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Deputy sheriff killed during 1893 Battle of Kalalau Valley memorialized

A sunset ceremony took place recently at the Hawaiʻi Law Enforcement Memorial in Honolulu for officers killed in the line of duty. Seven names were added, including police and sheriffs whose stories date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

One name that dates back to the 1800s was Kaua’i Deputy Sheriff Louis Stolz. He died in 1893 following orders to forcibly evict a Native Hawaiian named Ko’olau, who fled to Kalalau Valley to avoid being exiled to Molokaʻi because he had leprosy.

There are always two sides to a story. And this was a twisted and tragic tale. Stolz's family said that before his death, he wrote to Honolulu officials warning the plan would not end well and suggested a peaceful solution to the conflict in the remote Kauaʻi valley.

Deputy Sheriff Louis Stolz's house in Kalalau, Kauaʻi, during the hunt for Koʻolau and others in 1893.
Hawaiʻi State Archives
Deputy Sheriff Louis Stolz's house in Kalalau, Kauaʻi, during the hunt for Koʻolau and others in 1893.

"If you know Kalalau Valley, it’s a very difficult place to get to. You either have to come in by sea, or you have to hike in the long arduous hike along the coast, or through the steep valleys of Kalalau. Deputy Sheriff Stolz was the sheriff for the Waimea District and he was charged with apprehending Ko’olau and taking him to the island of Moloka’i," said retired Honolulu Police Department Deputy Chief Kurt Kendro, who is now with the Hawaiʻi Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.

On hand for the Sunday ceremony was a great-grandaughter of Stolz who traveled from California to read his name. Dr. Catherine Owen said his wife Mary Adelaide Stolz was a missionary descendant, daughter of Kauaʻi Reverend George Berkeley Rowell.

"For my great-grandfather, I always think it was a sad story of its time because we didn't understand leprosy then, the way we do now... They did what they knew how to do, which was isolate people with leprosy," she added.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 19, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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