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

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.



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

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

Grinbaum soon thereafter left Hawaii to return to the United States.

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

Traveling to Hawaii by Clipper Ship

Traveling to Hawaii by Clipper Ship


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 1890’s to the 1920’s.

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



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


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.


  • Norton B. Stern, “Morris Louisson: A Jewish Pioneer of Hawaii, 1824-1902,” Western States Jewish History 41/4.

Samantha Silver is curator of this Morris Louisson exhibit.