Albert Spencer Wilcox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Albert Spencer Wilcox
Albert Spencer Wilcox (vol. 1, 1917).jpg
Born (1844-05-24)May 24, 1844
Hilo, Hawaii
Died July 7, 1919(1919-07-07) (aged 75)
Puhi, Hawaii
Nationality Kingdom of Hawaii, United States
Occupation Planter, Businessman, Politician
Parent(s) Abner Wilcox
Lucy Eliza Hart

Albert Spencer Wilcox (May 24, 1844 – July 7, 1919) was a businessman and politician in the Kingdom of Hawaii and Republic of Hawaii. He developed several sugar plantations in Hawaii, and became a large landholder.

Early life[edit]

Albert Spencer Wilcox was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on May 24, 1844. His father was Abner Wilcox (1808–1869) and mother was Lucy Eliza Hart (1814–1869). His parents were in the eighth company of missionaries to Hawaii for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. His parents taught at the Hilo Mission boarding school founded by David Belden Lyman and his wife.[1] He had three older brothers born while at Hilo. In 1846 the family moved to teach at a similar school at the Waiʻoli Mission near Hanalei, Hawaii, on the northern coast of the island of Kauaʻi. There he had four more brothers, although one died young.[2]

In 1851 he sailed to Boston with his father for surgery to fix a birth defect in his foot.[3] He was educated at his parents' school and Punahou School in Honolulu from 1858 to 1862.[4] He worked with his older brother George Norton Wilcox (1839–1933) on the Princeville plantation owned by Robert Crichton Wyllie in the 1860s while living at Waiʻoli.


Wilcox started a small plantation in Waipā Valley but it failed by 1876.[3][5] Paul Isenberg installed a sugar mill at Hanamāʻulu in 1877 and hired Wilcox to be its manager. He continued to run the plantation for over two decades. With a reliable source of irrigation, and the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 removing sugar tariffs to the US, he became wealthy.[6]

He invested in a mill in the remote western area of Kekaha, to process the sugar grown by Valdemar Knudsen in the 1880s.[7] On February 7, 1883, he incorporated the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company and served as a director.[8]:102 By 1895 he was able to buy Princeville and turn it into a ranch.[9] He also invested in real estate in Honolulu.[5]


Wilcox was elected as a representative from Kauaʻi to the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1887 through 1892.[10] He was involved in drafting the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and its forceful imposition which put his brother George into the cabinet of King Kalākaua.[11] On January 14, 1893, he was appointed to the Committee of Safety but resigned at the first meeting to return and take care of business on Kauaʻi.[12] Some of his neighbors from Kauaʻi such as William Owen Smith and Sanford B. Dole played major roles in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[8]:587

Later life and legacy[edit]

Wilcox married Mary Luahiwa, but they divorced.[13] On June 7, 1898, he married Emma Kauikeolani Napoleon Mahelona (1862–1931), and retired to an estate called Kilohana in Puhi, Hawaii, at 21°58′15″N 159°23′29″W / 21.97083°N 159.39139°W / 21.97083; -159.39139 (Kilohana). His stepdaughter Ethel Kulamanu Mahelona married his nephew Gaylord Parke Wilcox (1881–1970) and inherited Kilohana.[14] It is the site of one of the heritage railways in Kauai.[15]

He built a beach house in Hanalei at 22°12′34″N 159°29′44″W / 22.20944°N 159.49556°W / 22.20944; -159.49556 (Wilcox Beach House) directly on the shore of Hanalei Bay near the Hanalei Pier. It was built as a complex of main house, three garages, a boathouse, and separate cottages for gardener, caretaker, and other servants. It later was consolidated into a sprawling single story building with six bedrooms and six bathrooms, with a few remaining cottages. The beach house was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii on July 30, 1993, as Albert Spencer Wilcox Beach House.[16] The Hanalei Land Company, which Wilcox formed in 1903, restored the house and rents it to visitors as accommodations or events such as weddings. It has been kept in the Wilcox family for six generations.[17]

The Albert Spencer Wilcox Building in Lihue, Hawaii, is also listed on the National Register.

In 1908 he and his wife sponsored the Kauikeolani Children's Hospital in Honolulu. It became part of the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in 1978.[18] In 1917 he donated funds for a hospital named for his stepson Samuel Mahelona, who had died from tuberculosis on October 20, 1912. It is the oldest hospital on Kauaʻi.[19] Allen Clessen Mahelona was another stepson. Wilcox died July 7, 1919.[5]

In 1922 his widow donated funds for the Albert Spencer Wilcox Building designed by Hart Wood to be the first public library on Kauaʻi. It now houses the Kauaʻi Museum.[20]

Family tree[edit]


  1. ^ Hawaiian Mission Children's Society (1901). Portraits of American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii. Honolulu: Hawaiian gazette company. p. 70. 
  2. ^ Gary T. Cummins (March 24, 1973). "Waioli Mission nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Hank Soboleski (January 16, 2009). "Albert Spencer Wilcox". The Garden Island. Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ William DeWitt Alexander (1907). Oahu college: list of trustees, presidents, instructors, matrons, librarians, superintendents of grounds and students, 1841-1906. Historical sketch of Oahu college. Hawaiian Gazette Company. p. 89. 
  5. ^ a b c George F. Nellist, ed. (1925). "Albert Spencer Wilcox". The Story of Hawaii and Its Builders. Honolulu Star Bulletin. 
  6. ^ Marylou Bradley (2009). "Finding Aid for Lihue Plantation Collection" (PDF). Kaua’i Historical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 26, 2011. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Kekaha Sugar Company History (Kauai)". Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association Plantation Archives. University of Hawaii at Mānoa Library. 2004. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Ralph Simpson Kuykendall (1967). Hawaiian Kingdom 1874-1893, the Kalakaua Dynasty. 3. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-87022-433-1. 
  9. ^ "Princeville at Hanalei: a Rich History". official web site. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Wilcox, Albert Spencer office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  11. ^ David W. Forbes (2003). Hawaiian national bibliography, 1780-1900. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 232–233. ISBN 978-0-8248-2636-9. 
  12. ^ John T. Morgan, ed. (1893). "Affidavit of Albert S. Wilcox". Morgan Report: Senate Report 227 of the 53rd Congress. pp. 811–812. 
  13. ^ Hawaiʻi State Archives (2006). "Divorces - Fifth Circuit: page 5 (Napio - Yorimoto)". Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Kilohana Plantation". official web site. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Kaui Plantation Railway". official web site. Archived from the original on May 12, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  16. ^ Patricia Sheehan (May 27, 1991). "Albert Spencer Wilcox Beach House nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ "History of Kauikeolani". Hanalei Land Company. Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  18. ^ "A Century of Care for Hawaii's Women and Children". Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children web site. Hawaii Pacific Health. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital". official web site. Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. 2006. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  20. ^ Nathan Napoka (April 1979). "Kauaʻi Museum nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved September 18, 2010.