For much of the 1800s, sailing ships calling at Honolulu Harbor were serviced using double-hulled canoes or rowboats.
In 1900, three brothers, Jack, Herbert and William, formed Young Brothers and started doing small jobs around the Harbor.
Early in the century, there was only a narrow opening in the reef, so sailing ships anchored outside where they had room to maneuver. They then came ashore in their own boats or used launch services from the harbor.
Jack Young once reminisced about arriving in Honolulu in 1900 with a few cans of fruit, a large trunk and only twenty-five cents in cash – too little to pay to have his trunk brought ashore. So he rustled up a spare rowboat and rowed in his own gear.
In those days, there might be from five to twenty sailing ships off Sand Island. When a ship came in, the anchor line had to be run out to secure the ship; if the ship was coming to the dock, a line had to be carried to the pier.
In the early years of the company, Young Brothers used its first boat, Billy, to service the ships by carrying supplies and sailors to ships at anchor outside the harbor, as well as run lines for anchoring or docking vessels.
They also pulled boats off the reefs, conducted salvage operations and various other harbor-related activities (including harbor tours.)
The company grew over the years into an active interisland freight company.
When original brother Jack’s two sons became old enough, they joined the operation.
Jack Young Jr., joined the company as a regular employee in 1933. He soon captained various boats; in 1936 he became the permanent master of the Mamo (which in 1930 was the first all-steel tugboat in maritime history.)
Jack’s younger brother, Kenny Young, joined Young Brothers in 1946, after a stint in the Navy and graduation from Stanford.
He immediately became superintendent of Young Brothers’ freight department, a position he held until 1952. That same year, Young Brothers merged with Oahu Railway and Land Company (OR&L.)
Jack Jr. resigned from Young Brothers in 1952 (having disagreed with the merger and its resulting changes in management policies.)
However, Jack Jr. continued to broaden his maritime skills, earning a Master Maritime license and becoming a Harbor Pilot for the Territory of Hawai‘i, then Harbor Master for the State. (Jack Jr. passed away in 1994.)
Kenny remained with the company after the merger and served as manager of the land department of OR&L (1952-1961.)
When OR&L merged with Dillingham Corporation, he was manager and vice president at Dillingham until 1968.
He then moved to Kona and started his own real estate company. (Kenny passed away in 2004.)
Jack Young of the original Young Brothers is my grandfather; Jack Young Jr, my uncle; and Kenny Young, my father.
The Young family legacy at Young Brothers continued; for a while, my older brother, David Young, served as a Hawai‘i County Community Advisory Board Member for the Young Brothers Community Gift Giving program.
I am the youngest brother of the youngest brother of the youngest brother of Young Brothers.