Jewish Farmers of the Catskills: A Century of Survival

Jewish Farmers of the Catskills: A Century of Survival

Jewish Farmers of the Catskills: A Century of Survival

Jewish Farmers of the Catskills: A Century of Survival


From the Foreword:
"The definitive account of the march and annihilation of Major Francis Dade's column of 108 men in December 1835.... Extensive knowledge of the soldiers, the Seminoles, and the terrain is woven into the text. There does not exist a more vivid, but at the same time historically accurate account of a single action in U. S. military literature."

"...a gripping account of the infamous Dade Massacre and probably the best book ever written about the Second Seminole War."--Matt Pearcy, The Journal of America's Military Past

Dade's Battle in December 1835 precipitated the Second Seminole War. It was the first American war fought over the issue of slavery, Frank Laumer writes, and it occurred principally because of white determination to protect the institution.
In their search for runaway slaves, white citizens of Georgia and Florida invaded Seminole land and met with resistance; the violent encounters that followed led to Dade's Battle. As a result, Laumer says, the escape hatch was closed, Native Americans were removed from the land, and Florida was made "safe" for white expansion.
Coupling thirty years of research with a passion to understand the fate of Major Dade's command and the motivations of the attacking Seminoles, Laumer has written a vivid account of a battle that changed Florida's history. After walking Dade's route on the Fort King Road from Tampa to the battlefield north of the Withlacoochee River--wearing the complete woolen uniform of an enlisted man, carrying musket, canteen, pack, bayonet, and haversack--Laumer can describe not only the clothing and weapons of the soldiers but also the tension and fear they felt as they marched through Seminole territory. He has also assessed the position of the Seminoles, sympathizing with the choices forced by their leaders.
Laumer also describes the backgrounds of the soldiers who marched under Dade and the role of much-maligned black interpreter, Louis Pacheco, and he offers new insights on the mistakes made by the commanders who ordered the march.
More than the account of a single military action, Dade's Last Command is the story of good and decent men "who died violent and terrible deaths to perpetuate a political and social evil."


Most current impressions of Jews are that they are an urbanized and industrialized people. While this impression is true in general of today's Jewish communities in most of the world, it is incomplete.

Ancient Jewish history has major references to the importance of agriculture in Jewish life. in Eastern Europe, the homeland of most American Jews, there were a large number of Jewish farmers. Many early Sephardic Jews in the Americas were in agriculture, and there was an organized Jewish agricultural movement in the United States at the time of the Great Migration from Eastern Europe.

While comprising a small percentage of the total Jewish population, these farmers have nevertheless played an important part in the Jewish community. the information in this book helps to correct the incomplete impression and to analyze in detail the largest concentration of Jewish farmers in the United States--in the Catskill Mountains in New York state.

In chapter I, "Jews and the Farming Tradition," we discuss the historical importance of agriculture to Jewish life, briefly review the history of Jewish farming in the Americas and in Eastern Europe in the century before the Great Migration, and describe the organized efforts to encourage Jewish farming.

In chapter 2, "Settling in 'The Mountains'," we describe the Catskill Mountains where Jewish farmers began moving around 1880, the early years of the interaction of farms and boardinghouses, and the beginnings of a Jewish religious, institutional, and farming community. the chapter covers Jewish life in the mountains through the 1920s.

We cover, in chapter 3, the Jewish farming community in the Catskills as it faced the depression in 1929, the continuing dilemma over how much to mix farming and resort keeping, and the major parts . . .

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