Joseph Leopold Markowitz (d.1899) and Sarah Markowitz (c.1832-1916) immigrated to Pittsburgh prior to 1864. They were charter members of Tree of Life Congregation, and Sarah Markowitz was a charter member of its Ladies Auxiliary. Leopold and Sarah Markowitz had at least six children, Lottie, Dora, Lena, David, Edward and Max.
Leopold Markowitz, who was “better known as ‘Jew John,’” according to the Pittsburgh Press, started out as a peddler. By 1879, he was making dresses and underwear from a shop at 25 Ferry Street, downtown. He employed his children and his extended family.
Max Markowitz (c.1859-1936) married Rosa Phillips (c.1867-1945) of Illinois. Max and Rose Markowitz also had at least six children, Pearl, Sadie, Etta, Eva, Samuel and Philip. The family owned a five-and-dime store on East Carson Street on the South Side in the early 1890s before moving to the Midwest. They returned to Pittsburgh about 1912, when their daughter Pearl married a local man named Alfred Hirsch. The family opened a millinery shop at 1926 East Carson Street and lived next door. Over the years, the Markowitz family acquired several lots and buildings on both sides of the block around the store.
Sadie and Eva Markowitz married the brothers I. A. and David Simon, respectively.
Etta Markowitz married David Berman. They opened David Inc. a women’s clothing company in the William Penn Hotel catering to a high-end clientele. The business was later named the William Penn Hat and Gown Shop. It had several locations downtown before the family sold the business in the 1970s. The new owners moved the business to Walnut Street in Shadyside. The William Penn Hat and Gown closed its doors in 2001.