Borough in Cape May county, New Jersey; established as an industrial village Aug. 28, 1891; incorporated as a borough in April, 1903. It is situated on a tract of land which originally comprised 5,300 acres, and was purchased by the trustees of the Baron de Hirsch Fund as a site for an agricultural and industrial colony. The primary intention of the founders of Woodbine was the establishment of an agricultural colony for Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. Farming was to be the chief occupation, but, to make it more remunerative, it was decided at the same time to reserve a certain portion of the tract as a site for the future village of Woodbine, which should contain a local market for farm produce as well as factories to give employment to members of the farmers' families.
By the summer of 1892 about fifty farmhouses were completed, and all were occupied in the fall of that year. In the same year the firm of Meyer Jonasson & Co. opened a cloak-factory which gave employment to more than one hundred persons. Almost all of these employees lived on farms, some of them residing at a distance of three miles from the village. Unfortunately, the economic depression of 1893 affected the cloak industry unfavorably, and the decreased demand led to a partial suspension of work in the Woodbine factory. The discontent among the operatives and the strikes which followed caused the factory to shut down; and the firm finally removed from the village. In addition to this, many of the farmers, unable to earn a living either from the land or in the factory, left for New York or Philadelphia. A large number of those who remained were employed to cut cord-wood; and others were engaged in clearing the town lots of stumps, while the young people picked huckleberries, or sought work in the tomato-canning factory in Ocean View near Sea Isle City.Factories Established.
In 1894 and 1895 the outlook became much brighter. A clothing-factory was established in the village by Daniel & Blumenthal of Philadelphia; and the population began to increase. This was followed by the establishment of several other manufactories in Woodbine; and these additions, though gradual, were accompanied by an almost uninterrupted growth of population. While the early settlers were mostly from southern Russia, later arrivals increased the proportion of Lithuanians and added to the number from the government of Kherson, the latter immigrants being chiefly from Odessa. A small group of Rumanians also went to Woodbine.Failure of Farms.
The early plans of the founders of Woodbine have not been realized. Instead of becoming an agricultural colony with an industrial adjunct, it is an industrial village with a few farmers. In 1905 there were probably only twenty farmers who derived a part or all of their income from the soil; and, although many of the villagers cultivated small gardens, a number of the more distant farms were entirely unoccupied. Considerable farming skill and capital are required to bring about much improvement in the soil; and the Woodbine farmers possess but a limited amount of either. Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, however, the farmers of Woodbine have made real progress within recent years. Those who supply the local demand for milk have learned something of balanced rations and of economy in feeding, while the truck-gardeners and the fruit-growers have acquainted themselves with market conditions and have increased the fertility of their soil. Grapes, which were once sold in Woodbine itself, now find a market at Vineland; and garden-truck, which formerly could not be disposed of at a profit, is sold to advantage at Ocean City and Sea Isle City.Agricultural School.
The farmers of Woodbine have profited unmistakably from the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School, which was established in 1895 and has gradually extended the cultivated area of the school farms. It has a model poultry-plant and an apiary, as well as orchards, vineyards, and greenhouses,and covers in all about 300 acres of land. The establishment of the school was largely due to the efforts of H. L. Sabsovich. Its curriculum is chiefly practical, attention being given primarily to various branches of applied husbandry and to farm mechanics, while the theoretical instruction is mainly directed toward familiarizing the pupils with the principles underlying modern farming. A considerable number of the alumni of the school are devoting themselves to practical agriculture. One of them is the successful manager of the Allivine farm near Vineland, N. J.; three are farming for themselves in Connecticut, two in Colorado, one in northern New Jersey, one in New York state, and two in Woodbine. A much larger number are working for other farmers. The alumni include four college graduates, two graduates of a medical school, one lawyer, twelve college students, three members of the United States navy, one of the United States army, and a number of machinists.Schools and Synagogues.
The four local public schools had in 1905 an enrolment of over 500, and the average attendance in 1904 was 450. At first included in the school district of Dennis township, the Woodbine schools were organized into a separate district in April, 1903, and temporary trustees were appointed until the spring of 1904. Woodbine has also a kindergarten and a Talmud Torah. The public buildings include two synagogues, a bath-house, a hospital (formerly a hotel), and an engine-house and meeting-hall for the volunteer fire-company. The local industries are housed in five brick buildings, while water and electric lighting are supplied to most of the houses in the borough from the central pumping-station.
In 1901 the average individual income was $7.30 per week, and the average earnings per family were $675 per annum. There were in that year 175 single and double cottages in Woodbine, of which 14 were owned by the Baron de Hirsch Fund and 161 by the people; of the latter only 23 were rented. Seventy per cent of the cottages varied in cost of construction between $575 and $1,000, the remainder being erected at a cost of over $1,000 each. Their estimated total cost was $157,450, of which $58,200 had been paid in 1901. In 1905 the borough proper had 223 private houses, these and the outlying farmhouses being inhabited by 325 families. Jacob Kotinsky, entomologist for the territory of Hawaii, Joseph W. Pincus, agriculturist of the Baron de Hirsch School, and Jacob G. Lipman, soil chemist and bacteriologist of the New Jersey State Experiment Station, were among the early settlers in Woodbine. The population is now (1905) 1,900, of whom 94 per cent are Jews. See also