Note: ‘Mauka’ means toward the mountains, and ‘makai’ means toward the sea. The ‘Hilo side’ means east, and the Waipio side means west.
1852 First Chinese laborers brought to Hawaiʻi to work on the plantations.
1868 First Japanese laborers brought to Hawaiʻi.
1870s A.S. Cleghorn, merchandiser and husband of Princess Likelike, King Kalakaua’s sister, opened stores in Waimea, Pauuilo, Hilo, Kona and Honokaa.
1872 Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians constitute 82.8% of the total plantation workforce.
1872 or 1873 The Rickard family moves to Honokaa and their first wooden house stood where the Mamane Market is now. This house eventually burned down.
1876 Passing of the Sugar Reciprocity Treaty permitting Hawaiian sugar to be sold in the U.S. without tariff restrictions spurs development of sugar plantations on the Hamakua Coast and across the Kingdom.
1876 Honokaa Sugar Plantation (the predecessor of Honokaa Sugar Company) is started by Messrs. Siemsen and Marsden.
1878 First Portuguese laborers are brought to Hawaiʻi.
1878 or 1880 William H. Rickard becomes manager of Honokaa Sugar Company.
1880 Joseph R. Mills now owns the former A.S. Cleghorn Store, hotel, and restaurant in a building on the property that is now occupied by the Ferriera Building. It is the largest establishment in Honokaa.
1880 “Honokaa is quite a flourishing village. It is situated upon the road and about a mile from the sea. In its suburbs are some very nice residences. There is a Court House in the village and the wants of the neighborhood are met by the presence of half a dozen stores, a butcher’s shop and a restaurant”. McKenney Commercial Directory for Honolulu and the Hawaiian Islands.
1882 W. H. Holmes opens a store in the building that is now the Credit Union. The store later becomes the Moses Store, then the Lawson Store, the Awong Store, and then the Credit Union. The Credit Union Building is 131 years old.
1883 The Rickard House is built on the site where the current Salvation Army is located. It is later run by W.H.’s widow Nora as a hotel.
1884 One of the first Portuguese to arrive in Honokaa, J.A. Affonso opens a general merchandise store where the Rice Building is located today. The merchandise for the store came by boat from Honolulu and is composed of “boots and shoes and every article usually kept in a country store.” This later became the mauka location for the second Holmes store.
1884 First Homestead Law passed – opening areas for settlement and the extension and improvement of roads. Many Portuguese leave the plantation and begin ranching, growing coffee and farming on these nearby Homesteads.
1886 Queen Kapiʻolani visits Honokaa and is hosted by William H. Rickard.
1888 On June 26th Queen Kapiʻolani visits Honokaa and is escorted by Hon. Sam Parker, Major Lumaheihei, J. R. Mills, and R. T. Rickard (brother of William H.)
1889 Katsu Goto, who owns the first Japanese store in Honokaa, is found assassinated, hanging from a telephone pole on October 29, 1889 near the spot where his memorial now stands. It can be visited acreoss from Honokaa High School.
1889 The first school is built in Honokaa on mauka side of Mamane Street where the Malama Market is now.
1890 J. R. Mills and three others are tried for the murder of Katsu Goto and found guilty of manslaughter. J.R. is sentenced to 9 years “at hard labor” in Honolulu but is pardoned after 4 years. He never returns to Honokaa.
1893 Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
1894 Hawaiʻi becomes a Republic.
1895 During the counter-revolution to return Queen Liliʻuokalani to the throne, William H. Rickard supplies guns for the rebellion. He and others are arrested, tried for treason and sentenced to death. Before the execution took place, howerver, Rickard’s sentence was commuted to 35 years, he was later pardoned. He is released from prison on Nov. 28th and returns to Honokaa to grow coffee.
1895 A cross-island telephone system is established.
1898 The United State annexes Hawaiʻi as a territory.
1899 William H. Rickard dies in Honokaa and Nora Rickard moves briefly to Canada, leasing the house to Joseph Pritchard, manager of the telephone company. He opens a hotel there in what is now the Salvation Army building. Nora returns and continues running the hotel as the Rickard Hotel.
1900 First Puerto Ricans brought to Hawaiʻi as laborers.
1900 Hawaiʻi becomes a territory and contract labor is declared illegal. This releases laborers from contracts for a specific period of time. Now workers were free to leave the plantation when they can afford to, and managers improved their relationship with workers to entice them to stay on the plantations.
1903 First Korean laborers brought to Hawaiʻi.
1904 Honokaa Hongwanji founded. It is located on Lehua next to the Catholic Church.
1904 The Kohala and Hamakua Telephone and Telegraph opens an exchange on the location where the former “Doc Hill” Theater on Mamane Street now stands. By 1906 the company has moved to its present location close to the fire station.
1906 First Filipino laborers brought to Hawaiʻi.
1906 The First Bank of Hilo, Ltd. opens in Honokaa. It is Honokaa’s first permanent bank. It was located where the current Bank of Hawaii is. The building still exists and is located next to the Botelho Building.
1907 Dr. Koshiro Tofukuji opens the first hospital in Honokaa. It is a Japanese hospital where he practices medicine with his nephew. An existing “furo” or Japanese bath remains.
1907 Upper Hamakua Ditch completed. It cost $240,000 to build and was originally 25 miles in length and serviced eight sugar plantations and the town of Honokaa.
1907 S. Hasegawa Store, general store and mercantile, is founded by Seishiro Hasegawa. By 1936 his store lies on the mauka side of the street. It is run by him and his seven children and the business remains in the family until 1977, when the property is transferred to S. Hasegawa Ltd.The store closed in 2002, but the building remains.
1908 Honokaa School is moved to a four room school building erected on the site of the current Library building.
1909 Honokaa Club Hotel was built in 1912 and in 1926, Kumakichi (Henry) Morita, proprietor, moves it to the present site. The Honokaa Hotel Club remains much the same today.
1910 Lower Hamakua Ditch from Waipio Valley to Pauuilo is completed. It costs $795,214 to build and is 23 miles in length. The ditch carries 40 million gallons of water per day for sugar irrigation, fluming cane, and for Honokaa town’s water supply. The ditch still supplies water to Honokaa and can be seen makai of the town on Lehua Street.
1910 The town is booming with three Japanese watchmakers, two stables, three hotels, a blacksmith shop, five Chinese general stores, a Japanese hospital and school, a garage, a lawyer and magistrate, four Japanese mercantile stores, two restaurants, a saloon and two wine and liquor wholesalers.
1913 “There were more Chinese than Japanese in the community at that time [speaking of 1913]” quote from George Kodani [born 1899] – further Kodani says – “My father came from Japan to work on the plantation. He worked as a store salesman and eventually built and owned a hotel here. It was one of two hotels and both had dining rooms. Our family, my parents and nine brothers and sisters, lived there. The building, in the downtown area, is no longer there.” - Excerpt from “The Picturesque Town of Honokaa” Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald January 15, 1989 by Arlene Stephl.
1915 The Territory institutes Prohibition. Liquor wholesalers, bars, and saloons close throughout the territory.
1917 The B.U. Kuramitsu Garage is rumored to have actually been the first theater in town and E.K. Fernandez of Honolulu put on traveling vaudeville shows there. The Garage building is now the location of the Mamane Marketplace.
1919 The United States institutes Prohibition.
1919 “The village of Honokaa is the center for the district, containing general stores, post office, bank, hotels, a large public school, a Japanese hospital, Buddhist temple and school, Chinese ‘Joss House’ [folk temple], a Catholic Church, a Korean Methodist Church, Salvation Army hall, and a community hall in which on Sundays Protestant services are conducted in English by Rev. J. S. Smith.” The Friend – Honokaa Survey February 1919.
1919 Approximate population of Honokaa: “Japanese 766, Koreans 91, Chinese 53, Filipinos 108, Portuguese 641, Porto Ricans [sic] 241, Hawaiians 123 and Anglo-Saxons 92.” The Friend – Honokaa Survey February 1919. In 2010 Honokaa’s population was 2,258, 143 less than this census total.
1919 “Honokaa to be put on Railroad” Hilo Daily Tribune October 28, 1919.
1920 “Fifty miles north of Hilo, in the plantation village of Honokaa, motorists can get all their needs supplied at the Botelho garage. The garage is in charge of competent mechanics and a dependable stock of automobile accessories is carried. M. S. Botelho, a practicing attorney of Honokaa, is the proprietor of the Botelho garage.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 1920.
1920 “Manager [Walter P.] Naquin finds that the giving of moving picture shows in the plantation camps is a very good method of entertaining the workmen and their families. Two shows a week are usually given in Honokaa. Under licenses approved by the plantation, billiard halls, barber shops and garages are maintained in the plantation villages for the comfort and convenience of the workmen.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 1920.
1920 Yamato, owner of Yamato mercantile store, started as a homesteader, buying land in nearby Ahualoa Homesteads from the Hawaiian government for $100 upon his arrival from Japan in 1890. He expanded the farm, and with his seven children, worked to open the Yamato Store. The store stays in the family until 1977. The building still exists.
1921 Manki Harunaga, a local entrepreneur, builds what is variously called the “Honokaa Theater” and the “Old Japanese Theater” and finally the “Old Tanimoto Theater” across from Bank of Hawaiʻi. Troupes of acrobats, Kabuki dancers and singing story tellers touring from Japan perform here. The lease is purchased by Hatsuzo Tanimoto who runs the theater until completing the People’s Theatre across the street. The building still exists and today is used for retail space.
1921 “Honokaa seems destined to become a very important town when the railroad is extended to it, and beyond to Waimea and Kawaihae”. Hilo Daily Tribune March 4, 1921. Note: The railroad never made it to Honokaa. It ran out of money and its last stop was Pauuilo, just east of Honokaa. News of its arrival spurred intense land speculation in the town.
1922 “Honokaa Village Begins to Assume Metropolitan Airs” “Hope to have water system installed this year. Water will be obtained from Hawaiian Irrigation Company; Purification Plant is contemplated.” Hilo Daily Tribune January 10, 1922. “Honokaa to have fine Water System in next few Months” Hilo Daily Tribune October 22, 1922.
1924 Honokaa School moves to the present site on Mamane Street at the Hilo side of town.
1926 Bunso Ikeuchi opens B. Ikeuchi & Sons Hardware. Note: Bunso Ikeuchi and his father Hidekichi had worked in the store since the nineteen-teens when it was owned by the Chinese firm of Kwong Yee Chong, Ltd. hardware and general merchandise store.
1926 “Hundreds Witness Dedication of new Honokaa Church.” “The new church [Our Lady of Lourdes] was recently completed at a cost of $14,000 and is located at the junction of the old and new roads from Honokaa and Waimea. The walls are wood and the floor is concrete. The church has a seating capacity of 500. Father Athanasius, who has been in the Hamakua district for five years, is pastor of the church.” Paper not known – August 2, 1926. The Catholic Church is located on Lehua Street, mauka of Mamane Street, next to the Hongwanji Temple.
1927 “Honokaa Church to be Dedicated”. The church is called Honokaa New Union Church but is now the Methodist Church on Mamane Street.
1927 “Honokaa to have New Bank Building”. During construction business will be carried on in Old Honokaa Club. Says the present structure has been in use since 1910. Hilo Tribune-Herald – August 19, 1927. Note: This remains the Bank of Hawaii building.
1927 “New Garage to be Built at Honokaa” Describes a two-story garage to be built by M.S. Botelho “On the first floor will be the main store, a show-room, one store room, and office for the manager, a room for the post office department, and a private office for the postmaster. The repair shop and store-room will be adjacent to the main store room on the first floor. On the upper floor will be located a social hall…The hall can be used for dances or meeting purposes. There will be six large office rooms on the second floor…” cost of building $26,000. “Honokaa Turned around…Looking Good” Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald November 8, 1981). Note: The Botelho Garage was the first car dealership in Honokaa, and the official Ford dealership. The garage expanded from servicing and selling cars to selling motor oil, gas, and car parts.
1927 “Honokaa-Kukuihaele Road Completed” “…a three and one half mile stretch of paved highway, built at a cost of approximately $100,000 stands completed today ready for the inspection of County Engineer E. L. Wung” - Hilo Tribune-Herald November 21, 1927.
1927 Ferreira Building built by local contractor and subdivision owner Kiyoichi Irie on the location of the former A. S. Cleghorn/J. R. Mills store. He tears down the former store/restaurant/bar/hotel to build the building.
1928 Hamakua Country Club is incorporated and first clubhouse built for $500 in 1929.
1932 Hatsuzo Tanimoto closes the Old Tanimoto Theater. Tanimoto’s People’s Theatre across the street is now the only theater operating in Honokaa at this time.
1932 Huge floods deluge Honokaa town “Massive amounts of mud, stone, and debris from lands above town settled on Mamane Street. Across Lehua [Street] is Ling Yick Bldg. It contained a restaurant, tailor shop, harness shop, and perhaps more. The site was vacant through the 1960s and is now a portion of the Honokaa Post Office parking area”. By P. Quentin Tomich – Hamakua Times July 2001.
1935 “Henry Nakamura’s mother ran one of the two Japanese hotels in the village” Journal of Mrs. Preston 1935-1940. This used to be the Kodani Hotel, owned by Genji Okazaki, but the hotel was sold to the Nakamura’s in 1932. It is also the 1889 location of Katsu Goto’s mercantile store. Today it is the parking lot Hilo side of the Ferriera Building.
1935 “Most of the stores in the village were run by Japanese and they had a unique way of pricing things…one price for Japanese and another for the haole…the latter much higher of course.” Journal of Mrs. Preston 1935-1940.
1937 Okada Hospital is opened in Honokaa by Dr. Haruto Okada – Paniolo House Stories Vol. I and “The Private Japanese Hospital” pg. 34.
1937 Honokaa Branch of the Hawaiʻi Public Library is dedicated on June 5th. It is built using Depression-era federal Works Projects Administration funds and located across from the Honokaa School. The building still exists.
1939 Honokaa Theater (aka “Doc Hill” Theater) is built on the makai side of Mamane just past the Credit Union building, and closed sometime in the 1950s. “Racehorse” Onomura purchased the theater and turned it into an apartment building. The building still stands and is currently split into retail spaces.
1941 The United States enters World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
1944 Nora Rickard, William Rickard’s wife, dies in Honokaa at the age of 96.
1951 “The old Hongwanji church building has been taken down to make room for the new structure. The ground is now being leveled and filled, and the first foundations for the new building are being laid. Plans are for a new church and living quarters”. Thelma Olival and Alice Botelho – Main Street – January 12, 1951. The Hongwanji Temple is on Lehua Street, mauka of Mamane, next to the Catholic Church.
1951 Old Honokaa Hospital is dedicated – March 18, 1951 Program for opening. Note: The old hospital is closed and part of the complex is now the North Hawaii Education and Research Center.
1953 The new Belt Highway was built bypassing Honokaa town – “Honokaa Turned Around…Looking Good” Hawaiʻi Tribune –Herald November 8, 1981.
1955 First rodeo held at the Honokaa Arena staged by the Hawaii Saddle Club. Western Week is still held every spring in Honokaa. It is a community event with a parade and special activities for all.
1956 Dr. Okada closes his traditional Japanese hospital and starts to work for the old Honokaa Hospital.
1968 The Credit Union purchases the Awong Brothers Store location.
1969 Tex’s Drive-In opened by Ernest Texeira on the makai side of Mamalahoa above town- Hawaii Island Journal April 16-30, 2002. Tex’s is known for its Portuguese doughnut locally called a “Malasada”.
1972 Jimmy Rice’s antique business opened – Hawaii Tribune-Herald January 1, 1989 by Arlene Stephl. The antique shop is still located in the Rice Building on the mauka side of Mamane Street.
1973 “In Honokaa, when the severe April 1973 earthquake struck, the newer and modern buildings suffered heavy damages compared to the old buildings which shivered and shook but rode out the earthquake amazingly well”. Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald October 18, 1973 by Thelma Olival. In 2006, an earthquake destroyed historic stone buildings in Kona, but the historic wooden buildings in Honokaa were undamaged.
1974 Paul and Anita DeDominico bought Hawaiian Holiday Macadamia Nut Co. from Theo. H. Davies for just under $1 million. “Honokaa Turned Around…Looking Good” Hawaiʻi Tribune Herald November 8, 1981. The factory building can be seen on the right side of Lehua Street below the Lower Hamakua Ditch.
1976 Kaneshiro brothers build a new market where Malama Market is today. Mom and Pops Vol. III pg. 94.
1978 “The Honokaa People’s Theatre has added more “movie-munchies” with a well- stocked ice cream freezer. A soda pop machine is due to arrive soon also. Within two or three weeks the existing game room for children will be expanded to about double the space. The box office will be moved to the rear of the lobby, to make room for the new game machine opposite the present room”. “Hamakua Happenings” Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald April 24, 1978 by Cindi Olival.
1979 Theo H. Davies merged Honokaa Sugar Company with Laupahoehoe Sugar Company to form Davies Hamakua Sugar Company. The Honokaa Sugar Company name is no longer used.
1979 “Flood Toll is Mounting”. Flash flooding hits Honokaa and surrounding areas [and] more than 140 feet of the Hamakua Ditch is washed away, shutting off water supply to the sugar factory and to [the towns of] Kukuihaele and Kapulena. The sugar factory in Haina also floods and is shut down indefinitely. Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald by Frankie Stapleton November 20, 1979.
1984 Davies executive Francis Morgan takes a huge gamble in light of business prospects for sugar. He purchases the Davies Hamakua Sugar Company and drops the “Davies” from the name – Sugar Islands by William Dorrance pg. 95.
1992 Hamakua Sugar Company files for Chapter 11 protection in bankruptcy court.
1994 September 30, 1994 the last harvest of Hamakua Sugar Company.
2003 “S. Hasegawa Store closed because no other family members wanted to run the store “– Mom and Pops Vol. III by Wayne Subica, pg. 96. Store ownership was transferred to S. Hasegawa, Ltd. and the Hasegawa Store still exists.
2004 Kokua Way by Carol Yurth mentions that the Honokaa Country Snack Shop (Franklin and Florence Paiva) was once owned by the Kato family who were known for their handmade raincoats made of heavy cloth then soaked with oil, which made the coat bright yellow, and dried to be water repellent. Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald September 2, 2004.
2010 The Kaneshiro brothers (Roland and Gary) sell Kaneshiro Store to Malama Market (Foodland) – Mom and Pops Vol. III by Wayne Subica pg. 94.