6. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[3] The Daily Bulletin, 14 Oct 1887, page 1. Dr Miner Physician and Surgeon. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[4] The Daily Bulletin, 28 May 1887, page 3. A Hopeless Case. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[5] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 12 Jul 1887, page 3. A Brutal Outrage. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[6] The Daily Herald (Honolulu), 20 Jul 1887, page 3. The Outrage case. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[7] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 25 Aug 1888, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[8] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 27 Jul 1889, page 3. Electric Light Dangers. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[9] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 7 Aug 1889, page 3. A Dangerous Plaything. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[10] The Daily Bulletin, 17 Sep 1889, page 3. Accident at Kakaako. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[11] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 17 Jun 1889, page 3. (Birth notice.) Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[12] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 24 Oct 1889, page 3. Grand Royal Ball. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[13] The Honolulu Republican, 24 Nov 1900, pages 1 and 8. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[14] The Honolulu Republican, 17 Nov 1900, page 1. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[15] The Hawaiian Gazette, 26 Aug 1890, page 10. Shipping Intelligence. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[16] The Hawaiian Gazette, 18 Nov 1890, page 12. Shipping Intelligence. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[17] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 15 Nov 1890, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.