Why was the sugar company located in Papaikou named Onomea Sugar Company?
In 1876, E.C. Hitchcock & Company established a plantation at Papaikou, on 11,000 acres five miles north of Hilo. Hitchcock was a son of Harvey Hitchcock (1800-1855), who arrived in Hawaii in 1832 with the fifth company of missionaries. The plantation got off to a rough start when the mill burned down, and had to be replaced before the first crop was ground in 1877. Production reached 800 tons of sugar in 1880 and was projected to increase to over 1,000 tons. In 1886 the plantation's name was changed to Papaikou Sugar Company. Two years later, in 1888, C. Brewer & Company, Ltd. merged its lands with its northern neighbor, Onomea Sugar Company, and the Papaikou Sugar Company name was no longer used.
Until today in Papaikou, we have the Onomea Sugar Office built in 1927, the Onomea Federal Credit Union chartered in 1939 and the old Onomea Sugar Company Store built around 1892, which in 1950 became the Yoshiyama Store, closed in 1997. The Papaikou Post Office which opened in the late 1800’s was originally located in a small building on the Hamakua side of the Onomea Sugar Company Office. Around 1903, the post office moved into the Onomea Sugar Company Plantation Store but kept the name Papaikou Post Office. In 1976 the Papaikou Post Office moved into a separate building between the old store and the Onomea Sugar Company Office until today. The Hawaii Plantation Museum opened in 2013 in the old store.