THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
22—Friday, April 25, 1969
Michigan's Palestine Agricultural Colony of the 1890s
rescue. He sent an urgent appeal
In 1891 an attempt at founding t t roit Jews in their neighboring to the Baron de Hirsch Fund and
By IRVING I. KATZ
a colony in Michigan was made by f arming brethren.
was granted $1,000 to avert immin-
During the winter of 1892-1893
16 families, all immigrants from
. Temple Beth El
ent eviction .
Butzel kept in close touch with Ba d
Jews engaged in agriculture in Russia, who settled in Bad Axe, in
Though just out of a sick bed,
Axe, advising and encouraging the
the United States since the earliest Huron County. They called their
after a long illness, Butzel went
f armers. The winter of 1892 was to Bad Axe and made an adjust-
period of American Jewish his- 1 settlement Palestine.
The land was heavily timbered one of the severest ever experienc- ment with the land company.
tory. Abraham de Lyon, who came
ed in that section of Michigan and
to Georgia in 1733, brought the and little farming could therefore
The disintegration of the Pales-
done. The settlers were soon in* Butzel sent a second appeal to the
vine and silk cultures from Portu-
gal to the colony. In the south, dire straits but, in the spirit of the
1899 when three colonists abandon-
Jews were engaged in the produc- true pioneer, were determined to In February 1893. the
tion of indigo, rice, corn, tobacco carry on.
zel entrusted to Wodic who later families remained in the colony
* s *
A Jewish peddler who had wit- loaned it out to 10 of the colonists. and these rapidly disappeared.
There were not more than 3,000
Thus ended the heroic project to
Wodic's active participation was
Jews in the United States when nessed the colonists' sufferings
cut short early in the fall through establish a Jewish agricultural co-
Mordecai Manuel Noah announced brought the story of their heroic
in Michigan. The odds were
the illness and death of his wife.
in 1820 his plan to establish a struggle to Martin Butzel of De-
but the impetus he had given car- too great. The handicap against
Jewish agricultural colony on troit with whose firm this peddler
ried the colony along for several which this handful of fervent pio-
OR YOUR MONEY BACK
Grand Island in the Niagra River, had had business dealings.
Butzel was known for his broad years.
a plan that proceeded no further
The years 1893 and 1894 marked
philanthropies and was at that
than the purchase of the land.
The first concerted effort to time president of the Beth El He- the height of the Bad Axe colony s N
found a Jewish farm colony came brew Relief Society. He became agricultural activity. Unfortunate-
interested in the colony and ap- ly. the potato crops of both years
in 1837 in Sholem, N.Y.
For more than 30 years there-
after, no organized attempt at conditions at Bad Axe. The com- hopes, failed.
Jewish colonization was made, but mittee visited the colony and was
Jews in small numbers settled on
farms as individuals. The year the colonists that a sum of money again unable to meet the interest
1881 witnessed the beginning of , was immediately appropriated for on their land contracts. As before,
Martin Butzel came to the rescue.
what was at once the most active urgent necessities.
The interest aroused in Detroit In 1894 the farmers fared better.
and the most dramatic period in
DIRECT FROM DETROIT!
American Jewish agricultural his- in the Palestine colony prompted They made enough for their own
We are proud!
' Martin Butzel to appoint a solici- maintenance and for the first time
More Detroit paint dealers sell
tations committee to appeal to the were able to make partial pay-
Mac-0-Lee than any other
Jewish farming in Michigan goes Jews of Michigan for financial ments on their annual interest.
back to 1882 when Lazarus Silber- assistance.
During this era of comparative
man, a Chicago banker, assisted
farm activity, a laudable com-
A close friend of Martin Butzel munal spirit developed. Also from
12 families to settle at Carp Lake,
in Emmet County, about six miles was Emanuel Wodic, who had 25 the start, religious services were
south of the Mackinac Straits. The years of successful farming in back conducted every Saturday morn-
experiment had but a brief exis- of him and was then living on a ing, at first in one of the little
small farm in Utica.
shacks and later in a small syna-
Butzel was determined to do gogue built by the colonists.
In 1890 Isaac Berliner was assist-
ed by the Jewish Agriculturists' everything in his power for the
A shohet came from Saginaw,
Aid Society of Chicago to settle at colonists and he turned to Wodic and during the summer and au-
Twelve Corners in Berrien County, for guidance. Wodic agreed to go tumn of 1892, Rev. Charles Good-
on Lake Michigan, in the neighbor- to Bad Axe and upon his arrival win of Bay City. ccas spiritual
there in March 1892, found condi-
hood of Benton Harbor.
leader, cantor and religious teach-
tions in a pitiful state of affairs.
er. A modest Talmud Tura build-
As there is no greet university without a great library and a
Upon his return to Detroit, But-
ing was erected.
great book store, neither is there • complete community without
zel called a special meeting of the
a great book store
' Beth El Hebrew Relief Society and
The critical period began in
a supply of clothing, groceries and
he community completely on a close,
It is our desire to
1895. The succeeding years were
matzo was sent to Bad Axe, and
years of continuous struggle to re-
arrangements made to procure
the lands. The colonists de-
Please feel free to just come in, browse, and give us your sug-
fodder for the livestock. A fund of tain
on their contracts and
$1,200 was raised to be used by faulted
were in constant danger of evic-
Wodic according to his best judg-
Recommended Herd Cover
At these crucial junctions. But-
• * *
zel stood as a bulwark between
Wodic returned to Bad Axe in
Recommended Paper Beck
May 1892. His first step was to them and the real estate company.
In 1896 things ran smoothly for
provide each farmer with a cow.
"While 6 Million Died"
He also brought equipment, oxen,
and oats, peas and potatoes for was a failure and ruin was once
planting. He supplied each family more staring the colonists in the
with a small quantity of groceries. face. Payments were due and the
He remained in Bad Axe through- land company began ouster pro-
out that spring and summer, ceedings against the colonists.
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NEW STORE HOURS:
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teaching the colonists how to sow
and cultivate, and later how to
harvest their little crop.
Realizing the need for more
cleared land, he kept the men con-
stantly at work, underbrushing and
clearing. During these operations
he installed a temporary sawmill
of the crudest type in order to cut
the burned logs into rough boards
to be used as siding for the almost
open shacks, so as to make them
more habitable for the winter.
Not only was Wodic the agricul-
tural adviser but he acted as the
communal leader and arbiter of
the many petty disputes which
naturally arose among the colon-
Open 9:30-9:00 Mon.-Sat. 11:00-8:00 Sun.
Butzel once more came to the
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In addition to appealing to the ,
Beth El Hebrew Relief Society,
Butzel entered into correspondence
with the Baron de Hirsch Fund
and succeeded in obtaining an ap-
propriation of $3,000 to meet the
colonists' urgent needs.
In September 1892, Butzel visit-
ed the colony and personally
supervised the distribution of the
money made available by the
fund. Butzel returned to Detroit
much impressed with the caliber
of the colonists and wrote an en-
thusiastic report to the fund.
During Sukkat of 1892, an exhi-
bition of the colonists' products
was displayed at Temple Beth El,
Detroit, the first exhibition of
farm products raised by Jews to
be held in the United States. This
was the means conceived by But-
Chicago Center to Give
Vocational Aid Dedicated
CHICAGO (JTA)—A new center
on Chicago's north side to house all
services of the Jewish Vocational
Service, the Peter Sampson-Meyer
Katz Center, was dedicated last
week. The JVS is an agency of the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Chic ago, conducting vocational
programs within the framework of
the medical and welfare services
provided by the federation's 12
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