The house was built over the site of an old Heiau (place of worship) dating back to the 1200’s when Polynesians first hit the shores of the big island. Each Heiau had its own level of importance from sacrificing clothing and food to sacrificing human lives. It’s thought this location was one of the more important places of sacrifice. Heiau’s where also places of marriages and child birth. For instance if you were caught steeling or taking another mans wife death was considered the natural course of action. The only way you could cleanse yourself of these crimes was to run to the nearest Heiau and have your sins resolved by the local Kahuna (Hawaiian Priest). With the entire village on your heals with spears not every one made it this far but if you were so fortunate, a few minutes of absolution with the Kahuna would rectify the problem. The Kahuna would then step out into the crowd and announce your salvation to the villagers. Once this was done all was right with the world and your life would be spared. When the Wight family came to this property it took on a whole new look. Here is an accurate description and account of living on Greenbank from Amy Rich, one of the children who was raised there. In her own words, this is an interview given with her in 1973.
The Jewell of the Big Island
Notes from a walk through Green Bank with Amy Rich, 82, on February 7th, 1973.
Layout of the property: Amy said that the 2.5 acre parcel off to the left of Greenbank as you enter was the pasture for the horses. The first house on the right as you come into Greenbank was the house where she and her mother and her sister Cara lived until she was ten years old.
The house was also used by the Hawaiian servant, Lino. The house a little bit to the left as you come in the driveway at the top of the driveway was the stables, and any houses behind that were servant’s quarters. Lino, she said, had a house of his own. He was evidently considered more than just a servant.
The kitchen was the part of the house sticking out towards the driveway. Then as you entered the house from rear, there was the dining room and in the front the sitting room and the music room. Then as you go past the stairway, you enter into the bedroom that belonged to Jane and James Wight. The room beyond that bedroom was the room James Wight used as his doctor’s office. There was a separate stairway leading up from the grass to the doctor’s office. Behind that was another bedroom where, Amy said, the women would sit during the day with their needlepoint.
From the front of the house, Amy pointed out the gable and named off the names of her aunts: Clara, Kate and Maude. The other bedrooms were either for guests or for other family members who were staying there. Of course, Amy’s memories are of the ten year span that she lived in Green Bank.
Standing in the front of the house, Amy swept her hands around in a circle underneath what is now the large ironwood and pines of the front yard and said that there was a rose garden that circled the front lawn of the house. Straight down from the front of the house was a tennis court. Amy said that it wasn’t an excellent one because it had tree roots growing through parts of it, but it was satisfactory for her family. Directly downhill from the tennis courts was a small pasture that held Dapple who was James Wight’s favourite horse. Dapple, she said, was 18 hands 3 high, a gigantic grey dappled horse who was well known in Kohala, and James Wight was the only one who was allowed to ride it. Amy said she would sometimes climb up on Dapple’s back because she was on good terms with Dapple and that he would tolerate her for a while and then find a tree nearby that had a branch lying low. Would walk under it, brushing Amy off his back.
There was a path that led off the tennis courts downhill--a very steep path, Amy said--that went down to a pond in the gully. From the pond, the trail turned back and came up the gully to meet the existing trail somewhere near the rock wall.
Behind the house was Jane’s greenhouse and above that the vegetable garden. Amy said, she and her sister, Cara, liked to go to the vegetable garden and snitch fruit.
The walkway to the graveyard: Amy names off the trees as we walked down the path. The first one she remembered was a vee tree. She said it had a delicious fruit that was like a white guava and was her favourite. She pointed out the coffee plants which, she said, she and Cara used to pick. She pointed out bananas which she remembered. She saw the jack fruit and noticed it, but did not recognize it. She did see the bread fruit and remembered that the Hawaiians ate it quite a bit.
Before the graveyard, there is a small rock wall, and Amy said that when she and Cara lived at Greenbank, they were forbidden to go beyond the rock wall. The cemetery, of course, is beyond the rock wall, but Amy said the reason given was that there were bad people living in the other side.
Amy remembers the graveyard very well. She said the kapok tree, to her knowledge, was planted before the grave of the young man buried underneath it. She said that she is continually amazed that as the tree grew it never moved the gravestone. It never cracked it. And she thinks that this is one of the greatest feats of all of Greenbank. She looked at each of the grave sites, paused mostly at Maude Bucholtz ( née Wight) and her mother Florence Wight Patton, reminded me that she had planted the flowers on her mother’s grave and much of the maiden hair fern on Maude Bucholtz’s grave.
She was very respectful as she walked through the graveyard chatting about her family, but the first real sign of genuine affection came from her as she was approaching Lino’s grave. Lino was the Hawaiian servant who was the only non-member of the family buried in the graveyard. “Good old Lino,” she said as she stood over his grave, “You look very happy here. He was such a good man, so gentle and kind.”
It was Amy’s thinking that the property then continued down the gully to the highway. It wasn’t until I mentioned the Chinese family who had a house down below that she remembered that the property did not go all the way to the highway. She said that upstream in t gully was a Chinese cemetery, and that she used to get spooked by going there even though she wasn’t permitted to.
When I asked her where she went horseback riding she said usually she went up the hill mainly not to be caught by her family.
She said there was a school right at the foot of the roadway up to Greenbank and that he mother taught school.
Jane and James: She talked very little of her grandmother, but expressed great affection for her grandfather whom she admired a great deal. She said her first memory of her grandfather was at the age of two when he put her on a horse and said, “Don’t you dare fall of it.” She said her grandfather had a medical degree from a school in Scotland and that he came west—first the United States during the Gold Rush. And then went to Australia where there was also a gold rush. She said the Hawaiian government gave him a commission to come to Kohala to be a doctor as there was only one doctor in the area, Father Bond, at the time. She pointed out that neither James or Jane was married to each other when they arrived. In fact, she said they never did get married until just before the birth of their last child, Maude. Maude was the only legitimate child of all their children, and they had a lot. “Maude must have had something going before she was born to get them to get married.” she said.
Lino: Lino was a remarkable character as Amy remembers him. He was the gardener and the creator of much of the gardenlike foliage in the Greenbank area. But he was more than a gardener. He had a house of his own and he was well thought of by all members of the family. Amy recalled that Jane would sometimes put him down as being a silly Hawaiian. But everyone else, especially Amy, really loved him. He was pure Hawaiian. And when I asked Amy if he was a spiritual man, she said, ”Of course he was. All of the old Hawaiians were. It was born in them.” She said it was Lino who found a rock carving apparently with a face on it, either at the edge or in a cane field, down near the ocean. She gestured towards Pololu and said that the cliff by the ocean where the figure was found was about 20 feet high or so. Lino brought the figure back to the family and it was considered a prize possession. However, Amy figured that once the figure was part if the family the turbulence that tore the family apart started. She said people had all kinds of trouble. There was illness, insanity, family members hating each other and fighting with each other. She said that every day Lino would take wet ti leaves and water and would sprinkle them around the statue and chant Hawaiian phrases. The turbulence in the family continued to get stronger until Amy, who was convinced that the figure somehow caused the turbulence in the family, decided to give the figure to the Bishop Museum. Apparently some family members revisited, but Amy did it quickly and quietly, and when others protested said “It’s done, it’s over, they have it already.” Amy said once the figure was out of the family, the turbulence stopped suddenly. She said there was no more illness or fighting, but that most of the family members were so stunned and scared by the turbulent period that they were never again able to relate to each other in the happy loving way they had done before.
Lino was a bachelor. He was a good man in every respect, said Amy He drank a little once in a while, but no one seemed to care about that.
The house that she and her mother and sister lived in was apparently attached to Lino’s house. She said they too their meals in the big house with their grandfather and grandmother, but Lino did his own cooking and did his own eating in his house. No one could cook anything for Lino. He did it all himself, she said.
About the sale of Greenbank: Amy said that she learned the will did not allow for the continuance of the graveyard, she made her complaint known to the Bishop Trust Company and that Mr Chew had apparently indicated that a roadway could be put in from the upper road, Amy thought, through the biggest gully, but perhaps what he meant was from the ridge line down towards the cemetery that would provide private access to the cemetery for the family. Presumably, funds for the road would come out of the rest of Greenbank. Amy was quite adamant about seeing that provision is carried out particularly if it is sold to someone other than (family). She said that she was sure that some of the relatives particularly the Mckenzie family would object strongly to this as it would probably eat heavily into the money from sale of Greenbank, but that she was quite sure that that provision would be carried out. She again expressed her desire to have her ashes strewn over her mother’s grave. In fact, as we left the cemetery area, she looked back longingly and said, “Well, I guess the next time I see it, everything will be different.”
Notes from Marie Ballagh:
**Amy was born in Ashland, Nebraska, as was her sister Cara. Amy's father, William Henry Patton, was a cousin of
Mr Harry P Wood who married Emma Wight.
My grandmother (Cara) said her parents met in Hawaii and went back to Nebraska after they were married. Cara was born in 1886 in Nebraska, then there were several miscarriages and Amy was born in 1890. At that point Florence said married life and Nebraska were not for her and she returned to Hawaii with the children. Word was sent to her when her husband was in the final stages of his illness (tuberculosis) and she returned to Nebraska for the 'death bed' reunion. Amy was left with family in Honolulu as she was very little and Cara stayed at Green Bank. William Patton died in 1893 and Florence only wore black from then on and she looked pretty good in it.
James Wight was happy for Florence to return and he provided for the education of her children but she had to work, and did so as a teacher at the local school.
On every offical record you find of Amy Rich her place of birth is listed as Ashland , Nebraska but Granny said Amy was a member of the first daughters of Hawaii ..which she technically was not so there was a ficton that had to be maintained.