Lot Preview: Joseph Poindexter – Collection of Ephemera

Bringing you another lot preview for our upcoming Antiques & Fine Arts sale on 22nd April.

This time we’re presenting a fascinating collection of Ephemera relating to Joseph Poindexter (1869-1951), the eighth Territorial Governor of Hawaii, who served from 1934 to 1942. Poindexter was the serving governor at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, to which some of the featured documents are in reference to.

To read more on the life of Joseph Poindexter check his Wikipedia entry, this short biography, or this family line traced and provided by our vendor.

For higher resolution images please check here. If you require any further information or images of the items then please submit a condition report when the catalogue is online or send us an email to info@townsend-auctions.co.uk.

EDIT: Our catalogue is now online – View in our Auction Catalogue | View on the-saleroom.com (Online Bidding)


Some background information on the documents, provided by our Vendor

Joseph Boyd Poindexter was born in Canyon City, Oregon to Thomas W. and Margaret Pipkin Poindexter. He attended Wesleyan University and earned his LL.B. degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He was admitted to the Montana Bar in 1892, and served as County Attorney of Beaverhead Country, Montana from 1897 to 1903. he later served as a district judge in Montana from 1909 to 1915 and as Attorney General of Montana from 1915 to 1917.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Poindexter as judge on the United Stated District Court for the District of Hawaii. Poindexter served in that capacity from May 14, 1917 to February 16, 1924. He then practised law in Hawaii until 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Poindexter the eighth governor of Hawaii on January 30, 1934.

A joint Congressional Committee visited Hawaii in 1937 and submitted a report in February 1938 recommending a plebiscite for Hawaii statehood. The plebiscite, held on November 5, 1940, resulted in the voters recommending statehood for Hawaii.

Poindexter was reappointed to the governorship by Roosevelt in March 1938; he became only the second governor to that point to serve more than one term of office.

In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Poindexter placed the territory under martial law and allowed the U.S. military to form a military government. The military government would continue until 1943.

Walter C Short, Lieutenant General of the Hawaiian Dept. of the US Army, and Admiral Husband E Kimmel, Commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack were removed from their posts just days after the Pearl Harbor attack. Many believed they were made scapegoats for the failure to defend the Islands. They were subject to many enquiries, the first one being the Roberts Commission, the last one being the Joint Congressional Committee Hearing ending in 1946.

In 1999, the US Senate passed a resolution that cleared Kimmel and Short of their failures of command.

After his term expired, Poindexter remained in office until August 24, 1942, when his successor, Ingram Stanback, was confirmed.

Poindexter resumed his law practice after leaving the governorship. In July 1943, the Hawaii Supreme Court appointed him a trustee of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate (now Kamehameha Schools), in which capacity he served until his death in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 3 1951.


Telegraph from F H Cooney to President Roosevelt
A Telegraph from F H Cooney, the Governor of Montana, dated May 21st 1933 addressed to President Roosevelt recommending Joseph Poindexter for the Governorship of Hawaii.

Letter from President Roosevelt
A signed letter from president Roosevelt dated May 22nd 1933, acknowledging Poindexter’s recommendation.

Letter from F H Cooney to Joseph Poindexter
A signed letter from F H Cooney to Joseph Poindexter dated May 22nd 1933 informing him of his recommendation.

Letter from J P Macfarland to Joseph Poindexter
A personal signed letter from a J P Macfarland dated June 29th 1935 to Joseph Poindexter inviting him to meet his Director – John Edgar Hoover when he visited Washington DC.

Some background information on J.P Macfarland

J.P Macfarland was a Special Agent with the FBI; he was one of the first and original agents. He was the Special Agent in charge of the famous Bremer kidnapping in 1933 by the Barker-Karpis Gang.

(The Barker-Karpis Gang was one of the longest-lived criminal gangs during the Depression Era, spanning from 1931 to 1935. Founded by Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis, it was later joined by Fred’s brother Arthur “Doc” Barker. Along with the three core members, the gang’s network spanned up to 25 members at one point.

Although not as well known as their contemporaries the Dillinger Gang, or the Barrow Gang, the Barker-Karpis Gang was perhaps more ruthless, not only committing bank robberies but extending the activities into kidnapping as well. It is best known for the myth that it was run by the Barker brothers’ mother, Kate, usually refereed to as “Ma Barker”.)

Radio Address document: Blackout Broadcast Talk
Radio Address document entitled ‘Blackout Broadcast Talk’ dated 20th May 1941 covering practice air raids and blackouts in the event of an attack.

Typed & signed statement given by Joseph Poindexter as a witness of the Joint Congressional Committee
A typed a signed statement given by Joseph Poindexter as a witness of the Joint Congressional Committee 1945 to 1946 which was one of the final hearings into the Pearl Harbor attack.

Letter from Walter C Short to Joseph Poindexter
A personal letter dated January 8th 1947 from Walter C Short to Joseph Poindexter and reference is made to the hearings.

Letter from Samuel Wilder King to Joseph Poindexter
A letter dated August 3rd 1939 from Samuel Wilder King, a Republican Congressman to Joseph Poindexter.

Some background information on Samuel Wilder King.

Samuel Wilder King (December 17 1886- March 24 1959) was the eleventh Terrirorial Governor of Hawaii and served from 1953 to 1957. He was appointed to the office after the term of Oren E. Long. Previously, King served in the United States House of Representatives as a delegate from the Territory of Hawaii. He was a member of the Republican Party of Hawaii and was the first of native Hawaiian descent to rise to the highest office in the territory.


Front of photo of Joseph Poindexter, Loretta Young and Bette Davis
Back of photo of Joseph Poindexter, Loretta Young and Bette Davis
A photograph of Joseph Poindexter with Loretta Young and Bette Davis, believed to be 1934 and taken in Hollywood.

hand written letter from E Kimmel
A hand written letter from Kimmel dated January 15th 1947; Kimmel also makes reference to the Pearl Harbour disaster, and a book that is available on sale ‘Pearl Harbor, the story of the secret war’.


Our auction catalogue is now online!

If you are interested in bidding on any of these lots take a look at our online catalogue. If you wish to leave a commission bid, request a condition report or get further details on an item please contact us via the details at the top right of the website. As with all our sales online bidding is also available through the-saleroom.com, follow the link to bid from around the world or in the comfort of your own home.

If you wish to come and view the items in person our viewing times are below:

Saturday 18th April 10:00 – 12:30 GMT
Monday 20th April 10:00 – 17:00 GMT
Tuesday 21st April 10:00 – 17:00 GMT
Sale Day Wednesday 22nd April 8:30 – 10:00 GMT