1875: Louis Armstrong a hotelkeeper in Levuka, at the Royal Hotel after bankruptcy in Melbourne

Louis ARMSTRONG was reported born Fiji before 1850, mother Tahitian or Fijian and unknown*, ARMSTRONG father also unknown.

Friday 5 May 1871 The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) reported Louis Armstrong, of Viti Levu, Fiji, publican, at present a prisoner for debt in Her Majesty’s Gaol, Melbourne.

Causes of insolvency – Inability to pay his debts, from losses in business while in partnership with William Lyon as publican in Bourke-street, Melbourne, and from sickness in family.

Liabilities, £168 13s. assets, £00.

He was insolvent twice in Melbourne, in 1871 ; 1879.

Chris_Liavaa reports “No Armstrongs in Levuka in 1871 electoral roll for Township of Levuka. No Armstrongs in Levuka 1873 Directory, nor 1874 directory, so he appears to have arrived sometime in 1874/75”

Louis ARMSTRONG , wife Alice Maud (nee AITKEN b. Bendigo 1860) and children John (1885), Zoe Eloise Desiree (1887) and Rupert Roy (1888) ARMSTRONG definitely residents of Levuka, Fiji, in and before 1888 at birth of Rupert.

The family was recorded in Sydney from mid 1889, but Louis ARMSTRONG disappears from the map after 1891. Alice remarried in Sydney 1897, as spinster and using maiden name, and Louis recorded as deceased at daughter’s marriage in 1909.

There is a photograph of an L. Armstrong (Photo No. 639, pages 330-332a) in The Cyclopedia of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands / Sydney : Cyclopedia Company of Fiji, 1907.

Armstrong once owned Malolo Lailai (not to be confused with Malolo) in the Mamanuca Group where the resort Musket Cove is on. From their website: “In 1872, Malolo Lailai was sold to John Thomson by Ratu Kini, a Nadroga Chief. Malolo Lailai being uninhabited, was purchased to plant cotton. John Thomson died in 1876 and Malolo Lailai was sold to Louis Armstrong.

Armstrong died bankrupt and the island was transferred to the Mortgage Agency of Australasia Ltd, who sold and transferred to James Borron in November 1891.”


His wife remarried in Sydney in 1897, to William Edward MORGAN, a South Sea Island trader.

A son of Louis Armstrong changed his name to MORGAN.

Another Percy Armstrong, sailed with his father, Louis, around the South Pacific, went to Fiji, and later tried to buy large tracts of land from various chiefs.

Louis owned what is now Plantation Island.

* In comment on this Ann McGlynn, an ancestor of Louis writes “Briefly, Louis Armstrong’s ancestry is 100% Anglo-Saxon (Irish mother, American father), he was born in Australia c1842 and was farming in various parts of Fiji from the late 1860s (part of the “Fiji Rush”). He was concurrently a hotel keeper, firstly in Suva and later in Levuka until he left Fiji in 1888, never to return. Evidence seems to indicate that he was the publican of the “Polynesian Club” at Levuka, rather than the Royal Hotel, unless of course you have evidence that indicates otherwise!”.


1881: C. Hedemann offered Conrad Machens employment at Levuka, Fiji; German trade expands

From the book Conrad Machens: A merchant living between Germany
and Fiji (1856-1930) Husum, 2009, 181 pages including two originals by Conrad making, many contemporary b / w illustrations, hardcover, 17 x 24 cm
ISBN 978-3-89876-482-7 € 19.95 Husum Publishing Group

This item is translated from a German item on Wikipaedia, sourced from a book and exhibition about Machens and Gerrman trade in the Pacific.

Conrad Machens, born 3 May 1856 in Ahrbergen, was a German South Seas buyer. Machens was a seventh or eighth child of farmer Johann Conrad Machens (1806-1877) and second wife Therese Magdalene Machen (1818-1906), in the village Ahrbergen, near Hildesheim (since 1866, Prussian).

Age 17 years Conrad Machens went  to the province capital Hanover for training. In the spring 1876  he had an employment in a meat goods wholesale in Hamburg.

Two years later, Conrad Machens, equipped with a good reference, left the Hanseatic city and went to London.

When Conrad Machens found no place there, he continued to travel.

Conrad Machens emigrated to Australia 17 September 1878 on board the SS Hankow of the Colonial Line of Australian Packets,

In Sydney Conrad Machens received  a temporary job clerking for loading and unloaded ships owned by Frederick Caesar Hedemann. Hedemann traded between Europe and the South Seas.

Conrad Machens then worked;

–  as a salesman in an ethnic German gentleman clothes business in Maitland;

–  as a decorator on the World Fair 1879 in Sydney as well as driving goods – in New South Wales. Machens borrowed 250 pounds from Hedemann to set up his own business.

In , since 1874, a  British Crown Colony.

There, in the capital at that time Levuka on the small island Ovalau, Hedemann 1871 had support (today still existing) of the Hamburg commercial firm Wachsmuth & Krogmann (gegr. 1797), and the  famous Hamburg trading firms Joh. Cesar Godeffroy & Son

The company formed under the name Hedemann & Co. and by led by Hedemanns younger brother Ferdinand Hugo.

In Fiji  Conrad Machens was a successful buyer within only few years and worked also to document  conditions of Fiji.

In 1883 Conrad Machens  became a partner with Hedemanns and in 1888 temporarily exclusive owner of the increasing enterprise.

In the same year Conrad Machens returned for the first time from business reasons to Germany and married the 16-year old Bertha Sebald, daughter of the Hildesheimer of hairdresser master and inventor of a well-known (Haartinktur?) shortly before Conrad and Bertha Machen  returned journey to Fiji on 14 January 1889 (with Johann Sebald?).

In Fiji Conrad and Bertha Machen in Fiji had two daughters, Florence and Bertha. Shortly after the birth of Bertha Junior  Bertha Machen died aged 20 years on 27 August 1892 child bed fever. (The grave is at the cemetery of Levuka.)

The care of two small children transferred to a family worker of many years, “Charley”, a Solomon Islander. (Charley Seromeo).

Conrad Machens decided it was better in the long term to give the children to the care of his mother and his older sister in Germany in order thereby a German education to make possible at the same time.

Conrad Machens travelled with Charley and the little girls; Florence and Bertha to Germany on one year absence of Fiji.

In his absence Conrad Machens invited a familiar coworker of many years Frederick Vollmer (1852-1918, later mayor of Levuka), a British naturalized Hamburger, as a partner to the company.

Conrad Machens also appointed the British naturalized William Kramp (1858-1943) as manager in co-operation with his new partner Frederick Vollmer .

Im 1895 Conrad Machens returned temporarily to Fiji, decided however, also for health reasons to remain permanently  from 1897 in Germany in order to transact from now on the purchases of European goods (particularly of materials from Manchester, the European center of the textile industry) for the export into the South Seas.

The management it left to a large extent to its two German (British naturalized) partners Frederick Vollmer  and William Kramp (1858-1943).

Conrad Machens introduced 1897 from Germany  private picture postcard on the Fiji islands. In the following years Conrad Machens undertook numerous expanded journeys outside of Europe, among other things into the United States of America, to Canada, India, Japan and China as well as into the German colony Samoa.

Conrad Machens documented experiences in numerous detailed, so far unpublished reports on a journey.

During the outbreak of the First World War Conrad Machens on his fifth sea voyage was to Fiji faced increasing differences over the further future of his company. Hedemann & Co. wanted to negotiate.

By the start of the war entrance the German steamers could not enter Fiji and Conrad Machens begain to work from port of Tjilatjap in Java.

From there the British refused Conrad Machens departure. So Conrad Machens changed the company into a British Limited company.

With the aid of Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet Escott (1857-1941) at the end of of May 1915 Conrad Machens had permission to embark on a small American Schooner to San Francisco.

In Fiji Conrad Machens – making as much money before – found the need to exchange for in gold.

On 26 August 1915 Conrad Machens went in New York on board a Danish steamer.

On 15 September after an exciting sea voyage Conrad Machens  was finally again at his home-town of Hildesheim.   There Conrad Machens drew war loans with the saved gold in patriotic enthusiasm, for 45.000 Marks.

Conrad Machens stayed in his homeland; Germany

But in Levukia Frederick Vollmer  and William Kramp were declared enemy aliens, at the beginning of November 1917.  They were extradited and interned in Australia until the end of the war.

Frederick Vollmer died shortly after his premature release  13 March 1918.

The company Hedemann & Co., which 1915 had been reorganized preventing into one limited company with capital stock had been increased to £ 30,000, was meanwhile liquidated like the remaining German Konkurrenzfirmen.

From the end of the war Conrad Machens struggled – on the basis of article 297 of the Versaille of Peace Treaty – for many years for his compensation. Conrad Machens however at end of 1924 lost his claims for damage due to the additional deprivation of its Prussian nationality. Thereupon it strove for the reimbursement of proceeds from the liquidation of its private property with the Londoner places.

The last years of his life Conrad Machens spent with   of his family in Hildesheim.

He died there on 27 April 1930.

The family burial place with its grave is in the Godehardi cemetery.

Conrad Machenss left an extensive private and business correspondence, several handwritten reports on a journey and landeskundliche recordings as well as hundreds of photographies with motives of the archipelagos Fiji, in private property, Samoa, Tonga and the Norfolk island. These show that there was another form apart from the colonialism in the conventional sense still another German commitments in the South Seas. Beyond that they provide a singular culture, social and economics source for a time of increasing globalization during late 19. and to early 20. Century.

Note: translated from German from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conrad_Machens

Sources Handwritten letters and recordings, private archives of the family of Mueller making. Literature [work on] The Cyclopedia OF Fiji (Illustrated). A Complete Historical and Commercial Review oF Fiji (Sydney 1907; Reprint Fiji museum, Suva, Fiji, 1984) P. 321. Stefan A. Lütgert: ” Fiji Machens” – a Hildesheimer buyer in the South Seas.The magazine for history and culture, number 9/2008, P. 26-30. Ders.: Conrad Machens – a buyer life between Germany and Fiji. Husum publishing house, Husum 2009, ISBN 978-3-89876-482-7. Ders. (Hrsg.): Conrad Machens. Letters from Fiji from the year 1883. Books on and GmbH, north first EDT 2010, ISBN 978-3-8391-3811-Stephan A. Lutgert, Conrad Machens: A merchant living between Germany

and Fiji (1856-1930) Husum, 2009, 181 pages including two originals by Conrad making, many contemporary b / w illustrations, hardcover, 17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-89876-482-7 € 19.95 Husum Publishing Group


1858: Pacific women worth 10 to 50 pigs


But worth incalculably more if they were of a chief’s family; with slaves of their own, land, and rights.

“White murders were generally caused by unpaid “theft” of Islander women, by White men reported British Naval Commander Acland in 1885 “had long discussions with  everybody in the group employing native labour… finding it “extremely difficult to obtain truthful information, owing to the fact that there is a constant triangular duel being fought between the traders, labour collectors and missionaries and all of them are inclined to circulate reports against each other”.

In general, Acland confined his observations to the labour trade of Queensland and Fji, believing that they were usually well looked afgter but that the Queensland climate was and its hard work was too much for the islanders.. He told of the degraded live lead by most indigenous women and the decreasing population of the group.

“Women are looked on as so much property, and if they go away without their owner’s consent he is determined to be avenged upon someone. They do most of the work and become the property of some man from an early age. The value varies from ten to forty pigs in different islands, and in ratio to the charms and merits”.

Acland like many observers before him, concluded that the principle cause of White murders was the stealing of Islanders, particularly of women. By stealing he did not mean kidnapping. He meant the new “owners” had not been properly paid for them.

“Our notion on this subjects are that such a transaction would be a species of slave-buying…but the natives look upon the bargain as something quite different; they expect a present for each man (or woman) that goes and are disgusted if they do not get it”.


1870: Anglican clergyman Revd. William Floyd arrives in Fiji

Image“A body of Church of England folk in Levuka in 1868 met for the purpose of securing a clergyman to minister to them, and a committee was formed in Melbourne to forward this purpose. 

The Revd. William Floyd was a member of this Melbourne Committee, and eventually he offered his services and arrived in Fiji in 1870. 

 He proved so acceptable to the Church members that in 1874 they applied to the New Zealand Bishops to consecrate him. 

 The application was met by a request for further information and a suggestion (which proved impracticable) that the Bishop of Melanesia should undertake the episcopal oversight.

 Almost all Mr. Floyd’s papers and records were lost soon after his death, and so too little is known of his work. 

 It was 10 years before a second clergyman arrived in Fiji, and another 20 years before the third one arrived:

 – Mr. Poole to Suva in  1880 and 

 – Mr. Lateward to Labasa in 1902.

 There is extant a document granting a small piece of land in the centre of Levuka, where a small church was built, but soon destroyed in a hurricane. 

 The second church remained in use for many years, until Floyd’s dream of a building in permanent material was realised and the present church in concrete consecrated in 1904”.  

Golden Jubilee, Diocese of Polynesia, 1908-1958 Transcribed By Dr. Terry M. Brown Retired Bishop Of Malaita, 2010 Golden Jubilee 1908-1958 Diocese Of Polynesia – Suva – Fiji http://anglicanhistory.org/oceania/polynesia_jubilee1958/


1886: Levuka Nasova cemetery, caretaker: George Gardiner

Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/markmat/81911231/Image“To the south west  of the town beyond Nasova, on the approach to which are several well appointed private residences, there is nothing to be seen except the cemetery, which is very picturesquely situated on the sloping side of a hill facing the sea.

In it are several nice monuments, and the whole is kept in excellent order by its custodian, Mr. George Gardiner, a Tasmanian, who is also an officer H.M Customs and caretaker of Government House.

Beyond, in this direction, following the coastal road to the southward, there is nothing at all to be seen of special interest, except at intervals native towns of the usual type, the houses with walls and roof of thatch, and matted floor, without windows or chimneys, but very comfortable and suitable to the climate notwithstanding. The walk round the coaat, however, discloses many beautiful views of sea and landscape.

To the northward of the town, after crossing the Levuka Creek on a substantial bridge, one comes to the Levuka native town, to the hospitality of whose chief, Tui Levuka, to Europeans in the olden days, Levuka as now developed owes its existence.

Beyond a rocky point, in a deep and pretty bay, is the populous native and half-caste town of Vogadau (pronounced Vangan dathy).

Here is situated the Recreation Reserve and ground of the Levuka Cricket Club, on which a very nice pavilion is erected.

On this ground at holiday times various athletic sports are held, and adjoining it Mr, James Palmer has built a fine two-story house of concrete, which is far and away the handsomest private residence in Fiji.
Beyond this, again, are several private residences, notably those of the Rev. Mr. Floyd, Anglican clergyman, Messrs. Poulton, Hendy, and others, until the native town of Waitovu is reached.

This town is situated on a creek of the same name, up which in the ranges, about a mile from the beach, aud surrounded by gorgeous scenery, is one of the grandest bathing places anywhere to be found, coisisting of a waterfall with a deep pool, in which either a plunge, swimming, or shower bath cabin be obtained. This is one of the principal show places of Ovalau.

The Mercury Supplement, (Hobart, Tasmania)  Saturday 13 February, 1886.  This item appears written by a Levuka resident in early 1886, or late 1885.  It encourages tourism to Levuka, as a rest from an overheated Australia.  Author uses the name “Tasmanian”. Possibly Frederick Langham   Perhaps ship-owner and trader with a long term trading relationship with Levuka and Suva, for at least five years – since 1880.  I

1886: Levuka five generations of gene-mix; but work racially divided: 430 Europeans, and around 1000 “half-caste FIjians, Samoans, Botu Muliana, and other Polynesians”

“The population of Levuka may be estimated at about 430 Europeans, or persons of European extraction, while the settled population of half-caste FIjians, Samoans, Rotu, Muliana,  and other Polynesians, is about double as many more.
Samoan sex-workers: They are of the same mixed nationality as may be observed in Suva, but a special feature is introduced hero in the presence of a large number of Samoan females, who occupy a position which may be  compared to a combination of the grisettes and lilanchisenses of Paris.
They are fine handsome women for Polynesians, much Inclined to embonpoint, and of a light brown colour.
  Rotumah sailors: A number of Rotumah men ato also to bo met with in Levuka ; they are natives of a small isolated island, situated about 200 miles to the northward of the group, but included in the colony.
They aro excellent  sailor men, and nearly all the inter-island trading vessels are manned by them. They are a short, thick-set, sturdy race, and differ materially in both language and and physical appearance from the natives of any other island.
  Chinese farmers and carpenters: There are also many more Chinamen In Levuka than in Suva, and the Celestial forms a very useful member of the community  providing the town with a plentiful supply of greenstuff, while others follow the trade of carpenters and cabinet makers, in which they excel.
The Mercury Supplement, (Hobart, Tasmania), Saturday 13 February, 1886.  This item appears written by a Levuka resident in early 1886, or late 1885.  It encourages tourism to Levuka, as a rest from an overheated Australia.  Author uses the name “Tasmanian”. Possibly Frederick Langham   Perhaps ship-owner and trader with a long term trading relationship with Levuka and Suva, for at least five years – since 1880.

1886: copra and sugar in Levuka and Fiji

“Levuka …commands quite a respect able proportion of the commerceof the group, including that of tho whole of tho extensive islands of Vauna, Levu, and Tavinui, besides that of ‘Loma Loma, and the whole of the windward and central group, and of the northern coast of Viti Levu itself.
This includes the sugar estates of:

  • Billyard and Co. and
  • W. Hunter, of Tavinui
  • Messrs. Chalmers Bros., and the
  • Ellington plantation on Viti Levu, and
  • Mango Island Co.

Copra trade controlled by Hennings, Hoerder, and, Nedemann: The trade in this article (which is the dried flesh of the cocoanut) is, however, almost entirely monopolised by the German firms of Hennings, Hoerder, and, Nedemann, although portion of the cash paid for it finds its way into general circulation. The copra being purchased by these firms…. most of it finds its way lo tho German markets”.
The Mercury Supplement, (Hobart, Tasmania), Saturday 13 February, 1886. This item appears written by a Levuka resident in early 1886, or late 1885. It encourages tourism to Levuka, as a rest from an overheated Australia. Author uses the name “Tasmanian”. Possibly Frederick Langham Perhaps ship-owner and trader with a long term trading relationship with Levuka and Suva, for at least five years – since 1880.