By: Ron Jolliff
Shasta County from its earliest days had a connection to Hawaii in one form or another. Eight Hawaiians, including two wives, were given permission from King Kamehameha III to join John Sutter in his colonizing effort of the Sacramento River Valley. The Hawaiians, or Kanakas, as they were commonly called, explored as far north as the Feather River before settling in New Helvetia in 1839. John Sutter, who fled Switzerland in debt (hence New Helvetia or in translation New Switzerland), a German, an Irishman, a Belgian, a Native American Sutter had purchased from Kit Carson, and eight Kanakas were the first settlers. So for a short period, Hawaiians were the majority non-Indian population of the Sacramento Valley.
The initial eight Kanakas contracted to work for John Sutter were his lifeline to Yerba Buena in the San Francisco Bay. Trade was established with the Sandwich Islands as Hawaii was then called and more Kanakas were recruited for the young colony. Kanakas set up the fishing village of Puu Hawaii at the mouth of the Feather River to ship barrels of salmon back to Hawaii. With the discovery of gold in 1848 news spread quickly to Hawaii via the established trade routes. Many Kanakas responded and were first welcomed as they were predominantly Christian and spoke some English. Kanakas were some of the earliest miners in many areas including the Clear Creek Diggings in Shasta County. Kanaka Mountain and Kanaka Creek near Muletown were named for these industrious miners. There are still five missing Kanaka graves near Muletown off Kanaka Road.
With the rush of 1849, Nativist sentiments grew. The first to be banned from mining were Native Americans because they gave their “employers” an “unfair advantage.” Even P. B. Reading quickly had problems with miners from Oregon over the use of Native American miners. As anti-foreign and particularly anti-Chinese feelings progressed the Kanakas faced increased prosecution. As the Kingdom of Hawaii was independent with limited diplomatic influence there was little they could do to help their citizens. Regrettably a history of legislative action in California shows that the rights of the Kanakas were eroded until they were only slightly above Native Americans and Chinese. By the Civil War little influence of the Kanakas remained in Shasta County.
The next connection to Hawaii came not from the native Hawaiians but from non-Hawaiians who worked there, were missionaries or the sons and daughters of missionary parents. What began as a mission in the service of God ended with the missionaries controlling much of the land and capital within the Kingdom of Hawaii. We know that a number of residents around Redding were employed in sugar production in Hawaii. While the families remained in healthy California, the husbands would sail to Hawaii to work nine or ten months each year. One such family was Roland and Mary Wilber who started a small olive operation in the 1880s along Placer Road just outside the current Redding city limits. While Roland was surviving a smallpox epidemic among the native Hawaiians in Hawaii, his children, Sidney Charles age seven and Ward age nine, died here. The cause of death here was diagnosed as smallpox with letters from Roland being blamed as the vector. The boys were isolated early in the disease process and were quickly buried near the house to prevent the spread of the disease. The graves of the boys are now abandoned and overgrown with small olive trees next to the storage facility on Placer Road. All that provides a clue to the burial is a loose brick border.
At about the same period as the sugar employees began commuting from Shasta County there was an influx of capital from Hawaii to Shasta County. The progenitor of the investors was Samuel T. Alexander who started purchasing land in 1887 which was developed as the Hopkins Model Fruit Colony on Stillwater Creek across the Sacramento River from Anderson and the Belle Vue Tract just to the north of Anderson. Samuel was a co-founder of one of the Hawaiian “big five” companies, Alexander & Baldwin (although at the time it was an informal partnership not using that name). Samuel was the son of William Patterson Alexander who settled in Hawaii in 1834 as a missionary. In 1883 Samuel moved to Oakland, California to supervise the partnership’s interests on the mainland. Since Hawaii was still a kingdom the partners wanted business interests in California to assure access to the American legislature and favorable prices for Hawaiian sugar. Samuel also sought investment opportunities outside of the partnership purchasing land in Tulare County, Alameda County, San Luis Obispo County, Los Angeles County, and others. Samuel had two other traits: first he supported his investments by developing lateral interests to make the more profitable such as ditches, railroads, etc. Secondly Samuel brought in other investors from his immediate family and corporate family. In addition to developing tracts to sell, Samuel purchased the 1740 acre John Rufus Lowe Ranch in Happy Valley in 1889 to develop as a working fruit/olive ranch and in 1890 built a mansion there as his summer home.
Samuel’s partner, and brother by marriage, Henry P. Baldwin, who was the son of Hawaiian missionary Dwight Baldwin, joined him in investing in Shasta County in 1888 when he acquired 889 acres and twenty-five lots in Anderson from Samuel. At the same time, Samuel’s brother, Henry M. Alexander, also acquired land near Anderson and lots in Brown’s Addition and Pleisch’s Addition. Many of the land purchases and transfers were in the name of Samuel’s wife, Martha Eliza, who was the daughter of Amos Star Cooke, missionary and co-founder of Castle & Cooke, another Hawaiian “big five” company.
In 1894 Samuel Alexander and Henry Baldwin decided to start a California agency bearing the name Alexander & Baldwin in San Francisco and took on two addition partners to oversee operations. The new partners were Wallace Alexander, son of Samuel and Martha Alexander, and Joseph P. Cooke, son of Amos Star Cooke. Wallace became president of the Aloha Fruit Company that purchased land in the Washington Tract of Anderson.
The secretary of the Aloha Fruit Company was Walter Frear who had been a missionary in Hawaii in 1851 but later moved to California to take up Congregational Churches in Grass Valley and Santa Cruz. Between 1870 and 1881, Walter returned to Hawaii as pastor of a church in Honolulu. In 1881 Walter returned to California settling in Oakland. Walter’s son, Walter F. Frear remained in Hawaii to become judge in the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 and then judge of the Territory of Hawaii Supreme Court until 1907 when he was appointed Governor of Hawaii serving until 1913. The senior Walter purchased land in Cottonwood and developed the Woodward Suburbs and the Frear Addition besides selling land to the Aloha Fruit Company.
In 1891 William Chickering, a friend of Samuel Alexander in Oakland, and his lawyer from the firm of Olney, Chickering & Thomas of San Francisco, formed the Olinda Ranch Company with William H. Bailey, Anna H. Bailey, John T Ward, and Frederick E. Noyes all of Oakland as partners. Olney would later become mayor of Oakland. William H. Bailwey was the son of Edward Bailey a missionary on Maui, Hawaii, while his wife was the daughter of another Hawaiian missionary, Thomas H. Hobron. The parents of both Baileys were associated with Samuel’s father William P. Alexander. William Chickering and his wife Caroline also acquired lots from both Samuel T. Alexander and Henry P. Baldwin. In 1902, William Thomas, Chickering’s law partner, also acquired some land from Henry P. Baldwin.
In 1892 Henry Baldwin, Joseph Ballard Atherton and Harriet E. Cooke obtained roughly 448 acres of the Frisbie Tract in Anderson. Joseph Atherton arrived in Hawaii in the 1850s to enter business. Through his hard work he became a junior partner of Castle & Cooke and later a founding member and president of the Bank of Hawaii. Harriet E. Cooke was the daughter of Samuel Wilder who had married the daughter of the Hawaiian missionary, Gerrit Judd. Harriet married Joseph Platt Cooke a partner in the California corporation of Alexander & Baldwin and later a president of Alexander & Baldwin, Limited.
Southern Shasta County was deep into the “Smelter War” between 1897 and 1916 where major corporations such as the one run by the Guggenheims pumped millions of tons of plant killing sulfur dioxide into the air from copper smelting operations based around Coram and Kennett. Fruit crops were especially affected and repeated crop failures had many farmers especially from Clear Creek and Happy Valley leaving the area. Samuel Alexander attempted to sell the Alexander Ranch in 1904, just prior to his death in Africa while on an expedition with his daughter Annie. Martha acquired all the Shasta County property in a decree of distribution in 1905. Her inheritance included 120 shares of Aloha Fruit Company, 167 shares of Anderson Water Company and several notes including over $32,000 from Chickering, $42,000 from William H. Bailey and $87,500 from Wallace Alexander. She also acquired the note on the Alexander Ranch that returned it to her estate after a complicated law suit. Martha continued to sell off lots and in 1913 sold the Alexander Ranch to the Ehmann Olive Company. At Martha’s death in 1918 the remaining land went to her four children: Annie M. Alexander, Wallace M. Alexander, Juliette Alexander and Martha M. Waterhouse. Martha M. Alexander had married John Waterhouse who ran the Alexander & Baldwin, Limited’s insurance division in California. In 1922 the four children of Samuel and Martha Alexander formed the Alexander Property Company to manage the remaining two lots in the Power’s Addition, ten lots in the Hopkins Model Fruit Colony, and 640 acres of other land.
Other Hawaiian investors followed suit in selling their Shasta county holdings. In 1906 Henry P. Baldwin formed Henry P. Baldwin, Limited to handle his California holdings. The company was formed with 15,000 shares: 14,960 shares retained by Henry but ten each went to William Dwight Baldwin, Frank Fowler Baldwin (a future president of Alexander & Baldwin, Limited), Henry “Harry” Alexander Baldwin (a future representative to the U.S. House of Representatives from Hawaii and vice-president of Alexander & Baldwin, Limited), and H. P. Cooke. In 1909 a large tract of the Shasta County holdings were sold to George Hoxie a developer from Fresno.
In 1906 the Aloha Fruit Company was sold to J. King and Alexander M. McCoy of Red Bluff.
While the Hawaiian connection was active in Anderson they interested others in developing the community and they were active in the infrastructure to make the town and their investments a success. Samuel Alexander both promoted and invested in water projects, projects to bring electric power to Anderson and railroad projects. In the long term the Hawaiian connection was at least in part responsible for making Anderson a success.