Capt. William Matson: Brought tourism to Hawaii
Containers stacked high and emblazoned with a large blue â€śMatsonâ€? on their sides are as ubiquitous on any dock in the Hawaiian Islands as palm trees are on Waikiki beach. Matson refers to the Matson Navigation Co., founded in 1901 by Capt. William Matson. The stories of Hawaii, Waikiki, Pacific steamers and Matson are as intertwined as the stitches of a fine Persian carpet. Matson, born in 1849 in a small hamlet near GĂ¶teborg, Sweden, was orphaned at a young age and went to live with an aunt. He did not attend school and ran away when he was 12, beginning his tenure on the high seas. Two years later he arrived in New York City. Although the nation was in the throes of the Civil War and Matson barely spoke English, the young teen managed to survive in the teeming city. Not much is known about his activities in New York City or in San Francisco, where he arrived as an 18-year-old in 1867. Undoubtedly he was involved with ships and the sea. Some claim he sailed to Puget Sound, and later carried coal from Mount Diablo to the Spreckelsâ€™ California Sugar Refinery at Eighth and Brannan streets in San Francisco.