Baron de HIrsch Fund and the Woodbine, NJ Agricultural Colony #usa #records


I am trying to determine how, from where, and according to what criteria, the initial 50 to 60 jewish families were selected by the Baron de HIrsch Fund to initially populate the jewish agricultural colony in Woodbine, NJ.  The original families settled in Woodbine during the period from 1892, when the Fund established the Colony, to the late 1890s.  As part of my effort, I am trying to determine why there is such a large disparity between the listing of residences in Woodbine belonging to Jewish emigrants according to the 1895 NJ census (87) and the number of deeds registered to jewish emigrants in Woodbine (~ 15) through 1895?  I would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who has any information or anecdotal evidence related to this issue.  

Steve Diamond
New York City

Mitchell Collier

I believe that The Baron de Hirsch fund held the deeds to homes in Woodbine NJ  until loans were paid off.

Mitchell Collier
Philadelphia, PA


Hello Steve,
My paternal great grandparents settled in Woodbine.  The Ira Spector family came  from Zaslov in 1892-94. The Samuel Eby (Ab) came from Rushanyi n 1903.  I cannot tell you the criteria or the reasons why.  I have the correspondences  about   Ira Spector 's purchase of property. The AJHM in NYC has a lot of info on Woodbine.  In the Eby family their were a few real estate transactions within the family. There are  also records of real estate transactions at the Cape May NJ  Court House and Temple University Urban Archive  that has been provided by the Greater Philadelphia Genealogical and Archival Society. 

Walter Spector
SPECTOR- Zaslov (Izyaslov) Volhynia Gub. Ukraine-Woodbine NJ-Phila. PA;
EBY (AB)-  Rushany, Grodno Gub. Belarus-Woodbine NJ- Phila.PA;       
BECKER-  Klevan, Rovno Phila. PA Brooklyn NY:   GREENSTEIN-Boston MA:
SELTZER (ZELTZER)Rovno, Klevan, Alexandria; Poland-Brooklyn NY
PITKOWSKI Rushany, Grodno Gub. STEINBERG –Los Angeles CA  ROTHSTEIN (Rotstein)  Phila. PA;
Rudofsky Boston

Elizabeth Handler

My mother-in-law grew up in Woodbine - one grandfather (Max Levitt) and a great-grandfather (Simche Segal, by 1895) were early residents there. The story that came down in my mother-in-law's family is that Baron de Hirsch went around to the Jewish immigrants in New York City and encouraged them to come to Woodbine to work, that there were plenty of jobs. (My guess it that it was likely a representative of the Fund, as the Baron died in Hungary in 1896, at age 64.)  The 1900 census reported that they both rented their homes.

Have you been in touch with the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage?

Elizabeth Handler
Needham, MA
Researching: HANDLER, HOLLANDER, HONENVALD (Hungary); YANCU/IANCU/YANCOWITZ, MOSCOWITZ (Romania); LEVITES, LEWITES (Husiatyn, Galicia), SEGAL (Zhytomyr, Ukraine)

Barbara Ellman

The records of the Baron de Hirsch Fund which covers Woodbine are located at the Center for Jewish History in NY.

Additionally, you might contact the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage
Barbara Ellman
Secaucus NJ USA
ELLMAN, COIRA, MAIDMAN - Minkovtsy, Ukraine
KAGLE, FASS - Ulanow, Poland

Marilyne Rose

This has nothing to do with New York, but I was on a group to Argentina and Uruguay some years ago.
When in Uruguay we stayed for a few days in the area that had been built by poor Jewish people who
had been brought to Uruguay to help populate empty areas of the country.  The person who arranged and originally financed this venture
 was Baron de Hirsch.  My group stayed in a Hotel but were warmly welcomed by the Jewish people
who had left Europe for what they hoped would be a better life.  It was an extremely interesting experience
to see what Jewish people could achieve.  They built schools, houses, synagogues and a complete 
Jewish community in what had been literally the middle of nowhere.
I believe the area was called Entre Dos Rios.

Rose Feldman

My uncle was from Rushany Belarus (also) but he and his wife and child went to the Argentine through the Baron Hirsch's program while his parents and siblings came on aliyah to Eretz Israel in 1911.  There are records at the Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People at the National Library in Jerusalem.


Rose Feldman
Winner of 2017 IAJGS Award for Volunteer of the Year
Israel Genealogy Research Association
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Rose Feldman
Israel Genealogy Research Association
Winner of 2017 IAJGS Award for Volunteer of the Year

Jeff Marx



Your question of how settlers were selected for the Woodbine colony is one that pertains to other Jewish agricultural colonies that were set up, as well, during this time across the US by the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society (HEAS), the Montefiore Agricultural Aid Society, and the Hebrew Union Agricultural Society. It appears that only a few groups were formed in Europe and came over together in cohorts (usually as part of the Am Olam movement). (The best book to check out on the whole phenomenon, if you haven’t already, is Uri Hirscher, Jewish Agricultural Utopias in America).  

In a recent article I published in Kansas History (Spring, 2020), I explored the formation of the Touro and Lesser colonies in 1886. By working backwards and exploring census, boat manifests, and vital records for the known colonists, I determined that most did not know one another in New York and, most certainly, did not know one another in Eastern Europe (originating in Ukraine, Russia, Austria and Hungary) before the formation of the colony. How they were recruited, selected, or volunteered, once they arrived in New York, is a mystery.

(One researcher I recently talked with, suggested to look in the Yiddish press to see if any of the sponsoring groups advertised for colonists. The Jewish Daily Forward, however, didn’t start until 1897, after the date that Woodbine and many other of these colonies began).


Jeff Marx

Lee Jaffe

There was a fairly extensive discussion about Woodbine, with sources cited, on this list in early August. (I haven't figured out how link back to a thread, but if you search Woodbine in the list of topics it will pop up easily.). 

I believe I read that the colonies in New Jersey were established specifically to get Jews already settled in the US out of the cities. This contrasts with the settlement projects in Argentina and elsewhere, which recruited settlers directly from the Pale.  My grandfather lived on a farm in Rosenhayn, which he described as part of Baron de Hirsch's Vineland settlement, with his parents and siblings. They are listed in the 1900 census, in Deerfield NJ, as owning the property.  They were in Philadelphia just before moving to Rosenhayn and tried farming near Memphis a few years before that. 

I recently heard from a cousin whose father was born there in 1899, that our family bought the property outright without depending on support from the de Hirsch organization.  Perhaps there were alternative financing schemes on offer.

Lee David Jaffe



Surnames / Towns:  Jaffe / Suchowola, Poland ; Stein (Sztejnsapir) / Bialystok and Rajgrod, Poland ; Joroff (Jaroff, Zarov) / Chernigov, Ukraine ; Schwartz (Schwarzman?, Schwarzstein?) / ? ;  Koshkin / Snovsk, Ukraine ; Rappoport / ? ; Braun / Wizajny, Suwalki, Poland,  Ludwinowski / Wizajny, Suwalki, Poland


Daniel Bargman

There was an ephimeral attempt of Jewish agricultural colonization in Uruguay but this description suits to the many colonies of the Jewish Colonization Association founded by Baron Moses Hirsch in the 1890's in Entre Rios province, Argentina.
Daniel Bargman- Buenos Aires, Argentina