The earliest known Jewish settler in the Alexandria-Pineville area was Henry Michael Hyams, whose name appears in the 1830 census. The earliest grave marker identifiable on this site tells that Augusta Bernstein, daughter of Samuel Bernstein, was buried here after her death on September 19, 1852. At least six other early burials were of victims of the 1853 yellow fever epidemic. The Hebrew Benevolent Association of Rapides, also known as Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim, was chartered October 2, 1859. First officers were Isaac Levy, president; Henry Greenwood, vice-president; Julius Levin, secretary; M. Steinfels, treasurer; and B. Weiss, M.L. Wagner and A. Sterne, directors. According to a re-recorded deed, land for this cemetery was sold to this association on January 15, 1861 by Bertha Mitchell Weinberg, Henry Klotz and Samuel Bernstein.