Titus Coan: Revivalist and Renaissance Man

Titus Coan was born Killingworth, Connecticut, in early 1801, a little before Thomas Jefferson became President. While in upstate New York in his early 30s he was deeply influenced by the Second Great Awakening under the ministry of Charles G. Finney. He signed on with the only American mission organization at the time–the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. After a scouting trip to Patagonia he returned to New England where he married Fidelia Church and was commissioned to go the Sandwich Islands, which we know as the Hawaiian Islands. After being assigned to the little town of Hilo on the Big Island God used him to lead the “Hawaiian Great Awakening” between 1836 and 1840. On the “day of days,” he used a bucket of water and a big brush to baptized 1,702 individuals. For a while, his was the largest church in the world.

Coan also was a Renaissance Man. He kept track of weather statistics. He wrote about earthquakes and what we call tsunamis. But most of all he wrote about each of the major eruptions during his 35 plus years. He put it all down in his memoirs, which he wrote when he was 80! In his earlier years to his mid years he climbed active volcanoes, some times at great risk to himself. To this day, the Hawaiian USGS web site “proudly links” to Coan’s digitized memoirs, provided in large part by a descendant, Ed Coan.