Lapas attēli

Close working connections are maintained with similar institutions in Indianapolis, Chicago, and New York, and with some banks abroad or some foreign banking association. By means of these connections, bills of exchange are sold and cashed on all domestic and foreign points. Checks of alien laborers are also cashed. The deposits come not only from the immigrants residing in the community but from others in all parts of the country, even as far west as the Pacific Coast. The methods by which they are made productive could not be clearly ascertained. The custom seems to be to lend the funds to aliens engaged in business undertakings in the locality, to use them in the business of the concern itself, or to lend them to other immigrant and foreign banks. As the recent immigrant is likely to be thrifty, his savings in the aggregate are considerable and are allowed to accumulate from month to month without being subject to numerous drafts. The profits arising from the control and use of these savings are a large item in the combined profits of the mercantile houses. The extent of the deposits may be judged from the fact that one of the largest immigrant banks in Hungary Hollow usually carries $25,000 in deposits.

These banking establishments are equipped with all the modern facilities, including adding machines and typewriters with the characters of the Bulgarian alphabet. While they usually have large safes, they are without vaults and the cash reserve is usually deposited in American banks in the community. A large number of the banks are conducted by men who have had experience in practical banking in Bulgaria or Turkey. There are some small banks of a crude "wild cat sort. They are not responsible institutions, but are practically controlled by one person in whom other aliens have confidence and with whom they leave their money for safekeeping. The person or banker receiving the money usually puts it into some business in which he is interested. A number of such banks, at the outbreak of the recent industrial depression, were unable to return the money left with them and were discredited. Another banker of the same kind used the money which he received in building a large mercantile house which he failed to conduct successfully and which is now in the hands of his creditors.

Each mercantile house operates in conjunction with its other business one or more saloons. These saloons in their appointments and in the liquors sold are a reproduction of the American institution. In addition to the bar there is usually a large open space filled with tables and chairs, and the larger part of the patronage comes from those who occupy these seats. A billiard and pool room-usually pool tables alone-is operated by the saloon keeper either in the same or an adjoining room. A large part of the business of the saloon arises from the sale of intoxicants-usually beer-in quantities to the aliens of all nationalities who are in the habit of drinking beer with their food. The direct patronage of the saloon comes from the Austrian, Servian, and Magyar, and to a less extent the Croatian. These races drink in saloons and are also the cause of a great deal of disorder. The Bulgarians as a rule do not drink in saloons except on holidays or special occasions. They consume beer chiefly with their meals at home.

Under normal conditions each individual member of these races will drink from two to four bottles of beer per day.

The mercantile houses also go so far as to provide facilities for amusement and recreation. The greater number of them have in their building large assembly halls, containing a small stage with scenery and equipment of the usual kind. Amateur and regular performances are given on these stages. Each week there is also a dance, and the dance and play are usually given together. In one corner of the room a bar is located and the mercantile house sells drinks of all kinds during the play or the dance. In addition to its saloon and dance hall, one mercantile house conducts a summer garden during the warm weather. There all nationalities are said to mingle together, drink and talk, and sing the songs of their native countries. American amusement resorts, such as moving-picture exhibitions and the theater, are also patronized by the immigrant. In their homes and rooms one or more men are usually found who can play on some musical instrument of their native country. Often these musicians gather together in groups to form a sort of band and play together in the streets of the foreign section or in their quarters.

There was no direct evidence to the effect that the mercantile houses were conducting employment agencies and the managers of the various houses vigorously denied that they were engaged in this business.

At the same time it was evident that they were the potent factors in controlling public opinion, and in bringing about the constant changes in the population or the labor supply. They acted in an advisory capacity, to say the least, in writing and providing means for aliens to come to the community. In these services they claimed they were acting in a disinterested way. It was apparent, however, that the existence of a large and more or less stable labor supply added greatly to the profits of their business. Whether, in addition, any fee was charged for securing employment for their countrymen, was not discovered. There is no doubt that all the mercantile house managers kept themselves informed as to the demand for labor in other localities-especially in railroad construction work—and that correspondence with contractors who were desirous of securing workmen was carried on by the mercantile establishments. The usual procedure was to make known privately or at a public meeting the contents of these letters and to advise with the men as regards accepting work elsewhere.

A number of private labor agents were also encountered. Several Chicago and Cincinnati labor agencies published advertisements in the alien press and had representatives in the community.

No detailed information was sought as to the profits of mercantile establishments, but several examples of their rapid expansion of business and the extent of their property holdings will throw considerable light upon this point. One of the leading establishments in Hungary Hollow was started four years ago by a Bulgarian, an ordinary unskilled laborer, who had saved $90. This was the original capital invested. The company now operates a grocery and dry goods store, a coffee house, bakery, saloon, and bank, steamship and other agencies, and rents about 100 rooms. Its business is housed in one large brick building, one stone building, and one frame building. These buildings have been paid for out of the profits of the business and are worth about $40,000. The company also owns eight cottages, valued at $1,500 each, and which are also paid for.

It also owns the semiweekly newspaper and conducts a restaurant. The equipment and stocks of its various concerns at a very conservative estimate must be worth more than $10,000. Its receipts from collections, exclusive of its general credit and cash business, were about $12,000 each monthly pay day. At the time of the panic of 1907 it carried $25,000 in deposits, and since the existing depression started all of its depositors have been paid in full.

Another typical illustration is furnished by the establishment of two Bulgarians from Macedonia. These men started a small bakery four years ago and since that time have extended their business to include a bank, saloon, grocery, dry goods store, mineral baths, steamship agency, assembly rooms, etc. They also rent over 100 living rooms and have recently established a branch house, consisting of a grocery, saloon, and bakery in Hammond, Ind. Their various interests in Community E are housed in three brick buildings, valued at $75,000. Their deposits before the depression were $6,000 and have been paid in full since the panicof last autumn. The remarkable fact to be noted in connection with these establishments is that the expansion of business has been made through the profits realized. If their modest beginnings are considered in comparison with their present status, a conception of their profits may be reached. At the same time the inference is almost irresistible that such profits could not have been earned by ordinary business methods and that these concerns must have made exceptional gains from labor agencies or similar sources.

The conception of the business life of the communities would not be complete, however, without citing mercantile concerns which have been established under conditions unlike those mentioned above. Two classes of such concerns will be sufficient: (1) Those established by outside capital, and (2) those established by bringing together the savings of aliens living in the locality. As an illustration of the first class, a Macedonian firm in Hungary Hollow may be cited. This mercantile house was started in 1907. The capital, about $25,000, was furnished by a merchant who has an establishment in Macedonia, and it is managed by a Macedonian who, until coming to Hungary Hollow, was engaged in the banking business in Constantinople. It has all the varied interests of the establishments mentioned in detail above. An example of the second class is furnished by another Bulgarian house. These men secured from laborers who had confidence in them $50,000 and built a $30,000 brick building containing stores, saloon, fifty-two living rooms, and a theater. After the establishment had been operated for a number of months it failed and passed into control of a commissioner in bankruptcy. The explanations for its failure are twofold: (1) That it did not have sufficient working capital, and (2) that it was improperly promoted and managed. The latter reason seems to be correct.

These examples are typical of the larger-scale business enterprises. There are numerous cases of smaller businesses conducted by aliens, including saloons, coffeehouses, smaller general mercantile houses, shops of various kinds, independent bakeries, bottling works, and hotels or lodging houses and restaurants. The larger mercantile houses, as described above, however, control and give the stamp to the business life of the immigrant sections.


Two newspapers, one issued weekly and the other twice a week, are published in Hungary Hollow, and both are controlled by mercantile houses. The Bulgarian semiweekly paper has been published for about six months and circulates among Bulgarians throughout the country. It is printed wholly in the Bulgarian language, edited by a Bulgarian who has been in this country five years, and the typesetting is done by Bulgarian compositors. The press work is by an American printing company. The reading matter covers local happenings and a digest of the world's news, with special reference to Bulgaria and the Balkan peninsula.

The weekly publication is published by a so-called Macedonian Association, which is in reality a business partnership controlled by a local mercantile house. It has been in existence only for two years and its tenure of life seems to be uncertain. It is edited by a Bulgarian who was a student at the University of Chicago and later received the degree of doctor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also published several small books in the English language. The newspaper is printed partly in Bulgarian and partly in English, and the composition and press work is done by Macedonians. This publication occupies a small building in Hungary Hollow, while the Bulgarian journal has an attractive office in the town proper. The two newspapers depend largely for their maintenance upon local advertising, but secure considerable general advertising also from steamship companies, labor agencies, and similar sources. Neither of them has a large circulation, as they have been in existence for only a short period of time, and the illiteracy among the Macedonian and Bulgarian peoples is very great. Their combined circulation is probably not more than 3,000 copies. They represent opposing business and political factions in the life of Hungary Hollow.

The motive of the rival mercantile houses in controlling these publications is twofold: (1) they desire to control as far as possible public opinion in the locality, and (2) they can use the papers for advertising their general business in the localities and the banking branch of their establishments among Bulgarians elsewhere from whom they wish to secure deposits.


The immigrant sections lie within the police jurisdiction of the two regular towns of the community under the control of the regularly constituted police authorities. The immigrants also make the customary complaint against the police and the police judges and justices of the peace. They claim that they have been arrested on various pretexts, some of which had no foundation, and have been fined heavily. They also assert that the fines imposed have not been in conformity with the offense charged, but have been levied according to the judge's opinion of the resources of the prisoner.

Hungary Hollow, which stands in an isolated position so far as the American section is concerned, and which, legally speaking, is governed by the authorities of the larger American town, has a unique system of public control and self-government for the decision of questions which particularly interest its population. Public

opinion is largely influenced by the alien press, and the press in turn, as before pointed out, is controlled by representative mercantile houses. Representative men, however-usually the heads of mercantile houses—are the most potent factors in the control of public opinion. Each mercantile house, as already described, has from 50 to 500 immigrants who room in its buildings or purchase their supplies from its stores. The typical mercantile house will have a patronage ranging in number from four to five hundred persons. These aliens not only make their purchases from the mercantile house, but tend, on account of their ignorance of the language and American customs, to look to the manager of the mercantile house for advice in all the affairs of life. He becomes a sort of patron to them, and develops a paternalistic attitude toward his entire clientele. He communicates to them the opportunities for work and advises them whether they should accept or reject work which is offered to them. In these and other ways he gains and retains a hold on a large part of the alien population.

The population, as a natural result, tends to become divided into certain factions, the leadership of whích centers in the various mercantile houses. The immigrants readily follow the advice of their

. leaders, and the system of control, therefore, narrows down to a contest between a group of leaders resembling somewhat in their influence and activities the small American political boss. In Hungary Hollow the various factors of influence and control seem to extend outward from two leading Bulgarian mercantile houses.

The ostensible control in the community is vested in a mass meeting of the alien population, before which various questions are put and discussed. While these questions are argued pro and con by the leaders, and the population is theoretically free to act as it deems best, practically each individual's decision is influenced by his affiliations with certain leaders and the forces which they can bring to bear upon him. By way of illustration, some southern sugar planters recently offered to employ a number of laborers on their plantations. The communication to the people of the community came through a Bulgarian labor agent who was affiliated in his interests with one of the mercantile houses, which in turn controlled one of the Bulgarian newspapers as well as various business interests. A mass meeting was called to consider the proposition of the southern planters. The faction represented by the labor agent urged strongly the acceptance of the offer. On the other hand its acceptance was vigorously opposed by another Bulgarian mercantile establishment, on the ground of peonage in the South. Men were placed before the meeting who had been in the South, and the evil conditions there were described by the editor of the Naroden Glas, the newspaper owned by the opposing mercantile house, and the request made that no Bulgarians accept the work in the South. As the result of this opposition the men decided not to go and the proposition was rejected.

This illustration serves to show that in a segregated community such as Hungary Hollow a form of direct democracy is developed to control local affairs, or, rather, to consider and decide questions and policies that affect the community. Apparently these questions are debated and a decision reached by a popular expression of opinion. In reality the mass meeting is more a form than an actual working

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »