The Search for Father Bachelot: First Catholic Missionary to the Hawaiian Islands (1827–1837)

    Volume 42, Issue 2 (March 1997)

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    CODEN: JFSOAD

    Page Count: 5


    Willacker, LM
    Professor of anthropology and highest honors graduate, University of Hawai'i-at-Mānoa, Honolulu, HI

    Pietrusewsky, M
    Professor of anthropology and highest honors graduate, University of Hawai'i-at-Mānoa, Honolulu, HI

    (Received 3 July 1996; accepted 27 August 1996)

    Abstract

    The main objective of this study is to determine if the remains of Father Bachelot, leader of the first Catholic missionary group to the Hawaiian Islands, can be identified among the commingled human skeletal remains brought back from Pohnpei, Caroline Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, in 1977. An osteological/forensic examination of these remains, a review of the literature, interviews with leaders of the expedition, and ancillary considerations suggest that, in all probability, none of the skeletal remains from Pohnpei are those of Father Bachelot.

    Father Alexis Bachelot, born in France, in 1796, was leader of the first Catholic missionary group to the Hawaiian Islands. He died in 1837, after being exiled from the Hawaiian Kingdom. His remains were buried on the small islet of Na, off the coast of Pohnpei, the same year. An expedition to Pohnpei in 1977, to recover the remains of Father Bachelot, resulted in the recovery of several sets of commingled remains which are the subject of this study.

    A detailed osteological/forensic study of these remains indicates the presence of at least ten individuals, including two subadults, two adult females, and six adult males. Stature estimates, the presence of osseous changes suggestive of treponemal disease, and other cranial, dental, and skeletal features are more consistent with Pohnpean than European ancestry. The presence of shell beads and other mortuary features strengthens this assertion. Recommendations for any future attempts to recover the remains of this famous personage are made.


    Paper ID: JFS14099J

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS14099J

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    Title The Search for Father Bachelot: First Catholic Missionary to the Hawaiian Islands (1827–1837)
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30