“Pikers,” “Dead Heads,” and a Second as the First: Introducing the Historic Law Collection of Hawaii

As a second child, James Cairn McBride’s parents might not have expected him to grow into a man of firsts.[1] Under his alter-ego, J. C. “Bud” Mars, James threw Hawaii’s first flight-related tantrum.[2]  

On the last day of 1910, Mars was the first man to fly an airplane in the Territory of Hawaii. Tickets for his exhibition cost one dollar. A promoter guaranteed Mars $5,000 in revenue. About three thousand admissions were sold.[3]

What promoters and this aviation pioneer did not foresee was that a person just had to look up to see a flying exhibition. Enthusiastic crowds in numbers far exceeding tickets sold watched from hillsides as history in Hawaii was made.[4]

Bud Mars threw a fit. He called the thousands who watched his exhibitions without paying “pikers” and “dead heads.” He and his entourage left Hawaii for Japan, having paved the way for aviation in Hawaii, and for future travelers to argue with gate agents.[5]

Bud’s father was Thomas D. McBride, the Great Lakes captain I wrote about last month.

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,[6] I introduce the Advancing Genealogist’s historic law collection of Hawaii.

For Historic Statutory Law of Hawaii, click here.

For Historic Case Law of Hawaii, click here.

My thanks to Darcie Hind Posz, CG®. Her input and translations were invaluable and appreciated. She made the language used on the law pages for Hawaii more accurate and appropriate.

Thanks to Linda McCauley for updating the law library map.

[1] James’ name is sometimes seen as James Caren McBride. James was born 8 March 1876 in Michigan, per “California Death Index, 1940–1997”, index, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/5180/ : accessed 9 May 2023), entry for James Cairn Mars, born 8 March 1876, died 25 July 1944. His older sister, Margaret, was born in March 1876, per the 1900 U.S. census, Kane County, Illinois, population schedule, Elgin, Enumeration District 98, sheet 5A, p. 67A (stamped), dwelling 93, family 108, Percy G. Martin household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 11 May 2023), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 311. Better sources exist for the birth years, but I am working with one arm right now and can’t dig in the file cabinets!
[2] “First Flights,” in “Hawaii by Air,” National Air and Space Museum (https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/hawaii-by-air/online/early-flights/first-flights.cfm : accessed 9 May 2023).
[3] For promised revenue and first flight, see: “First Flights Made Locally 24 Years Ago,” Honolulu Star Bulletin (Honolulu, H. T.), 31 December 1934, p. 8, cols. 4–6; digital image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/275058695/ : accessed 11 May 2023). For the first flight and ticket prices and sales: Peter T. Young, “First Flight in Hawai’i – 1910,” Images of Old Hawaii, 30 December 2018, blog post, (https://imagesofoldhawaii.com/bud-mars/ : accessed 9 May 2023). The 2023 value of $5,000 dollars from 1910 is in the six figures. Value varies per calculator. See: “Relative Worth,” calculator, at MeasuringWorth.com (https://www.measuringworth.com/dollarvaluetoday/ : accessed 11 May 2023), and CPI Inflation Calculator (https://www.in2013dollars.com/ : accessed 11 May 2023).
[4] “First Flights,” in “Hawaii by Air,” National Air and Space Museum.
[5] For Bud’s comments on unpaid attendees, see: “Fighting Gusts of Fierce Winds,” The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii), 3 January 1911, p. 3, cols. 3–4 (cont. from p. 1); digital image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/258998006/ : accessed 11 May 2023). For his comments and the trip to Japan: “First Flights,” in “Hawaii by Air,” National Air and Space Museum.
[6] “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_American_and_Pacific_Islander_Heritage_Month : accessed 9 May 2023), article.

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