Monday, June 30, 2014

J Alfred Magoon

“A half-dozen mixed in a free-for-all fight, that originated between two lawyers, was the scene witnessed yesterday morning in the judiciary building close to the doors of the Circuit Court. The principal combatants were Hon. Cecil Brown, lawyer, Senator of the Territory and president of the First National Bank of Hawaiʻi, and J Alfred Magoon, lawyer, owner of the Magoon block.”  (San Francisco Call, December 21, 1905)

“The trouble arose through the affairs of the American Savings and Trust Company, a branch of the First National Bank of Hawaii, of which Cecil Brown is president. A meeting of stockholders of the trust company was held last week, Magoon being attorney for the majority. Brown as president ruled out some of their stock … As the Magoon faction was five shares short of a majority, President Brown declared that the old board of directors remained in office.”

“The differences between the stockholders have existed for nearly a year, and the courts will now be called upon to decide them if the Treasury Department at Washington does not step in."  (San Francisco Call, December 21, 1905)

Whoa ... let's step back and get some perspective here.

John Alfred (J Alfred) Magoon was the son of John C and Maria Sophia Eaton Magoon.

John C Magoon was born on December 9, 1830, at Litchfield, Maine.  In 1857, he married Maria Sophia Eaton; the newly married couple started west and settled in Kossuth, Iowa, where their son and only child, J Alfred Magoon, was born on July 22, 1858.

After suffering intensely from fever they made their way back to Maine, having endured the greatest hardships in the journey owing to the primitive mode of travel.  In 1863, Mr Magoon went to California, where in 1869 his wife and son joined him.

J Alfred enrolled in Heald’s Business College remaining there until he graduated. He entered mercantile life immediately, filling the position of bookkeeper with several well-known firms. He was engaged for a time in the office of the Santa Rosa Democrat.

His father bought a ranch near Lower Lake in Lake County and was afterward engaged in quicksilver mining until he and his wife came to the Hawaiian Islands in 1876. Being a farmer he located at Wahiawa, Oʻahu, but a drought destroyed his crops and he moved to Honolulu.

J Alfred joined them shortly afterward and secured a position as bookkeeper on the Halstead plantation at Waialua. It was during this engagement that he decided to adopt law as a profession, and spent what spare time he had reading his law books.

He remained on the plantation for a year and then entered the office of Benjamin H Austin, where he remained for a year, when his straitened finances compelled him to abandon it for the more lucrative position of deputy sheriff at Makawao, Maui.

He afterward resigned and took the position of bookkeeper at Paia Mill and pursued his study of the law as the opportunity was offered. In 1883 he resigned and went to Ann Arbor University, where he took a law course. Upon his graduation two years later he returned to Honolulu and was admitted to the bar.

“He has, perhaps, the largest practice of any of the members of the Honolulu bar, and it was this fact that compelled him to refuse the judgeship when he was first called upon to take it.”

J Alfred Magoon has been selected by the Executive to fill the position of Circuit Court Judge caused by the appointment of Judge HE Cooper to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Judge Magoon is one of the best young men practicing at the bar.  (Hawaiian Gazette, November 5, 1895)

J Alfred married Emmeline Marie Afong and had 7 children: Julia H S Kamakea Magoon (1887-1933) - Harmon Anderson Kipling of California; John Henry N "Lani" Magoon (1889-1975) - Juliet Carrol; Chun Alfred Kapala Magoon (1890-1972) - Ruth L; Eaton Harry Magoon (1891-1970) - Genevieve Burrall Sicotte (teacher in Makaweli;) Mary "Catherine" Kekulani Magoon (1892-1996;) Marmion Mahinulani Magoon (1896-1969) and Emeleen Marie Magoon (1898-1974) - Orville Norris Tyler.

Oh, the earlier fight … “The pugilistic encounter of the two competing leaders will pass into history. It has been ignored by the local press."  (San Francisco Call, December 21, 1905)

OK – here are some connections, if you haven’t already seen them (there are more.)

J Alfred’s wife Emmeline was daughter to Chun Afong and Julia Fayerweather Afong.  Afong made his fortune in retailing, real estate, sugar and rice, and for a long time held the government’s opium license.  He was later dubbed, “Merchant Prince of the Sandalwood Mountains” and is Hawaiʻi’s first Chinese millionaire.

Here are some prior stories on them:

Mary Catherine, the second daughter of Emmeline and J Alfred Magoon, married Frank Ward Hustace, becoming step-mother to seven Hustace children.  (Kauai Historical Society) Hustace was the first son of Frank and Mary Elizabeth “Mellie” Ward Hustace, the eldest of seven daughters of Victoria Robinson Ward.  Victoria’s sister, Mary Robinson, married a Foster.

Here are some prior stories on those families:

That’s enough for now.

No wait, back to the Magoons …

Like many businessmen, Magoon bought properties as investments, for development or for sale for a profit at a later date. By 1914, he built on the Queen Street lot a two-story structure with shops on the ground floor and residential apartments on the top floor, described as “Hawaii’s First Apartment House.”

Additional structures were built in the early twentieth century in a parcel called the “Magoon Block” on the eastern side of Kakaʻako.  The apartments were generally low-rent and inhabited by bachelors, although some poorer families crowded into the larger apartments. (Cultural Surveys)

As the population of Honolulu swelled, tenement buildings were quickly constructed to meet the rapidly growing demand for housing. Hawaiians congregated in the Chinatown and the Kakaʻako districts, both of which were near the waterfront and the center of town. (McGregor)

Magoon Block had a meat market, a grocery store, an ice cream parlor, a furniture store, a little restaurant, and a barber shop on the ground floor, all in one big building. Above the storefronts were rooms with a common kitchen, bath and toilet facilities. It was a little shopping center for the district. (McGregor)

J Alfred Magoon helped found the Sanitary Steam Laundry, invested in Consolidated Amusement Co and the Honolulu Dairy.  He died and Emmeline took over leadership of his business interests.  In her 70s, she moved to South Kona and managed the Magoon Ranch at Pāhoehoe – riding horseback and overseeing the cattle ranch.  She died in 1946 at age 88.

J Alfred Magoon, prominent Honolulu lawyer and promoter of the Honolulu Consolidated Amusement Co. (which controlled the Bijou, Hawaii, Ye Liberty and Empire theatres at Honolulu), died July 26, 1916 at Baltimore, following a fall from a bridge. (Variety, 1916)

The family formed Magoon Estate, Ltd that continues to operate today.  In additions to land holdings in Hawaiʻi, the estate owns the 21,000-acre Guenoc Ranch; and also owns and operates Guenoc Winery, a producer of premium California wines.

OK, that’s enough, for now … by now, you should get the sense that there will be more stories on this and related families, properties and businesses.

The image shows the Magoon Block (Cultural Surveys.)  In addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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