all the Jewish Agricultural Colonies in the United States the most important are those founded in New Jersey. With few exceptions they were all established in the southern part of the state, and include Alliance, Rosenhayn, Carmel, Woodbine, Montefiore, May's Landing, Halberton, Malaga, and Hightstown. Of these only the first four still (1900) remain. There were 300 Jewish farmers in New Jersey at the beginning of the movement in 1882, 200 in 1893, and only 76 at the end of 1896. Through aid extended by the Jewish Colonization Association of Paris in 1897, the colonists were given effective help, so that in 1900 it was estimated that there were 250 Jewish farmers in the state—most of whom were settled in the southern part. Of these probably not more than 100 families make a living exclusively by farming.
The colony of Alliance is situated in Salem county, New Jersey, about a mile north of Broadway—a station on the New Jersey Southern Railroad. It is about 43 miles southeast of Philadelphia, and 4 miles from Vineland, the nearest market-town.
The colony was named after the Alliance Israélite Universelle, which provided funds for its foundation. Three large wooden buildings were erected to afford temporary shelter for the colonists, who were brought thither in May, 1882.
The soil is a light sandy loam covered with the bush and scrub-oak common in southern New Jersey. At the outset 25 families, principally from cities of southern Russia (Elizabethgrad, Odessa, Kiev, etc.), settled at Alliance, but this number soon increased to 67 families. The first winter was passed by the colonists crowded together in the three buildings mentioned, their needs being provided for in part by the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society. The next year the land was divided into fifteen-acre farms; houses consisting of two rooms and a cellar were erected, wells sunk, and other improvements made. Contracts were entered into under which each farmer was to pay within ten years $350 for his holding, the house being reckoned at $150. The number of acres devoted to communal purposes, school-buildings, factories, burial-ground, etc., was 150.
Each family during the first year of settlement received $8 to $12 per month for 9 months, according to the number of its members, and $100 worth of seed for planting. Each farmer also received some furniture, cooking utensils, small farming implements, etc. The second year each family received $30 worth of seed, and about 50 families were also supplied with sewing-machines. One of the large buildings above referred to was converted into a cigar factory during the second winter; but, the hands being unskilled, wages were very low. This industry was discontinued the next year, and the colonists suffered very much in consequence. Owing to these hardships and discouragements, by the end of 1884, 17 farmers abandoned their holdings, which reduced the population to 50 families, comprising 250 persons. About this time a party of delegates from the Mansion House Fund of London, England (Samuel Montagu, Benjamin L. Cohen, and Dr. A. Asher), visited and investigated the condition of the colony, with the result that $10,000 was sent for its aid to the New York Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society, the Alliance Land Trust being formed by Henry S. Henry, Isaac Eppinger, Leopold Gershel, Leonard Lewisohn, S. Muhr, F. de Sola Mendes, and others. About $7,000 was devoted to the completion of the purchase of the land in behalf of the colonists generally, the remainder being used to buy horses, cows, implements, etc., for the more deserving among them. New contracts were made whereby one-half of the farm was to be given to the holder free of charge, provided the other half was paid for in equal instalments extending over thirty-three years.
Among the local industries established at Alliance were a shirt factory and a tailors' shop, the employment from which materially aided the colonists during the winter months. In 1889 the population of the colony was 529, of whom 282 were males and 247 females. The farmers owned 1,400 acres of land, of which 889 were cultivated. There were 92 houses in the colony, a synagogue (dedicated July 29, 1888), a library, a post-office, and a night-school. Through the joint efforts of the Baron de Hirsch Fund and the Jewish Colonization Association of London, tailors' shops have been established, thus affording a local market for produce. The most recent statistics obtainable regarding Alliance show that there are (1900) 96 Jewish families, aggregating 512 persons, in and around the colony (including Norma). Of these, 33 families devote themselves entirely tofarming, 15 entirely to tailoring, 12 combine farming and tailoring, and the remaining 36 not only till their farms but also follow some other craft, such as masonry, shoemaking, carpentry, etc. Over 1,500 acres of land are owned by these settlers, of which 530 are devoted to fruit, 577 to vegetables, and the remainder to fodder or pasture. There are 87 dwelling-houses, with 141 outbuildings. The capital invested in 1897 was $112,298, of which $68,033 had been repaid in cash. The balance remained due. The value of the yearly products of the soil was estimated at $17,808. The colonists then owned 55 horses, 79 cows, and 4,700 fowls. See also Alliance, New Jersey.
Another Jewish agricultural colony in New Jersey is known as Carmel, and lies in Cumberland county, in the southern part of the state, midway between Bridgeton and Millville. The nearest railroad station to the colony is at Rosenhayn, about three miles to the north of Carmel. Seventeen Russo-Jewish farmers, aided by Michael Heilprin of New York, settled here in 1882, and called the place Carmel. A year or two after the settlement, 7 of the original immigrants, discouraged by the poor results, left the colony, but their places were soon filled by others who came from western Russia. In 1889 the colony contained 286 persons, of whom 150 were men and boys and 136 women and girls, living in 30 houses. Eighty-two of their children attended the public school. The farms comprised 864 acres, of which the Jewish colonists occupied 848 acres, although only 123 were under cultivation. Corn, rye, buck-wheat, vegetables, and berries were the chief crops. During the winter the farmers supported themselves by tailoring. In the latter part of 1889, owing to a gift of $5,000 by Baron Maurice de Hirsch, 1,500 additional acres of land were purchased, and 36 new houses erected at an average cost of $800 each.
The condition of the colony at Carmel has been one of varying prosperity and depression. Outside aid, either by the establishment of local industries, by liberal loans on mortgage at a low rate of interest, or even by direct gifts, has from time to time been necessary to enable the colony to exist. Carmel contained, in 1900, 89 Jewish families, whose members aggregated 471 persons. The number of families engaged exclusively in farming is 19; 14 combine farming and tailoring, 13 are engaged in farming, 23 in trades other than tailoring, and 33 earn their living exclusively by tailoring. These families own 1,029 acres of land, of which 113 are devoted to fruit-growing, 504 to raising market produce, while the remaining land is devoted to pasture or fodder. Of the dwelling-houses, 46 are occupied, together with 86 barns and other outbuildings. The total value of these holdings is estimated at $84,574, on which there is an indebtedness of $26,273. The yearly produce of the soil was, in 1900, valued at $12,585; that actually sold brought $8,200, while the remainder was consumed by the producers. The settlers of Carmel own 36 horses, 114 cows, and 3,300 fowls. In the community several factories have been established—chiefly for the manufacture of clothing—and the employment they afford is a source from which many of the settlers derive their principal means of livelihood.
The Band of the Woodbine Colony.(From a photograph.)Rosenhayn, another colony in the same state, is situated in Cumberland county, on the New Jersey Southern Railroad. It was founded by the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society of New York, 6 families having been sent to the northern part of Rosenhayn in 1883. In 1887 other Jewish families bought land near Rosenhayn, and, to pay for it, worked at tailoring in Philadelphia. In the following year 37 additional families settled in the neighborhood, where they were sold farm land on the condition that they should build houses and cultivate a certain part of their holdings within a specified time. This agreement imposed hardships on the colonists; for, in order to meet their payments, they had to work at tailoring. For some time they lived and toiled in a large wooden building opposite the Rosenhayn railway station. By the latter part of 1889 the Jewish settlers owned 1,912 acres at Rosenhayn, of which, however, only 261 acres were under cultivation—producing chiefly berries, corn, and grapes. There were 67 families, living in 23 houses, 6 of which were built by local Jewish carpenters. The population at that time amounted to 294, comprising 149 males and 145 females. Sixty of the children attended the public school. In this community there are 47 families, who derive a living wholly or in part from their farms, and who hold a total of 1,388 acres, of which 948 are under cultivation. They own 7,415 fruit-trees, 28,770 grape-vines, 128 horses and cows, and upward of 6,000 fowls. The value of their holdings is estimated at $85,520, upon which there is an indebtedness of$26,986. Here, as at the other successful southern New Jersey Jewish colonies, there are factories, where a portion of the people earn most of their living expenses, thus furnishing a local market that pays a fair price for their products and enabling them to avoid the expensive freight rates and commissions attaching to the sale of produce elsewhere.
Woodbine, situated in the northern part of Cape May county, New Jersey, at the junction of the West Jersey and Seashore and the South Jersey railroads, is, at the present time (1901), the most successful of the Jewish colonies in America. It was established August 28, 1891, by the trustees of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, and since that time has been carried on under their supervision. The land, comprising about 5,300 acres, was purchased for $37,500. The farms are located around the town, which contains several factories, a synagogue, a church, two public schools, a number of stores, and about a hundred neat frame dwellings, sheltering a population of about 1,000 souls. In 1901 there were 52 families of Jewish farmers at Woodbine, representing a total of about 400 persons. Of the farms 49 contain 15 acres each; two, 10 acres each, and one, 30 acres. Of the total of 785 acres no less than 500 are under cultivation. The principal products are berries, small fruits, and garden truck, as well as dairy products. The aggregate value of the farms is about $50,000. Besides these farms, the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School has farm land to the extent of 270 acres, of which 121 acres are under cultivation. The town affords a local market for farm products, and the townspeople find sufficient employment in the local factories. It has been found that this system of combining local industries and farming gives the very best results.
Various other attempts to establish Jewish Agricultural Colonies in New Jersey have failed. The colony at Estelleville, established in 1882, not far from Alliance, was abandoned in the spring of 1883. Another colony at Montefiore, near Belle Plain, a station on the West Jersey Railroad not far from Woodbine, was also abandoned soon after its foundation, leaving 28 houses and a factory standing. In 1891 a syndicate of New York Jews bought up several thousand acres of land for farming purposes about four miles from May's Landing, in Atlantic county, but the colony has been of slight importance. Emphasis should be placed upon the fact that only by the combination of farming and local factory employment have the Jewish colonies in southern New Jersey been able to survive.
Price, Russkie Yevrei v Amerike, pp. 46-73;
J. D. Eisenstein, in Ner ha-Ma'arabi, ii. 8-15, 64-72, 129-136, 179-183;
Landsberg, Hist. of the Persecutions of the Jews in Russia, art. entitled Russian Jews as American Farmers.
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