Sarah Joiner Lyman (1805-1885)

Born in Royalton, Vermont on November 29, 1805, Sarah Joiner married Rev. David Belden Lyman on November 2, 1831. Her husband David joined the missionary effort for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). After a 5-month voyage, they arrived at Honolulu in 1832. The couple lived the rest of their lives in Hilo. The Archives is open for research by appointment. Learn more at:

Sarah Lyman arrived with the fifth company of American Protestant missionaries on May 17, 1832. She and her husband were assigned to the Hilo mission station. Like other missionary women, Sarah dedicated herself to a life purpose: “I choose, if it is the Lord’s will, to spend my days on missionary ground.”    
Wife and Mother
Sarah Lyman with her youngest daughter Emma and son Francis. Sarah and David Lyman had eight children and numerous descendants. In 1881 the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a church service and a meal with friends and family. 
Teacher and Musician
These Hilo Boarding School students with brass instruments demonstrate how Sarah Lyman’s legacy of music continued for years. Sarah and David Lyman started the school for Hawaiian boys in 1836. Sarah worked as a teacher at the school and led musical performances. Her students could often hear the music from nearby ships and with Sarah’s help, the boys created their own simple instruments out of squash vines and bamboo. When they organized a band, a generous sea captain presented them with brass instruments!
For decades Sarah kept a detailed record of her life as well as the frequency and strength of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Her letters were written primarily to family members in the continental U.S., to fellow missionary wives, and to her children.
Sarah Lyman often entertained guests in her home, sometimes Hawaiian royalty. One of her autograph books includes the 1846 signatures of students from the Chiefs’ Children’s School or Royal School.