Plantations and Finding Aids
Honokaa Sugar Co. (Hawaii)
History Scope and Contents
Register of the
Pacific Sugar Mill was located on the northeast coast of the Island of Hawaii between Honokaa and Waipio Valley. It extended along the coast for four miles and up the mountains from two to nine miles. The elevation ranged from 300 to 1,900 feet giving a variety of growing conditions. Half of the land was arable; the remainder was pasture and forests.
The beginnings of Pacific Sugar Mill are not entirely clear. A Charter of Incorporation (HSC 48/13 Doc #142) dated August 19, 1879 lists Samuel Parker and F.A. Schaefer as the founders. Other published sources cite Dr. Mott-Smith, Dr. Trousseau and Mr. Herbert Purvis as founders/ proprietors of the enterprise. Material in the collection does confirm that the plantation was started in 1878 and the first crop harvested in 1880 with F.A. Schaefer and Co. as the agents.
Pacific Sugar Mill had the distinction of introducing the first mongoose into Hawaii. In 1883 W.H. Purvis imported them from India and Africa for rat control on the plantation. Pacific, Sugar Mill also experimented growing canaigre roots (tanners' dock) when Mr. J. Marsden, Commissioner of Agriculture, imported the seed of this plant in 1895. It was expected that the root would become a rich source of tannin for use in the leather industry. This was an early attempt to diversify and utilize land unsuitable for cane.
Most plantations had a small herd of cattle but Pacific Sugar Mill was unusual because it also had over 600 head of sheep. Free mutton was provided as a perquisite for employees along with free housing, fuel and medical care. As on most plantations, the early work force consisted of Chinese and native Hawaiians. Later on Japanese, Portuguese, Spaniards, Puerto Ricans, Koreans and Filipinos performed both as day laborers and contract workers.
By 1908 Pacific Sugar Mill had a nine-roller mill and produced an average crop of three tons per acre. The cane was delivered by flumes to a railroad, which traversed the plantation from east to west. The railroad was about four miles long and extended from the mill to Honokaa's boundary. Pacific Sugar Mill also had a wire rope landing to transport sugar bags to steamers for shipment.
The water for the flumes was obtained by diverting the Hiilawe Stream, which had its source in the Kohala Mountains. Pacific Sugar Mill also had the water rights to Lalakea Stream and to Kukuihaele Valley Stream. The water was transported partly through a flume and partly by a ditch to a reservoir at the head of the plantation. Four more reservoirs with an estimated capacity of 50,000,000 gallons were also constructed. This supply of water not only enabled Pacific Sugar Mill to transport all of its cane to the mill but was sufficient enough to enable Honokaa Sugar Company to flume 50% of its crop.
In spite of an abundant water supply, the plantation did not prosper due to mismanagement. In 1907 a glanders epidemic broke out because of poor conditions in the stables and most of the livestock had to be destroyed. The mill and housing were in serious disrepair. As part of a retrenchment effort in 1913, it was decided that the mill would be closed down and all the cane would be sent to Honokaa for grinding. At this time the administration of both plantations was brought under the manager in order to eliminate excess labor, machinery and costs. In 1916, Pacific Sugar Mill sold its mill equipment to Mitsui Company of Japan.
This partial merger with Honokaa proved to be such a success that a proposal was made for an amalgamation of all interests to ring about added savings and facilitate the economic management of the two plantations. Pacific Sugar Mill was formally dissolved on August 24, 1928 and became the Kukuihaele Division of Honokaa Sugar Company.
Dr. Trousseau: Appointed September 30, 1879.
Thomas S. Kay: Appointed December 27, 1881.
C. Von Mengersen: Appointed November 9, 1885.
D. Forbes: Appointed August 22, 1893.
August Ahrens: Appointed May 13, 1907.
Alexander Morrison: Appointed joint manager of Honokaa Sugar Company and Pacific Sugar Mill March 1, 1913, when the two plantations were operated as a single unit.
BACKGROUND, UNPROCESSED RECORDS
During October 1987, all Hamakua Sugar Company records, which included the Pacific Sugar Mill materials, were removed from storage, fumigated and brought into the Archives. Processing of the Pacific Sugar Mill records was completed in November 1989.
NOTES, PROCESSED RECORDS
Pacific Sugar Mill records are organized in the following series of major
Personnel & Payroll
Other Company Records
Pacific Sugar Mill
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