Map showing the portions of the Kilawea caldera involved in several eruptions over history.
A geological survey map of the Kilauea volcano showing portions of historic eruptions, including the one in 1885.

The volcano Kilauea on the island of Hawaii has recently been in the news.  The entire archipelago has formed from relatively recent volcanic activity and Kilauea has long been active and a marvel and terror for more than 150 years.

Edward Stratemeyer’s older half-brother, George Christian Stratemeyer, left Elizabeth, New Jersey, and moved first to the San Francisco Bay area and to Hawaii in the early 1870s.  There he was an artist and decorator as well as an employee of the Customs House, serving in roles such as Port Surveyor.  At one time he ran an ice cream parlor.  He was active in the Annexation Club and advocated the islands becoming a territory of the United States of America.  Of course, this position is not without controversy since it affected the royal family and the sovereignty of the island nation.

George C. Stratemeyer lived in Hawaii for the latter half of his life.
George C. Stratemeyer lived in Hawaii for nearly 40 years. He painted signs and landscapes, including this 1885 scene of the Kilauea volcano caldera.

George Stratemeyer had not had much contact with his New Jersey relatives.  However, in the 1890s, Edward began to correspond with him to tell of his writing career successes and to seek information that might help him write his adventure stories.  This led to at least three stories set principally in Hawaii — a short story for the Newark Sunday Call, a short serial for a religious weekly called the Forward, and a book in his Flag of Freedom series called Off to Hawaii.

Edward Stratemeyer wrote a story published in 1906 that was set in Hawaii that used information supplied by his brother, George C. Stratemeyer.
An installment of “Adrift in Hawaiian Wilds” for the religious weekly, Forward.

Among George’s artistic endeavors was to make paintings of landscape scenes.  He had been doing this for a number of years and he sent a couple of them to Edward.  The author offered the use of the paintings for illustrations for the short serial in the Forward but the publishers found that they would not reproduce well so they used their own artist to illustrate the installments.

One of these paintings was composed in March 1885 when Kilauea was more active than usual.  As such, George became a member of the “Volcano School” where artists would go to the crater and try to capture what they saw in the caldera of the volcano.

The three Edward Stratemeyer Hawaiian stories and more detailed information about George Stratemeyer is a planned publication of our 24 Palmer Street Press imprint for Lulu print-on-demand.