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The Jewish Farmer

From The Enterprise-Recorder newspaper, January 2, 1902.




The State is at Present About Half Wilderness--How Different Settlements Have Fared--
The Success of Woodbine, Rosenhayn and Carmel.


State Geologist Kummell, who has been consulting with Governor Voorhees for some time on the matter of redeeming New Jersey forest lands, will send out in a short time bulletins on forestry, so that the people will be brought to see the possibilities of the State's woodlands and make more than a half-million acres cleared and prosperous land.

Some time ago a movement, looking in the same direction, was placed on foot to have the State own the forest lands. New Jersey is at present about half wilderness, the wilds of the southern part of the State making up this great percentage. The possibilities of this uncultivated section were recognized years ago by Russian and Polish Jews, who established colonies there.

There is a circle in the South Jersey pine lands, touching points in Cumberland, Salem and Cape May counties that are experimental, and, in the main, successful colonies. Such are Alliance, Rosenhayn, Carmel and Woodbine, Baron de Hirsch's well-known community.

Alliance, in Salem County, was at one time in the eyes of benevolent people of both America and Europe, and its establishment was hailed as a solution of an international problem. The persecuted Jews of Russia were fleeing by shiploads and throwing themselves upon the mercies of other nations, particularly England. England, to relieve herself, sent them to America. The problem of their disposal in this country became a philanthropic question. This section had the advantage of being close to the markets of New York and Philadelphia. Land was very low, acreage enough for a whole city being purchasable for the price of a single city lot. Soon the wilderness was made to blossom. Vineland was transformed from a woodland hamlet into a pretty city, attracting buyers from all parts of the country, with successful foreign colonies surrounding it. Hammontown had evolved out of a dense woodland into a big tract of small fruit farms. Egg Harbor became a prosperous German town. With these successful experiments in view, the Hebrew Aid Society was induced by a Vineland agent, who at the time was an emigrant commissioner, to purchase a tract which became Alliance. It was in a corner of Salem County, and the nearest trading point was Vineland. The tract purchased was some distance from the New Jersey Southern Railroad, and six miles from the West Jersey road. A road was cut through the woods, a large square opening made, and a coarse barracks erected. The plot of 1000 acres was later split into fifteen-acre lots, and small cabins erected, at a cost of $50, to be paid for in twenty years, without interest.

In spite of these charitable plans, there soon came signs of discontent. Across the country ten miles or so there was an older colony known as Estelle, in Atlantic County. Its inhabitants possessed some means.

Creating farms in the wilderness did not appeal to the inhabitants of Estelle, and many of them started out as peddlers. Soon Estelle became a deserted village, and the fate of the older colony had a demoralizing effect upon Alliance. The people of the latter settlement began to grow dissatisfied and wearied the Hebrew Aid Society beyond patience by importunities for money to start up a business, or for working their little farms. The Aid Society, to get rid of the annoyance, gave the colony over to the Alliance Land Trust.

The families that remained were patient and industrious. They raised fruit, some of them realizing from $300 to $500 a year. In winter they made garments for New York concerns. Some of them started the making of cigars and cigarettes. The cottages were enlarged, an English public school was started, and a synagogue organized. Many prospered to the extent of giving their children advanced educations. In course of time several large industries [were] located at Alliance. The town gradually extended toward the railroad, and now stretches along a single street three miles to Norma, the nearest railroad point.

Rosenhayn, another of the Hebrew settlements, was started about the same time as Alliance. It was directly on the line of the New Jersey Southern Railroad, midway between Bridgeton and Vineland. The New York Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society placed six Jewish families at Rosenhayn, which now is a well-organized village of 900 people. One of the features of the place is a co-operative factory, where each employee shares the profits of the month. It appears to be working well.

Carmel, like Alliance, missed the line of the railroad. It had no association or corporation backing. It was started in 1882 by the association of 100 families, which, having a little capital, wanted to get out of New York's crowded tenements. They selected a site between Deerfield and Millville. The colonists appealed to Baron de Hirsch, who advanced $5000. Carmel to-day is a successful colony, but it is seven miles from any other place, and is three miles from the Bridgeton and Millville traction line. The town is small, the synagogue being the only public building. There are several small industries, but most of the inhabitants still till the soil.

Woodbine, the best-known of all the colonies, was founded ten years ago, and is directly on the West Jersey and Seashore Road, in the northern part of Cape May County. It contains 260 Jewish and forty Gentile families. Here is located the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School. Out of this institution it is possible that the men will come who will make the South Jersey wilderness teem with prosperous farms and settlements. This was one object of the Baron's beneficence, another being to raise up men to preach and apply the doctrines of Zionism. Much money has been spent on Woodbine, and it is said that the expenditures on it each year exceed the receipts. But there is no doubt of the success of small farming in South Jersey. Land is cheap, and the Jewish colonist is patient and persevering. New Jersey depends upon him largely to redeem the waste wilderness of the State. --New York Post.


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