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the North they have improved the land. They are adepts at hand labor in farming and are most patient and industrious at hard, monotonous work. In some cases, they have rendered productive land that had been considered worthless by native farmers. In the North, ownership by North Italians of their farms is general. Most of them, both North and South Italians, have settled on uncleared land, purchased on an instalment basis, immediately after their arrival in the vicinity. Then they have worked unceasingly to pay for the land and make it profitable. Once owners of land, they take an interest in taxation, roads, suffrage, and schools and soon advance to wider economic interests.
The effect of rural life on the Italians, South Italians especially, has, in general, been good. Where they mingle with equal numbers of American farmers, assimilation has been rapid, but where they are isolated in large groups, it has been slow. Their progress has been small as compared with the northern Europeans in the West, but great as contrasted with that of some other races, as the rural Poles. The second generation is inclined to remain on the soil. At Vineland, New Jersey, there are a number of efficient second generation farmers.
Italians in the Southern States
Most of the Italian immigration to the Southern States has been recent-during the past twenty years. It is also relatively numerically unimportant. There are farming communities in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Arkansas. At Bryan, Texas, is the largest agricultural
colony in the South, numbering at least 1,700 persons. Sunnyside, Arkansas, which is a parent colony for several others, was founded in 1895, and is the largest settlement in the "black belt." Owing to the wide range of settlements in the South, the variety of products raised by Italian farmers is great. They are influenced by environment and the methods of their neighbors. The North Italian settlers in North Carolina carry on a diversified agriculture. In Louisiana and on the coastal plain of Alabama, the South Italians have truck farms and also raise fruits. In the Delta they raise cotton and in the Ozarks the Italians are successful peach and apple growers.
At Sunnyside, the immigrants generally rent farms, while at Knobview and Tontitown, Arkansas, it is their ambition to be independent land-owners. As in other parts of the country, the Italians in the South have small farms, requiring little capital and little outlay for machinery. There are no extensive rice or sugar growers among them.
The large percentage of Sicilians and South Italians in the South is notable. Probably more than 80 per cent. of the rural Italians in Louisiana are Sicilians and the large number of Italians at Bryan, Texas, are also Sicilians. This may be a reason for the larger proportion of Italian agricultural laborers in the South, and for the slower rate of Americanization in some places.
One striking economic feature is specialization rather than general farming. This is evinced in the strawberry culture at Independence, Louisiana. Each family in the community raises the same crop as a rule, a condition which results in cooperation instead of competition. In Independence the Italian growers
unite to buy fertilizer and boxes for their berries and to market them.
The cotton planters of the Delta, however, hold Italian farmers in high regard. Immigration to the South has been stimulated by cotton and sugar planters. They have been dissatisfied with negro labor and, alarmed at the scarcity of all kinds of workmen, have been anxious to secure good farm workers. In some cases, plantation owners have advanced passage money from Europe for immigrants. The total immigration induced in this way is not significant except as it has formed beginnings of colonies to which later immigrants went. For example, a few years ago, Sunnyside offered land under conditions to some 100 families from North Italy. In some places colonies started from the purchase of a few acres by farm laborers. Some of the strawberry growers of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, were originally berry-pickers from New Orleans.
The Italians, also, are excellent laborers on sugar plantations. There has been a marked increase in the immigration of Sicilians into the cane region, where they come from New Orleans. This city in 1910 had a larger proportion of Italians than any other city of the United States, having over 250,000 inhabitants. Tho the Italian excels the negro, there is no immediate prospect of his forcing out the negro labor.
The inclination of Italians to congregate by race groups tends to perpetuate racial customs and characteristics and thus retard assimilation. The North Italians, however, show more inclination to fuse with the older white population than the South Italians do. The former also evince a keener desire to mingle with the Americans, to learn English, and to get educational
facilities for their children. In some places there is a prejudice against foreigners, and the natives in some instances move out to give place to the foreigners.
In respect to citizenship, the apathetic environment and inadequate schools in some parts of the South place the Italians at a disadvantage. Where their interest has been stimulated and the advantages of citizenship pointed out, they are not slow to take out naturalization papers. Once citizens, they take great interest in local questions.
The Italian soon accumulates money and as quickly as possible becomes a tenant or an owner. He is not at all wasteful and, unlike the negro farmer in the South, he makes his farm supply his table. He is not satisfied to work for wages, and the Italian wageearner, where opportunities for economic advancement are favorable, will probably not outlast the first generation. In thrift and progress the Italians equal any other race in the South and they will probably become permanent farm settlers.
Italians in New York State
In New York State the Immigration Commission investigated approximately 4,425 Italians, dependent entirely or in part on agriculture for their livelihood. The majority of them were South Italians and Sicilians. Many had been general laborers, railroad section hands, and pick-and-shovel men in the United States previous to taking up farming. In Europe most of them had been farmers or farm laborers. The reasons for going on farms here were various. Those who had been farm workers in Italy desired to go back to their earlier occupation. Some were ad
vised to become farmers by friends, others settled on farms to be near friends. Among seasonal laborers, an important reason was that the entire family could work through the summer; the cost of living was also lower than in the city.
Most of the owners of farms have been in this country from ten to twenty years, while seasonal agricultural workers have been here a shorter time, in many cases less than five years. It takes a considerable length of time for the Italians to save up sufficient capital to buy land. Most of the farms now owned by Italians in New York State were paid for with money saved by the owners since their arrival here.
The rural communities are largely in Western New York. In the canning season, Italians go to Oneida, and in Geneva and vicinity there are large numbers depending on farm work during the season. Near almost all large cities, some Italians have market gardens. A few work in vineyards and orchards.
There is very little general farming, as they are ignorant of the methods of raising staple crops and of tending horses and live stock. With specialized crops like onions and celery, Italian farmers are generally successful. The farms are small, the usual size being from five to fifteen acres. The acreage depends on the size of the family, as the Italian farmer is loath to employ farm laborers.
Owners of farms are more Americanized than seasonal laborers and a larger proportion have taken out naturalization papers. The seasonal laborers do not have so much opportunity to mingle with the native population. Among them, however, there is a difference between the rural laborers and the ones secured from the cities. The country seasonal worker is often