Isaac Wormser Family: San Francisco Jewish Pioneers & Founders of S&W Fine Foods

Isaac Wormser

Isaac Wormser WS 13/1911

Isaac Wormser, #WS13/1911

Values Codes  I – E – L – P


Isaac Wormser was born in 1822.


Along the way

Isaac Wormser came to the United States in the late 1840’s.

For a number of years, he lived in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where he was natural­ized in 1854.


San Francisco

Later in the 1850’s, Isaac Wormser came to San Francisco, where he established himself as an importer and jobber of liquors.

He was the president of the Golden Gate Distilling Company.

Wormser did considerable business with firms in Honolulu.

When he retired from the liquor trade to manage his investments, and he was listed as a “capitalist” in the city directories.



Isaac Wormser and his wife, Louisa, were members of Congregation Emanu-El.

In 1871, Elkan Cohn, the rabbi of that congregation, led a drive to establish the first organization in the West to care for or­phans and the aged. The effort was originated by B’nai B’rith.

At a community meeting on July 25, 1871, fifteen San Franciscans, including Isaac Wormser, were elected to serve as a Board of Trustees for what was to be the Pacific Hebrew Orphan and Home Society. 

At the first meeting of the board in August 1871, Wormser was elected president, an indication of the high regard in which he was held.

His interest in the Pacific Hebrew Orphan and Home Society continued through his lifetime. He was a patron of the Society, and for many years was an active board member.

In 1880, he was chairman of the Committee on Building and Furniture and a member of the Committee on Real Estate of the orphans’ home.

Louisa Wormser was similarly involved in the efforts for the orphans and aged, and was one of the eight members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary in the 1870’s and 1880’s.



Isaac and Louisa had one son, Samuel I. Wormser, who was born in 1859 in San Francisco.

When of age, Samuel Wormser began working as a clerk in a commission merchant’s firm, and soon became a partner of Albert Ehrman in a wholesale business dealing in dried and canned fruits.

By the late 1880’s Samuel was operating his own company in the same line.

Gustave Wormser WS 15/2194

Gustave Wormser, #WS 15/2194

In 1896, Samuel and a first cousin, Gustav Wormser, together with Samuel Sussman, established Sussman, Wormser & Co.

This is known today as S&W Fine Foods (now owned by Del Monte).



Isaac Wormser, was a member of the California Lodge No. 163 of B’nai B’rith, which formed in San Francisco in 1871.

Isaac Wormer died in 1895.





  • Norton B. Stern, “Isaac Wormser,” Western States Jewish History 41/2.

Curator’s Note: We recently received a package from the J.M. Smucker Company, which had cleaned out the former San Francisco offices of S&W Fine Foods. The package included the Articles of Incorporation for Sussman, Wormser & Co. (1911), along with a variety of booklets, photos, and packing labels, some of which are included below. (03/14/19)

Specifications for California Canned Fruits, Sussman, Wormser & Co., 1925, #WS31419/1

Bartlett pears label, Sussman, Wormser & Co., 1919, #WS31419/2













Raspberries label, Sussman, Wormser & Co., 1919, #WS31419/4

Price List (first page), Sussman, Wormser & Co., 1919, #WS31419/3