Edward Henry Walton Broadbent (1872-1947) was born in New Zealand and was trained there as a blacksmith prior to his moving to Hawaii in 1891 and finding skilled work at the Honolulu Iron Works.
By the following year, he’d settled on Kauai and was teaching blacksmithing at the Kauai Industrial School at Malumalu, mauka of Puhi.
Later, he was hired by George Norton Wilcox, the owner of Grove Farm Plantation, and became head luna there.
In 1902, he was promoted to manage Grove Farm, a post he held until his retirement in 1937.
Broadbent’s can-do attitude, blacksmithing skill and mechanical ability enabled him to invent many labor-saving sugar plantation devices at Grove Farm, one of which was a tractor-driven plowing and planting machine operated by five men that replaced the labor previously done by 50 men with oxen.
Also, while managing Grove Farm, Broadbent purchased 35 acres at Waipouli in 1912 from Mr. Wilcox for the purpose of planting coconut trees to produce copra, and within two years, his acreage contained nearly 1,100 fast-growing trees.
As Broadbent explained, “I dug the holes down to the water. To do this, every hole had to be put down through a floor of solid cement of several inches in thickness that had to be gotten out in small pieces by pick and hand. Once through this, I struck water.
“In these holes, I placed a square box. I then placed the trees and filled the box with the richest soil I could find. The result has been most satisfactory, and according to Mr. Hills, the coconut planter, the trees have grown faster than any he has ever seen.”
He expanded his grove by 72 acres, and eventually employed several workers whose plantation-style homes were built for them within the groves.
During World War II, U. S. Army troops were quartered in tents in his Waipouli groves, but today, all that remains of them are the rows of tall coconut trees standing alongside Kuhio Highway in Waipouli.
Edward Broadbent and his wife Marie had three children: Frank, Dora and Alice.
Source: The Garden Island