"Rawhide Ben" Sails in From South Sea Cruise

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"Rawhide Ben" Sails in From South Sea Cruise


Newspaper interview with famous Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) Eben "Rawhide Ben" Low describing a recent boat cruise through the South Seas. A good portion is dedicated to several days he spent on Palmyra exploring the islands.


Hawaiian Gazette




Public Domain



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Transcription of the portion describing Palmyra:

“We went ashore at Palmyra Island,” said Even Low, “and stayed there for a while looking over the situation. On this island I counted approximately 7500 bearing cocoanut trees, and there are about 7000 trees which will bear within the next two years. We were two days on Palmyra, during which time we explored the greater part of the place, and it was interesting, though hard work. Birds-why, “I had my shotgun ashore with me, but had some trouble getting a shot. The birds were so tame that it took lots of running and yelling and jumping on my part to scare them into the air, and I was too much of a sportsman to take a pot shot at them. I covered the most of the territory of the little island, wading from moto to moto, as the natives call them.

A moto is a small island, and Palmyra is split up into thousands of them. The water between them is not usually over two or three feet deep and is simply teeming with the most beautiful fish I have ever seen. One funny thing that struck all of us was the manner in which the baby sharks, about two or three feet long, resented our paddling around in the island waters. I wore my rubber
boots, of course, but every time I waded between the motos I was attacked by these little man-eaters. They tried in every conceivable way to fasten their teeth in my legs, and sometimes I had to strike them off with the butt of my gun.

All the fishes were wonderfully colored. Man, here are thousands and thousands of curlews on that island. I want to tell you a most peculiar instance, and I’m going to do it, although I know before I say a word that you will think that it’s another of “Rawhide Ben’s” wild-eyed tales: “ I was crawling through the underbrush along the edge of a swamp one afternoon, suddenly coming upon a little open space in the thicket. And, as sure as I’m standing here talking to you, there was a curlew, a bird, living with a land-crab. You know what these land-crabs are? Great, big ungainly looking things about the size of a game rooster, or a good sized chicken!

Well, sir, that curlew was a-siting alongside the land-crab, just as happy and contented as could be. The crab was, I believe, asleep, but the curlew fussed around at the entrance to his home - a hole in the ground - like an old woman in a kitchen. It was a remarkable case, and I don’t expect anyone to believe to the tale. It’s true, nevertheless, as the next man who goes to Palmyra Island may see if he takes the trouble to look. I didn’t disturb the apparently congenial pair, merely watching them for a while.

"There was no one living on Palmyra Island, and, having another objective point of view, we only stayed here two days, then weighed anchor and set a course for Fanning Island."

Original Format



“"Rawhide Ben" Sails in From South Sea Cruise,” Palmyra Archive, accessed August 8, 2020, http://www.palmyraarchive.org/items/show/48.