On this date 100 years ago, Maui County's population totaled something like 32,000 souls (30,547 according to the 1910 census and 38,052 in 1920). Reports from that time said "something like half" were Japanese and Chinese nationals. There's no record of the number of tourists, but there couldn't have been more than a dozen or so at any given time.
There were 11 sugar plantations. Wailuku and Lahaina were the big towns on the island. The fastest growing town was Paia. Hana was the sleepy center of East Maui. Kihei was a dusty place where ocean-supported Hawaiians maintained homes.
There's no particular reason for this time travel except for a fascination with the evolution of Maui, particularly as reflected by the then once-a-week Maui News. No "The" in the name. That was added a half-century later. Editor Charles G. Clark proudly proclaimed the publication "a Republican newspaper" versus a Home-Rule or Democrat publication. The paper promoted itself with two boxed announcements on either side of the name: "What is Best for Maui is Best for the News" and "If you want Prosperity Advertise in the News."
On May 3, 1912, readers were probably just getting their April 27 edition. The paper was delivered by mail. The next edition would come out on May 4. A year's subscription cost $2 if paid in advance.
It's easy to imagine the editor writing stories with a pencil and handing them off to a printer who set the type, one tiny letter at a time. The "cases" of each page were then set on a flatbed press that pressed sheets of paper down on the ink-smeared type.
The big news of the day was the acquisition of books by the public library, the first appearance of fruit flies, "What the Wrestler, Boxer and Baseball Artists Are Doing," and "The Free Sugar Bill Intended to Be the Beginning of the End of Protection."
The removal of all duties on imported sugar was scheduled to go into effect the following March. It was big news because cheaper sugar from the Caribbean and South America competed with the domestic product, including Hawaii's sugar. The paper called the effort an assault on "fundamental Republican doctrine." An editorial argued against the bill. Plantation owners were getting $79.60 a ton.
The library story included a list of all the books available - 95 of them. The fruit fly story noted that Maui was the last island to be infected. Sheriff Clement C. Crowell ordered the destruction of the Chinese oranges in Pia Cockett's Waikapu orchard.
The elected sheriff was the most powerful official on the island, with deputies in each district. He was paid $2,250 a year, but was only the second-highest-paid official in the county. The assessor earned $50 more a year.
May was a little early for it to start in those days, but 1912 was an election year. Members of the Board of Supervisors, the predecessor to the County Council, were elected at-large. Successful candidates in 1910 were W.F. Pogue as chairman, with members including William P. Haia, F. William Henning, Charles Lake and Theodore T. Meyers. Their pay was $600 a year. In 1912, voters put in legendary Sam Kalama as chairman of the board.
The April 27, 1912, edition of the paper included an editorial echoing some of today's criticism of media and politics. The editor wrote: "Everyone has a right to their preference for a presidential candidate, but we question the right of some embryo editors hurling all the invective at their command at a candidate . . . especially when they would not dare open their mouths if they stood face to face with him in the open."
A two-sentence editorial urged a celebration "when the electric juice is turned on. Surely we can stop long enough to take more than passing notice of this great municipal improvement."
Human interest stories included the search for 90-year-old Joe Fernandez of Kula. His 30-year-old wife of 10 years said he disappeared on the previous Monday. Clark also promoted two entertainment events, "Graham and his trained rats at the Paia Orpheum tonight" as a great show and a "Mr. Butler" singing at a service of the Paia Union Church.
Some things never change. Politics, sports, the economy and stories everyone will talk about still make good reading . . . even 100 years later.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.