Tombstones at the Ewa Plantation Cemetery

This is an update on the Ewa plantation cemetery that I had written about in June (Hawaii Sugar Plantation)

Where are the graves? Only one lonely memorial.

When I first went to the plantation graveyard, grass grew so high that I could not see the tombstones. I thought they had all been removed. I could only think of all the hard work, trials and tribulations that these immigrants suffered to only end up forgotten.

Then a few months back while having breakfast at the Zippy’s restaurant across from the graveyard I got a pleasant surprise.

My friend and I were gabbing away as we walked to the car. I hadn’t even given the graveyard a second thought until we drove out of the parking lot that faced the cemetery. I was shocked. All the graveyard had been clipped and cleaned.

There are headstones as early as 1896 and the graveyard has been registered with the State Historical Society. But there has been nobody that is responsible for the care and upkeep of it. Too bad with all the money that was made  harvesting sugar, the big cats could not find it in their deep pockets to provide for a perpetual care for those people who worked themselves to the bone, ended up with permanently bent backs and suffered  abuse   and ended there days here to be lost in a blanket of weeds and just a whisper in the wind.

But someone has taken it upon his or her self to do something about the condition. And these are the results of what I saw that day.

This is the same memorial after the cemetery had been cared for. I was so surprised at all of the graves around it.

I even found signs of visitors. I was elated to see that some of these people were not forgotten

These were the graves that surrounded the one with the flowers.

Look at the dates on this marker. It speaks volumes as to what this mother must have suffered. I wonder if she was one of the many women who had to work and give birth in the field. I imagine her with a little bundle wrapped and slung over her back as she stayed hunched over working in the unbearable heat to line some fat cats pocket. She truly sacrificed. This was a beautiful tomb stone that was erected by what must have been a very loving family.

I’m not sure what was going on here but I would like to think that someone came to share a bottle and conversation with the person buried here.

This soul received a beautiful orchid lei.

And this was my favorite marker. I don’t know who it belonged to but it fits perfectly into this sad setting.

If you would like to read more about this area here is a very interesting site to go to. It is a request for money to help preserve the Plantation area. It is full of the history of those times and is very informative.

Ewa Historical Society

35 comments on “Tombstones at the Ewa Plantation Cemetery

  1. MARIA OLIPAS says:

    I found the plans to the cemetery with plot numbers, names, etc. Please go to

    • Thank you so much Maria, I was looking at the map and saw one of the names that also had their Bango Number added to the site. There was something so sad about seeing that. At one time the workers were mere numbers rather then people. This is so appreciated. I need to get the time to go over my blog to see who it was that wanted a photo of the grave and then try and figure out where that grave is. How did you find this? I tried searching the web but never could find any reference to it.

      • Maria Olipas says:

        Hi Karen,
        All I did was google Ewa Cemetery and it appeared. I can only guess that now that the word is out, it has now moved up on the google chain and comes up on the first page when doing a search for it.

        I was at the clean up on saturday and was trying to match up a lot of the graves and locations. Due to erosion and shifting, a lot of the markers are not in their original spots. MANY are not where that map says they are supposed to be. Based on that map, all the childrens locations should be right down the middle, instead, I found a few of them in the far back left corner.

        There are some that are in the same location per the map, but trying to match up every one will be a large task especially since a lot of them are unmarked graves.

        I learned that the cemetery suffered a fire years ago. Many of the graves that were once marked, lost their markers. The plantation placed white crosses to replace the lost markers.

        I am on facebook and took many photos over the weekend. There were so many markers to photograph and it was getting hot. I took what I could. My album is open to the public. You are welcome to use any of the photos there. Hopefully this link works.!/maria.olipas/media_set?set=a.10200749170104602.1073741835.1022750890&type=3

        There is a donation site set up for those who want to donate to the restoration project here:

        • Maria thank you for all that information. I was going to try to get down there but now I see it would be quite time consuming. Someone did ask about a small childs grave site and I was going to try and find it but it probably will be an all day thing. I wonder if I should just go down there and photograph what is readable and just publish the photos and people can look at it that way also. I hope that they will go to your facebook site. I did and it’s wonderful that people have once again taken an interest.

          I think I will do more cemeteries as people must be doing their genealogy searches and these photos help. I sure wished I had someone post mine but I don’t even know where in the mainland they are buried. Once again, thank you so much.
          Karen in Honolulu

          • Jo Filicky says:

            I read your profile and saw that you’re originally from San Francisco. I might just be able to help you find yours, as I currently live just inland from the Bay Area. I also have some resources I use for the Ewa project that may be able to help me find your relatives.

          • Jo Filicky says:

            Hi Karen,

            Firstly, let me extend a huge thank you for your photos and offering to help find graves for people. I run the donation page Maria mentioned and am the one who is collecting all of our research in one place. I live on the mainland now, so it’s the only way I can help. Since the clean up this weekend, a lot more graves were uncovered. The Ewa Beach Lions are hopefully going to get a hauler in this week, so they can remove all the grass and trimmings, making it even easier to spot the different graves. The next big project will be re-mapping the cemetery, once the clippings and rubbish are cleared. Once that’s done, it should be a lot easier to find where the different sections have shifted to over time.

            • Your very welcome. I am sorry that it was just overwhelming trying to find graves. I work in the archives at Bishop Museum sometimes and I couldn’t even get the maps that they have there as they are so understaffed.’
              I was surprised to hear that someone just Googled it and was able to find the map. Believe me I tried so many ways by using google.
              But right now I think all those who had asked about graves have had their questions answered and photos taken by other people who read that particular blog.
              I am very honored that readers went to such extent to get back to those who had left comments. This was wonderful how everyone pulled together.
              Thank you for getting this information to me. I will have to watch to see how things are going at the cemetery and do an update.

              • Jo Filicky says:

                Oh ouch…thanks for the head’s up about Bishop Museum. I sent a request to them today for a copy of their maps and ledgers…at least now I know it may take a while for them to get back to me. The UH maps Maria found have been helpful to a degree. They were invaluable in helping Maria find Kim’s Aunty, so there is hope!

                I’m an immigrant myself, and I know how so many people feel when it comes to trying to find their loved ones. It took me nearly two decades to find my maternal grandfather, and he was not where we expected. I have a feeling that as the word gets out, more folks will find your blog and leave questions/queries. I will definitely keep an eye out and lend a hand if I can.

                Feel free to check the donation page often. I update it daily and as more and more is uncovered, I have a better picture of what all is going on and what is being found. Also feel free to direct folks to the page. “Hey! These folks are doing the work right now, they may be able to help!” I’m building a personal catalogue to use as a reference, so if we’ve found it, I can say; here you go!

                • Thank you Jo. Yes I will direct them and make sure to mention on the next blog I do about the cemetery. Are you just working on Ewa or are you doing others too?
                  I’ve got to try to get to your donation page. I’ve just looked at the photos of the work this weekend. I will have to find some extra time to get down there.

                  • Jo Filicky says:

                    No worries. I’m just working on Ewa right now. I’m a Campbell grad, and went to school with a lot of the descendants of the original plantation workers. I grew up moving from country to country a lot through my Dad being in the Navy. Of all the places we lived in, Hawai’i and Ewa in particular, is one of only 3 places in the world I truly love. A lot of the guys involved in the clean up this weekend are folks I graduated with. When you do get back to Ewa, by all means please take lots of photos. I have translators lined up to help with the stones that aren’t in English and I definitely need good photos for them to work from. Maria is also taking a lot of photos as well, but the more the merrier!

  2. Kim Lucena-Pargas says:

    Where is the location of the angel marker?? If it was in the far back corner I may know who it belongs to…

    • Kim, It’s been awhile since I’ve been there to take these photos so I can’t remember exactly where it is. There is only on entrance to the cemetery and it’s on a side street across from Zippy’s restaurant if you are familiar with the area. As you go into that entrance and walk down a bit towards the highway it is in that area. It is not in the middle but closer to the side. I am going to go down there and try and figure out some things there and when I do I will take some photos to give you an idea of where it is. That way you can let me know if it’s the one you are thinking of.
      Thank you for looking in.

      • Kim Lucena-Pargas says:

        Thank you so much!! I remember going with my my Grandparents to visit my Aunty. She passed away at the age of 4 during the late 40’s early 50’s. A long time ago there was a dirt road that ran from Kurayan St. to the back of the cemetery (along side and parallel to the first house) She was near the end of that road so that is probably not her marker. I couldn’t remember if it was an angel of the Virgin Mary she had as a marker.

        Thank you for the beautiful pictures, The last time I was in Hawaii to visit the cemetery looked like your first pictures. It is heart warming to see a lot more like it did when I was little…

        • what was your Aunties name? I will try to look for it the next time I go. The dirt road you are speaking of may have been built up with houses. as there are all houses lining the back of the cemetery. There is no entrance back there now. Let me know and I will try to see if I can find anything.


          • Jo Filicky says:

            Karen, Maria found Kim’s Aunty’s grave this past weekend. I wrote about it on the donation page, raising money to fully restore the cemetery, and included a picture that Maria took.

  3. Joylene says:

    thanks for posting. Our great grandfather died as a laborer and was buried there. His wife, mg great grandmother and my grandfather did not see him anymore because they were left in here in the Philippines. Thanks for this. At least we, as grandchildren saw where his remains are. May they rest in Peace!

    • Joylene says:

      By the way, here is the Plot number… Burial:
      Ewa Plantation Community Cemetery
      Honolulu County
      Hawaii, USA
      Plot: 52 He died in Dec. 22, 1940
      I hope you can take a picture at least so we can have a view. Thanks in advance..

      • I will try mt best to find his grave if you will send me his name. There is no way to read the plot numbers as there is no one that takes care of the graveyard. It is done by volunteers and not always on a regular basis. The first time I saw the cemetery it was totally covered over by weeds. When I went back the second time it was cleaned up.

        The graves that were now exposed were not all in tack.some though having head stones or statuary did not say who was in the grave. It is quite a large area to cover so I don’t know how long it will take me. I will try to research to see if I can find anyone that might have the map to the plots. I will try my best to get you a photo. Just bear with me as it might take some time. But don’t forget to send me his name. Hopefully he will have a complete headstone.

      • Jo Filicky says:

        Hi Joylene,

        I’m working with a group of folks who are restoring the cemetery. You can find us here: Unfortunately over time a lot of erosion and shifting has taken place, so grave stones might not be where they’re supposed to be. Also there was a fire many years ago that destroyed a lot of markers, and the Plantation replaced them with simple crosses. Our group just did a massive clean up of the grass and brush and uncovered many previously hidden graves. The next step will be remapping the cemetery, which we hope to get under way very soon. Once the remapping is done, it’ll be much easier to find specific graves.

      • Maria Olipas says:

        Joylene, I may have found his site. My computer crashed on me that had my first volume of logged photos that included the wooden cross that I believe is his grave. But I have two pictures of the plots in the next row that show that brown wooden cross that is where plot 52 is noted on the maps. There is no name on it. Please email me and I can send you the photos. I’m hoping to get down to the cemetery again this month and I will go back and take better photos of the cross and the neighboring graves to confirm the data. Thank you, Maria


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  6. gravetender06 says:

    So nice to see that the cemetery was cleaned up. Nice pictures, too!

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