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John Palmer Parker

John Palmer Parker

From New England, Parker came to the Big Island and didn’t get back on the boat in 1809.  Sixteen years earlier George Vancouver gave the Hawaiian King five head of cattle, (the number of cattle he gave varies depending up who is telling the story).  The Parker ranch became the first cattle ranch in the U.S and it grew to one half million acres!

Parker married the granddaughter of the Hawaiian King and was given exclusive rights to ship and sell the cattle.  Previously the cattle were allowed to freely roam the island and were not allowed to be killed. The cattle multiplied and became a huge nuisance.

The land of the ranch looks much like Eastern Oregon in summer (dry rolling hills with short brown grass)  Today the cattle are grass feed, then shipped to Canada where they are fattened up and then shipped to Texas for slaughter.  The ranch in the early days employed Mexican/Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese cowboys.

Gabriela and I went to the Parker Ranch homes which are now Museums.  We saw the original Parker home and the mansion later built.

The last family member Richard Smart created a non-profit ranch which continues the legacy.