Richard Henderson Trent

#1381, b. 14 September 1867, d. circa 10 April 1939
Father*William Clough Trent b. 15 Sep 1824, d. 22 Jul 1886
Mother*Mary Virgin Bonner b. 26 Dec 1830, d. 5 Feb 1888
     Richard Henderson Trent was born on 14 September 1867 Somerville, Tennessee.1 He was the son of William Clough Trent and Mary Virgin Bonner. Richard Henderson Trent died circa 10 April 1939, in Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, was cremated and buried Lot 18, Section 11, Oahu Cemetery, Honolulu Hawaii.

Richard H. Trent
Dies in Hospital

Kamaaina Held Many Executive Positions;
Services Will Be Held Wednesday Afternoon

     Richard H. Trent, one of Honolulu's best known residents and business executives, died in the Queens' hospital at 10:15 this morning after a brief illness.
     Active in the business life of Honolulu and the remainer of the territory, Mr. Trent was president of the First Federal Savings & Loan association of Hawaii and was 71 years old.
     Mr. Trent is survived by two sons and two daughters, Theodore F. Trent, treasurer of the First Federal of Hawaii; Robert R. Trent of Honoulu; Mrs. Karl Hoepfner of Wilmington, Del., and Miss Mary Belle Trent, a student at Stanford.
     He also is survived by two sisters, Mrs. John T. Gray and Mrs. Lucy T. Shelton, both of Honolulu.
     Services will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the First Methodist Episcopal church with the Rev. Clyde E. Boyer officiating. Flowers should be sent to the church. The ashes will be interred in the Nuuanu cemetery.
Arrangements are being handled by Borthwick's mortuary.
Mr. Trent was born September 14, 1867, in Somerville, Fayette county, Tenn. He was the son of William Cough and Mary Virgin (Bonner) Trent.
     He was educated in the public schools of his native state.

Was Oldtime Printer

     He served as a printer's apprentice for the Somerville Falcon, from 1880-1881. He was foreman of a newspaper mechanical department when he was 14 years old.
     From 1882 to 1883 he served with the S. C. Toof & Co. The next year he was manager and publisher of the Clarksdale Banner in Mississippi. Then from 1886-1894 he served as a bookkeeper and cashier in various mercantile establishemnts in Memphis, Tenn.
The next year he was a partner in the Joy, Trent & Co., merchandise brokers in Memphis.
     In 1900 Mr. Trent went to Los Angeles and was a bookkeeper for J.R. Newberry & Co., grocers.
     Leaving Los Angeles to come to Honolulu he first worked for a short time for the Evening Bulletin.

Headed Trent Trust

     His next position in Honolulu was as treasurer of the Henry Waterhouse Trust Co., from 1901 to 1904. He became president and manager of the Trent Trust Co., in 1904 and remained in that position until 1931.
     In 1934 Mr. Trent was made president and manager of the First Federal Saving and Loan association.
     Mr.Trent was the first treasurer of the city and county of Honolulu, serving from 1905 to 1910.
     Other positions he held were that of secretary and manager of the Mutual Building & Loan Society of Hawaii from 1904-1907; president of the Realty Auction Co., director of the Bank of Hawaii, member of the territorial public lands board from 1910 to 1914.

Special Wartime Work

     Outstanding in Mr. Trent's business and civic career was his service during and just after the World war.
     He was appointed special representative for Hawaii of the U. S. alien enemy property custodian, and was directly concerned with sequestering andliquidating under federal authority, the extensive property holdings of certain German residents.
     Out of this grew the "Hackfield case" with its wide ramifications and bitter court battles. Mr. Trent was at times under severe attack by opposing attorneys but his course and policies were finally upheld by the courts, and he emerged with his reputation as a patriotic American vindicated.

On Plans Commission

     He also was a member of the Honolulu city planning commission, 1929 to 1930; a member of the board of regents of the University of Hawaii, 1920 to 1922; a trustee of the Kamehameha schools and of the Bishop museum.
     Active in community and welfare work, Mr. Trent served as president of the Honoulu YMCA from 1912 to 1919. He was a trustee of the First Methodist Episcopal church and a 32nd degree Mason.
     From 1913 to 1914 he was president of the Honolulu Stock Exchange.

     Mr. Trent was a Democrat.2
     He was elected general agent of the Kilauea Volcano House, Ltd, where his first effort "will be to arrange a series of pleasant and attractive trips for persons desiring to visit the volcano at a minimum of expense. This continued for several years and by 1904, he also was involved with the Inter-Island Telegraph Company, developed the "Mutual Building and Loan Society." In 1905, he was patenting land, a difficult prospect as "freehold" land was rare in Hawaii. He was also the Oahu county treasurer in 1905. in 1901 corner Fort and Merchant Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Posted on: Sunday, May 21, 2000
Honolulu Advertiser
Early trustees included teachers, businessmen and a governor
Editor's Note: In this article, the third in a series, Kailua historian and writer Bob Dye continues his look at the historical impact of the Bishop Estate trustees.
By Bob Dye
Charles Reed Bishop died on Monday, June 7, 1915, at his home in Berkeley, Calif. He was 93 years old.
His remains arrived in Honolulu on June 22 and a funeral was held the following day. Interment was at the Royal Mausoleum.
Until his death, Bishop gave advice freely and often to the trustees of the Bishop Estate, founded by his late wife. And all appointments to the board were in the mold of those esteemed haole first named by Mrs. Bishop in her will. That now changed, and Hawaiians and Democrats were among those chosen as trustees.
During the remainder of the territorial period the appointed trustees were:
William Williamson, who replaced Sam Damon when he resigned May 19, 1916. Williamson, who assumed trusteeship on June 9, was born April 20, 1874, in Manchester, N.H. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College in 1896, he taught at Kenyon Military College in Ohio. He arrived in Ho-nolulu in 1899 to teach Latin at Punahou and coach athletic teams. He served as a commissioner of public instruction and in the Territorial House of Representatives.
Richard Henderson Trent, who replaced A.W. Carter on Dec. 26, 1917. Trent was born in Somerville, Tenn., Sept. 14, 1867. He left school at 13 to be an apprentice in a local print shop. At 15 he moved to Memphis to work in a larger shop. In January 1901 he came to Hawaii and found work at the Bulletin as a printer. He later joined Waterhouse & Co. as bookkeeper and cashier. When that firm was incorporated he became its treasurer.
A Democrat, he was elected in 1905 as the first treasurer of the County of Oahu, at a salary of $200 a month, and was re-elected in 1906. After organizing Trent Trust Co. a year later, he was accused of depositing county funds in banks under the name of that firm. He successfully defended himself and was re-elected in 1908.
Although he lost in 1910, he was boosted as a possible territorial governor in 1912. From 1912 to 1914 he served as president of the Honolulu Stock Exchange. Just before his appointment as a Bishop trustee, Trent got a tenancy agreement from Bishop Estate for three acres in Waikiki for $600 a year.
On land now occupied by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, he built "TrenTown," a circle of 20 cottages that were rented out to tourists.
A large American flag flew over the compound from a high coconut tree. During World War I, his firm was the depository of the U.S. Alien Property Custodian. In 1920 he was named a regent of the University of Hawaii and he served for three years.
He retired in 1931 from Trent Trust but continued as secretary of Mutual Building and Loan, forerunner of First Federal. He was a director of the Bank of Hawaii, a city planning commissioner, a deacon in the Methodist Church and was active in the YMCA.3 He appeared on the census of 1880 in the household of William Clough Trent and Mary Virgin Bonner West Street, Somerville, Fayette County, Tennessee; According to the 1880 census of District 17, Somerville, Fayette, Tennessee, the family of W C and Mary V Trent lived on West Street.

W C was a Livery Keeper. Mary V is keeping house.

Children are listed as:
William 26, at home
Bettie, 24, School Teacher
Royal, 20, at home
Lucy, 16, at school
Richard, 13 [or 15] at school
Mary 9 at school.

It is clearly West Street -- not Depot Street.

From the local paper:
"R H Trent came up from Memphis and spent Christmas weel at home. He is engaged in the printing establishmehnt of S. C. Toof & Co."


Trent, Richard Henderson, Banker;
born, Sommerville, Tenn., Sept. 14, 1867; son, William Clough and Mary Virgin (Bonner) T. Edu.: common schools. Married, Mattie Burke Thomas, Jan. 2, 1890, at Memphis, Tenn. Pres., Trent Trust Co., Ltd. Honolulu, Hawaii: Realty Auction Co., Let; Dir. and Auditor, Kohala Sugar Co., Ltd. Treas., City and County of Honolulu, 3 terms; member, Bd. of Public Lands, Terr. or Hawaii. Democrat. Member, Bd. of Trustees, Mid-Pacific Inst. Member: Masons, Shriners, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Order Eastern Star, Daughters of Rebecca, Independent Order of Red Men, Y.M.C.A., (pres.) Club: Commercial. Res.: Alewa Heights; Office: 916 Fort st. Honolulu, Hawaii.4

Honolulu Star Bulletin Monday, August 9, 1999
Richard Henderson Trent ([trustee from] 1917-1939). A Democrat, he was elected in 1905 as the first treasurer of the County of Oahu, at a salary of $200 a month, then re-elected for two more terms. After organizing Trent Trust Co. in 1907, he was accused of depositing county funds in banks under the firm's name. He successfully defended himself. From 1912 to 1914, he was president of the Honolulu Stock Exchange. During WWI, his firm was the depository of the U.S. Alien Property Custodian. He later was secretary of Mutual Building and Loan, and a Bank of Hawaii director. When he died in 1939, Frank E. Midkiff succeeded him as a trustee.5

Around 1900, Richard H Trent, from the Stephen Woodson Trent line, moved from Los Angeles, where he was working for Newberry, to the country of Hawaii, apparently at the invitation of Lorrin Thurston, a local business man and fourth generation Hawaiian subject. Lorrin’s wife Harriet Potter was a sister of Marcia, who married Richard H Trent. Marcia was the widow of Alfred Foy Ireland, whom she married in St. Joseph, Michigan, in 1905. It is possible that Fred and Marcia were the first to the Islands, and brought the family members out. This would account for the two girls being there at the time they were. It would be helpful to research Hawaiian records for a death record for Fred Ireland. Within fifteen years, Richard H’s two sisters, Lucy and Mary Eliza, with their families, had also immigrated to the islands. Another Potter sister, Stella, who married Arthur Pearson, also moved to Honolulu.
     While it is not yet clear how Richard H came to meet Lorrin Thurston, it is clear that these families were an integral part of the “making” of Hawaii, as you will see from the obituaries. By now, Richard Trent’s descendants, with the exception of Jon Clay, are all living on the mainland.
     Most of the descendants of the Alexander Trent IV line remained in the Virginia area, with the notable exception of John Taylor Gray, who moved to Hawaii with his cousin/wife Mary Eliza Trent.
Last Edited=15 Aug 2018


  1. [S271] Ship Passenger List, online, San Francisco Passenger Lists > 1929 > August > Ventura
    Honolulu to San Francisco 9 Aug 1929 28257. Hereinafter cited as Ship Passenger List.
  2. [S273] Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii, 11 apr 1939: p1.
  3. [S274] Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  4. [S440] Franklin Harper, editor, Who's Who on the Pacific Coast (Los Angeles, California: Harper Publishing Co., 1913).
  5. [S273] Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii.