Anthony Allen was born in Schenectady, New York which was still a British Colony at the time. His formative years were as a slave to a small family. He fled to Boston, then a Free City, when he realised he was to be sold to someone else.[1]

After the U.S. Revolution the government began cracking down on Free Africans labelling them as illegal immigrants to be deported if caught without “proper” identification of their status as a free individual. This caused many Free and those labelled as “runaway slaves”, Allen included, to join the various ships. By the early 1800s around 50% of the maritime industry was populated by such individuals. Many of our most famous and illustrious Hawaiian Nationals of African descent followed this same path which led them to our country.[2]

Allen’s life was genuinely full of adventure and fated encounters, meeting people like legendary Hatian revolutionary Toussaint L’Overture, and even famous military leaders like Lord Nelson. He truly traversed the globe going from Boston to China, Haiti, France, India, and so many other countries. It was not until meeting H.M. Kamehameha I and experiencing Hawaii, did he decide to leave his sea days and put down roots.[3]

Allen, lovingly named Alani by those who knew him, was given permission by Hewahewa for the use of a large parcel of land in Waikiki. Alani built not only comfortable living, cooking, and planting spaces for his family, but also a hospital and board house for sailors. His prowess in business extended also to his cultivation of produce and propagation of goats. He regularly donated monies and food stuffs to the needy, especially missionaries. When the Dougal family, who had previously claimed ownership of him, heard of his fame and magnanimity they reached out to him. We may never know what kind of relationship he and the Dougal family had while he was enslaved, but we do know that Alani responded with a level of aloha that few can ever understand. His kind reply is a letter that gives us the greatest details that we have on his amazing life.[4]

(Image: Map reference to Old Allen House from Appendix E – Land commission Awards and Royal/Land Patents – Kaka’ako Area, E-28)

Alani was a man of many firsts. He continually grew the businesses on the property, creating the only and most likely first bowling alley on Oahu at the time, a board house for cattle, a basic dairy (another first) for his goat milk, a grog shop, slaughter house—and that’s just what was recorded in various personal journals and articles written on him.[4]

His affable personality and high reputation elevated his business from inn to Resort, the earliest known for Hawaii. His resort hosted many from a grand dinner by H.M. King Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli to a parade for the African Relief Society. His bowling alley was so popular that his good friend Stephen Reynolds created a ride share (rented a cart) as a kind of service pick up for those who wanted to get to the bowling alley. He was responsible for creating and maintaining one of the first roads on Oahu, believed to be what we now call Punahou St. towards Manoa.[5]

He had two wives, cousins who were each from the families that lived on that land prior to it being gifted for use by Hewahewa. In respect to their religious beliefs, he maintained separate eating and living houses as per Kapu. Respecting and following the Kapu practice is what ingratiated himself to H.M. Kamehameha I and even prompted our king to make Alani one of his stewards. We believe that is how he met Hewahewa and thus his wives. Currently we only know of 3 children that survived to adulthood: Peggy, Anthony Jr., and George Caldwell Allen. [6]

After his passing on December 31st, 1835 his children wanted the property. As was common, the land reverted back to the Royal family, even with testimony by his neighbour and famed author John Papa Ii. However, his children did find a way to sell it for a few hundred dollars in the 1840s. The property was not resold again until 1920 in order to build Washington Intermediate.[7]

In the personal opinion of this article’s writer, it is a sad fact that “Old Allen Place”, which also included his resting place within his property’s cemetery, was used to build a school that does not even bear his highly esteemed name. However, it our hope that this article will help our citizens learn more about their own Hawaiian History and the people that made our country so beloved.

 

 

Sources:

[1]
Allen, Anthony D. to Dr. Dougal, Oct 11, 1822, Sotheby’s Auction House
Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp.56-57

[2]
Malloy, Mary, Kendall Whaling Museum Monograph Series No. 6, “African Americans in the Maritime Trades: A Guide to Resources in New England“, pp. 3-15
Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp.57-58

[3]
Allen, Anthony D. to Dr. Dougal, Oct 11, 1822, Sotheby’s Auction House
Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp.56-57

[4]
Allen, Anthony D. to Dr. Dougal, Oct 11, 1822, Southey’s Auction House
Ke Kumu Hawaii, Buke 2, Pepa 1, Aoao 1, Jan 6, 1836, Make
Sandwich Island Mission, The Missionary Herald, 17, no.5 pp. 141Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp.68-73
Tyerman, Daniel and Bennet, George, “Journal of Voyages and Travels“, 1832 pp. 50

[5]
Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp.70

[6]
Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp.68-73

[7]
Ii, Papa John, testimony, HHCTCP City Center AIS Report, Vol. III, Appendix E: Land Commission Awards – Kakaʻako, pp. E-22 E-28, Old Allen Place on map
Scruggs, Marc, Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 26, 1922 “Anthony D. Allen: A Prosperous American of African Descent in early 19th Century Hawaiʻi“, pp. 67-68