Eastern European Jews began to arrive in Wilmington, North Carolina in the 1890s. These immigrants had landed on Ellis Island and traveled South in search of opportunities. On January 6, 1898, ten of these men, an organized Orthodox Jewish community, founded the B’nai Israel Society.
The January 18, 1898 issue of the Wilmington Morning Star newspaper reported: “B’nai Israel Society Formed. The B’nai Israel Society of Wilmington, which yesterday became incorporated by the Secretary of State, has been formed to be a benevolent, religious and charitable institution and to be a non-profit organization. Its purposes will be to erect a house of worship, to establish and maintain schools, to aid its members in distress and to provide a suitable place of burial for its dead.”
The January 21, 1898 issue of the Wilmington Morning Star reported that B’nai Israel Society’s first officers had been elected and arrangements “for the purchase of lands suitable for the purposes … to start a cemetery” had begun.