Image of William Drake Westervelt


Lifetime: 1849 - 1939 Passed: ≈ 85 years ago




United States

William Drake Westervelt

William Drake Westervelt was the author of several books and magazines on Hawaiian history and legends. He drew upon the collections of David Malo, Samuel Kamakau, and Abraham Fornander to popularize Hawaiian folklore in his Legends of Maui (1910), Legends of Old Honolulu (1915), Legends of Gods and Ghost-Gods (1915), Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes (1916) and Hawaiian Historical Legends (1923).

Rev. William D. Westervelt was born in Oberlin, Ohio. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1871 with a B.A. degree, and from Oberlin Theological Seminary in 1874 with a B.D. degree. Pastor of churches in Cleveland, Ohio and Colorado, he settled in Hawaii in 1899, marrying a missionary descendant, Caroline Dickinson Castle (1859–1941). After the Hawaiian Historical Society was re-formed, he served as the Corresponding Secretary starting in 1908. He would later serve as treasurer and president.

Westervelt's interest in Hawaiian mythology was an avocation that led to numerous magazine and newspaper articles, many reprinted in his several collections. He is noted as one of Hawaii's foremost authorities on island folklore in the English language. His anthologies of Hawaiian myths, legends and folk tales are considered among the best of the English versions of a Hawaiian view of the sacred and profane.

Oberlin College bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity on Westervelt in 1926. He died at his Waikiki home in March 1939.

Books by William Drake Westervelt

Hawaiian Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-Gods Cover image

Hawaiian Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-Gods

Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction

William Drake Westervelt was an eminent scholar of Hawaiian culture, language, and history. In this capacity, he collected the ghost stories inlcuded in this volume. We hear of gods, ghosts, and demons, love and hate, all told and where necessary exp...

Legends of Old Honolulu Cover image

Legends of Old Honolulu

Hawai'i: land of wonder and beauty and a culture rich in history and mythology. Dr. Westervelt settled in Hawai'i as a young man and collected stories and myths from his adopted home. Here we have a collection dedicated to the largest city, Honolulu....