Plantations and Finding Aids
McBryde Sugar Co. (Kauai)
History Scope and Contents
Register of the
Judge Duncan McBryde laid the foundation for what later was to become McBryde Sugar Company. Not a planter himself, Mr. McBryde hired a few men to obtain seed, plow the land, and haul cane.
The idea of creating a new sugar company under the name of McBryde Sugar Company was first promoted by W.A. Kinney and backed by Dillingham. In 1899, the Eleele Plantation, McBryde Estate, and Koloa Agricultural Company merged to create the McBryde Sugar Company (MSC). Located in the southern part of the island of Kauai, MSC was "incorporated under the laws of the Republic of Hawaii, [on the] Twenty-fifth day of May, Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-nine." (General Journal, May, 1899, MSCV.8)
The original plantation lands extended from Koloa to the Hanapepe River giving the newly formed McBryde Sugar Company access to a port. At first, the Eleele sugar mill was used to grind the cane, but within a couple of year, the Directors knew that another mill would have to be built. As fortune would have it, MSC bought the large Cuban type mill originally destined for Molokai's American Sugar Company, whose plans for a plantation had to be abandoned.
For the first ten years, Theo H. Davies & Co. was MSC's first agent. Beginning in 1910 and until the present time, Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., has been MSC's agent or parent company. Elmer E. Conant was MSC's first manager (1899-1901), followed by William Stodard (1901). Mr. Conant returned for one year (1903) and in 1904, Mr. Stodard again became manager until 1911. From 1912 to 1937, Frank A. Alexander took over the management of MSC. In 1938, Cedric B. Baldwin became manager only to be called to active duty just prior to WWII. Mr. Baldwin was killed at Iwo Jima in 1942 and the assistant manager, John Sandison took over as manager of MSC.
MSC had several major obstacles to overcome in the early stages of its existence. Not only was the company undercapitalized, but the terrain was extremely rocky and, as common for the leeward side of the island, there was a clear lack of water. As evidenced by early financial records, "Rock Removal" was a rather large expenditure and many extra laborers were needed to clear the fields.
The early workers at McBryde came from Eleele Plantation, Koloa Agricultural and the Wahiawa Ranch (McBryde Estate). In June of 1899, MSC contracted with Ah Sin & Co. to supply labor. During the latter part of 1899, approximately 1050 Japanese were scheduled to arrive on Kauai.
In later years, the Japanese laborers were joined by Filipinos and Hawaiian
To help solve the need for water, pumps were used. But because the cost of coal to run the steam driven pumps was prohibitively expensive, the company turned to hydroelectricity.
The Kauai Electric Company came into being in 1905, with the building of an immense aqueduct and a hydroelectric plant with two 1200-kilowatt generators at Wainiha, located in the mountainous, northern portion of Kauai. A 34-mile power line delivered the necessary electricity to the plantation, which provided power for pumping irrigation, water to the fields. Engineers worked to preserve surface water and in 1932, the Alexander Reservoir was completed.
Not only was the power plant opened in 1906, but the Kauai Railway Company was also opened during that same year. The Kauai Railway terminus and port at Eleele on Hanapepe Bay became known as Port Allen in 1909, named after Samuel C. Allen. With the dredging of the Hanapepe Bay and the building of a breakwater, Port Allen became an important deep-water port used extensively in the shipment of sugar.
Indicative of things to come, MSC purchased its first mechanical cane loader in 1934. For the next decade, MSC changed from hand labor to machines in harvesting and from railroad to tuck hauling. In spite of its rather precarious beginnings, McBryde Sugar Company has survived and is one of two sugar plantations currently owned by Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.
The records in the McBryde Sugar Company collection span the years between 1896 and 1960. Financial records begin in 1899 and end in 1946. The Personnel and Payroll records cover the years 1896 to 1908, 1933 to 1939. There is no correspondence series in this collection.
The collection contains the following record series:
Personnel and Payroll
Other Company Records
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