Morris Louisson, Pioneer Jewish Businessman & The First Jew to Live in Hawaii

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Morris Louisson

Values Codes: I-E-L

 

Morris Louisson was born, in 1824, in Schwersenz, Posen, Poland.

 

Along the way . . .

During the 1850s, Morris Louisson journeyed to San Francisco, California.

There he worked in the clothing industry, first as a jobber for Julius Baum and later as a salesman for Neustadter Brothers.

 

Hawaii

In 1866, Louisson’s uncle A. S. Grinbaum invited him (along his cousin, Morris S. Grinbaum) to move to Honolulu.

Traveling to Hawaii by Clipper Ship

Traveling to Hawaii by Clipper Ship

Together, they founded the firm, M.S. Grinbaum & Co., the most important import export business in Hawaii.

A.S. Grinbaum soon left Hawaii to return to the United States.

M.S. Grinbaum & Co. owned and operated sugar plantations and mills.

 

Family

Morris Louisson married Theresa Guenther (b.1844) in 1863.

Together they had 7 children: Abraham Lincoln Louisson (1864-1943), Henry Clay Louisson (1866-1945), Lahela (1868-1859), Belle (1870-1961), Samuel (1871-1895), William (1874-1944) and Julius (1876-1952?).

Lahela, Hawaiian for Rachel, was the first Jewish girl born in Hawaii.

 

Abraham and Henry Louisson were coffee growers, from the 1890s to the 1920s.

Thus, they stayed in Hawaii longer than their born-in-the-islands siblings.

 

Civic

In 1870, Morris Louisson served as President of the German Club.

He was also a member of the Excelsior Lodge.

Morris and Theresa Louisson were hosted frequently in the Iolani Palace by King Kalakaua.

 

King Kalakuaua

King Kalakuaua

Community

When Belle Frankel and Joseph Hyman became the first Jews to be married in Honolulu in 1879, the ceremony took place in the Louisson’s home.

 

Morris Louisson died in 1902, in Honolulu.

Theresa died in 1937, in Honolulu.

 

They are interred in the Old Missionary Cemetery (O’ahu Cemetery) in Plot 5, because the Jewish Cemetery wasn’t established until 1942.

 

Source:

Morris Louisson: A Jewish Pioneer of Hawaii, 1824-1902, by Norton B. Stern, Western States Jewish History, Vol. 41, Issue #4.

 

Samantha Silver is Curator of this Morris Louisson exhibit.

We have no photos of the family. If anyone has any, please send to us.

Please share this on Facebook so others learn that there were Jewish Pioneers, even in Hawaii.

 

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