“(T)he plains of Whymea … are reputed to be very rich and productive, occupying a space of several miles in extent, and winding at the foot of these three lofty mountains far, into the country.”
“In this valley is a great tract of luxuriant, natural pasture, whither all the cattle and sheep imported by me were to be driven, there to roam unrestrained, to ‘increase and multiply.’” (Vancouver, February 1794)
The Waimea of the 1830s and 40s was a busy place. Wild cattle were being caught for hides and beef, tanneries were turning hides into leather, sugar cane was being milled into sugar, and farm products were being grown. In 1835, the Protestant minister, Lorenzo Lyons, wrote to the mission headquarters in Honolulu:
“Waimea ought to be supplied (with more missionaries) for it has become the residence of Governor Adams (Kuakini – brother of Kaʻahumanu) … and many foreigners reside there…” (Lyons, June 25, 1835)
One reason for the presence of so much activity in Waimea was its proximity to the port of Kawaihae, a preferred stopping place for sailing vessels due to its relatively safe anchorage and good provisioning. The ships had access to plentiful supplies of water, salt, beef, pork, sweet potatoes, etc.
On (September 7, 1835) the Diana arrived 92 days from Canton via Bonin Islands. … Brig full of miscellaneous cargo … the principal of the balance to the Chinamen in French’s employ….”
“There were in the brig four Chinese sugar manufacturers with a stone mill and 400 to 600 pots for cloying and 5 cast Iron boilers. They are under control of Atti (Ahtai who was employed by William French) and hopefully can be obtained on fair terms.” (William Hooper, Ladd & Company; Kai)
Besides his interest in sugar, French had a store and a warehouse at Kawaihae as well as a store, a home and a tannery in the uplands at Waimea, Kohala. (Kai)
A visitor to the area in 1839 noted, “I accompanied Mr French on a walk to a place about two miles distant where the business of tanning is being carried on under the direction of Chinamen. The establishment is extensive and the leather exhibited … was of a very superior quality. Besides a saddlemaker close by the tan works, Mr. French has a shoemaker and a carpenter in his employ.” (Olmstead)
Records have not been found giving the names of these Chinese tanners but the names of six other Chinese men who were in the Waimea area during the 1830s and early 1840s are known. These were Ahpong, Ahsam, Ahchow, Aiko (Lum Jo), Lau Ki or Kalauki, and Apokane (Ahsing.) (Kai)
The first sugar mill is described as having been established by a Chinese man named Lau Ki, who had come to Hawai‘i with Captain Joseph Carter, grandfather of AW Carter. The mill was powered by a water wheel using water from Waikoloa Stream. (Stewart)
The sugar plantation was doing business under the name of Achow & Company. (Kai) It was situated in Lihue, an area in Waimea that is generally where the Lālāmilo agricultural subdivision is situated.
Aiko, whose Chinese name was Lum Jo, was listed as one of the six ‘sugar masters’ who came to Hawaiʻi between 1820-1840. He appears to have been one of the principal partners in Lihue Plantation.
Aiko married a Hawaiian woman from the Waimea area in 1835 and they had a daughter, Amelia, born in 1836. Aiko’s wife, Maria Kaʻahuapeʻa, probably from the Waimea area, was baptized a Catholic in 1840. Amelia was their only natural child. They raised other children, hānai and adopted. (Kai)
In 1843, Aiko and his partners sold the Lihue mill, their tools, the cane in the fields and whatever rights they had in their original agreement with Governor Kuakini, to Abraham (Abram) Henry Fayerweather. (Kai)
After selling the plantation Aiko went up to Kohala where he started another plantation in Iole, then came down to Hilo to start another plantation on Ponahawai and he was involved in various businesses including the first bowling alley in Hilo. (Clarry)
Back in Waimea, on December 5, 1843 Fayerweather entered into an agreement with Kuakini. That agreement noted, in part, “Kuakini shall plant sugar cane at Waimea and when the same shall be ripe, shall carry or cause the same to be carried to the sugar mill of AH Fayerweather at Waimea, and shall also furnish men to do all the labour for same including the grinding, and shall furnish firewood for boiling the same.”
“That, AH Fayerweather shall furnish a mill for grinding the aforenamed cane, a sugar maker and all the tools for making the sugar and molasses, and the sugar and molasses, proceeds of the aforenamed cane, shall be shared equally between the said Kuakini and AH Fayerweather, one half each.”
“This agreement is to commence on the first day of January AD one thousand eight hundred and forty four, and is to continue and be binding on the parties, for themselves their heirs and assigns for the term of five years.”
“It is also agreed that the land now planted with cane by the said AH Fayerweather and also heretofore planted by Achow & Co at Waimea, shall be free from taxes of all kinds.” (Kuakini/Fayerweather Agreement)
Although unsuccessful, sugarcane continued to be cultivated in Waimea after George W Macy and James Louzada purchased the mill in 1853. Macy and Louzada leased a large portion of Puʻukapu in 1857 for growing sugarcane. However, cultivation of sugarcane in Puʻukapu was abandoned by 1877. (Kai)
While sugar was out; cattle was in.
Around this time, more lands were converted to pasturage and holding pens; and, according to Lorezo Lyons, Waimea had turned into a “cattle pen” and “(b)y another unfavorable arrangement 2/3 of Waimea have been converted to a pasture for government herds of cattle, sheep, horses, etc.” (MKSWCD)
In 1847, the branding of wild cattle became a government function, overseen by William Beckley. That same year, John Palmer Parker purchased the first acres of land that would become Parker Ranch. (Bergin)
Shortly after, in 1850, the King appointed George Davis Hueu, of Waikoloa, as “Keeper of the Cattle” at Waimea, Mauna Kea and surrounding districts. (MKSWCD)
Likewise, because of the demand for Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes by those in California involved with the Gold Rush, Waimea farmers began to increase their production and shipping of potatoes to California, along with other agricultural products. (Stewart)
(Lihue Plantation Company on Kauai originated in 1849 as a partnership between Charles Reed Bishop, Judge William L. Lee, and Henry A. Pierce of Boston; H Hackfeld & Co. served as agents.)
(The site of the mill was selected in the valley of the Nāwiliwili stream; water power was used to drive the mill rollers, which were iron bound granite crushers brought from China. A centrifugal sugar dryer was installed in 1851. Open kettles provided the means for boiling the syrup.) (HSPA)
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