An opened book
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For 26 years since becoming converts, my wife, Nani, and I had sought to learn her maternal grandmother's Hawaiian surname. Constructing a four-generation Hawaiian genealogy for a person not of alii - or royal - descent was frustrating, and, we began to fear, next to impossible.
We made several trips to Hawaii from our home in California, exploring local information sources, talking to Nani's numerous non-member relatives, unearthing a bonanza of fascinating, forgotten family lore - but not the elusive surname.Nani's maternal grandfather Johann (John) Francis Pieper was born in Germany in 1878 and arrived in Hawaii with his parents and three siblings in 1883, among more than 850 Germans on the ship Ehrenfels. It took them 64 grueling days to reach Hawaii, during which 42 children and three adult passengers perished.
The 1900 U.S. Census shows grandfather Pieper, then 27 years old, and wife Mary, 19, a native Hawaiian, residing in Honolulu, married three years, parents of one child, a 2-year-old daughter, Hannah Angeline (my wife's mother-to-be, now deceased). But what was Mary's Hawaiian family surname?
Returning to Hawaii in 1989 to live, Nani and I retraced our previous research steps to no avail. We did find oblique references suggesting Kealoha as the name we were looking for, but Nani, a wee child when her grandmother died and remembering her hazily, "knew" it was not the right name.
At the Hawaii Temple on April 28, 1992, I was privileged to perform baptisms for 168 of my departed kin whose names I had garnered laboriously. The next day, we ventured into the next-door family history center to see whether it contained anything on Nani's family lines.
For more than an hour we looked at material we had seen numerous times. About to leave, I passed a table on which lay a lone black book. After replacing an item on a shelf, I turned around and saw the book, now opened, on the otherwise deserted table.
Walking past, I glanced down and was seized by what I saw: the Pieper name on an old family group sheet submitted more than 50 years earlier by my wife's deceased uncle - her mother's only brother, and the only other known family member of the Church - listing names of both parents: John Francis Pieper and Mary Kuuwehu Pahuelele. - Foreman R. Thompson, Keaau (Hawaii) Ward