Morris Kingsbacher (1847-1930) immigrated to the United States in 1866 from Thalheim, Wittenberg, in Germany. In 1873, he and his brother Aaron opened Kingsbacher Brothers, which sold clocks and watches, jewelry, silverware, tea sets and dishes from a four-story building on Penn Avenue in downtown. Among their primary competitors was Charles Reizenstein. The brothers built the three-story Kingsbacher Building at 637 Liberty Avenue in 1909, which the family sold in 1930. The building was demolished in 1984 to make room for the CNG Tower.
In 1882, Morris Kingsbacher married Sophie Friedenheit (1863-1946) of St. Joseph, Missouri, who had come to Pittsburgh to visit her sister Hattie. “One day while walking on Wood St. in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue, she is espied by Morris, standing outside his large jewelry establishment, who, seeing her approaching, calls forth his many employees to gaze upon her beauty,” Morris Kingsbacher wrote in a short autobiographical essay. Morris and Sophie Kingsbacher lived in old Allegheny City and had four children, Erma, Gertrude, Alvin and Florence. They purchased a “summer house” near Swissvale, an area that was still rural at the time.
In his last will and testament, written in February 1927, Morris Kingsbacher bequeathed $100 each to the J.M. Gusky Hebrew Orphanage, the Jewish Home for the Aged and the B’nai B’rith Orphanage in Erie. He also wrote, “I take this opportunity to thank you, my dear wife, from the bottom of my heart, for your love and devotion during our many years of married life. Do not worry. Take life easy. By all means give up housekeeping and take rooms in a hotel or apartment house. I also wish to thank you, my dear children, for your love and affection shown me continuously, assuring you that it contributed much to the happiness of my life. May the Almighty God grant that your children will show you the same devotion you showed me.”
In 1907, Erma Kingsbacher married Ernest Stix of St. Louis, Missouri.
Gertrude Kingsbacher (1887-1973) graduated from Central High School and attended Byrn Mawr College from 1906 to 1908, during which time she was captain of the basketball team and a member of the field hockey and track teams. She left the school after two years to give her younger sister a chance to attend college on the limited funds available to the family. She remained an active alumna throughout her life. In 1910, Gertrude Kingsbacher married Elias Sunstein of old Allegheny City. She founded the Community School, which later became the Falk School, and was its president from 1922 to 1932. She was also active in the Pennsylvania Woman’s Suffrage Association, which became the League of Women Voters.
Florence Kingsbacher married William K. Frank.