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Honokaa Sugar Co. (Hawaii)

Honokaa Sugar Co.
Honokaa Sugar Co. Store
Pacific Sugar Mill Store
Rickard Plantation

Pacific Sugar Mill
Pacific Sugar Mill Store

Paauhau Sugar Plantation

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Company HistoryScope and Contents

Register of the
Kukuihaele, Hawaii

Accession: 84-09
18 cu. ft.
November 1989

Processed by
Susan M. Campbell
Patricia M. Ogburn



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.
Resigned December 27, 1881.

Thomas S. Kay: Appointed December 27, 1881.
Resigned December 14, 1885.

C. Von Mengersen: Appointed November 9, 1885.
Resigned August 22, 1893.

D. Forbes: Appointed August 22, 1893.
Resigned May 13, 1907.

August Ahrens: Appointed May 13, 1907.
Resigned in 1913.

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.




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.


Pacific Sugar Mill records are organized in the following series of major categories:
- Corporate Records
- Correspondence
- Financial Records
- Personnel & Payroll
- Production Records
- Miscellaneous
- Other Company Records
The financial records are the most extensive for this company, covering the years 1878 to 1937. The correspondence is incomplete, encompassing only the years 1909-1913. The sundry documents are a wide and interesting assortment of corporate records.

Corporate Records
1876-1928. This series includes Board of Directors and Stockholders Meeting Minutes, 1907-1928. The Board of Directors minutes cover a wide variety of subjects; leases, wages, contracts, stocks, insurance, taxes, labor strikes, and the merger of Pacific Sugar Mill with Honokaa Sugar Co. The Sundry Documents, 1879-1927, include a variety of records; land documents, maps, blueprints, agreements, reports of all kinds, housing and mill matter, financial and wage information, and numerous statistics. The Land Book, V.117, contains copies of leases, deeds, and mortgages. Reservoirs by Hawaiian Ballasting, HSC 49/13, include blueprints and maps. Hawaiian Irrigation Co. Agreements, HSC 49/14, concerns monthly water accounts and land leases. The Water Resource Report, 1902, (HSC 48/3) discusses the proposed development of water resources in Waipio and Honokane valleys.

1909-1913. The correspondence covers a narrow time span. The majority of the alphabetical correspondence (HSC 47/2-5) is incoming to the manager. One folder contains correspondence from the civil engineer's office. The F.A. Schaefer & Co. correspondence illustrates the ties between plantation and agency, as well as routine plantation matters.

Financial Records
1878-1937. The Cash Books and Day Books include general expense entries as well as provide lists of workers by nationality. Invoices of ships' cargos, 1882-1884, are found in Day Book, V. 80A. The Distribution Books, 1909-1927, contain monthly summaries of expense distribution to all accounts. These volumes also provide an index to account numbers and letter in the General Ledgers. The General Journals and General Ledgers provide detailed information of all plantation accounts between 1878 and 1928. The Improvement Book, V.113, shows new and replacement additions on the plantation such as cottages and outbuildings, pipes and fittings, cement for ditches and reservoirs, lumber for flumes, furniture, machinery, railroad switches, telephone, and wagons, 1911- 1928. The landing Cash Book, v.114, and the Sugar Sales records, HSC 50/8-11, provide shipping information. The Monthly Statements, HSC 50/1-7, include expenditures, stock and animal accounts, costs by crop year, trial balances, harvesting, labor, mill, water, and landing reports. Rainfall for the month is included in the meteorological report. The manager's monthly report comments on events on the plantation as does the Pacific Sugar Mill Store report. The list of store accounts provides customer names and account balances. Annual samples have been retained in the Archives. The Planters' Ledgers and Trial Balances provide a list of names of contract planters between 1887 and 1937. The transfer Ledgers, V.103-104, indicates labor and material charges to accounts.

Personnel & Payroll
1908-1929. The Labor Agreements (HSC 51/1-9) are work agreements with individuals, giving information about Filipino workers, their families, and places of origin between 1910 and 1922. The Payroll Books and Payroll Vouchers provide names, bango numbers, bonuses, and store payroll information, 1908-1928.

Production Records
1913-1927. The Cane Weights and Mill Record volumes deal with tons of cane harvested, costs, sugar produced, and milling data.

1879-1962. The Field Maps, v.120, include locations of camps, flumes, schools, mill, and roads. The Statistics Book, V.121, contains summary information re yields, mill, taxes, profit and loss, water, camps, and Mr. Waldron's notes about various managers.

Other Company Records
1919-1923. The Store Audit Reports, HSC 49/5, include lists of customers owing debts to the store.

Pacific Sugar Mill register in pdf format

Pacific Sugar Mill finding aid:
Use finding aid for Honokaa Sugar Co.


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Last updated: August 2004