In 1830 at the age of 16, Englishman George “Old Keoki” Charman (1814-92) signed on board a whaleship at Sussex, England, and went to sea.
Seven years later, in 1837, he was aboard the whaleship “James Corwin” off the Hawaiian Islands, when a crazed cook set fire to the whaleship, which prompted all aboard to abandon ship in an open boat — less the cook, whose throat was cut and his body was thrown overboard by his mates.
Charman and 11 of his mates then landed at Waikiki, and Charman soon after sailed off to Kaua‘i, where he leased land beside the Lihu‘e road toward Koloa and grew sugarcane.
Later, he moved to Koloa and leased the 2,000 acre (Charles) Tobey Plantation, which extended northwest from just north of the old mill site in Koloa on what is today Maluhia Road.
On Tobey Plantation, he grew sugarcane and cassava root from which tapioca is made, and he also raised horses and cattle until 1872, when he sold the plantation for $12,000 to August Conradt and August Dreier.
Charman also carried on a thriving trade in firewood cut in the mountains that was sold to sugar plantations and whaleship captains, or shipped to the Honolulu market.
Other supplies he sold to whaleship captains included sheep, goats, butter, salt beef, oranges, coffee, bananas, Irish and sweet potatoes, melons, molasses and other goods.
And, because of his experience in teaming horses and oxen, King David Kalakaua employed him to plow his cane lands at Kawaihau in 1877.
Interestingly, Charman is said to have worn gold rings in his earlobes that were then thought by sailors to prevent diseases of the eyes, and he was often seen driving about in “Charman’s Chaise,” a carriage he bought from Anglican Bishop Thomas Staley of Honolulu.
George Charman married Mary (Mele) Hobbs, a part-Hawaiian woman, and they had three children: William, Henry and Mrs. Lydia A. B. Miller, and 15 grandchildren.
It was said that his generosity was boundless, his pocket was ever open for good purposes, and he was greatly missed at Koloa.
Source: The Garden Island