The Journey of the Thomas Bell, Part 3

João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell.

Years:  1887 — 1888

Apr. 12, 1888:  “The islands of Hawaii and Maui were clearly visible at dawn. At 9 am, Oahu appeared in view, and at sunset we saw two other islands, Lani and Molokai. We were sailing silently, having traveled fifty-eight miles during the day.”

Apr. 13, 1888:  “It was about 10 am when a tug boat named Eweo arrived and led us into port. The harbor appears to be a lake with many houses afloat on its placid waters. At twelve noon we were visited by many Portuguese. Then all the passengers brought their luggage up to the deck. Our only concern was to gain entrance into “heaven”.

Apr. 14, 1888:  “Saturday morning at 7 am, a large boat laden with refreshments was sent by the immigration office. What a feast this was for us! Government officials and the Portuguese Consul came aboard. At 11 am there was roll call. At 3 pm the tug Eleu arrived to tow us to a place called lazaretto (the quarantine station). It was 4 pm when we finally set foot on terra firma, and saw many dark skinned women called Canecas (Hawaiians). One hundred and fifty-six days aboard the Thomas Bell. What the future holds for us God only knows. May He be with us to guide us in the days that lie ahead!”

Processing the new arrivals
The doctors who were on the ship and those from the quarantine facility evaluated the health of the passengers to determine whether groups had to be quarantined or could be released. The passengers met with the Board of Immigration to determine whether they had passports and contracts. The final step was meeting with plantation representatives to find a job. The only jobs available were working in the fields. Those who had not previously worked in agriculture complained stating that the recruiters in Madeira had mislead them into believing that they would be able to find jobs in their trades.

The immigration officials were almost always favorably impressed by the behavior of the new arrivals.  During the entire processing time, the Portuguese residents, kept behind a fence, looked for friends and relatives. They came with food and clothing and made recommendations as to which plantation to contract with. After completion of the process, the families were transported by ships to the islands where the plantations were located. The workers started work almost immediately because they needed money to support their families.

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