Benjamin Douglas Baldwin (grandson of the Rev Dwight Baldwin) was born at Kohala, Hawaii, April 12, 1868, son of David D and Lois M Baldwin. He attended Fort Street School and Oʻahu College (Punahou.)
He married Louise Theresa Voss in Honolulu on April 11, 1893; they had three sons, Douglas Elmer, Paul Frederick and Cedric Benjamin. (Nellist)
Baldwin began his career in the sugar cane industry on Haiku Sugar Co plantation, Hamakuapoko, Maui, on January 1, 1889.
Then, “Mr Benjamin D Baldwin, head luna of Hamakuapoko plantation has accepted the position of assistant manager of the Hawaiian Commercial Company, thus filling the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. David Center.”
“Mr. Baldwin and family will remove to Spreckelsville during the first part of April upon the return of Manager HA Baldwin from California.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, March 26, 1901)
Then on January 15, 1903, he headed to Kauai. “Benjamin D Baldwin, formerly assistant manager of Puʻunene, is now permanently settled as manager of Makaweli plantation of Kauai. Mr and Mrs Baldwin will be much missed by Maui friends.” (Hawaiian Gazette, May 19, 1903)
“Makaweli is the banner plantation of Kauai since the Olokele ditch system enabled it to put a large additional area under cultivation.”
The Hawaiian Sugar Company, Ltd was headquartered at Makaweli, where the first cane was planted. The total land area was 7,000-acres held under lease from Gay & Robinson, extending from Waimea gulch to Hanapepe valley, a distance of several miles.
“The water supply for irrigation purposes is obtained from the Olokele and Hanapepe valley streams, the water flowing to all of the lands by gravity.”
“Work upon the Olokele ditch, which is the largest engineering scheme of the kind ever undertaken in the Islands, was begun for the Hawaiian Sugar Company by MM O’Shaughnessy and his assistants, Mr McLennan, HC Smalley and Guy P Rankin in 1902 and was completed in 1904.” (Evening Bulletin, March 25, 1909)
By the end of Baldwin’s management, in 1928, the annual yield increased to 27,057-tons of raw sugar and the company was noted as one of the most profitable and progressive in the Territory. (Faye)
“In the development of the property 2,250 skilled and unskilled laborers are employed who occupy several camps adjacent to their work. Better houses and better camps than are found on main plantations for the accommodation of men and their families have been erected.”
“The laborers receive in addition to their wages, which averages $20 per month, house room, fuel, water and medical attendance and have little patches of land where they raise vegetables.”
“The labor incident to the successful operation of this plantation is handled under two systems, one-third of the labor working under a or profit sharing system, and known as company men or contractors, the balance are day laborers, paid a regular rate per month of twenty-six working days.” (Evening Bulletin, March 25, 1909)
The Makaweli management takes much interest in the sports of the employes. A baseball diamond and land for tennis courts are provided. The Makaweli baseball team, by the way, secured the 1911 Kauai championship and in so doing gained three cups.”
“A club house for the skilled employes, which is equipped and supplied with reading matter and appliances, and a billiard and pool table, is supported by the company.” (Wright, Mid-Pacific Magazine, June 1914)
Baldwin died on April 27, 1928; a decade later, a substantial monument was erected by Makaweli Japanese sugar workers and dedicated to the memory of Baldwin, a highly respected plantation manager.
There are two circular metal medallions embedded in the column. The upper medallion has a bust of Baldwin surrounded by the words ‘Benjamin Douglas Baldwin 1867 – 1928,’ and the lower medallion has the words ‘Erected In Loving Memory by the Makaweli Japanese 1938.’ (Dorrance)
Baldwin was not just a sugar planter; he was commissioned as a major in the Hawaii National Guard (3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment) on Kauai and also commanded the Third Battalion of the Fifth Division during World War I. (Nellist) He was also postmaster at Makaweli.
A World War II ammunition magazine was located next to the monument (1942-1945.) Called ‘Battery Monument,’ it was armed with two old 7-inch/45 naval guns on pedestal mounts capable of hurling a 165-pound shell 16,500 yards (9.4 mi.) at 15° elevation. (Bennett)
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