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A Record of the Jewish Settlement in Nebraska

Ella Fleishman Auerbach. 1927. A Record of the Jewish Settlement in Nebraska. Typescript, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln. Pages 66-69. Only the pertinent portion of the entire typescript is included here. The Nebraska Sandhills: the Human Landscape has a map of the claims.

Closely allied with the work of the Removal Office at this time, though unproductive of permenent results, was the back-to-the-soil movement, sponsored by the Jewish Agricultural Society, the Nebraska phase of which is reported by Gabriel Davidson, general manager who visited the Cherry county settlement of Jewish farmers in 1911.

"In 1906 the Government open up for settlement under the so-called "Kincaid Act", land in the western part of Nebraska, giving each settler the right to file 640 acres of land. In 1980 and 1909 fourteen Jewish immigrant families, all of whom, with one exception, came either from Milwaukee or Omaha, took up homesteads under this Act. The settlers were young, intelligent and industrious people, who operated their farms understandingly, and during off seasons worked out so as to maintain their families without getting into debt. The settlement was located between two railroads, 45 miles from the town of Gordon on the Northwestern, and 25 miles from the Town of Hyannis on the Burlington. This was a great hardship. It took the farmer two days to get to a town and back, while with a freight team four days would be consumed in traveling to and fro. Therefore general farming could not be engaged in profitably. It was too hard to haul the produce to market. The Jewish farmers therefore engaged largely in stock raising.

In 1908, the Jewish Agricultural Society made them loans for various farm purposes. But it was plain to the Society that the settlement would only be of temporary duration.

In 1913, at the end of the minimum period required to get a title, the families commenced to move out. Three left that year, one the following year, and the rest in 1915 and 1916.

We have lost track of most of these farmers. The only ones of whom we now have information are two families that are on farms in Michigan."

All of the Cherry county farmers were youth of Russian origin, in their twenties (only two were over 30, and one as young as 14), and all of them, with but one exception, had been in this country only two or three years. Mr. Davidson furnished a tabulated statement giving their names, size of family, occupation and period on the farm as follows:

Name Size of Family Occupation Date of Settlement on Homestead Date of Leaving
Jacob Levine 4 Machinist 1908 1913
Louis Offengenden 2 Tinsmith 1910 1915
Harry Rosenbaum 4 Tailor 1909 1915
Israel Miller 1 Shoemaker 1909 1915
Mendel Bernstein 3 Carpenter 1908 1916
Samuel Roteman 10 Tailor 1908 1915
Joseph Gold 5 Tailor 1909 1915
Louis Gellman 1 Tailor 1908 1913
Harry Cohen 4 Carpenter 1908 1915
Morris Mearsen 5 Machinist 1908 1915
Hyman Schwartz 1 Shoemaker 1908 1914
David Singer 5 Carpenter 1908 1916
Sam Zabow 1 Tailor 1908 1913

[Claims of the Jewish Settlement]