Columbus Moise: Jewish Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court of New Mexico, 1880

Columbus Moise

Values Codes I – H – E – L


Columbus Moise, Jr. was born in 1855 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His parents were Columbus Moise, Sr. and Fanny Emma Levy.


New Mexico Territory

New Mexico final borders


In 1874, Columbus Moise, Jr. was elected City Attorney of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

In 1880, Columbus was appointed Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court of New Mexico.

In 1892, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

He was also a member of the Democratic territorial committee and was chairman of the Democratic committee of San Miguel County.

Columbus Moise, Jr. served as a Regent of the New Mexico Territorial College.

Columbus Moise, Jr. published short stories under the pen name, C. Moise, for popular periodicals, such as Harper’s Weekly and Century Magazine.



Columbus Moise, Jr. married Sophia Dunlop in 1884.

She was the daughter of the former Episcopal Bishop of the New Mexico and Arizona diocese.

Columbus and Sophia had two children: Sidney Howard (1887) and Columbus III (1889).

Columbus Moise, Jr. died in 1895 in Kansas City, Missouri of stomach cancer.

He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri, Block D, Lot  490, next to his wife, Sophia, who died in Los Angeles, California in 1933.


Notable Family Members

Abraham Moise, the chief justice’s great-grandfather, was born in the mid-1700s in Alsace, France.

He journeyed to the Santa Domingo, in the West Indies, where he became a wealthy merchant.

The slave rebellion in 1791 forced him to move the family to Charleston, South Carolina.


Penina Moise (1797-1880), Abraham’s daughter, was a successful poet and educator who ran a girl’s school.

In 1833, she published Fancy’s Sketch Book, the first collection of poems by a Jewish American woman.

She became the second superintendent of Congregation Beth Elohim’s Sunday School in 1845.

She wrote 190 hymns for the temple, 13 of which are included in the 1932 Union Hymnal.

Penina Moise was also the poet laureate of Charleston, South Carolina.

She died in 1880 and is buried in the Coming Street Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.

She was posthumously inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.


Aaron Moise (1783-1852), Abraham’s son and Columbus, Jr.’s grandfather, was born in Santa Domingo and married Sarah Cohen of Kingston, Jamaica, in 1807.

He worked as a cashier for the bank of the state of South Carolina and had 9 children, one of whom was Columbus, Sr.


Columbus Moise, Sr., father of the chief justice, was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1809.

He worked as president of the principle bank in New Orleans for thirty-five years.

Moise, Sr. also wrote poetry; one of his poems was set to music and sung when the cornerstone was laid for the Sephardic synagogue in Charleston.


Sidney Howard Moise (1887-1965), son of Columbus, Jr., was a Harvard University educated architect and draftsman.

He attended Los Angeles public schools as a child.

Eventually, Moise moved to Berkeley, California, where he was a professor of architecture for UC Berkeley from 1933 to 1955.



  • Norton B. Stern, “Justice Columbus Moise of New Mexico,” Western States Jewish History 22/1.

Samantha Silver is the curator for this Columbus Moise, Jr. exhibit.