Emma Kauikeolani Napoleon Mahelona Wilcox (1851-1931) was born in Honolulu, the daughter of Mr. Temanihi and Mrs. Pamahoa Napoleon, and was related, through her mother, to King Lunalilo.
She was educated at Kawaiahao Seminary and married bookkeeper Samuel Mahelona at Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu, in 1882.
They had four children: Samuel, Ethel, Cushman and Allen Mahelona.
When Samuel Mahelona died in 1892, his funeral was honored by the attendance of Queen Lili‘uokalani, her ladies in waiting and other dignitaries.
Emma then taught at Kawaiahao Seminary and, in 1898, she married Kaua‘i sugar planter Albert Spencer Wilcox (1844-1919), the son of American Protestant missionaries to Hawai‘i Abner and Lucy Wilcox of Waioli, Kaua‘i.
Albert Spencer Wilcox and Emma Mahelona Wilcox resided at Kilohana House in Puhi, Kaua‘i — a big, white house surrounded by lawns.
Kilohana House was torn down in 1936 and was replaced by the mansion standing at Kilohana today, which was their nephew Gaylord Parke Wilcox’s home until his death in 1970, and is now the locale of Gaylord’s Restaurant.
With the support of her husband, Emma Mahelona Wilcox founded the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital in 1917.
It had been her husband’s niece, Kaua‘i health-care pioneer Mabel Wilcox, who’d first seen the need for a sanatorium on Kaua‘i, where those afflicted with tuberculosis could go to receive proper medical care, and it was she who had convinced Albert and Emma Wilcox, other Wilcox family members and the territorial government to fund the building of a 50-bed tuberculosis hospital in Kapa‘a.
Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital was initially maintained solely for the treatment of tuberculosis and was dedicated as a memorial to Emma’s son, Samuel, who’d died of tuberculosis in 1912.
Three years after Albert Spencer Wilcox’s death in 1919, Emma Mahelona Wilcox donated $75,000 for the building of a public library in Lihu‘e in memory of her husband.
The Albert Spencer Wilcox Memorial Building on Rice Street served as the Lihu‘e Library from 1924, until a new library replacing it was built on Hardy Street in 1969, and it has housed exhibits of the Kaua‘i Museum since 1970.