Born at Schenectady, New York, the son of sea captain John Dominis and Mary Dominis, John Owen Dominis (1832-1891) moved from New York to Honolulu with his parents in 1837.
The school young Dominis went to in Honolulu was situated next to the Royal School attended by Hawaiian children of noble birth, with whom he became friends.
Among these royals were his wife to be, Lydia Kamakaeha Paki, later Queen Lili‘uokalani, Emma Rooke, Victoria Kamamalu, and future kings Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, William Lunalilo and David Kalakaua.
His marriage to Lydia Kamakaeha Paki in 1862 brought him many honors and important posts in the Hawaiian kingdom.
For instance, when Lili‘uokalani was crowned queen on Jan. 29, 1891, Dominis became prince consort of the Hawaiian kingdom, and remained so until his death on Aug. 23 of that year.
Two years earlier, when his mother died in 1889, he and Lili‘uokalani inherited Washington Place, which had been the home of his parents, and which eventually became the official residence of the governor of Hawai‘i and is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
As to his connection to Kaua‘i, there is the Hui Kawaihau which follows.
When King David Kalakaua set up a few courtiers and members of his deceased brother’s (Prince Leleiohoku’s) Honolulu choral society in the sugar business at Kapahi in 1877, Dominis became one of the Hui Kawaihau’s (Ice Water Company’s) charter members.
To kick off things on Kaua‘i, Kalakaua and then Gov. John Dominis of O‘ahu, along with the company’s working members, arrived at the mouth of the Wailua River aboard the steamer Kilauea in August of that year.
The hui then built houses and a meeting hall in Kapahi about where the Kaua‘i Athletic Club facility now stands, on the approximate former site of the Hawaiian Fruit Packers pineapple cannery, and James Make‘e agreed to plant 240 acres of the hui’s sugarcane and grind the cane at his Kapa‘a mill.
Four years later, when Hui Kawaihau went out of business, its property and leased lands were acquired by Make‘e’s son-in-law, Col. Zephaniah S. Spalding.