Wampum was established in southern Lawrence County in the late 18th century and became an important transportation hub in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when as many as eight railroad tracks were running through the borough and its vicinity.
The economic opportunities associated with the railroads attracted several Jewish merchants around the turn of the century, including the families of Barney Cohen, Louis Harris and Joseph Stiglitz, among others. These families often worshiped in nearby Ellwood City, which had a larger community and eventually a synagogue.
Among the earliest Jewish organizations in Wampum was the 20th Century Club, which promoted “the development of social and literary functions.” By the early 1920s, the few Jewish families in Wampum were active enough in regional affairs that the Ellwood City Hadassah felt obliged to change its name to the Ellwood-Wampum Hadassah. The small Jewish population of Wampum also associated with the community in New Castle.
The Jewish population of Wampum began to decline in the decade before World War II, as children left the area. A population survey included in the 1940-1941 edition of the American Jewish Yearbook listed a Jewish population of less than 10 for Wampum.