Moowid Joseph, the son of Joseph and Rose Moowid, was born in February 1885 in the Ottoman-controlled region of Syria – in an area now in the country of Lebanon. The word Syria was once synonymous with the region of “the Levant,” encompassing a handful of modern countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
Joseph and a younger sister originally made their way to South America, apparently by mistake as some stories tell it, and after some doing arrived in the United States in November 1910. After a few years of traveling around he apparently settled in the area just north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while peddling fresh produce from a horse and wagon.
In January 1915 Moowid Joseph married fellow Syrian immigrant Sultana Beshero in Rochester, Pennsylvania. They soon started a family, eventually having five children, and moved north to the South Side of New Castle in about 1917. Joseph opened a small grocery and produce store amid the local Syrian community centered along East Long Avenue. They soon took up residence nearby at #1115 South Mercer Street.
Joseph’s small store was located at #20 East Long Avenue near the intersection with South Jefferson Street. He faced stiff competition in the grocery business, but was undeterred. He and his wife, as the only employees, dedicated themselves to long days of hard work. The key to their eventual success was that Joseph listened and responded to the needs of his customers. If a consumer wanted a particular product he made sure he had it stocked on his shelves for sale. He catered to his costumers and that principal served him well. Joseph’s Market became a favorite shopping place for folks throughout the community.
Joseph was very involved within the Syrian community, which was founded by Syrian Christian immigrants settling along Moravia Street beginning in about 1900. He helped found the St. John the Baptist Maronite Catholic Church in 1926, and loaned the congregation $800 so they could purchase the old St. George Greek Orthodox Church two years later. He remained a dedicated parishioner of the church throughout his life.
Joseph expanded his business and soon relocated into a larger building just across the street. The new building at #13 East Long Avenue was revamped several times, with a major remodeling effort undertaken in 1938. Joseph’s Market flourished in the coming decades and eventually all of Joseph’s children joined him in the business. Joseph and his wife generally retired by the late 1940’s, and began spending much of the winter months residing in Hollywood, Florida. Joseph also formed partnerships with Florida produce growers and this benefited this business immensely.
Back in New Castle the business was run by their sons, who I believe were led by eldest son George. One of their boys, named Richard, soon passed away in June 1954. George and his two younger brothers Thomas (“Tony”) and Joseph continued to run the family store. It was about this time that Joseph’s Supermarket, as one of its community-based initiatives, began sponsoring the entire Little League organization in New Castle.
In 1955 a large building was purchased in the downtown area on East South Street (at South Mercer Street). A modern Joseph’s Supermarket was opened here on Tuesday July 17, 1956. Another smaller store was opened on Wilmington Road (at Maitland Avenue) in about 1960, but was closed after about six years. They operated three stores at this time, as the original store on East Long Avenue remained opened as well. In 1965 Moowid Joseph and his wife celebrated two important fifty year anniversaries – of their wedding and the founding of his career as a grocer. The East Long Avenue store was eventually closed at the end of 1974 as the downtown location became the sole store.
Moowid Joseph, at the age of eighty-three, passed away in New Castle on Wednesday, October 30, 1968. A service was held at the St. John the Baptist Maronite Catholic Church. His loyal wife Sultana passed away on December 30, 1977, at the age of seventy-nine. Both of them were laid to rest at St. Vitus Cemetery in Shenango Township.
By the early 1980’s the sons of Moowid Joseph had retired and the business was taken over by two of his grandsons – brothers George Joseph Jr. and Dennis Joseph. They are the children of Moowid Joseph’s eldest son George Joseph Sr., who passed away in 2004. Seeking a more modern facility the brothers closed the downtown store in late February 2006 as they explored various options. In May 2007, after leasing a former Giant Eagle location on Mercer Road in Neshannock Township, they reopened Joseph’s while geared towards specialty food items. Joseph’s Supermarket, soon to reach the century mark in years of service, remains one of the oldest family-run businesses in Lawrence County.
Moowid Joseph, a immigrant from modern-day Lebanon, opened a small market on East Long Avenue in about 1917. His business was successful due in no small part that he (and his wife) carefully listened to his customers and catered to their grocery needs. The business flourished and he soon moved across the street into a larger building at #13 East Long Avenue. Eventually all of Joseph’s children joined him in the business. (c1920) Full Size
Moowid Joseph (behind counter) thrived at the East Long Avenue location and later opened additional stores in New Castle. The East Long Avenue store was eventually closed at the end of 1974, as operations were centered in the downtown location on South Mercer Street. (c1930) Full Size
Joseph opened this new store at #13 E. Long Avenue in about 1928. It was one of the most popular stores on the South Side of New Castle for many years. It was eventually closed at the end of 1974. (c1956)
(Jul 1950) Full Size
(Jul 1958) Full Size
Moowid Joseph “retired” in the late 1940’s and turned the business over to his sons. (c1950)
An advertisement that appeared in the New Castle News upon the death of Moowid Joseph in October 1968. (1968)