In 1868 Maximilian Eckart, silversmith, traded the security of Job and home in his native Bavaria for an uncertain future in the Hawaiian Islands. He was destined to live out his life in these tropic isles, and to become the patriarch of the Eckart Family of Hawaii, whose members numbered on 1. 1. 82 504, by blood, and are a blend of many races.
Max was the youngest of twelve children born to David and Jeanette Eckart of Emskirchen, Bavaria and at his birth on Feb. 7, 1842 was given the gift of a kingly name. The following excerpt taken from the book "History of the Family Eckart" describes the circumstances leading to this special honor: "He got his name Max because often the Bavarian Crown Prince Max II had been a guest in the restaurant "Zum Goldenen Hirschen".
Once when the Crown Prince was asking where the pretty wife of David was, he was told that she was having the 12th baby; whereupon the Crown Prince offered to be the godfather." Max's decision to leave home saddened his mother, (a widow for the past 15 years), for his destination lay half-way around the world and the distance alone precluded frequent trips home.
But she thought of Christian, her second son who had established a jewelry business in the city of Honolulu soon after his arrival there with his wife Mathilde on Jan. 2, 1867, and she reasoned, with Max there to help his brother, her two sons would surely prosper. And so she was comforted. Max himself, 26 years old and a bachelor, probably needed little urging to join his brother in that land of never-ending summer, for what man has not ever dreamed of escaping to a South-Sea island paradise.
He arrived in Honolulu by way of San Francisco on Aug. 24, 1868 on the ship Idaho, and noted the unmistakable signs of civilization's encroachment on this Island kingdom: newsboys peddling their papers on unpaved city streets lined with business establishments both imposing and ramshackle, foreigner's frame houses beside neat grass houses, elegant ladies riding by in horse-drawn carriages, church spires and bell towers rising above the city. In the months following his arrival he was to see sugar plantations on which the newly-arrived Japanese coolies labored; and to discover that the reigning King Kamehameha V was also an enlightened monarch, having been given the benefits of a. princely education and extensive travel in his youth. But here also were the days of sunshine and the nights of stars, of gentle rain and cooling trade winds; warm clear ocean waters washing white sandy beaches, and sparkling waterfalls tumbling through deep crevices in the Koolaus to hidden pools below. And though the bare footed natives were fully clothed, they were still the friendly, hospitable, happy people of a by-gone era. So Max was able to keep his romantic dream. These Island people never ceased to intrigue Max.
He was a curious man and there was always something new to be observed and experienced of this culture so foreign to his own. He delighted in recounting the following incident to friends: One day as he was descending the steep Pali trail on horseback on his way to the windward side of Oahu, he was joined by a native woman also on horseback. Halfway down the trail she dismounted and asked Max to hold the reins of her horse, then vanished into the underbrush. As minutes passed and she remained hidden from view, he began to wonder what could be delaying her. His question was answered a few minutes later when she re-appeared holding a newborn baby in her arms. She mounted her horse and they continued the journey down the mountainside. Soon they came to a wayside pool. The woman again asked Max to hold the reins of her horse as she dismounted and washed her baby in the pool. They parted Company at the foot of the mountain where the trail divided. Aside from generalities, very little is known of Max's early years in Honolulu. On Sept. 20, 1870 his mother wrote:
"Maximilian, gold-smith, has been with his brother in Honolulu in the Sandwich Islands for two years now, and he is fine" (p. 28 History of the Family Eckart). So it is a fair assumption that Max worked in Christian's Jewelry shop at 62 Beretania St. right from the start.
It is also almost a certainty that he learned the intricacies of watch repair and watch making during this period of employment, possibly from Christian himself. Max was given yet another view of the Hawaiian people through the emotional, impressive pageantry that accompanied every important Royal event, such as the funeral rites of the Alii, with their chanting watches of ancient dirges. In time he would come to feel a kinship with these people and decide to become a Hawaiian citizen; but for the present he was content to be just a "malihini" (stranger) in this interesting land.
Jeanette Eckart wrote this about her son Christian: "Christian, married to Mathilde von Bostel from Staade, Hannover, is presently in Honolulu on the Sandwich Islands as jeweler and goldsmith after being in Brasil and in San Francisco in which town he married. In the summer of 1870 he was here in order to visit his relatives" (p. 28 History of the Family Eckart). Archive records show that Christian and his wife left the islands on Apr. 21, 1870. These two pieces of information are not necessarily related. Archive records are incomplete.
Christian could have taken the trip home by himself at a later date. During 1872 both Christian and Max were away from the islands for short periods of time. On Jan. 23 Max was a passenger aboard the Moses bound for San Francisco. He returned on March 10. On June 5 Christian and his wife boarded the Mohango for San Francisco. Their return date is not recorded. No information is available to indicate the purpose of both these trips. The year 1874 began favorably for Max. On Jan. 26 he was accepted into that (once) exclusive fraternity of prominent island men, the Masons.
Now having acquired such influential "brothers" (Kalakaua was a brother Mason) he was practically assured of business success. There were also social benefits, but Max was more interested in the opportunities this society provided for mental and spiritual growth through individual study. He remained a Student of free masonry all his life. Toward the middle of the year the brothers received the sad news of their mother's death on May 11. This was not to be the best of years after all. Then Christian, in spite of persistent ill health, decided it was time to expand his business. He chose to relocate in the heart of the business district at No. 62 Fort St. On Dec. 26 an advertisement in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser contained the following information:
CHR. ECKART Manufacturer & Importer of JEWELRY I beg to inform my customers and the public generally, that I have Moved My Business to Fort St. No. 62 in William's Fire-proof Building Where I shall keep a Large and Extensive Stock of Fine Jewelry, watches, Diamonds SOLID SILVER-WARE, Best Platedware, Clocks, FANCY JEWELRY etc. I also beg to state that I have engaged a Competent Watchmaker, Watches and Clocks Repaired ON THE MOST Liberal Terms & Satisfaction Guaranteed! I will add that I mean to continue business on the same Liberal Terms as I have done before. Thanking the public for favors shown me so far, I solicit continuance of the same. Chr. Eckart Despite his optimism in his future, Christian succumbed to his illness on Jan. 21, 1875. Both The Friend (Feb. 1875 p. 13) and the Commercial Advertiser (Jan. 23, 1875) noted his passing: Eckart - In this city Jan. 21 st, of consumption Christian Eckart, age 45 years
He was a native of Bavaria A sorrowing brother and a grief-stricken widow laid Christian to rest in Oahu Cemetery. On his headstone were carved the words: "Friede Seiner Asche." In the days following this tragedy Max carried on at the shop. The distraught widow was inconsolable in her grief. Her brothers in California, feeling a change of scene might benefit her, invited her to visit them. On May 11, 1875 Mathilde boarded the ship the D. C. Murray bound for San Francisco. Being still in a depressed state of mind she attempted to end her life during the voyage, and 'because of her suicidal tendencies and erratic behavior, was finally committed to an insane asylum in Stockton, California, on June 17, 1875. Records in the State Archives show that on July 14, 1875 Max was appointed guardian of the estate of "Mathilde Eckart, an insane person" by the Supreme Court of the Hawaiian Islands. Mathilde died on Sept. 2, 1875 of an "ulcer on the lung" and Max filed in court an inventory of all "property and assets of the deceased" which amounted to Dollar 5,549,99. On Nov. 12, 1875 Max presented his claim of Dollar 906.68 against the estate of Mathilde Eckart, which was approved.
In the space of nine short months Max had lost his brother, his sister-in-law and his Job but not his hopes for a bright future in the Hawaiian Islands. He had friends here and skills that would always provide him with employment. On Nov. 22, 1875, he became a Hawaiian citizen. On Feb. 4, 1876 Max left Honolulu on the first leg of his long journey home, aboard the Mikado bound for San Francisco. A doctor in Honolulu had diagnosed the pain he was experiencing as acute appendicitis and recommended surgery. But Max did not trust American doctors. He would have the surgery done in Germany, he told his doctor, who predicted he would surely die before the long sea journey was over. He didn't die. Surgery was performed with the patient fully conscious.
He refused to be anesthetized. With returning health Max's thoughts turned once again to his adopted land. He arrived back in Honolulu soon after the Start of the year 1877, and remained there only long enough to present himself to his doctor, to show him how wrong his prognosis had been. Then he boarded an Inter-island boat and sailed for the island of Hawaii. The boat docked at Kawaihae. Max and two companions hiked the long uphill trau to Waimea where Max hoped to get a Job as a butcher at Parker Ranch. (This side trade stood him in good stead whenever he moved to a new place. It gave him a living while he searched for a suitable location for his jewelry business.) As Max and his companions walked through a pasture they were chased by a bull. They spotted a grass hut close by and ran for it, jumping on its roof. Out of the hut rushed a group of young girls who looked with amazement and amusement at the three "haoles" (white foreigners) crouched atop their play hut. In that group of girls were two Campbell sisters, Maria Louise, 15 and Hannah, 11.
It was Max's first glimpse of the girl who would one day be his wife. Max was accepted for employment at Parker Ranch and soon became friendly with William Campbell, father of the two Campbell sisters. He being the only Caucasian living in the vicinity of the ranch, Max took to visiting his home in the evenings, for conversation, and became further acquainted with the beautiful Maria, whose mother was Hawaiian. Sixteen years previously William Campbell, a native of Denmark, had settled on the island of Hawaii, and desiring a wife, had gone to the one place he knew he would find many young women - the school. He singled out 14 year old Kapualiliaokahak'u Kalunahoo-kiekie Keawe, and asked her teacher Kaukapono (who was also a relative) if he could have her for a wife. Kaukapono consulted her mother who deferred the decision to her daughter. Kaluna readily accepted Campbell's offer of marriage. She said she had always hoped to marry a "haole" because she wished to have beautiful children. She got her wish, all fourteen of them; and when in May of 1877 her tenth child was born, she named him Max after her husband's new friend. After a year on Hawaii Max decided to return to Oahu. He had fallen in love with the beautiful, shy, gentle Maria and wanted to take her with him, so he boldly asked William Campbell for his daughter's hand in marriage.
He consented, she consented. And so Max and Maria were married. He was 36, she was 16, and the year was 1878. Max brought his young bride back to Honolulu and settled her in a large house on the slopes of Punchbowl where the Pacific Club now Stands. It was then a fashionable residential district. Their next door neighbor was the Kawananakoa Campbell family. (Max earned their deep gratitude when he tried to save one of the children who had swallowed an oleander leaf. He ran next door and extracted the poisonous leaf from the little girls throat. Unfortunately the poison had invaded her System and his efforts to save her failed.) In the first year of their marriage Max was kept busy establishing a jewelry business in town. One of his first advertisements in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Nov. 15, 1879) read as follows: MAX ECKART Jeweller Kaahumanu Street, Honolulu Would Respectfully Notify his friends and the island community generally that he has JUST RECEIVED an invoice of the VERY FIRST-CLASS GOODS Finest Silver Plated Ware. A great variety of Patterns from the celebrated manufacturing in Meriden, Conn. A Large Assortment of Diamonds Jewelry, Plain and Enamelled of every variety and style. Rings, Brooches, Lockets, Charms, Etc. WATCHES AND CLOCKS From the Most Approved Makers Parties intending to make Christmas or New Years presents, should call and look at my Stocks and inquire pnces before purchasmg elsewhere.
He was also busy at home, instructing his wife in homemaking arts. As for Maria she desired only to please her husband, and so she entered into his plans for her self-improvement without complamt. With the arrival of the children the last vestiges of her once carefree girlhood vanished forever, and she would be remembered by her children as a quiet, dutiful wife and a patient, hard-working mother who spoke with a slight stutter. She bore her husband twelve children, six of them during the ten years they lived in Honolulu. First came Lily (Kapuali-liaokahaku) (23.1. 1879). The next year (12. 12. 1880) Kauwila Louise joined the family. She was followed at two-year intervals by Hans Rudolph (11.5. 1882), Meta Jeanette (19.1. 1884), Minette (14.8. 1886), and Christina Babette (19. 7. 1888). Maria became so overburdened with work that her younger sister Hannah was sent for to help with the house work and the care of the children.
By the year 1882 Max's business had outgrown the Kaahumanu St. shop. He decided to move into more spacious quarters at Nos. 113 and 115 Fort St. The Stores on Fort St., as in Christian's time, catered to the carriage trade. They were stocked with highpriced quality goods from England and Germany. It was the very best business location. On Aug. 26, 1882, an advertisement appeared in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser announcing the grand opening of Max's new store. It read as follows: MAX ECKARTS New Store GRAND OPENING, NEW STOCK I take great pleasure m informing my friends and the public in general that I HAVE MOVED TO MY NEW STORE Nos. 113 and 115 Fort St. where I will open an entire NEW STOCK OF SOLID GOLD and PLATED JEWELRY Gold and Silver Watches of all descriptions, and a complete ASSORTMENT OF SILVER-PLATED WARE My good Standing in this Kingdom from years of experience in this business is a guarantee that I SHALL ONLY OFFER THE VERY BEST AT THE LOWEST PRICE I have spared no expense in selecting New Stock, in order to keep up my reputation and to give satisfaction. WATCHMAKING will be as before. A SPECIAL BRANCH OF MINE WARRANTING ALL WORK DONE BY ME Also a full line of Eyeglasses and Spectacles Thanking you for the confidence shown. I invite the public to inspect my stock before purchasing elsewhere. MAX ECKART, Jeweler and Watchmaker, Fort St. He was also agent for Waltham and Elgin watches, Wm. Rogers silver-plated flatware, and Simpson, Hall, Miller and Co's silver-plated hollowware. Max's most illustrious customer was none other than King Kalakaua himself. It was during the reign of this monarch that Max's career reached its zenith.
Unfortunately, the ledger in which he wrote detailed descriptions of all the articles he fashioned and sold to the King and other important people of that day, is lost, but we do have the following bit of information provided us by Judge Edna Jenkins .(Maui News, Apr. 1958) of Wailuku, Maui: "Incidentally, years ago I was given Maximilian's record and account book showing charges to all the great names in Hawaii of that day, including King Kalakaua. Not knowing members of the family would want the book and not realizing its historical value, turned this very worn and termite-eaten item over to the Maui County Library as having possible use by scholars." Judge Jenkins recalls that the prices Max charged were very reasonable, and even cheap by today's Standards. So mindful was Max of his responsibilities as the King's jeweler that whenever he worked on an order from the Royal Household, he brought it home with him each night for safe-keeping. His young son Hans, carrying a shotgun accompanied him on the walk home.
The King grew to like and to trust him. Max began accompanying him to poker games, to sit at his side and provide him with funds when his own became depleted. Kalakaua always offered Max fabulous collateral, but he could never take advantage of the King's generosity. He only asked that his money be refunded. Max served Commoner and King in the same way. Both received his best in workmanship, quality, and Service. In fact his greatest pleasure came from serving the native women customers. They would troop into his store in a holiday mood with their bags of money, hoarded coin by coin over many months, and with much laughter and chatter, load their persons with Ornaments - necklaces, brooches, bracelets, and ring upon ring on their fingers, until Max told them they had acquired their money's worth. He was also the first to know who was getting married. The couple would bring him a Dollar 5.00 gold piece which he melted down and shaped into a wedding band. If they had no gold piece, they brought him a brooch, and a ring was made from its gold setting.
He charged Dollar 1.00 for his work. Besides the traditional types of jewelry Max also created Hawaiian jewelry-necklaces and brooches of polished kukui nuts decorated with gold filigree, boar's tooth pendants and brooches tipped at both ends with gold. For the high-born he made neck pieces (lei palaoa) of multistrands of woven human hair held together at its center by a hook-shaped ornament made from a sperm whale's tooth - a Symbol of their Alii (Royal) heritage. The years rolled on. Max continued to ply his trade at his Fort St. store. On special occasions as Kamehameha Day when horse racing was held in Kapiolani Park, Max was given the responsible position of Timer. But he was basically a family man and took little part in the social life of the city. This city that he knew so well was growing rapidly. There was now even an Opera House. With the establishment of other jewelry firms such as Gomes and Wichmann Co. and Thomas Lindsay Jewelry Establishment, the jewelry business was becoming highly competitive. On July 4, 1888 an advertisement in the Pacific Commercial Adverti-ser informed the public of his change of address. The following Information was included: FINE JEWELRY! I would respectfully inform my friends and the public generally, that I am located in MY NEW STORE DAMON'S BLOCK, BETHEL STREET, where I am prepared to do all kinds of JEWELRY WORK in the most satisfactory manner. I have also secured the Services of a First-class Watchmaker, And will guarantee all work entrusted to me. I have also just received a splendid line of GOLD AND PLATED JEWELRY, WATCHES, ETC. Suitable for the coming holidays, which I off er at extremely low prices, and request you to inspect the same before purchasing elsewhere. Thanking you for many years' past favors and asking for a continuance of the same. Respectfully, MAX ECKART Don't forget Damon's block, Bethel Street Another advertisement on July 13, 1888 in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser had this to say: GO TO MAX ECKART'S For Your Jewelry Where you will find Silver, Gold and Diamonds, Made up in a neat, artistic fashion All goods are warranted to be all that is claimed for them, viz: the very best goods made. He has also received A New invoice of Clocks which are very ornamental as well as useful. Prices all adjusted to suit the times. In 1889 Max gave up his Business in Honolulu and the family moved to the island of Maui.
He was then 47 years old. As was his wont when settling in a new place, Max became a butcher at Ulupalakua Ranch while scouting the island for a good place to set up shop. (It was here at Ulupalakua where his ledger was found years later.) Max met a Frenchman, a Mr. Dorian who owned a jewelry store in Wailuku, and had a house he wanted to seil located at the top of Vineyard St. Max bought his house and went into partnership with Dorian. Later the partnership was dissolved and Max became sole owner of the business, and sole jeweler and watchmaker on Maui. He brought into his new business the same integrity that had marked his years of business in Honolulu, but Maui's population was limited and his profits were never overwhelming. However, he was able to provide adequately for his family and to take an occasional trip to Germany. But more important, he now had time to direct and supervise the rearing of his children. Another son, Max Otto, had been born in Ulupalakua (29.3. 1890), and between 1892 and 1902 five more children - Marie Susanna (14. 2. 1892), Fritz Kaukapono (4. 2. 1894), May Lilinoe (8. 5. 1896), William Pualoha (27. 7. 1898), and Henriette Hedwig (13. 5. 1902) - would be born, bringing the number of children to an even dozen. Max's first child was born when he was 37 years old, his last when he was 60. Although he never ceased being a conscientious father, his younger children never knew the handsome, black bearded vigorous father that his older children did.
From the Start of their marriage Max had been understandably the dominant partner. He was a mature man and his wife, an untutored girl by European Standards. With gentleness, patience, and perseverance, he taught her to run a smooth house, to budget the household money, to cook the foods he liked, and to care for the children in the manner of German mothers. So apt was his pupil that she quickly developed into a German hausfrau, concerned only with kinder, küche, and kirche - but even in these areas her husband's influence was feit. (One would infer by this account of Max's dominance in the home that his wife was stripped of all her individuality. That was not the case. He did not insist that she learn his language. Instead he learned hers. He did not insist that she give up her native foods. Instead he learned to eat them. But most important of all, he did not insist that she forget her native belief s, nor did he label them superstitious nonsense. Instead he listened and learned more of her culture.) Max was a skillful amateur doctor. His rnedical knowledge was acquired partly from books. He was an avid reader. He presided over the birth of every one of his children, and doctored them successfully through all of their illnesses.
When his young daughter was severely burned in an accidental fire, his treatment saved her life. Only in the matter of curing his son Fritz of asthma did he fail, but so did the doctors in Honolulu to whom Max brought his son. Max also practiced preventive medicine. He vaccinated his children against Small Pox. Once a month they received a dose of Castor Oil to clean out their digestive Systems; and during the summer months they were given a mixture of sulphur and molasses to thin out their blood. He took other measures to ensure his family's health. The children were not allowed to have sweets except for the single Lemon Drop (candy) each received personally from him after the evening meal. And because he knew that the Japanese .farmers used human wastes to fertilize their gardens, he forbad them to buy any root vegetables from these farmers. At a time when many babies died at birth or during childhood due to disease, malnutrition, or generally poor care, the Eckart youngsters waxed strong and healthy. Even Fritz with his asthmatic condition was no weakling. "He who lies, steals; he who steals, kills." This MAXim was the cornerstone of his children's moral and ethical education. It was repeated whenever one of them needed to be reminded of the progressive nature of crime and its consequences to the offender's character. Max seldom punished them physically, preferring to teach through precept and example. He lived by a strict code of ethics. And to reinforce his teachings, he sent them all to church. They attended Sunday Services at the Church Of The Good Shepherd an Episcopal church in Wailuku within walking distance of their home. Max himself had brought each child born on Maui to the church to be baptized. But he did not go to church. When asked, "Why not?" by a minister, replied "There are more good Christians outside the church than inside".
He humorously referred to all ministers as "skyscrapers". The Rev. Auld the Episcopalian vicar found Max a genial host. He called regularly at the Eckart home for stimulating conversation and good beer. Max never knew it, but his children were twice blest in baptism. Maria his normally docile wife showed a spark of independence when it came to religion. She had been baptized in the Mormon faith and she firmly believed that only through this religion could she and her children be together throughout eternity. She started having them baptized as Mormons by immersion in the lao River the first time her husband went to Germany, and ever after that, the baptisms occurred whenever Max was abroad, until she had made all her children Mormons. "Idle hands make idle minds; idle minds make mischief." It was another favorite MAXim. There were no idle hands in the Eckart household. Maria worked from dawn to dusk at household tasks, and the children worked with her and on other projects as well. Food production was one of them. Aside from it being an occupation that kept them busy, and out of mischief, there was also a real need for it. The family ate three hearty meals a day. The children laid out a garden and planted a variety of leafy and root vegetables, including sweet potatoes. They planted fruit trees - mango, fig, avocado, momi apple, mountain apple, peach, red guava, Chinese orange - and named them after themselves. (We called our avocado tree at Waihee "Minnie's Tree" because it grew from the fruit off the original tree Minette had planted long ago in their yard at Wailuku.) Max leased the property adjoining his land. Here were planted banana and papaia trees, and taro. Max diverted water from the stream that ran in back of the property, to the taro patch by means of a flume. The children worked kneedeep in the muddy water of the taro patch, setting in the young plants. When the corn was fully grown, it was pulled up and cooked, to be eaten whole or mashed into poi on a poi board by a stone poi pounder. From their coffee trees came the beans that provided the family with coffee.
The little children disliked the tedious Job of picking the beans, so Max provided the incentive of wages (25 d a can) to all who helped. The older children processed the beans through its many stages of preparation to the final roasting. The roasted beans were ground in a coffee mill put together by Max and screwed down firmly to a table top. Max's coffee was enjoyed as far away as Germany by the family members who were lucky enough to receive a package of this product through the mail. Among the fowl and other animals the children raised were ducks, chickens, turkeys, pigeons, rabbits, and pigs. They fed them and kept their shelters clean. Their father taught his sons how to caponize the young cocks, and included his older daughters when showing them how best to kill a chicken for the dinner table. Whenever pigs were slaughtered, hams and ropes of blood (mixed with pork) sausages made by the women hung from the kitchen ceiling, slowly curing above the wood-burning stove. Into a large barrel went other cuts of pork, to be salted. Another barrel held corned beef, and still another, Sauerkraut. The family would eat well for many weeks. Even in the evenings when the family gathered in the warm lamp-lit parlor, idle hands were not allowed. The girls busied themselves with a piece of sewing or emproidery after the kitchen tasks were done.
They were fine seamstresses like their mother from whom they had learned to sew. The little girls also were not idle. They strung leis of Job's Tears and Koa seeds for their own adornment and ended their evening by bringing their father his nightly snack (and theirs too) of fruit. The rule was relaxed only if busy hands were replaced by busy minds involved in schoolwork, reading or trying to outwit Max at cribbage. He taught all of his children how to play the game, and for many years was unquestionably the best player in the house. Gradually some of them became formidable opponents, and his good humor decreased as their mental agility increased. He did not take kindly to defeat. On the evenings Max attended the Masonic meetings, books and sewing were laid aside and the children relaxed with conversation and merry antics despite gentle chiding from their mother. With the first sounds of an approaching carriage, everyone scrambled back into positions of physical or mental occupation, and when Max entered his hörne he would find his daughters bent dutifully over their needlework and his sons engrossed in their books. Sometimes the carriage rumbled past the house. A jubilant shout from one of the children to their mother, "Papa aole come" (Pidgin Hawaiian meaning "Papa is not coming") and the merriment began anew. A holiday atmosphere prevailed when Max was away for longer periods, as on one of his infrequent trips to Germany. The household continued to.function in the same efficient way and the children did not let up on their chores, but when the work was done they found other activities to keep hands and minds busy. Like birds out of a cage, they ventured far from home, exploring the lao River, catching oopu (small fish) and opae (shrimp) in scattered pockets of water, and splashing happily in the deeper pools.
They swam in the part of the stream that bordered the cemetery in their birthday suits, the dark green overhanging branches of the fir trees that lined the stream hiding them from public view. They peeped into the Laundry that stood on land leased from their father, and watched curiously äs the Chinese laundry men ironed tirelessly, sprinkling the clothes with water held in their mouths. Altogether, it was a happy, carefree time for the children. When Max involved his children in the activities directly connected with family needs, he was putting into practice the basic principle underlying what would be called "progressive education" several decades later - learning by doing, motivated by need. He also believed in "learning by observation", and was constantly on the lookout for new experiences to which they could be exposed. On one occasion he brought home silk worms and placed them on the mulberry shrubs growing in their yard. The children watched them grow into adult caterpillars, and then encase themselves in cocoons. Then Max put a few cocoons in hot water and carefully unraveled the Strands of silk as his young audience looked on in wonder. He left the other cocoons to develop normally so that the resultant butterflies would provide them with yet another science lesson. The children also learned by formal instruction. They all attended Wailuku Elementary School, their education continuing through as many grades as was available (eight, and later ten grades). They considered going to school a wonderful privilege for it gave them a chance to leave their home grounds and make new friends. The teachers found the girls especially, to be excellent students. Max would have liked to send his daughters (the boys had no desire for higher education) to Honolulu for a career education, but he could not spare them from the home. Their formal education completed, they took their places at their mother's side to relieve her of some of the work that crowded her day and left her exhausted at night.
There were always little children to care for along with the regular household tasks. Her children now numbered twelve and just preparing the meals took up much of her time. Whenever she baked bread or pies she made a dozen at a time, because they disappeared so fast; and very soon it was time to bake another dozen. So whenever one of her daughters graduated she welcomed the addition of another pair of hands. It also gave her a chance to work outdoors in her garden, an occupation she considered recreational. Once out of school the girls were asked to baby-sit or to do housework for their former teachers or for the Vicar's wife. They were happy to earn a little money for themselves. Max had told them that honest labor was honorable labor so they did not consider such work demeaning. (After marriage some of them used the training they had received at home to Start a cottage business. They were paid well for the clothes they made.) Max was able to expose two of his children to a few years of German education which he considered superior to that of the Islands. On one of his trips home to Germany he took along Max and Christina, and left them with his family. Christina returned after her mother's death, a fine needlewoman, and Max, a skilled mechanic. Max found work in Honolulu.
A true story demonstrating this young man's mechanical ability concerns Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole's car. He had the first automobile in the Islands and he proudly drove it about until it broke down. The car remained unused, there being no one capable of fixing it, until Max came along and made it operable again. The Eckart household was by no means an "all work and no play" one when Max was at home. There was laughter, and song, and good times too because he originated them. He played baseball with the older children and when it was his turn at the bat, he chose one of the younger children to run for him if he made a strike. He showed them how to make kites which they flew on windy days. He taught them other card games and äs in cribbage, gave them no advantage. If they wanted to beat him they just had to sharpen their wits. He told them true stories of his life in Germany, and the many relatives who were only names to them came to life as his words flowed on. He sang German songs and translated the simple ones into English. The little girls sang happily about the "Rhine, the Rhine, the river Rhine", and about the dear Fatherland of Germany: We're three little maids And oh, Saint Nicholas From over the sea Do you not see? From the dear Fatherland We much care for you Of Germany In Germany He sang to his wife his favorite Island song "I Love A Pretty Maui Girl", while the children stood round her and laughed at her discomfi-ture. With a twinkle in his eye, he spoke of seeing the ghosts of long dead Hawaiians frolicking in the fields with their ghost dogs at their heels, while walking home late at night after an evening spent with the Campbells in Waimea long ago. He took his family on long hikes that ended in a picnic lunch in lao Valley. It was a regular Sunday outing.
After the children returned from church, a lunch basket was packed, and the hike began, ending in a favorite wooded area close by the lao River. As the parents relaxed after lunch, the children splashed in shallow pools at the river's edge or explored the surrounding woods for nature's treasures. Then Max consulted his watch and announced it was time to leave, and the family packed up and retraced their Steps home. On one such outing the river became swollen with flood waters and the picknickers found themsel-ves stranded on the far side of the river. Max found a horse somewhere, and guided it back and forth across the turbulent waters, carrying his family to safety. Max had a great love of the outdoors. Every evening after supper with cane in hand he walked alone to lao Valley and back, observing nature. He instilled this love of the outdoors in all of his children. Then there were the special celebrations. Birthdays belonged in this category although there was nothing very special about the manner in which they were celebrated except perhaps to the birthday child. He was singled out for birthday greetings and a kiss by Max. If gifts were given they were small and inexpensive. However, at various times in their lives, and for no special reason the children received gifts of jewelry from their father. When his daughters were young they each received a baby ring and bracelet, and gold earrings if they consented to have their ears pierced by him. When they grew older he gave them gold rings set with pearls, brooches set with semi-precious stones, and watches to be pinned to a dress or suspended from a chain worn around the neck.
The boys received gold watches and fobs. His wife also, received gifts of jewelry, including two diamond rings. (They were later given to his two oldest daughters.) And for his mother-in-law he made a "lei palaoa" from her own hair. The seasonal holidays were the best, of course. Christmas was an exciting time. From the kitchen came the delicious smells of Christmas cookies baking in the oven. The box of dowels packed away since the previous Christmas, was brought out and Max began the construction of the tree. Smaller sized dowels graduated in length were fitted into a central upright dowel to make the branches. The children were sent into the mountains to gather sprigs of greenery and red berries. These were tied to the dowel branches. Special candles from Germany were clipped to the branches. The children hung shiny red apples, oranges, cookies, and walnuts wrapped in silver foil from the topmost branches to the lowest. The end result was a thick, symmetrical, colorful Christmas Tree. On Christmas Eve the children lined up outside the closed parlor door and waited impatiently for Max to open it. When he finally did, the first thing they saw was the beautiful candle-lit tree. It was a moment anticipated year after year, one that would remain forever with them in memory. They joined hands and slowly circled the round table set in the middle of the room and laden with Christmas cookies called Lebkuchen, singing Christmas carols.
The remainder of the evening was spent in examining their gifts placed unwrapped on separate chairs around the room, and in munching on the Christmas cookies. The Eckart children were not the only ones dazzled by Max's Christmas Tree. Passers-by, attracted by its twinkling lights, stopped in the roadside and stared. Most of them had never seen a Christmas tree before. Those who were familiär with the custom had never seen one so beautiful. (Some years ago, Aunt Yette, with the memory of her father's Christmas tree still fresh in her mind, decided to fashion such a tree to domate to charity. Her memory had not played her false. It turned out to be a beautiful Christmas tree.) The New Year's Eve celebration was in part, a continuation of Christmas. To while the hours away until midnight, Max and his children played the game Lotto. As each received a number he or she would find the corresponding number marked on one of the dowels that made up the branches of the Christmas tree. The dowel would be pulled from the main stem and everything on it, cookies, nuts, apples and oranges, belonged to that child. In that way the tree was dismant-led and the children received another holiday treat. The game contai-ned an element of suspense, each child hoping to draw a number that corresponded to the number on one of the lower branches because, being longer, it would have more eatables on it.
The Christmas tree having become once again a boxful of dowels, it was time for other New Year's activities to begin. The older girls and their mother withdrew to the kitchen to make doughnuts. The little ones went to sleep. Max and the rest of the children competed at cribbage. At the stroke of midnight the sleepers were awakened. Max got out his shotgun, cleaned earlier and made ready for this moment, and released a volley of shots into the air. Other residents joined in with their shots äs the city welcomed in the new year. Afterwards Max kissed his wife and his children, wishing each a "Happy New Year" äs he did so. The coffee and doughnuts were brought in and all gathered round the table to dunk their doughnuts in coffee. And so the Eckarts began the new year with a good taste in their mouths. Easter was another exciting family celebration. On the day before Easter Max reminded the children to make nests in the yard in preparation for the Easter Rabbit's visit. They were sent to bed early that evening so that Max and Maria could dye the eggs in secret. On Easter morning Max called to the children: "I just saw the Easter Rabbit hopping off." The younger children could hardly contain themselves when they found that the Easter Rabbit had indeed left colored eggs in their nests. Once his children had gathered up their eggs, Max invited the neighbor children to hunt for more colored eggs which he had hidden all over the yard. It was the only time of year they were allowed to enter his yard. For breakfast everyone had some of his own eggs. Then it was time for Max to challenge anyone to break his egg by hitting it with one of theirs. The more daring ones did, much to their regret. He won most of their eggs. The celebration ended with the children attending the Easter service at church. There was one red letter day the children enjoyed in which Max was in no way involved for obvious reasons - he was not Chinese.
On Chinese New Year's day, the Chinese family who ran the laundry brought to the house coins wrapped in red paper, and a variety of tasty Chinese dishes and fruit. The family welcomed a change from their regular fare, and sät down to this exotic meal amid the din of popping firecrackers. As simple as these celebrations (repeated each year with little Variation) and fun activities were, they loomed large in the children's lives. They provided some excitement and an occasional escape from the sameness of their days; and the children acquired a little German culture along with the good times. Between 1900 and 1906 the four oldest Eckart children (Lily, Kauwila, Hans, Meta) were married. It is surprising that all of Max's daughters did not end up spinsters. His protective attitude toward them discouraged would-be suitors. Only the most fearless of them dared approach him for permission to court his daughters, but the Standards he set to determine their eligibility were so high, hardly a one made the grade. Eventually they all married and became faithful wives to their husbands and good mothers to their children. As for Max, he had resvervations about most of his sons-in-law. They were not good enough for his beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, honorable daughters. Max gave his sons complete freedom when choosing their wives.
Hans, his oldest son was the second of his children to wed; and when his wife died in childbirth, he brought their only child Alice to his parents to raise, after which he sailed away out of their lives. Alice became Max and Maria's youngest child. (Hans did return some thirty years later, to become reacquainted with his daughter and sisters and brothers, and to visit the scenes of his youth. He was featured in a news story in the Honolulu Star Bulletin, and was likened to Enoch Arden, a fictional character in literature who returned home after an absence of many years. Hans returned to his home in New York where he died shortly thereafter.) The year 1908 was a disastrous one for the family. Minette, who was recovering from a bout with pneumonia, had a relapse and died on March 8, 1908. She was 22 years old. The family was griefstricken. A sorrowing Maria walked the short distance to the cemetery every day, to sit at the grave of her daughter. She reminded her husband of her prediction to him a short time previously. They had been sitting on their porch in the darkness one evening when they noticed a glowing phosphorescent ball drifting through the air in their direction. Max, ever curious, got out his flashlight to examine this phenomenon. He found nothing. His wife, steeped in Island lore, claimed it was an "akua lele" whose appearance portended death. Consequently, when Minette died, Maria believed that her mother who had often begged to have Minette given to her had finally succeeded in getting her wish. A scant nine months later, on December 14, 1908, Maria also was dead. It was Sunday and the children had just returned from church.
They found their mother working in the kitchen. A sudden illness came upon her. Max carried her into the bedroom. He sent for the doctor. The next day she was gone. She was 46 years old. The family, scarcely recovered from Minette's death was plunged once again in grief. They buried her next to her daughter. Max was deeply affected by the loss of his gentle wife. He would sorely miss her. But he had six dependent children to think about - Alice, five, Henriette six, William ten, May twelve, Fritz fourteen, Marie sixteen - and could not think of himself. He gave up his business in town and converted one of the rooms in his little house (the house he and his wife had occupied away from the main house) into a jeweliy shop. Now he could look after the young children while he worked. His children rallied behind him to help him through this crisis. Outdoors Fritz carried on in the care of the livestock, aided by a reluctant William. Indoors, his daughters, married and teen-age, took over their mother's responsibilities. Kauwila and Meta who lived on Maui divided their time between their father's home and their own, Kauwila to sew and mend the children's clothes and Meta to cook, bake, and to help with the laundry and general housework. When they left for their own homes, Marie and May maintained the home as best they could. With the return of Christina from Germany, this responsibility was transferred to her. With the married daughters, had come their children to the family home, and Max was confronted with yet another problem, happily a minor one. His shock of white hair and stern visage frightened his grand children. So Grandfather Max jiggled them on his knee until he won them over. Crying children irritated him. When a toddler just learning to walk, feil and cried, he resorted to the psychological approach: "Come here and Pll help you" he would say, and the child, in responding, forgot about his fall and stopped crying. He welcomed conversation with his own children, inviting one or another of them to sit with him awhile and chat. By the year 1916, four more of the Eckart children had married (Christina, Max, Marie, and May). There were now only four left in the family - Max, his grown son Fritz, Henriette, and Alice.
William had left home to join the United States Army. (He served in France during World War I and returned with his family in the late twenties, a skilled mason. One of his first Jobs was plastering the walls of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.) Max was now seventy four years old. The future welfare of his youngest daughter and granddaughter weighed heavily on his mind. In 1917 when Henriette completed the eighth grade at Wailuku Elemen-tary School, he took her to Honolulu and enrolled her in the Kamehameha School For Girls. He planned to enroll Alice the following year. For the present Alice would live with Fritz and his new bride in the family home. Now all of his children were settled somewhere and retirement for Max became a reality. He relished the tranquility of his days spent alone in his little house, surrounded by his books, mementos of his business years, and his memories. There were days when he read from sunup to sunset. When the weather was fine he walked the familiär road that led to lao Valley. His children visiting him would find him sitting on his porch in his rocking chair puffing on his pipe. Max died on Apr. 18, 1918 after a short illness. At Kamehameha Henriette's suitcase lying flat on top of her closet, feil to the floor.
Soon afterwards she was told to pack for the journey home. His other daughters and son Max living in Honolulu came home also. They knew that this was the Jast time they would be together in the family home. They recalled the past and were not surprised to find that their father dominated every memory of their growing years, for they had always known that this man whose death they mourned had been a most unusual individual and a very special father. Max was buried next to his wife and daughter in lao Cemetery following funeral rites performed by brother Masons. (Note: The gravesites of Max, Maria and Minette are now located in Maui Memorial Cemetery where, thanks to Aunt Yette, they will receive perpetual care.)
Lily Susanna Pearson (nee Teshima)