Monday, March 23, 2015

"Uncle Jim that went to Hawaii"

My grand uncle Ernie Coffman sent me an email on March 16 as follows:

Nick, in all of your family tree items, do you have any idea when your Great Uncle Jim Hughes was living on Oahu? I know he and his wife were there when Pearl Harbor was bombed in ‘41, but not sure how far back they go. By the way that might be Great-Great Uncle. I can’t keep up with all the titles.

I never knew that I had a relative that lived on Oahu during the bombing of Pearl Harbor!!!

Google Street View of residence address of James Edward Hughes

My curiosity was piqued to see what I could learn about this man.  I went to his profile in my family tree on to see what information it contained.  I looked first at the relationship field. How was "Uncle Jim" actually related to me.  He was the brother-in-law of my great grand aunt, Viola Coffman Hughes.  My mom called her "Aunt Volie".  Viola Hughes was the matriarch of a large extended family composed of Coffman and Hughes descendants.  She and her husband, David Hughes resided in Oakland, California at 742 46th Street for over forty years.

Viola Nevada Coffman 1871-1966
and her husband David Hughes 1868-1952
Viola was the matriarch of an extended family of Hughes and Coffman descendants.

My great grandfather, Ernest Coffman, Sr. (Viola's brother) was married twice, first to Mae Moss in 1907 and then to Millie Loveless in 1931. My great grandmother, Mae Moss Coffman  and Ernie's mom, Millie were both working mothers.  Aunt Volie provided child care for my mom's Aunt Vivian and fifteen years later for half-brother Ernie.  So my Uncle Ernie essentially grew up in the Hughes residence on 46th Street and regarded the Hughes brothers as his uncles.

Ernest Ellsworth Coffman 1879-1934
My uncle Ernie Coffman was only two years old when his father died.

When James Edward Hughes was born on September 28, 1885, in Oakland, California, his father, David Hughes, was 40 and his mother, Jane Lloyd, was 43. He had five brothers. He died on February 28, 1957, in Alameda County, California, at the age of 71.

In the 1910 census Jim Hughes is found residing with his parents David and Jane Hughes and brothers, Humphrey and Evan in Oakland, California. Evan and Jim were both listed as salesman, hardware and Humphrey was listed as salesman, coffee.

Here is one of the search results for "James e Hughes" honolulu at

The earliest record that I have of Jim Hughes in Honolulu is as follows from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Saturday 8 Feb 1913:

James E. Hughes who has for the last year and a half acted as the Hawaiian representative of the Pacific Hardware and Steel Company, San Francisco, has recently joined the staff of Catton, Neill and Company as manager of its supply department.

In the 1915 Honolulu, Hawaii, City Directory, James E. Hughes is residing at 1227 Matlock Avenue.  His occupation is salesman.

On his 1918 World War I draft card he is married to Esta E. Hughes and residing at 1418 Kewalo, Honolulu, Hawaii.  His occupation is salesman for the Honolulu Iron Works Company.

The California Passenger List collection at tells us that James Hughes traveled on the S.S. Maui and left Honolulu, Hawaii, for San Francisco, California, arriving on June 22, 1920.  It appears that he may have been in California for several weeks.  He appears again on a passenger
list departing San Francisco on the S.S. Matsonia on August 11, 1920 and arriving at the Port of Honolulu on August 17, 1920.

The following listings are from the Honolulu City Directories.

Residence Year: 1921
Street address: 1418 Kewalo
Occupation: Clerk, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1923
Street address: 1565 Pensacola apt 18
Occupation: Salesman, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1924
Street address: 2682 Oahu av
Occupation: Salesman, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1925
Street address: 2682 Oahu av
Occupation: Asst Sales Mngr, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1927
Street address: 2732 Oahu av
Occupation: Asst Sales Mgr, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1928
Street address: 2720 Ferdinand av
Occupation: Asst Sales Mgr, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1931
Street address: 2722 Ferdinand av
Occupation: Asst Sales Mgr, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1932
Street address: 2722 Ferdinand av
Occupation: Sales Mgr, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1933
Street address: 2722 Ferdinand av
Occupation: Mgr Merchandise Dept, Honolulu Iron Works

The listings between 1933 and 1947 were the same. Uncle Jim continued to reside at the same address and had the same occupation.  There is nothing in the City Directories to indicate that life changed at all during World War II. However, I would have to surmise that the work at the Honolulu Iron Works must have been profoundly affected by the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  I am sure that Uncle Jim was doing his part to support the war effort.

Residence Year: 1947
Street address: 2722 Ferdinand av
Occupation: Mgr Merchandise Dept, Honolulu Iron Works

Residence Year: 1949
Street address: 2722 Ferdinand av
No occupation listed

Since no occupation is listed here, it would lead me to believe that Uncle Jim had retired by 1949 at the age of 64.

Residence Year: 1950
No directory available

Residence Year: 1951
Jim Hughes is not listed in the Honolulu directory

We know that Jim Hughes returned to Oakland, California and he died there in 1957.  Since he is no longer listed in the Honolulu City Directories this is probably when he relocated to Oakland.  There is a listing in the 1955 Oakland Telephone Directory for Jas E Hughes at 37 TrafalgrPl KEllog 3-4559.  There is a Trafalgar Place in the Oakland Hills in the vicinity of Park Boulevard and Highway 13 so this may have been where he was residing in 1955.

The Maui News Tuesday, October 10, 1922
This article was found when searching "Honolulu Iron Works" on

From R.L. Polk & Co.'s City Directory of Honolulu, Hawaii. 1956 image 69 of 255

This image  of the Honolulu Iron Works was from the Honolulu City Directory as found on  The business advertisements can make great illustrations for your family history.  You can see that the Honolulu Iron Works was a large industrial complex in the midst of an island paradise.  Hopefully this little tale of James Edward Hughes can be instructive as an example of the kinds of records that can be found on for your ancestors.  They don't always appear with the little shaking leaves as the commercials would lead you to believe.  When you find these records, they will help you to piece together your "Ancestor Puzzles."

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