Talofa and Aloha e Manaia!
Every so often I Google my grandfather's name to see what pops up.
His name is Franz/Frank Wilhelm/William Harder and he and his brother John/Johann were born in Independent Samoa in the 1880s and both joined the U. S. Navy.
How fortuitous to find your posting today, 19 December, the 22nd anniversary of my father's death. He revered his father, Frank, and his Samoan heritage. I joined the U.S. Navy to follow in my grandfather's footsteps and realize my father's dream.
In August 2005, I visited Apia looking for birth/death/immigration records, anything that would prove our family history. The names of my great-grandparents, particularly the first name of my German-American great-grandfather, would be helpful in finding his U.S. immigration records. I found nothing.
Initially, I was very disappointed and left feeling dejected. But this year it dawned on me that for millennia Polynesian societies relied on verbal genealogy records. If it was good enough for them, it's certainly good enough for me!
As a child, I vaguely remember seeing a typed birth certificate for Frank Harder and recall his mother's name as Sulemau. Suluo'o is pretty close. It could be my faulty memory or a typo or a combo of both.
In October 2006, I posted a message on Craigs List in Auckland NZ looking for relatives who moved there. So far, no response. From what I can determine, most of the Samoan Harder line ended in girls.
I found a few references to Harders in Samoa in Mormon microfiche files.
I searched Hawaiian immigration/ships' passenger lists looking for anyone named Harder.
I followed the progress of Frank and John Harder through the ranks of the U.S. Navy in officer records.
I developed a family tree, with lots of holes in it!
And one of my twin nephews posted the story of Frank Harder in YourTrueHero.org. Here's the reference.
I have a picture of Frank Harder's headstone in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington DC. Sadly, I have no others.
I recall a 1930s Navy command portrait of Frank Harder sitting with ship's company on the deck of a Yangtze River patrol boat. He is a big man, twice the size of the Caucasian and Chinese crew members surrounding him. His facial features are more Euro than Samoan but his skin is darker than his comrades, like he had been tanning!
Both his picture and his birth certificate are long gone.
I hope to hear from you soon and learn if or how we are related.
It would be an EXCELLENT Christmas gift to hear more about my/our family history from you.
I am using the name given me by my Hawaiian language teacher 30 years ago, Ka'Ike, The One Who Knows/The One Who Sees. I was born and raised in the NE USA but Hawai'i is where I feel most at home.
Fa'afetai and Mahalo nui loa!
Aloha a hui hou e kaua/Aloha til next time to us both.
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