Colonel and Mrs. Meng, and Edwin Benner
By the 1910's, Palmyra's ownership had been almost entirely consolidated (for a meager $750) into the hands of Mr. Cooper, a prominent Hawaiian judge and citizien, who had big plans for the islets. After leading what is likely the first private scientific survery of Palmyra's wildlife, he sent the Col. and Mrs. Meng, along with Edwin Benner, to farm the now plentiful coconut trees. The Meng's were Palmyra's first residents to garner wide public attention, though largely because of health problems and food shortages. Eventually Mrs. Meng had to be rescued by a naval ship, as described below:
Having found the three human inhabitants of Palmyra island with food supplies virtually exhausted, their few remaining articles of clothing in tatters and all shoes long past the point of usefulness, the U.S.S. Eagle 40 which left Pearl Harbor early last week bound for the island, returned to port at 3 o'clock this morning.
On board as a passenger was Mrs. William Meng, wife of Col. Meng who since last November has been assisting her husband and Edward Benner in their endeavor to start a copra plantation there. For about two weeks prior to the unexpected arrival of the Eagle boat Mrs. Meng had not been in good health and availed herself of this opportunity of coming to Honolulu for medical aid.
Mrs. Meng would go on to live a full life, her husband and Edwin Benner staying on the atoll a bit longer before returning to Honolulu themselves. Thankfully, the men's health never declined. Mrs. Meng did have a number of good memories from her time on Palmyra, which she wrote extensively about for several periodicals and magazines, but her trials were more popular reading material for the papers.
Like all the ventures before, this one came to little fruition and Palmyra was once again left to itself, at least until the military claimed and occupied the islets for war time purposes starting in 1939.