Biography of Joseph Rosenblum

JOSEPH ROSENBLUM is one of the most extensive onion operators in the United States, a man who has established the onion market, who has brought order to certain commercial conditions, and who has brought success not only to himself but to the scores of producers who are most vitally concerned. He is a power to be reckoned with in American commercial and financial circles, and has achieved this high position solely through his own ability, probity and perseverance. The State of Massachusetts, looking to her men of agricultural industries for the most favorable reports that she is accustomed to pass along to the countrys’ agricultural chiefs in the compilation of their statistics for the elucidation of the interested farming world in general, asks nothing better than to know of the individual effort and progress of such a specialist as Joseph Rosenblum, onion-raising, storing and shipping operator at South Deerfield. It is not an old story, that of Mr. Rosenblum’s successful oniongrowing venture in the Connecticut Valley, only a few years over a decade as to its duration, but it is a story of a forthright and practical business man who has made the most and the best of his careful investigations of a Massachusetts opportunity, and at a point where the culture of onions is most favored by natural advantages and circumstances.

Starting out in the courage of his convictions, and assuring himself as to the completeness of his survey of the South Deerfield prospects, Mr. Rosenblum has achieved those rewards of production and distribution upon an extensive scale that are properly his, due to his characteristic energy, coupled with his fair dealing with the public. Though Mr. Rosenblum is the owner of large onion ranches in other sections of the country, that at South Deerfield is his noteworthy Massachusetts plant, and its repute and that of its proprietor is at least country-wide.

Aaron Rosenblum, who was born in 1846, in Warsaw, Russia, and who died in New York in 1898, was a man of superior attainments. He received his education in schools in Leipsic, and he had five languages at his command. He came to the United States when he was but sixteen years of age, and when he had been here two weeks, he cast in his lot with that of the Union Army, and serving to the close of the war, received his honorable discharge. He then began the manufacture of house slippers and felt boots, in New York City. He lived in Chicago for awhile, where he engaged in business, and returning to New York, spent the remainder of his days in that city. He was at all times intensely American and patriotic, and upon his arrival here he lost no time in securing his naturalization and his franchise as an American citizen. He was a Free and Accepted Mason of the thirty-second degree, a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and an adherent of the Jewish faith. He was married, in 1869, to Henrietta Schwab, who was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, in 1849, and who was living in 1925, aged seventy-six years. Their children were: Abraham; Samuel; Lewis; Harriet, deceased; Joseph, of whom further; Gertrude; and a child who died in infancy.

Joseph Rosenblum was born September 21, 1885, in New York City, and he attended the Brooklyn schools, besides further educating himself in night schools. He was first employed in a printing establishment, where he received two dollars and fifty cents a week, so continuing for two years. He was afterwards employed for a short time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then removed to Chicago, Illinois, where he was associated with the interests of the Hayward Brothers Wakefield Company. He next went into the amusement business, and was an actor, traveling with a company on the road. When Mr. Rosenblum was nineteen years of age, he went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was associated with the wholesale woolen business, in which he continued up to 1907, when the panic of that year so affected his interests that he relinquished his activities in that line and returned to New York, where he joined his brother in the produce business, and with whom he remained four years, as one of his head salesmen. In 1913 he came into the Connecticut Valley, for the purpose of investigating conditions as to onion-raising, storing and shipping, and as a result he decided to establish headquarters at South Deerfield. Since 1915 he has been at the head of the enterprise, incorporating later under the firm name of Joseph Rosenblum, Inc., and the South Deerfield Onion Storage Company, Mr. Rosenblum being president of both companies. South Deerfield is the main office location of all his activities in this region as well as of his interests in Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Idaho, and California. “Current Affairs,” in an illuminating article outlining the extensive business affairs concerning this successful young man, states that:

Mr. Rosenblum handled 2,500 carloads of onions a Year, with 300 carloads in storage at one time. He owns a 4,500-acre onion ranch in Texas, and is interested, further, in a 30,000-acre ranch in that State, and 1,000 acres in Indiana; while he finances additional ranches in California, where the Japs do the labor, because it is cheaper to raise onions in the South and West than it is to hire labor in the Connecticut Valley of industrial New England, where factory prices must be offered laborers to keep them on the farms. Importing onions from Egypt and Spain, Mr. Rosenblum has exported onions to Europe and South America He has been instrumental in revolutionizing the methods of marketing and handling onions. He was the first to start marketing onions in 100-pound sacks instead of by the bushel. To-day, onions are usually marketed in this way. Mr. Rosenblum has made his reputation largely on the quality and grade of onions which he ships under brands.

In 1924 Mr. Rosenblum established the firm of Joseph Rosenblum, Inc., of New York, with branch offices at Laredo, Texas. This concern has just terminated one of the most successful onion deals ever known in the history of the onion business, and it was made possible by close and careful observation of crop conditions, period of movement and restriction of daily shipments, also the quick action of buying on terminal markets, thereby forcing the market to advance when it was known for a certainty that shipments were going to be restricted, and during a period of ten days, about eight hundred cars were bought by Mr. Rosenblum and his associates.

The firm of Joseph Rosenblum, Inc., is very enthusiastic over the possibilities of the Texas onion deal as proven by this past season, provided that shipments are restricted to around seventy-five cars daily and with an acreage of not over ten thousand acres. Mr. Rosenblum is ably assisted by R. C. Schanck, vice-president of Joseph Rosenblum, Inc., and who is well known to the produce trade, especially in Southwest Texas, where he has been located for a number of years in looking after the firm’s interests.

In making a review of the whole onion situation throughout the United States, Mr. Rosenblum stated:

Taking as the starting point and beginning of the season of the onion industry, the period when the Northern onion crop is ready to be harvested is usually around the first of August and thereafter. There is a production annually in the Northern States, including the winter crop grown in California, of around twenty-five thousand car loads of onions. This figure includes the early grown and onions shipped to nearby markets. About two-thirds of this quantity is usually shipped and consumed during the months of September, October and November, and the balance of this crop is stored for winter supply, which covered the period of December, January, February, March, and the first part of April. Of the two-thirds above mentioned that are usually shipped out quite a quantity of these reach the small towns, where the wholesale grocer usually puts away his winter supply in his own storage.

At the time the Northern crop starts to move to market, the daily shipments run from one hundred and twenty-five to two hundred cars per day, depending entirely upon the production. During the months of September, October, November, December, January, February, March and April, there is consumed throughout the United States on an average of one hundred cars of onions per day at fair average prices. During the months of May, June, July and August the normal daily supply is approximately sixty to seventy-five cars. The weather conditions have a bearing as to the amount consumed, consumption being greater in cold weather. The Northern grown onions are usually kept in common storage, and they usually have to be disposed of by or before April first, as they will not keep any longer. When the crop in the North is normal, these onions are usually all disposed of by April 10th of each year, and the buyers must come to the State of Texas for their supply, as the crop grown in that. State comes at a time when no other State has any available supply. The State of Texas must produce a sufficient amount of onions to supply the United States during the months of April, May, and the greater part of June.

Taking as a figure that the requirements of the United States from the first day in April until the 15th of June be on an average of seventy-live cars per day, it would mean that there would be required a supply of 5,625 car loads of onions. Around the first of April-this depends on the crop in the Northusually there is approximately six hundred cars of Northern onions available in cold storage. There is produced in California approximately seven hundred and fifty to eight hundred cars. There is imported into the United States, particularly so when conditions warrant it, approximately a thousand cars. This covers onions coming from Spain, Bermuda, South American points, and the largest quantity coming from Alexandria, Egypt. This would leave approximately a supply of 3,300 cars to come from the State of Texas. If the acreage in the State of Texas does not exceed 9,000 acres, the production not too great and the shipments regulated so as not to exceed seventyfive to eighty cars per day, distributed properly throughout the United States there will be no occasion for any such conditions as have existed here in the past, of price declining from a high level down to nothing or starting at nothing and going up to a high level. A market could be established at a fair price to the consumer as well as to the grower and all interested parties. The market could be stabilized and the prices maintained, depending entirely upon the quantity, grade and kind of onions, the grower and shipper have to offer.

The great trouble with the handling of the Texas onion deal in the past has been that the growers and shippers have tried to produce a crop to be marketed in the least possible time. The consequences have been, and particularly here in the Laredo district, that most of the crops were harvested before maturity and every grower tried to outdo his neighbor by seeing how quickly they could load their cars of onions and complete the harvesting from one to two cars per day, and within ten days reach the point of one hundred cars daily or more. The shipper started out offering the first cars at high prices, and offered cars from week to week at lower levels, knowing that the supply and movement would increase daily, which would have a tendency of depressing the market, trying to effect sales in advance or sell something that do not own in anticipation of purchasing at a lower price at the time that shipment is to be made. The consequence of this is that the purchaser, realizing the situation, refuses to buy, knowing that if he purchased a car at a given price it would be considered high and that before the car was half disposed of, another car would arrive to his competitor at a lower price and naturally his competitor could sell his car at the price the first party’s cost and make a profit. The trade in general has been very cautious for the past three years and has waited for the onions to arrive at destination and for the market to seek its level by natural sources of supply and demand, and then purchase from time to time on this basis.

If the growers in the State of Texas were not to grow an acreage greater than required demand, and the yield was a normal one, and the shipments were regulated, the confidence would be restored with the buyers in all markets and would bring about a more profitable situation, to the growers and all interested parties; but the great trouble has been, and no doubt will be, that after a successful year all the growers, as well as others, will try to plant as many onions as they possibly can, thereby increasing the acreage, and the supply being far greater than the demand, there will thereby be brought about a reputation of previous experiences. In the event that Texas produced five hundred to a thousand cars more than the normal supply, to maintain a fair average market it would pay the growers to only ship their best grade of onions and not to harvest or ship their off-grades, such as biolers, splits, doubles or anything that may be inferior. By doing this they would naturally reduce the supply with practically no loss to them and sell what they shipped on a profitable basis, as on an average there Is fifteen to forty per cent. of off-grades, depending entirely upon the season and conditions under which the crop was grown.

Mr. Rosenblum has at all times proven his interest in public affairs. During the World War, for example, he shipped large quantities of onions and potatoes for the use of the United States Government, and on the smallest possible margin, with no thought of profiteering. Aside from this, also, he was one of the large investors in Liberty bonds, and he was active in all the drives for money, men and munitions at the time. He was chairman of a national committee representing the National Onion. Growers of the United States of America, who went to Washington during President Harding’s administration, to bring about the tariff on onions. He is a close friend of Channing Cox, Governor of Massachusetts in 1924, a member of the Coolidge Club, and a staunch Republican. He exhibits a deep interest in everything that pertains to the welfare of town, State and Nation. His fraternal affiliations are with Sugar Loaf Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, at South Deerfield, and he is a thirtysecond degree Mason of the Scottish Rite, and a member of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Springfield; a member of the Knights of Malta; the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, at Greenfield; the Northampton Kiwanis Club; Greenfield Chamber of Commerce; and Springfield Automobile Club. He is a former president and a member of the Board of Directors of the South Deerfield Board of Trade, and is president of the Men’s Club at South Deerfield.

Joseph Rosenblum was married, May 20, 1905, to Lillian Emma Heimann, of Brooklyn, New York, a daughter of Arnold Ferdinand and Hansina Charlotte (Lydike) Heimann. Her father came to the United States when he was twelve years of age, and settled in Brooklyn; her mother came here at the age of eighteen years. Mr. and Mrs. Rosenblum are the parents of: Florence Charlotte Rosenblum, born December in, 1908, at the present time (1925) a student at the Lasell Seminary, at Auburndale, Massachusetts.



Lewis historical publishing company; Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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