Getting a little back into posting historical summaries, I have wanted to correct the record on a couple of the prior posts …
I previously posted a summary on the Maunalei Sugar Company on Lanai. I also did one on the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina.
I never knew of a connection between the two.
Then, Rick Towill loaned me a book and I was shocked to learn of their connection – something that never showed up in any of the research I did on each.
You can read the prior posts on each. I’ll let Ruth Tabrah (who wrote a book on Lanai that Rick loaned me) tell the rest of the story …
“The Hayselden venture was named Lanai Sugar Company. Later, the name was changed to Maunalei Sugar Company. The lands, like much of the old Gibson holdings, were on lease. The annual ground rent on the beach portions was $10 an acre, that of the valley lands $5 an acre.”
“Fred Hayselden had renegotiated many of the Gibson leases in his own name. He 78 bought several small kuleanas outright.”
“Lanai, which had the reputation thirty years earlier of being the sheep raising center of the kingdom, still supported a population of livestock far larger than the human population.”
“There were nearly 50,000 sheep, large herds of goats and hogs, flocks of wild turkeys, but only 174 people on Lanai when Maunalei Sugar Company began.”
“Hayselden worked hard to boost the water resources and the reservoir capacity of the island. Water was the key to high sugar yield and one of the three wells advertised in the prospectus was already in operation. It produced between one and two million gallons of water a day. This was fortunate, since the other two wells did not turn out.”
“The decision was made not to build a mill, but to ship the cane to Olowalu, Maui for grinding. A wharf was built at Halepalaoa and a railroad between there and Keomuku to haul the harvested cane and plantation supplies.”
“Had Walter Murray Gibson been alive, or had Talula been consulted, the engineer would never have torn down the walls of Kahe‘a heiau to make the roadbed. The Hawaiians of Keomuku predicted that because of this, there would be trouble.”
“At first, everything prospered.”
“A spacious verandahed two story building went up. The plantation offices and the company store were on the ground floor. On the second floor were rooms for visitors, a company boarding house and quasi-hotel.”
“Camp houses and barracks were built as the population of Lanai ballooned with contract laborers. Those Lanaians who applied were hired, but the majority of the work force had to be brought in.”
“There were Gilbert Islanders, the first Japanese to arrive on Lanai, and fellow countrymen of that first sugar maker of them all, Wu Tsin, who had been the first Chinese on Lanai nearly a century before.”
“By August 1899 there were 710 laborers at Maunalei. Wages varied for each ethnic group.”
“Chinese were paid either $18.75 or $20 a month depending on their jobs. Japanese field laborers were paid $15 a month for men, $10 a month for women. Cooks earned $15 a month. Carpenters were paid at the rate of $1.50 a day.”
“Since the company made all deductions for room and board in advance, and allowed workers to run up accounts at the company store, many sugar workers on Lanai like their counterparts on the other islands, were always in debt to their employer.”
“The only cash that seemed to reach and stay in working hands was that earned by the Chinese. In Honolulu the most affluent of the merchants were Chinese, and they invested their money in the Maunalei venture to such an extent that they soon owned seventy-five per cent of the shares.”
“For its first year, the company did well.”
“Then, plague flared up among the Chinese laborers.”
“The shacks they lived in were burned, but this did not stop the epidemic. The church at Keomuku was turned into a dispensary. Those who were not already too sick to do so, fled.”
“The curse predicted when the walls of Kahe’a were broken fell heavily now on the plantation. The water in the well turned brackish. The sugar content of the cane was too low to make it worthwhile to harvest.”
“By June of 1900 the payroll of Maunalei Sugar Company carried only 38 men and by March 1901, 12 were left to shut the plantation down.”
“The two-storied company store and hotel was left up until 1905 when it was carefully dismantled, a section at a time, and floated on rafts to Lahaina. There it was hammered together again to become the Pioneer Inn.” (Tabrah)
Whoa … Who knew the Pioneer Inn was originally a structure on Lanai?
All prior research did not note the Maunalei building and Pioneer Inn connection.
In fact, newspaper accounts of that time only noted the formation and construction of the hotel in Lahaina, not that it was formerly built on Lanai and floated to Lahaina and then reassembled.
A notice in the Hawaiian Star, October 9, 1901, noted “New Hotel For Lahaina. Articles of association were filed yesterday by the Pioneer Hotel Company, with the principal place of business at Lahaina, Island of Maui.”
“The object of the association is to conduct a general hotel and restaurant business, and billiard tables. … The officers and principal stockholders are J. J. Newcomb, president, twenty-five shares; A Aalberg, secretary, twenty-five shares; P. Nicklas, treasurer, two shares; George Freeland, thirty-five shares.”
Three weeks later, the newspaper reported “George Freeland, manager of the Pioneer hotel at Lahaina, is in town for the purpose of purchasing supplies and furniture for the establishment. He will return to Lahaina nest Tuesday. (Honolulu Republican, October 31, 1901)
“Lahaina now boasts two new and up-to-date hotels. Matt. McCann has just finished and moved into his new hosterie (Lahaina Hotel,) and is not able to handle all the travel at present, consequently he is compelled to turn away guests this week.”
“The Pioneer Hotel is practically completed and under the management of Mr. Freeland, will be thrown open for the reception of guests about December 1.” (Maui News, November 23, 1901) Thanks, Rick.