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ISLAND HISTORY: The suicide of Kauai sugar planter Henry Harrison Wilcox

The eighth of eight sons of American Protestant missionaries Abner and Lucy Wilcox of Waioli, Kaua‘i, Henry Harrison Wilcox was born in Hanalei in 1858, educated at Punahou, and was for a number of years actively engaged in the management of Hanama‘ulu Sugar Plantation with his brother, Albert Spencer Wilcox.

Another brother, George Norton Wilcox, was the owner of Grove Farm Plantation; a third brother, Samuel Whitney Wilcox, had been Sheriff of Kaua‘i from 1872 until 1897, and a fourth brother, William Luther Wilcox, was appointed judge of the police court of Honolulu in 1897.

On Wednesday afternoon, January 11, 1899, Henry Wilcox committed suicide while alone at his home in Hanama‘ulu by shooting himself in the temple with a pistol.

Death was practically instantaneous and his body was found a short time later by his wife.

His funeral occurred the following afternoon.

Wilcox had been ill for a number of years prior to his suicide, suffering intense pain from the effects of neuralgia that made it nearly impossible for him to sleep, and he’d often complained that his illness made him tired of life.

Most recently, he’d gone for treatment in the United States, where doctors informed him that he would not last very long, and that death might come at any moment from apoplexy.

This verdict, which firmly convinced him that he would never be a well man again, cast an irreversible gloom over his life.

During the days leading up to his suicide, he had been especially despondent.

Henry Harrison Wilcox was married to Mary Green, the granddaughter of missionaries the Rev. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith Green of Maui.

There were no children.

Wilcox’s tragic death was one of several that Kauai’s kama‘aina Wilcox family has endured.

Abner and Lucy Wilcox suddenly took sick and died while on a visit to Connecticut in 1869; Ralph Lyman Wilcox died unexpectedly of heart failure while swimming at Ha‘ena in 1913; Charles Henry Wilcox was killed in 1920 on Kaua‘i in an automobile accident, and Etta Wilcox Sloggett (1878-1933) and William Luther Wilcox (1850-1903) also met with untimely deaths.
Source: The Garden Island

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