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Scotch Coast

Answering a recruiting call from Hawai‘i for teachers, Marsue McGinnis McShane arrived at Laupahoehoe School in September of 1945. … “We were invited to all the parties and they gave a big party for us, the plantation.”

“(W)e went up to the [plantation] manager’s house. They were expecting us and we had tea and everything. [The area] was called the Scotch Coast, [because] a lot of the people were real Scotsmen.”

“And there were these Scotsmen and I remember they put on their kilts for us and did the dances. One guy, the one who was head of the sugar processing, the raw sugar, played the bagpipes.” (McShane)

“It has been said that ‘Scotland’s greatest export product is Scotsmen’ and many of them turned up in Hawaii beginning with the two Scots aboard Capt. James Cook’s Resolution when he discovered Hawaii for the West.” (LA Times)

“One well-known Scotsman was Capt. Alexander Adams, a wide-ranging navigator and friend of Hawaii’s first monarch King Kamehameha I.”

“In the 19th century a Scot, Robert Crichton Wyllie of Ayeshire, was Minister of Foreign Affairs under Kings Kamehameha III and IV.”

“From Edinburgh came Archibald Scott Cleghorn, who became governor of Oahu and husband of Princess Likelike. He was also father of a famous beauty, Princess Kaiulani, to whom another Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, dedicated a poem.”

“The Hawaiian island that drew the most Scots was the Big Island of Hawaii. Some Scots undoubtedly found pleasure in settling in the island’s Waimea-Kohala area because its cool, misty upland climate reminded them of their own misty isles.” (LA Times)

“Unlike other large ethnic groups, the Scots never came in large groups or by the shipload. And in a society where ethnicity was easily identified, the Scots were simply part of the ‘haoles’”. (Orange County Register)

“The Scots came for various reasons. Some came for the pleasure of Hawaii. Others followed kinsmen already in Hawaii when economic conditions became poor in Scotland.”

“The Scottish emigrants came mostly from rural areas of Scotland and settled in country areas of Hawaii, particularly on the sugar plantations.”

“Eventually, so many Scots settled on the plantations along the Hamakua Coast that the area became known as the ‘Scotch Coast.’”

“On Saturday nights the Scots came into Hilo, the island’s main city, and congregated at the end of the railroad line at the corner of Kamehameha Street and Waianuenue Avenue. It was eventually known as the ‘Scotsmen’s corner.’” (LA Times)

“The Scots kept their ties to the mother country by letter, and by occasionally recruiting kinsmen to come to the islands to join them. They kept their traditional foods, as did other ethnic groups, and scones, oatmeal and shortbread were common on the island.”

“But the Scots also were canny enough to assimilate, or at least acculturate. An observer of the Scots in Hawaii, George Mair, described what a new Scot did when he arrived on the Island of Hawaii.

“‘He would get outfitted, learn about cane, learn pidgin.’ Only a few Scots maintained their British citizenship and most quickly worked at becoming American citizens.” (Orange County Register)

“A period of intense emigration was 1880 to 1930, when many of the Scots on the island sent back to Scotland for friends and relatives.”

“Most came from eastern Scotland – Kirriemuir, Aberdeen, Portknockie, Inverness, Angus and Perth. A few came from the Highlands.” (LA Times) “On the plantations the Scots worked quickly into managerial positions.” (Orange Coast Register)

“The calibre of these men were recorded by others, in particular the plantation owners. John T Moir said, ‘They were reliable men and whenever they were given a job to do, they saw it through. There was no slacking.’”

“At one time there were 26 sugar plantations along the ‘Scotch Coast’ and every one had Scots at some managerial level.” (LA Times)

“Over the Big Island, with Hawaiian Air Lines – ‘You’re now flying over the Hamakua coast, better known as the Scotch coast,’ said our purser. ‘Below us is the most productive soil in the world. As much as 300,000 pounds of sugar cane have been grown per acre on these plantations.’”

“He could have added that from an 180-mile square area, slightly larger than that of New York City, Hawaii produces over a 1,000,000 tons of sugar, manufactured in the US,’ pointed out my fellow passenger, Roy Leffingwell, of the Hawaii Sugar Plantations association. ‘It’s Hawaii’s main industry ….’” (Burns; Medford Mail Tribune)

Large coastal sugar promoter Theo H Davies hired as manager a Scotch engineer then operating a small Hilo foundry. The new manager was Alexander Young with whom Davies joined forces to organize Waiakea Mill Company.

Years later Davies was a stockholder with Young in the organization of von Hamm-Young Company, forerunner of The Hawaii Corporation. Principals were Young’s son Archibald, and Conrad C. von Hamm. An early project was the Alexander Young Hotel. (Greaney)

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