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THE INDUSTRIAL DEPRESSION AND THE EXODUS OF 1909.
The panic of the autumn of 1907 did not affect the community until the following spring. By that time, however, the mills began to close, and then followed distress among the recent immigrants. Thousands were fed by the commercial houses all summer. One banking house could pay its depositors some of their money, but the others were obliged to suspend payment for the time, giving depositors only bread. Even the municipality donated two wagon loads of flour, and the American saloon keepers and merchants made donations. The Bulgarians suffered most, for they were the unskilled laborers. In the summer of 1908 a few men were able to get work on the railroads, and this relieved the situation to some extent. These laborers returned in the autumn, but by that time the mills had taken on more men, and by taking turns at the work, helping each other and drawing on their bank accounts, the winter passed better than the summer. The following figures, furnished by the leading immigrant banking house, shows the effect of the business depression on the economic condition of the Bulgarians in Community E. This company forwarded remittances from Bulgarian immigrants to their families abroad in 1906, $14,000; 1907, $150,000; 1908, $10,000. The bank in 1909 sent on an average $100 a week. During the past year they have received $4,000 from abroad in remittances for immigrants here.
The spring of 1909 threatened a return to the conditions of the previous year, especially as most of the immigrants had spent all their savings. In the month of May, 1909, however, came a large demand for laborers on railroad-construction work in the two Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana. There was a general rush in response. This had occurred the previous year, but to a lesser extent. May 25 is a national and a sacred holiday among the Bulgarians, the day of St. Methodius and St. Cyril. At this celebration, in 1908, 2,000 attended in Community E, marching in parade. During the year 1909 less than 100 were present. By the end of May there were only 400 Bulgarians in the town proper, and only 300 in Hungary Hollow. Almost every house, formerly so crowded, was empty. During the previous summer the Bulgarian population never sank below 2,000, although this was a decrease from what had formerly been 8,000. During the winter it increased again to about 4,000. Apparently none of the other races have been affected. The business done by one of the largest mercantile establishments in the community may be cited to illustrate these statements. The Bulgarians use bread different from the ordinary American product, baked by a member of their own race. The bakery conducted by the mercantile house sold bread during the designated periods of the years 1906-1909 as follows:
The average monthly receipts from the general store of the same company during the same period was as follows:
The decrease would be more noticeable except for the fact that the company established a trade among the Magyars during the last year specified, while in previous years its business had been exclusively with the Bulgarians.
THE BULGARIANS AT HOME.
Of the Bulgarian immigrants, not only in Community E but in the whole country, it may be estimated with a fair degree of accuracy that about 90 per cent are from Macedonia. Of the Macedonian Bulgarians practically all are from Monastir, in southwestern Macedonia, the center of revolutionary disturbances for the past fifteen years. Practically none of the Macedonian immigrants in Community E are from outside that zone. Moreover, it may be estimated that fully 75 per cent of the Macedonian Bulgar immigrants are from one small district in southern Monastir, known to Europeans by its Greek name Castoria, though locally known as Kostur. The district is wholly mountainous, and fit for agriculture only on the small plateaus among the high, rugged ridges, where grapes, grain, and tobacco are grown in limited quantities. Sheep raising is one of the important occupations.
In spite of the unfavorable environment of Castoria, however, the people are more prosperous than in any other part of southern Macedonia. Some of the villages have, or had before the insurrection of 1904, the appearance of small cities, the houses being substantially built of stone, almost all being two stories high. The people are also more enlightened, for the reason that almost all the male adults are stone masons, who spend part of each year abroad, in Greece, Bulgaria, or Roumania, working at their trade. In all the Balkan countries the masons from Castoria are considered the best, and are always in demand. They are usually at home during the harvest months, to help the women and children in the fields.
Racially the Castorians are slightly different from other Macedonian Bulgarians. In appearance they are darker; nearer, possibly, to the original Bulgarian stock, their mountainous regions having protected them to some extent from infusion with the later-coming Slavs, although their language is Slavic. In Bulgaria, where the Macedonian immigration has been heavy, the Castorians are considered the shrewdest and the most pugnacious. Many have there succeeded in commercial enterprises, and they fill many lucrative government posts. The same is to be observed in Community E; they are the successful bankers, merchants, and saloon keepers."
The Castorians have always prospered. The character of their region made it unfavorable to the large landownings beys. Each
peasant has usually owned his land, always enough to supply his own wants. The grapes and tobacco are unusually good, and command high prices, while the absence of a Musselman population has rendered Albanian brigandage less common there than in the lowlands. The earnings of the men abroad as masons escape the heavy property taxation, while their sheep in the mountains could also be kept from the eyes of the assessors.
When revolutionary agitation began in Macedonia fifteen years ago the Castorians were the first to respond. They organized a secret league, which spread over other parts of Macedonia, but always remained strongest in Castoria, financially and numerically. In 1904 an insurrection was declared, and the fiercest fighting took place in Castoria. Every one of the stone villages was wholly or partly demolished by Turkish cannon. With the crushing of the rebellion thousands of refugees fled to Greece and Bulgaria.
A few refugees had gone to America directly after the insurrection. Their letters of encouragement drew on the rest. It also happened that in other districts the revolutionary leaders discouraged emigration, but in Castoria the local chiefs encouraged it, for those in America sent back substantial contributions to the revolutionary treasury, and they considered money more important than men.
Almost whole villages were depopulated. In one-the town of Boof, of 400 houses-almost 250 houses were empty of men, all being in America. The women were left under the care and protection of the men that remained. The men from this village had no intention of remaining in America. America had simply been substituted for the closed field of labor in other countries, but on account of the expensive journey the stay abroad must necessarily be a longer one. The Bulgarians from other parts of Monastir are usually purely agriculturists, but their reasons for emigration are similar to those of the Castorians, though more from Turkish than Greek persecution.
Of the Bulgarians from this principality a vast majority are from the district about Turnova, the ancient capital of the Bulgarian Empire. They are almost purely Slavs. The district was long ago overpopulated, and emigration began across the Danube into Roumania, where most of the Bulgarians succeeded as bakers and market gardeners. In Roumania they first came in contact with Macedonian refugees, and were by them led off to America, rather than by any special internal impulse. They are much inferior to the Macedonians in enterprise, though better schooled, for in Bulgaria education is compulsory, while in Castoria no schools are allowed except in a language foreign to the population. Secret schools are established, however, which accounts for the literacy of many of the Castorians.
PERIOD OF RESIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES OF MEMBERS OF IMMIGRANT HOUSEHOLDS STUDIED.
The table following shows, by race of individual, the percentage of foreign-born persons in the households of the Bulgarians and Magyars who have been in the United States each specified number of years, and substantiates the racial movements to the community, so far as these races are concerned, as outlined above.
TABLE 586.—Per cent of foreign-born persons in the United States each specified number of years, by race of individual.
(STUDY OF HOUSEHOLDS.)
[By years in the United States is meant years since first arrival in the United States, no deduction is made for time spent abroad. This table includes only races with 20 or more persons reporting. The total, however, is for all foreign-born.]
The above table shows that all of the Bulgarians from whom information was received have been in the United States less than ten years, and 96.7 per cent under five years. On the other hand, only 80.7 per cent of the Magyars are of a residence less than five years, and 96.7 per cent under ten years, 3.3 per cent being in the United States between ten and twenty years.
METHODS OF SECURING IMMIGRANTS.
Employers disclaim any special efforts to secure immigrant labor. In times of scarcity, one company sometimes resorts to advertising. The common practice, it is asserted, is for the foremen to secure their unskilled workers from applicants at the gates.
In the course of the investigation it was impossible to determine whether or not the mercantile houses were conducting employment agencies. There was no direct evidence to that effect, and the managers of the various establishments 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 composition of the labor supply. It was also evident that they acted in an advisory capacity, to say the least, in writing and providing the means for aliens to come here. In these services they claimed they were acting in a disinterested way. At the same time it was apparent that the existence of a large and more or less stable labor supply added greatly to the profits of their business. Whether, in addition to this, any fee was charged for securing employment for their countrymen was not discovered.
DESTINATION OF IMMIGRANTS TO THE COMMUNITY,
The activity of mercantile houses and saloon keepers in influencing their countrymen to come to the community is indicated by a study of the addresses given upon the manifests of steamers by incoming immigrants. An examination of the records at the post-offices in the community revealed the following facts as regards the addresses to which a large number of immigrants destined to these two places were going:
Box 72, a large Macedonian mercantile house.
Box 351, Macedonian saloon, lodging, mercantile house.
Same as 351.
Same as 316.
Box 37, Macedonian mercantile house.
From this exhibit as to the holders of post-office boxes, it is apparent that in almost every case where a large number of immigrants were giving a common destination, the address was that of a saloon keeper or of a mercantile house.
This fact becomes more marked when it is seen that in the majority of cases where a post-office box number is not given, but that of a person or firm, these persons or firms are either the managers of mercantile houses or the mercantile house itself. Moreover, in the answers to the question "Whom going to join?" it may be said that with few exceptions the destinations given for immigrants are those of mercantile houses or saloons.
The real significance of these facts is doubtful. It may be and probably is true that the mercantile houses and saloon keepers assisted immigrants to come to the community in order to profit in an indirect way by getting them work and securing their patronage after they had secured work. In many cases this is probably true. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that the address of the mercantile house was the same as that of the four or five hundred immigrants who were living in the rooms which the establishment rents. It may be true, therefore, that a large number of immigrants having a common destination were simply coming to join friends or relatives who had rooms above one of the mercantile houses' storerooms.
RACIAL COMPOSITION OF THE COMMUNITY.
This community has under normal conditions, as has been seen, the largest Bulgarian colony in the United States. Before the existing depression, it is estimated that there were 8,000 Bulgarians in the locality. Almost the entire Bulgarian population are single men, or married men who have left their families in Europe. Altogether, there are not over 40 families and about 50 women. The next largest element of foreign population is probably furnished by the Magyars, of whom there is estimated to be more than 1,000 in the two cities. There are, under normal conditions, also between 800 and 1,000 Armenians, between 300 and 500 Servians, and a considerable number of Austrian-Servians, Roumanians, Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks, and Austrians. The total number of recent immigrants in the two cities is estimated to be 12,000. In addition, there are also a large number of older immigrants, made up principally of Germans and Irish. The total population of the community is estimated to be about 20,000.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE POPULATION.
In both of the towns proper, the immigrant population is living in sections apart from the natives. The main consideration leading to the location of the immigrant population has been the effort to be near the place of work. In one city of the community they live principally in a long line of rooming houses, situated along the line of