Within what is now called Hilo Bay is a small bay referred to as ‘Reed’s Bay.’ It is named after William H Reed. Born in 1814 Belfast, Ireland, Reed was a businessman. He created Reed’s Landing, which he used to moor boats carrying lumber for one of his businesses. (Hawaiʻi County)
Reed arrived in the Islands in the 1840s and set up a contracting concern specializing in the construction of wharfs, landings, bridges and roads. Other interests included ranching, trading and retailing. (Clark)
Across Hilo Bay, on January 1, 1856, Reed leased a 26-acre island – originally known as ‘Koloiki’ (‘little crawling,’) – it was once surrounded by the Wailuku River and Waikapu Stream.
Reed cleared a portion of the site and had a cattle pasture; he then purchased the island for $200 on February 18, 1861, and it became known as Reed’s Island. (Warshauer)
Reed married Jane Stobie Shipman on July 8, 1868 (she was a widow, previously married to William Cornelius Shipman, a missionary assigned to Waiʻōhinu in the district of Kaʻū. Shipman died in 1861, leaving Jane with her three children, William Herbert, Oliver Taylor and Margaret Clarissa.)
(Son William Herbert (1854-1943) was an important businessman on the Island of Hawaii; son Oliver Taylor (1857-1942) became a tax assessor and county supervisor, and daughter Margaret Clarissa (1859-1891) married politician Lorrin Thurston who organized the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Jane was born in Scotland. At an early age she came to the US with her parents, lived in Quincy, Illinois, and was educated to be a teacher; and in 1853 was married to Reverend Shipman. (The Friend, December, 1902)
Following his death, Jane moved to Hilo, with her three children and maintained the family by keeping a boarding school until 1868 (when she was married to Reed.) (The Friend, December, 1902)
William Reed died on November 11, 1880 with no children of his own; Jane inherited the Reed land holdings. (In 1881, Reed’s stepson William Herbert Shipman and two partners (Captain J. E. Eldarts and Samuel M Damon) purchased the entire ahupuaʻa of Keaʻau, about 70,000-acres from the King Lunalilo estate.)
“[B]efore Reed’s Island was in demand for residence sites DH Hitchcock grew a crop of pineapples there that was sufficient to supply the demand in Hilo.” (Hawaii Herald, June 29, 1899)
Apparently, upon the death of Reed, the land was under the control of his stepson, WH Shipman, who sold the island to AB Loebenstein. (Warshauer)
The November 6, 1897 Hilo Daily Tribune reported that “Mr CS Desky has purchased Reed’s Island, in the Wailuku River, and the same will be subdivided and sold. It is proposed to construct a fine bridge to span the stream, and lay out streets and otherwise make this pretty spot an ideal one for homes.” For a while the development was renamed Riverside Park.
JR Wilson, owner/operator of the Volcano Stables, who operated a daily stage between Hilo and Volcano, “purchased of Bruce Waring & Co the celebrated lot on the Riverside Park, on the point near the bridge”. (Hilo Daily Tribune, March 11, 1899)
The April 6, 1899 Hawai‘i Herald reported, “The handsome steel bridge over the Wailuku was finished last week.” It goes on to report, “JR Wilson was the first person to drive over the bridge at Riverside Park and the around the Island. In spite of this Mr Pratt felt that it is necessary to test the bridge by running the steam roller over it.”
On April 20, 1899, the Hawaii Herald reported, “The recent improvements made by Bruce Waring & Co upon the Riverside Park property, commonly called Reed’s Island, makes this by far the most attractive residence property in Hilo.”
“The plans for the Wilson residence are to be placed in the hands of local contractors this week … a representative of this paper was permitted to see the plans drawn by a local architect [KL Kerr] and which Mr Wilson took with him to Honolulu for revision, and they show a residence unique and attractive in every way designed especially for the lot, which commands a view extending over the harbor on the east, and the mountains westward.”
“It promises to be the handsomest residence in town at present, and the interior plans show it to be as commodious and convenient as it is handsome.” (Hilo Daily Tribune, May 27, 1899)
Wilson’s was the first house to be built in the new subdivision. They moved into the house in mid-April, 1900. (Hawaii Heald) “The Wilson residence built where it commands a view of all Hilo and the country from the sea to mountain is completed and Mr Wilson and family are enjoying ‘all the comforts of a home.’” (Hawaii Herald, April 19, 1900)
Then, on March 1, 1901, the newspaper reported, “Mr WH Shipman has purchased the Wilson residence at Riverside Park, for $12,000.” (Hilo Daily Tribune, March 1, 1901)
The newspaper further noted, “Mr Shipman had previously been contemplating the erection of a new home on the site of is present dwelling, at Waiakea, but for various reasons has decided to make a home nearer town.” (Hilo Daily Tribune, March 1, 1901)
The ‘Big House,’ as the early Shipmans called it, stands at the lower end of Reed’s Island, a landlocked area within walking distance of downtown Hilo but cut off by the deep gulches of the Wailuku River and the Waikapu Stream. (Thompson)
Around this time, Wilson was formulating and developing the Ho‘olulu Race Track. “Hilo is going to have a race track and base ball grounds. … Mr Wilson selected a site at Waiakea … The track will be almost circular in form”. (Hawaii Herald, March 1, 1900) The baseball field was located inside the race track. (Hilo Daily Tribune, March 17, 1900) That venture was considered a success.
A possible motivation for selling the home after only 1-year was noted in the newspaper, “JR Wilson has disposed of his interests in the Volcano Stables Co and will retire from the management of the corporation on April 1 next. The change on the part of Me Wilson was made solely on account of his health which has not been good since his return from the Coast.” (Hawaii Herald, January 17, 1901)
Several April 1901 notices in the paper noted, “During my absence from the islands WS Wise will act for me under full pwer of attorney.” (Dated April 3, 1901) (Hawaii Herald) In 1902, the paper reported, “JR Wilson formerly of this city, now in Nevada …” (Hilo Tribune, March 7, 1902)
(So, the land that had once been owned by his stepfather and, then, at the stepfather’s death transferred to his mother and WH Shipman sold it in 1897 to Loebenstein and Wilson built a house on the best part of it, returned back to WH Shipman and became his home. The house is still owned by members of the Shipman family.)