Those places are named after Germans. Spreckelsville is a
sugar plantation and community on Maui founded by Claus Spreckles,
a German who made a fortune refining sugar in California. Isenberg
Street is named after Paul Isenberg, of Dransfeld, Germany,
another famous sugar planter. And Barber’s Point is named
after a German ship captain whose ship was wrecked on a coral
shore of Kalaloa, today’s Barber’s Point.
Germany is on the other side of the world (12 hours ahead of
Hawai‘i in the summer, 11 hours ahead in the winter),
so far away that some people here can’t imagine ever
traveling there, yet many people in Germany have dreamed of
Some Germans in the 18th and 19th centuries were adventurous
and traveled the world. Karl Webber was a German aboard Captain
Cook’s ships when he discovered the Sandwich Islands
(Hawai‘i was originally named after Cook’s patron
for the voyage). He is famous still for his drawing of the
islands’ people and landmarks.
Many others Germans have come to the islands over the years.
Some passed through, writing interesting books as they travelled
about the islands. Some painted beautiful Hawaiian landscapes
that are well known around the world today. And some came to
stay and even built sugar plantations.
Claus Spreckles, the sugar baron, built Spreckelsville just
east of Wailuku, Maui, and constructed a $4 million sugar mill,
then the world’s most modern, efficient, and largest
sugar factory. He also owned the Oceanic Steamship Company,
whose ships he used to transport sugar to his sugar processing
plant in California’s Carcinas Straits, on the north
east side of San Francisco Bay.
Paul Isenberg was the son of a German Lutheran minister. He
became manager of Kaua‘i’s Lihu‘e Plantation
in 1862, and his brothers—Hans, Otto, and von Chamisso
wrote for The Land Of Aloha, about “a kind of South Sea
romanticism that in many forms still persists in German-speaking
Europe to this day. Hawai‘i, in particular, has proven
to be a magic word [drawing] ever-increasing numbers of German,
Austrian, and Swiss tourists flocking to the islands.”
Von Chamisso was a German poet and botanist so interested in
the Hawaiian language that after his visit he wrote one of
the first Hawaiian grammar books. It was published in Leipzig,
Germany, in 1837.
According to Schweizer, the Germans were also noteworthy because
they were the only sugar planters to bring in laborers from
their own nation. Dr. Wilhelm Hillebrand, for example, arrived
here in 1850 and became the founding physician of Honolulu’s
Queen’s Hospital in the 1860s. Hillebrand personally
selected many of the workers who would immigrate to work on
the sugar plantations. After an expedition to the Madeira Islands
in 1871, he suggested that Hawai‘i planters bring in
workers from the Madeira Islands where, at that time, the grape
orchards were suffering from blight. And that’s how the
Portuguese came to work on Hawai‘i’s sugar plantations.
Another well-known German is Johann Carl Pflueger, who came
to the islands when he was only 16 years old. Pflueger became
a close friend of the Hawaiian monarchy, and his family still
lives and prospers here as owners of the Pflueger Automobile
Agency in Honolulu.
Another important German in Hawai‘i was Heinrich Berger,
who became the leader of the famous Royal Hawaiian Band. Queen
Liliu‘okalani called him “the father of Hawaiian
music,” but Schweizer tells us that the national anthem
he created for the Hawaiian kingdom, “Hawai‘i Pono‘i,” now
the state song, “was derived from the Prussian anthem “Heil
Dir im Siegerkranz.” Berger earned a gold medal from
German Emperor William II for his music in Hawai‘i.
The German heritage is still present today. Many Germans married
Hawaiians and other Polynesian peoples, and although many people
here look Polynesian, they have German last names such as Meyer,
Brandt, Smith, and even Hannemann. Maybe Honolulu’s new
major is part German as well. Only Mufi knows?