The first Leprosy case was reported in Hawaii in 1848, and it spread quickly around the Island. It is believed that the leprosy patients were taken to Kalaupapa, and told to jump and swim for their lives. There were not any amenities available for the lepers, and the early settlers lived in the caves.
In 1873, a priest from Belgium, named Damien Dutton, arrived at the settlement to help construct shelters, organize the medical care, and take care of the leprosy patients. Father Damian lived at the settlement for 16 years but contracted the disease and suffered is effects during the last four years of his life. With the help of Joseph Dutton, a brother to Father Damian, and Mother Marianne, the Kalaupapa leprosy Settlement remained afloat until its closure in 1969.
The cure for the disease was discovered around the 1940s, and the fear for leprosy became minimal. Many former patients chose to remain at the settlement.