William Thomas Greenwell (1777–1856) and Dorothy Smales (1789–1871) of Lanchester, Durham, England had a son, Henry Nicholas Greenwell on January 9, 1826.
Henry was educated in the Durham Grammar School and at Sandhurst, the British military college. As fourth son he had little chance of inheriting the family estate called Greenwell Ford.
After graduating from the Royal Military Academy, in 1843, at the age of 17, he became an Ensign in the 70th Regiment of Foot, and a Lieutenant in 1844. Part of his military work included helping feed folks starving during the Potato Famine in 1847.
Finding the military life insupportable, at the age of 23 he left for Australia to make a new start, arriving there on July 4, 1848. In early-1849, he decided Australia was not for him, then got a partner and planned to make a profit by buying goods in Australia and selling them in San Francisco.
“On arrival, all hands took off for the gold fields, leaving the partners to unload the goods themselves. During this process, HNG was severely injured and was forced to go to Honolulu for treatment. He arrived on January 2, 1850 … On recovery he discovered that his partners had run out on him”.
He worked as an agent for HJH Holdsworth in his importing and retail business, and opened a branch of the business at Kailua (Kona) in September of 1850. (Kona Echo, April 1, 1950; Melrose, Kinue)
The Greenwell store was built around 1851 at Kalukalu (Kealakekua, near Konawaena High School) and originally served as a store and post office. (Greenwell also served as the area’s postmaster as well as the area’s general merchandiser.)
The HN Greenwell Store is now a museum set in the 1890s timeframe, with costumed interpreters and period merchandizing. (Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (60+ years old), $3 for children (5-12 years old) and children under 5 years old are free.)
Greenwell started to buy land, gradually acquired extensive land holdings, and got into the cattle and sheep business on a large scale. (In 1879, he acquired the lease on Keauhou from Dr Georges Trousseau.)
Greenwell grew oranges. “At last we reached a cross-road store, back of which is a vast orange-grove. This is the home of Mrs. HN Greenwell, and is known as Kalu Kalu, South Kona. We drew rein in front of the store and called for some refreshments. … The oranges were the largest and sweetest I ever saw.”
“In a large wareroom the people were packing the oranges in boxes for shipping. There were several hundred barrels of the fruit in a pile, and men and women were wrapping the oranges separately in tissue-paper and placing them in boxes. I was told that the Greenwell plantation produced the largest sweet oranges in the world, and from my own experience I believe the statement true.” (Musick)
He also grew coffee and is recognized for putting “Kona Coffee” on the world markets. In 1873, at Weltausstellung 1873 Wien (World Exhibition in Vienna, Austria (1873,)) Greenwell was awarded a “Recognition Diploma” for his Kona Coffee. Greenwell descendants continue the family’s coffee-growing tradition in Kona. (Greenwell Farms)
Writer Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) seemed to concur with this when he noted in his Letters from Hawaiʻi, “The ride through the district of Kona to Kealakekua Bay took us through the famous coffee and orange section. I think the Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it what you please.”
“’Coffee-trees are often planted with a crowbar,’ it is said. Strange as this may seem, it is nevertheless true. A hole is drilled through the rock, or lavacrust, and the soil thus reached; the tree, a small twig dug up from the forest, is planted in this hole, and it grows, thrives, and yields fruit abundantly.” (Musick, 1898)
At one point Greenwell was accused of 2nd degree murder; he pled not guilty, testimony in support of his plea was made and he was ultimately found not guilty.
Henry married Elizabeth Caroline Hall on April 9, 1868, and they had six sons and four daughters, William Henry Greenwell June 7, 1869,) Dora Caroline (Carrie) Greenwell (October 15, 1870,) Arthur Leonard Greenwell (December 7, 1871,) Elizabeth (Lillie) Greenwell (April 11, 1873,) Christina Margaret (September 16, 1874,) Francis Radcliffe (Frank or “Palani”) Greenwell (August 26, 1876,) Wilfrid Alan Greenwell (November 7, 1878,) Julian Greenwell (September 2, 1880,) Edith Amy Greenwell (August 28, 1883) and Leonard Lanchester Greenwell (December 4, 1884.)
Greenwell died May 18, 1891. His significant land holdings were eventually divided into three main ranches and were run by grandsons of his.
In the North (Honokōhau area,) son Frank first managed and then grandsons Robert and James Greenwell;) relatively central (Kalukalu,) son William, then grandson Norman managed and in the South (Captain Cook,) son Arthur, then grandson Sherwood managed. (The latter two ranches were sold, Lanihau Properties/Palani Ranch are still controlled by Greenwells.)
The image shows Henry Nicholas Greenwell. In addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.