Benjamin Franklin Dillingham

Benjamin Franklin Dillingham

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Benjamin Franklin Dillingham

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Benjamin Franklin Dillingham (1844–1918) was a businessman and industrialist during the late Kingdom of Hawaii era, throughout the period of the Republic of Hawaii, and during the first two decades of the Territory of Hawaii.


Dillingham was born on September 4, 1844 into an old New England family in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His father was Benjamin C. Dillingham and mother was Lydia Sears Howe. At the age of fourteen he became a sailor on the Yankee clipper Southern Cross which was captured and destroyed by the Confederate steamer Florida in 1863 during the American Civil War. In 1865 he became first mate of a barque named Whistler that did a regular run between San Francisco and Honolulu. On his third trip to the island kingdom, Dillingham broke his leg after falling from a horse and was forced to convalesce in Hawaii.


He decided to stay in Honolulu and by the end of 1865 was a clerk at Diamond Hardware, which he bought out for $28,000 in 1869. April 26 in 1869 he married Emma Louise Smith (1844–1920), of a prominent missionary family. She was the daughter of Reverend Lowell Smith and Abigail Willis Tenney. Dillingham turned out to be an astute businessman, and more importantly, was always willing to take risks. In 1879 he started a dairy farm in upper Honolulu, and during the 1880s became increasingly successful. He founded the Oahu Railway and Land Company (OR&L) that began service in November 1889....
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