St Michael the Archangel Historic Church; Bringing Me to My Knees

The wonderful farmers market in Haleiwa closed down because the city didn’t want any citizens making good use of a very empty, out-of-the-way, abandoned  piece of property. In other words, if they were not making money from it no one else could use it for the good of all.

So as I drove to Haleiwa with no fresh vegetables in site I passed this sign inviting people to come and buy freshly grown organic vegetables from a farm way, way down a road, back into the mountains and for me, happily, unexplored.  I called my friend and we met and went together.

Heading back into the mountains about a mile down the road we pass these tall stone pillars. I quickly reach for my camera and Sherry, my friend, slows down so I can take a photo. “What do you think those are? They look like part of a sugar mill.” I asked her.

My friend is just as perplexed. After taking a few photos we inch on a little bit further down the road, maybe about a hundred feet from the stack and I see a graveyard! Oh I love a grave yards. Especially one that looks to have been abandoned.

There are teens with gardening tools and an adult working in the cemetery. “Do you want to stop and take photos?” Sherry asks. I’m not sure that I want to interrupt and bother the kids even though I so want to know what this place is about. So we head on further and find the organic farm which turns out to not have much of anything. We buy one or two items and turn around and head back.

As we come upon the cemetery again my curiosity gets the best of me so Sherry stops and I hop out and ask about the site. A very helpful young man named Joshua tells me the background of the cemetery and the stone remains next to it.

This is the remains of a three-story Catholic Church. The second story area contained the pastors quarters and the third story was the belfry. Built in 1853 It was built from the stones from the surrounding fields. Coral was gathered from the sea and pounded into lime to make cement to hold it together

Joshua says that the remains was once a church. In fact it was the first Catholic Church built on the islands. For many years Queen Kaahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha did not allow any religion but the Protestant  missionaries on the island. When the Catholic church tried to make inroads into the Hawaiian people’s lives they were banned from the islands.

There was however one Hawaiian woman who did get indoctrinated into the catholic faith before the clergy were asked to leave. Her name was Luika Kaumaka. But facing much oppression in the area of Honolulu she left and moved out to the country side of Waialua. The area was known to be fertile and had an abundance of fish and the taro and sweet potatoes grew easily. Kaumaka told the people in the surrounding area about the Catholic church and managed to convert over 90 people to the faith. In time the Catholic faith did take hold and King Kamehameha IV granted a royal patent for a strip of land for the church.

After 60 years people started to move further away in order to be able to work at the plantations that were coming up. Though many faithful still made the long trek to the church it was becoming a burden to get there.

Joshua told me an interesting bit of trivia about the land that the remains stand on. It seems that a Mr. William Goodale of the Waialua Agricultural Company, offered to exchange the land for a piece that was closer to the plantation. When all was said and done Mr. Goodale made plans to take down what was the remains of the abandoned church. But he had a dream. In that dream an angel came to him and told him to leave the remains as they were. And so he did and that is what I came upon that day.

The cemetery on the church grounds

The great kids who take pride in their community and love of their church by taking care of the cemetery. Joshua is in the back row with the turquoise shirt and glasses.

Later that night as I sat researching the church I saw photos of the inside of the ruins. Early the next morning I was in my car and headed down the road again to the site. Having seen the archway in photos I had to see it for myself. I also wanted to take a look around the cemetery. I always enjoy reading the epitaphs. ( Yeah I know. I need to get a life.)

But since I was by myself I decided to take some other photos of the area that I am so attracted to known as the North Shore.

Waialua town with the old sugar mill in the background


The wind mills that have gone up in the north shore.

The road heading into the Organic Farm

As I made my way over the large stones into the graveyard I immediately fell flat to the ground. I got up dusted myself off and looked around mystified.  I saw this small little cross sticking out of the ground. Too bad I didn’t see it before I tripped over it. It was no higher then  the grass growing around it.

There were a few unique crosses not connected to any graves. They were erected around the cemetery.

Another solitary cross

It’s always sad to see a young child’s head stone

It’s even sadder to see one like this. “Santiago Babies.” I can’t imagine loosing even one child let alone more than one.

The Japanese Graveyard that lay directly behind the Catholic cemetery

The remains of the church and the archway I had missed on the first day

Can you imagine the view from the pastors window when this church was complete

So after tramping through the tall grass to get to the inside of the belfry, laying down on the boulders to get my photos and limping home, I felt quite satisfied. My shoulders are all jammed and I walked with a limp for a couple of days but what can I say.

My friends had a few choice words for me as they knew how isolated I was. My son got all upset, not because I fell but because the camera landed in the dirt. ( no it’s not his but he wants to use it) But it’s these little unknown areas of the islands that constantly surprise me. I’m living in a world of history that I can touch. The fact that I can capture and share it makes it all worth the pain, scrapes and work. I may not have been touched by an angel but maybe one wanted to remind me to be respectful and not take anything for granted. That’s a lesson I will remember.


15 comments on “St Michael the Archangel Historic Church; Bringing Me to My Knees

  1. John Anthony Cavaco says:

    I John Anthony Cavaco am the Great Grandson of Henry and AnnA Whaton and their children “Simon and Limon Wharton Family”.

    My Great Grandfather was the Sugar Pounds Commission for the King Kamehameha for over twenty years of Wailua District and one of the founders of Waialua Plantations.

    Most of the property in Waialua originally belong to my Great Great Grandfather on my father Mothers side who was a Ali’ Hawaiian Chief named Kaiaiwaha. He was a Ali’ Hawaiian Chief Warrior and servent of King Kameahameha I.

    I want to personal thank the young generation and those who have continued to maintain the Saint Micheals original church grounds and the grave site where my family family peacefully rest Respectfully.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is an amazing ruin that should be taken care of to keep it for completely crumbling down without making it a tourist attraction.


    • This structure is off the beaten path. I would not have know what it was had I not met up with that volunteer group that was caring for the surroundings. The church will not be replaced there. It has been rebuilt elsewhere. Thank you for your comment. It was nice to hear from you.


  3. Debbie Willingham Wharton says:

    Karen, The tombstone pix you took @ Waialua at Old St. Michaels were breathtaking!! The little baby grave of Simon Wharton is one of my ancestors. He was murdered in Jan. 1906 on the plantation of Henry and Aana Wharton, by a homeless man that Henry Wharton took in to help. You can find the articles about it in The Library of Congress “chroniclingamerica” by searching Wharton. He was only 3 years old and the murder details are horrific; the front page headline read: “Worst Crime In The Annals Of This Island”. I wanted to thank you for the beautiful pictures that you posted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Debbie, That is so, so sad. Poor little guy. You look at these graves and try to imagine what happened. Maybe the flu, childhood diseases or an accident. I envision the parents grieving through the childs illness as did Queen Emma while the little prince suffered the appendicitis attacks and then dieing.

      But never would I have thought of something so atrocious as this little guys fate. I really appreciate you contacting me to fill in this part of your history. Is there something you would like me to do or photograph for you?

      Again, Thank you for taking the time to leave this information.


    • robynne mahi says:

      Hi Debbie,
      My name is Robynne Mahi and my Great Great Grandma is Lilly Tong Sing of Waialua. On her family tree I see the last name of Wartons of Waialua. Lily’s fathers name was Akeoni

      Hope we can connect


  4. megtraveling says:

    The church and cemetery are in such a beautiful setting, and it’s so nice that they haven’t been forgotten. Great story, and thank you for sharing these pictures!


  5. Sartenada says:

    What a trip You offered to us. I enjoyed every photo. My favorite ones are presenting cemetery. Fantastic!


  6. Velta Maes says:

    What an amazing story and pictures.  There are so many historical things on your small island.  I really enjoy your adventures. Love you, Aunt Velta



  7. Interesting pictures from what must have been a very interesting journey, Karen. Glad you found the organic farm, but I really can’t understand this city who don’t want a farmers market. FM is very new in Norway but they are a big success and are very important for city trade, attracting a lot of people!


    • We do have lots of Farmers markets but they are on state sanctioned land. The market that I went to which was close by was on a strip of land that had been abandoned for years. No one used it nor are they using it now. The state just felt that since it was close to the highway or they wanted money I don’t know which, they shut it down after many successful years of being used for a market.


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