Engledow, JIll -- "The Story of Lahaina"

While cruising slowly up Waine’e Street, one of the many narrow ribbons of road in Lahaina town, I pointed to Waiola Church and informed my friend, “Oh, that’s where Waine’e Church once stood. Did you know it was originally grass, then stone, but had to be rebuilt four times? Twice after having been destroyed by wind and twice by fire. But look at it now. Waiola. It means ‘living water’.”

My friend looked at me as if my unexpected declaration had just bubbled up from some unknown Waiola springhead, which I suppose it had, except that it had sprung from Jill Engledow’s historical paperback titled, “The Story of Lahaina”.

Comprehensively manageable, Engledow’s slim book presents a wealth of information about Lahaina’s past through a treasure trove of pictures and stories of people, places, events, and eras that shaped Lahaina into the precious town we see today. At only seventy-six pages, it makes for a quick read.

Her writing is familial and friendly. By it, I was planted in time with the hard working, multi-cultural laborers who toiled in the fields and with the forward-thinking native and immigrant leaders who presided. I was immersed in Lahaina’s earliest warring chiefdom, its raucous whaling period, and its conscientious outlook. I was also engaged well enough about the significance of its buildings and places so that they became more meaningful to me.

My first comment after closing her book was that it should be stuffed into every new neighbor’s welcome basket or at least handed out with the room key to every hotel guest. And why? Because, Engledow showcases how Lahaina’s rich history is as diverse as any can be and as influenced by traditions, religion, and ethnicity as any can experience.

She states in the book’s introduction that it’s written for those who wonder “about the many layers of Hawaiian history and how they interrelate in Lahaina, a town that has endured and thrived through often-tumultuous centuries.” Well I couldn’t agree more, especially since I’m one who wonders. Just ask my friend who said that she’d never before heard the facts I’d spouted about Wailoa Church…and she’s lived here for twenty-five years!

So if you, too, appreciate a well-written historical account, I encourage you to pick up Engledow’s “The Story of Lahaina”. I also recommend it as the ideal new neighbor or expected visitor gift. If you’re looking for a more thorough study on Lahaina, Engledow mentions several in-depth books in her acknowledgements. Otherwise, contact the Lahaina Restoration Foundation or visit the Lahaina Library.

“The Story of Lahaina” by Jill Engledow can be purchased on Amazon.com atwww.Amazon.com or through www.mauithenandnow.com. Jill Engledow can be reached at Jill@mauiislandpress.com.

Written by: Elaine Gallant,
West Maui Book Club