ISLAND HISTORY: A History of Kauai’s Kipu Sugar Plantation

In 1866 William Hyde Rice (1846-1924), son of American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii William Harrison Rice and Mary Sophia Hyde Rice, began renting land in Kipu from Princess Ruth Keelikolani on which he raised horses and cattle.

Then, in 1881, Rice’s lease of Kipu became freehold when he and the owner of Grove Farm Plantation, George Norton Wilcox, together bought Kipu, Kipu Kai and Haiku from Princess Ruth for $ 27,500, with Rice taking then possession of Kipu and Kipu Kai, while Wilcox acquired Haiku. .

Yet it was not until 1907 that Rice’s son Charles Rice (1876-1964) began to cultivate sugar cane in Kipu.

His Kipu sugar plantation would ultimately encompass around 5,000 acres, of which 1,000 acres were subdivided into 11 sugar cane fields.

In addition, Rice contracted Lihue Plantation to grind the sugarcane from her plantation, which was shipped by train from Kipu to the Lihue factory.

Plantation workers and their families lived in camps called Halfway Bridge, Aakukui, Seki, Rice, and Huleia Valley.

The employee list for 1927 – a year when Kipu Sugar Plantation’s operations were at their peak – listed a total of 211 workers: 46 Japanese, 75 Filipino men, 7 Portuguese, 1 Chinese, 5 Koreans, 1 Japanese woman, 23 women Filipino, 6 Hawaiian women, 26 schoolchildren, 7 schoolgirls, 7 skilled employees and 7 supervisors.

Edward Kalikolehua Scharsch was the longest-serving manager of the Kipu Sugar Plantation from 1924 to 1941, and Charles Ishii was its accountant, secretary and deputy treasurer.

In 1940, when Lihue Plantation canceled its sugar grinding contract with Kipu Sugar Plantation, effective 1942, it also sent Kipu Sugar Plantation a new contract specifying conditions unacceptable to Rice due to increasing costs.

Charles Rice then decided to close the Kipu sugar plantation and convert his sugar lands to pasture.

Sugar cane plantations ceased in 1941 and fields already planted with sugar cane were harvested until April 1942.

In addition, the dairy herd and equipment from the Kipu sugar plantation were sold to the Waimea dairy of the Faye family.

While the last sugarcane wagon was en route from Kipu to the Lihue factory in 1942, Kipu employees were planting grass in old sugar cane fields.


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