Kohala Sugar Company

Rev. Elias Bond (1813–1896) started the Kohala Sugar Company in 1863 on the Island of Hawaiʻi. Bond came to Hawaiʻi as a Christian missionary in 1841. He worried about church members leaving for work in the urban centers of Honolulu and Lahaina. He started the plantation intent on “retaining our people in Kohala nei.” Other plantations followed: Halawa Mill, Union Mill, Niuliʻi Mill, and Hawi Mill. By 1937 Kohala Sugar incorporated all of them. The companies contracted with immigrants to move to the area.

Over time, the industry developed significant infrastructure. In the 1880s the Kohala plantations cooperated in building the Hawaiian Railroad to Mahukona Harbor. In 1906 the Kohala Ditch, some 20 miles of tunnels and ditches and flumes, provided irrigation to the area. With irrigation, as well as mechanical harvesting and trucks, productivity increased.

The Kohala Sugar Company eventually operated 9,500 acres. After 110 years of operation, its closing forever affected the livelihoods of Kohala residents.

The Kohala Sugar Company Records (1857–1973) preserve various aspects of the company: administration, financial, maps and charts, production, and other companies owned by Kohala Sugar: the Hawaii Railroad Company, the Homestead Plantation, Kehena Water, Kohala Ditch, Kohala Pineapple, Mahukona Terminal, and Pacific Sugar.

The Lyman Museum preserves records from four sugar companies: Kohala, Hāmākua, C. Brewer and Hilo Coast Processing. The Archives is open for research by appointment. Learn more at https://lymanmuseum.org/archives/research-collection/.

“Luna Log” manuscript by Jack Hall, 1927. Jack Wayne Hall (1915–1971) was an American labor organizer. Hall shared his personal account of his adventures and observations as a field supervisor and later storekeeper at Kohala Sugar for 15 years in the early part of the century.
Kohala Mill and Vicinity, 1951. This map of the Kohala Mill is part of a collection of maps and charts: field maps, land use maps, a map of ditches and reservoir sites, planning study maps, production charts, geological maps, and the Bond estate.
This chart from the 100th Anniversary Booklet shows various companies purchased by Kohala  Sugar. The 1963 brochure gives a concise history of the corporation.
The Kohala Mill with twelve oxen in front of two-wheeled cart, ca. 1900