Saturday, October 9, 1999

100 Who Made A Difference

Star George N. Wilcox Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
He made a fortune growing sugar, but George
N. Wilcox shared his wealth.

His plantation
grew on Kauai

By Harold Morse


GEORGE N. Wilcox was born in Hilo on Aug. 15, 1839. But it was on Kauai that he made his fortune in sugar, leading to a full life as a renowned philanthropist, and an industrial and cultural leader in the islands.

Schooled at Punahou School and Yale University, the entrepreneur focused on sugar when he and brother Albert began planting at Hanalei, where their parents had long been missionaries.

Early in 1864, he began building an irrigation ditch for another landowner, and that November took over the plantation's lease. He expanded irrigation, and with enhanced profits soon became sole owner.

He enlarged this Grove Farm plantation from less than 800 acres to an estate of some 12,000 acres.

Shrewd business instincts eventually brought him the presidency of Kekaha Sugar Co., Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co. and other enterprises.

His civic activity included serving Kauai in the 1880 Legislature, and again in 1887 and in every Legislature thereafter until Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898.

A noble under the Hawaiian monarchy and a senator under the Republic of Hawaii, he became Cabinet prime minister in 1892.

Wilcox died Jan. 21, 1933, at age 93. Wilcox Memorial Hospital opened on Kauai in 1938.

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