Wailuku Missionary History Subject of Library Talks
By Susan Halas
Linda McCullough Decker is making the rounds of Maui libraries discussing her book “Edward Bailey of Maui: Teacher & Naturalist, Engineer & Artist.”
On March 22nd she faced an appreciate audience at the Wailuku Public Library. They were eager to learn more about the 19th century Christian missionary who made Wailuku his home base for many years.
Decker traced the life and family of the multi-talented Bailey; he was born in Massachusetts in 1817 and came to Hawaii with the 8th Company in 1827. He spent more than 50 years in the islands, before returning to the mainland where he died in 1903.
Bailey is the namesake for the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku, which also houses many of his skillful paintings of the islands.
She depicted him as versatile and multi-talented individual, a person of strong convictions and deep religious beliefs. He was a man with many abilities who during his time in Hawaii worked as an educator, minster, artist and botanist.
Decker noted that when the funding for Hawaiian missions dried up in mid-century Bailey and other missionaries were left to fend for themselves. Many struggled to survive. Bailey turned his skills to other vocations: he worked as a land surveyor and was an early planter of a variety of crops including sugar and potatoes.
Although he is best known for his activities in Wailuku, Bailey had interests, land and family in many parts of Maui. He also had many descendants, a few of whom were in the audience.
Decker worked as a volunteer for many years at the Bailey House Museum and was also at one time head of the museum’s board. She said she was motivated to write the biography when she found out that the only thing written about him was his obituary.
Her book has been nominated for a 2012 Hawaii Book Publishers Association “Ka Palapala Po’okela Award” in the “Excellence in Nonfiction Books” category. The profusely illustrated biography is available from the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku. Or as the author charmingly commented, “You can buy it from me out of the trunk of my car.”
Indeed, many members of the audience eagerly took the opportunity to purchase the $35 volume on the spot and asked the author to autograph it.
Kihei: Fri., March 23 & Makawao: Wed., April 4
Decker will speak at the Kihei Public Library today (March 23rd) at 3:00 p.m. and will appear the Makawao Public Library on Wednesday, April 4th at 6:30 p.m.
She has already appeared at the Kahului and Wailuku Public Libraries.