Like many of the other Jewish agricultural colonies, Rosenhayn was first settled with the help of the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society of New York City. Located about two and a half miles northeast of Carmel and nestled between Vineland and Bridgeton, the tract included about 1,912 acres total. 1 The original settlers only included six families. To prepare the land for farming, the colonists first set to work on the arduous task of clearing the area. Much like other areas in South Jersey settled for agricultural purposes, the location of Rosenhayn presented both challenges and advantages to the settlers:
“In 1881 the land now occupied by the prosperous Jewish colony of Rosenhayn was a wilderness of pine and bushlands…Rosenhayn had a more elevated position than Carmel; there are no swamps, and with proper sanitary regulations the settlement should be in a healthy condition…”2
Rosenhayn Post Office, 1907. Courtesy of Mickey Smith.
However, the original six families faced many difficulties which eventually led to their departure from the area. Partially due to the success of the Alliance Colony, by 1888, thirty-seven families began a renewed effort to cultivate the land. 3
“The farming portion of the community appears to be fairly prosperous. Of the 1900 acres comprising the tract, about one fourth is under cultivation; the farms are in excellent order and exhibit evidence of skillful manipulation in clearing the soil of stumps, roots, and noxious weeds.”4
M. Alper's Rosenhayn Hotel, c. 1907. Courtesy of Mickey Smith.
Eventually, the farmers began harvesting enough to sell in New York City. This helped to support the families and eventually expand the community:
“The shipment of berries, sweet and white potatoes and other vegetables to the New York market is very large, and the railroad station presents an animated scene as the farmers bring in their produce on shipping days…The great source of profit, however, is the sweet potato crop; the yield is enormous and of such fine quality as to command the very highest prices in the New York market.”5
Industry also became a large part of Rosenhayn’s economy:
“The population of Rosenhayn is about equally divided between industrial and agricultural pursuits; there are nine factories; the articles manufactured are clothing, hosiery, foundry work, tinware, and brick.”6
With both agricultural and industrial endeavors, Rosenhayn continued to thrive and, by 1900, the community had a population of about 800. 7
Tailors working in Rosenhayn, c. 1889. From Migdal Zophim (1889).
1. Moses Klein, Migdal Zophim (Philadelphia, 1889). Republished as Migdal Zophim & Farming in the Jewish Colonies of South Jersey (Galloway, NJ: South Jersey Culture and History Center, 2019), 59.
2. William Stainsby, The Jewish Colonies of South Jersey: A Historical Sketch of their Establishment and Growth, Bureau of Statistics of New Jersey: Camden, 1901, republished (Galloway: South Jersey Culture and History Center Press, Stockton University, 2019), 13.
3. Tom Kinsella, Growing American: The Alliance Agricultural Colony in South Jersey-A History (Galloway, NJ: South Jersey Culture and History Center, 2021), 31.
4. Stainsby, The Jewish Colonies of South Jersey, 14.
5. Stainsby, The Jewish Colonies of South Jersey, 14.
6. Stainsby, The Jewish Colonies of South Jersey, 13.
7. Kinsella, Growing American, 31.