Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, August 13, 2001


Structure in Kualoa used
as sugar mill in Civil War era


By Burl Burlingame

Hey, it's always swell when a citizen submits their own photos to "WatDat" and then asks us what it is they shot. In this case, Geraldine DeBenedetti of Honolulu is curious about this structure in Kualoa.


We didn't recognize it at first because all the brush has been cleared away. For most of the 1900s, all you could see was a chimney poking out of the weeds.

It once had a Hawaii Visitors Bureau marker reading "Old Sugar Mill," and now it's unmarked. The State Historic Preservation Department has nothing in its files on the structure, and it's lumped in with the Kualoa Ahupua'a just down the highway as a national historic site.

During the American Civil War years, when the North's access to sugar was cut off, a couple of gents with the names of Judd and Wilder operated a quickie sugar mill on the site.

It ran for only eight years before they realized that sugar cane grew better elsewhere. Hawaiian workers called the mill "Wili-ka-a-i," which, translated loosely, means "a regular pain in the neck." Apparently, a one-eyed Hawaiian worker who helped dig the foundation got tired of twisting his head to peer at his spade.

In 1866, Willy, 9-year-old son of Samuel Wilder, fell into boiling syrup and was killed. The Wilders sort of lost interest at that point.

The site today is owned by Kualoa Ranch and run by Judd's descendants.

Curious about something you've seen or heard? Write "Wat Dat?" 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail


Cherry Blossom applicants sought

The 50th Cherry Blossom Festival Pageant is seeking interested individuals between the ages of 13 and 17. Applicants must be at least half Japanese. For more information, call 949-2255 or e-mail Entries must be postmarked by Aug. 22.

Key to the SAT

The Princeton Review publishers discuss how to avoid the traps of the SAT and ways to achieve success. The lecture will be held at the Liliha Library, 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 21. Call 587-7577 to register.

Miss World Hawaii accepting contestants

The Miss World Hawaii Committee is seeking entrants for its pageant on Sept. 22 at Mamiya Theatre. Entrants must be women between the ages of 17 and 24, never married, and living in Hawaii for at least the past five years. Areas of competition include interview, evening gown and swimwear attire.

The winner of the pageant will be sent directly to Sun City, South Africa, for the Miss World finals on Oct. 16. The winner must be able to spend 28 days in South Africa, preceding the finals. Call Luana Alapa-Hee at 520-8119.

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