Princess Ruth Keelikolani (1826-1883) — in her day, the wealthiest woman in all Hawaii — visited Kauai often, typically arriving by inter-island steamer at Nawiliwili Bay, where a rowboat would carry her to the Kalapaki Landing.
A carriage would then usually take her to Hale Nani, the Lihue home of rancher and future governor of Kauai, Williams Hyde Rice, where the Rices would entertain her with luaus held in her honor.
However, one particular visit to Kauai in 1867 found Ruth residing, not at Hale Nani, but at Judge Wana’s home in Waioli, where she was seen relaxing on the beach, along with her retainers and her pets — two small white poodles she adored.
Later, on this same visit, John Low, the manager of Princeville Plantation, arranged a picnic that Ruth attended on the Hanalei River at a spot in a kukui grove about 3/4 of a mile upriver of the present Hanalei Bridge, built in 1912.
By 1881, with King David Kalakaua’s lolani Palace under construction, Ruth determined to build a grand palace of her own that would rival the king’s.
To obtain the necessary funds, she sold tracts of her landholdings, including one estate on Kauai that had been leased from her for many years by Grove Farm Plantation owner George Norton Wilcox and William Hyde Rice.
Wilcox and Rice purchased the estate from her for $27,500 on April 1, 1881, and divided it between themselves, with Rice taking possession of Kipu, and Wilcox acquiring Haiku.
Likewise, Ruth also sold the Ahupuaa of Mahaulepu to the Hui of Mahaulepu — comprised of 45 Native Hawaiians — for $10,000 in September 1882.
By 1900, Koloa Sugar Plantation had purchased most of the valuable land in the Mahaulepu ahupuaa from the hui.
Ruth Keelikolani willed nearly all of her vast remaining estates to her cousin, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884).
Princess Pauahi’s will — which was carried out by her husband, Charles Reed Bishop (1822-1915) — specified that her estates be used to establish and maintain Kamehameha Schools.