Rudolph Wilhelm Meyer was born on April 2, 1826 to Rudolph Heinrich Meyer and Christine Ludewike Sengevald. He came to Hawai'i on January 20, 1850 from Hanse City, Hamburg, Germany via Sydney, Australia. Hanse district is situated on the estuary of the Elbe River in Schleswig, Holstein, some 250 kilometers northwest of Berlin.
Rudolph graduated from the Hoch Schule of his native city as a civil engineer specializing in hydraulics and survey work; and he became an employee of the Water Works Department of Hamburg. He came to Hawai'i at the age of 24 on the British Brigantine Cheerful, along with three others; namely, Theodore Christopher Heuch, age 20, a German carpenter, Fredrich Sockyer, age 25 a British grazier and also Edmund Sockyer, age 34, a British grazier. Rudolph Meyer listed his occupation as a surveyor. Edwin M. Williams was Master of the ship. According to Bertha Aubrey, R.W. Meyer's youngest daughter, her father left Germany because of an argument with his stepmother. His father was a learned man and saw to it that his son became a surveyor at an early age. At the time of his departure from Germany, he left behind a sister named Bertha and two half brothers. His main purpose in leaving Germany was to join the "Gold Rush" to California in 1848, but he was delayed on a stopover in Sidney, Australia, and again in Tahiti, after which he landed at Lahaina, Maui.
R.W. Meyer spoke German, French, and English when he arrived in Hawai'i and soon wrote and spoke fluent Hawaiian.
It was from Lahaina that he finally found his way to Molokai instead of continuing on to California. On Molokai he met the Reverend Harvey Rexford Hitchcock I, who accepted him as a house guest at Kalua'aha, Molokai. While living with Reverend Hitchcock he met High Chiefess Kalama Waha, who later became his wife. She was under the tutelage of Reverend Hitchcock at the time. Kalama's father was Apahu Waha and her mother was Akela Hu'a. She was named after Kalama-A-Kuakini, an ali'i from Maui. She was related to high chief, Kalanimoku of Maui.
Kalama also had a sister, Maraea Apahu and two brothers, one named William and the other, Ka-Waha O Kalola. The two boys were interested in Christianity and became missionaries and went to Tahiti as young men to do missionary work.
Rudolph married Kalama Waha on March 20, 1851; she was 18 years old at the time. As a foreigner marrying a citizen of the kingdom of Hawai'i, R.W. meyer was required to post a $1000.00 bond before he could obtain permission to marry Dorcas Kalama Waha.
Rudolph and Kalama lived for awhile with Reverend Hitchcock where they had their first child, Emma, and then they moved to another location in Kalua'aha. Sometime later he moved his family to Honolulu where he worked for Austin and Becker at an office located on Maunakea Street.
Sometime around the latter part of 1851, Mr. Meyer returned to Molokai to make his permanent residence at Kala'e. He reared a family of eleven: six boys and five girls. His sixth child was a daughter named Bertha Amalia Meyer and she died at the early age of six. When he had his tenth child, a daughter, he also named her Bertha Amalia and she later became Mrs. Authur Aubrey. Mr. Meyer trained all of his sons to become proficient in a trade. He established a family colony at kala'e Molokai that was independent of the outside world. He was the first on Molokai to grow, produce and mill sugar and coffee commercially and he exported these to Honolulu and California. He also operated a large dairy from which he produced butter which he sold locally and also sent to California by sailing vessel.