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The property owned by the Italians in Canastota consists principally of farms, houses in town, stores, or saloons. At the time the Commission's inquiry was made they owned three grocery stores, one cigar store, two saloons, and one cigar factory of the 14 families included in the investigation, one owns land and improvements valued at between $100 and $250, two between $250 and $500, five between $500 and $1,000, three between $1,000 and $1,500, and three between $1,500 and $2,500. Owing to the nature of the farms, little live stock and machinery is necessary. Four have less than $50 invested in live stock and implements, three between $50 and $100, and seven between $100 and $250. Crops raised are generally sold soon after being harvested, and no immigrants from whom information was secured had any crops on hand.

The table which is next submitted will show what progress immigrants have made since buying farms, as it gives the amount of money brought to the locality, years since first lease or purchase, and the value of property now owned.

TABLE 34.- Value of property brought to Canastota by South Italians, net value of

property now owned, and number of years since first lease or purchase.

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A study of the table shows that of the 14 immigrant farmers reporting, all except two have greatly improved their financial condition since coming to the locality. The two mentioned have only been engaged in farming a short time and hence have not had the chance to make much progress.

Of the two farmers who had between $50 and $100 on coming to the locality, one, after farming for a period between five and ten years in duration, has between $500 and $1,000 and the other between $1,500 and $2,500. Of the four farmers who had between $100 and $250 when they came to Canastota, two, within about the same length of time, have acquired between $500 and $1,000, one between $1,000 and $1,500, and one between $1,500 and $2,500. Of the five immigrants who had between $250 and $500 upon


ing in Canastota, one, with only a brief period of farming, has not increased his capital; one, who has farmed in the settlement between one and five years, has accumulated between $500 and $1.000; two, who have lived in the locality between five and ten years, have between $1,000 and $1,500 and $1,500 and $2.500, respectively, and one, with a residence of between ten and fifteen years, now has between $1,500 and $2,500. The two immigrants who possessed between $500 and $1,000, after farming for between five and ten years, now have between $1,500 and $2,500. One immigrant, who had between $2,500 and $5,000 on coming to the locality, has not increased his capital owing to the fact that he has been in the settlement but a little over a year.

When the Commission's inquiry was made, in 1909, the 14 Italians under consideration owned farms valued at $134 per acre, or an average valuation per farm of $1.052. Three-fourths or more of each farm is under cultivation. At the time they were purchased by the Italians these farms had an average value of $631, or $83 per acre. In 1909 the average value per farm was $1,052, or $134 per acre.

Ten farms show indebtedness, the total indebtedness being $3,391, or $339 per farm. The gross value of all property is $24,011 and the net value $20,623, showing the 14 farmers reporting to be in good financial condition. This is shown in detail in the statement which follows: Farms leased and owned: Total farms ...

14 Average size of farm, acres

7. 86 Median farm, acres.

6. 50 Kind of farms, vegetable... First purchase of land and improvements

14 Total number of acres...

106 Average acres per farm..

7. 57 Total value.

$8, 840 Average value per farm

$631 Average value per acre..

$83 Farms now owned ..

14 Total number of acres.

110 Number of acres tillable

110 Present value of farms now owned: Land and improvements.

$14, 725 Average value of land and improvements per farm.

$1,052 Average value of land and improvements per acre

$134 Number of farms showing indebtedness

10 Total indebtedness...

$3, 391 Average indebtedness per farm..

$339 Gross value of all property

$24, 014 Net value of all property..

$20, 623 Average value of all property per farm.

$1, 473



Comparing the Italian settlers of Canastota with Americans in the same locality with regard to thrift and industriousness, the Italian is found to be far ahead of the American of the same class. The Italian saves his earnings, is constantly adding improvements to his property, and keeps at work. When he has no work on his own farm to keep him busy he hires to some neighboring farmer. This is not true of the American, who spends his earnings, lives much more extravagantly than the Italian, and does not work steadily.

Very few immigrants had much money when they came to Canastota, and all the property they have accumulated has been the result of industry and thrift. In the gardens they raise enough vegetables to keep them supplied for the winter, and during the summer and fall it can be truly said that the entire living of the family comes from this source.

The Italians use machinery, clothing, furniture, etc., which Americans would throw away. The whole Italian family engages in the farm work, and the children who are working for others always contribute their wages to the family fund. Until the Italian has his land and home paid for, he indulges in no extravagances, but all earnings are saved and applied to the payments on his farm. Americans find it hard to understand how little an Italian laborer needs to live upon and how much he can save out of a mere living wage. During the year preceding the commission's inquiry about $6,500 was sent from Canastota to Italy, over $5,000 of this amount going through the post-office. One man who was returning to Italy to live sent $1,000; the balance was sent in small amounts for various purposes, some of it to bring over families and relatives, while most of the rest was for the support of wives and families who still reside in Italy.


The general opinion among merchants of Canastota is that American farmers and farm laborers spend from two to three times as much as Italians for food and clothing. The Italian eats very little meat and subsists almost entirely upon vegetables. It is said that in summer, especially, almost the only groceries they buy are flour, salt, and a few other things which are absolutely necessary. They wear a much cheaper grade of clothing than Americans and make it last longer. Some of the older immigrants dress much as they did in Italy, this being especially true of the women, who wear gaily colored handkerchiefs around their heads, and shawls of bright hue; large gold earrings and cheap jewelry are much in evidence. The second generation, however, has adopted American dress, and the younger men and women seem to be as desirous that their clothing shall be of the style worn by the average American of the same occupational class.

When working in the fields, immigrants wear old clothing, and in many instances it has seen long service. Nearly all of the women wear men's trousers or overalls because skirts interfere with their movements when weeding or cultivating.

Italians interviewed state that the cost of living is about one-third of what it is in the cities, especially during the summer months when they are able to live with little cash expenditure, their gardens furnishing food enough for the family. In winter the cost of living is higher, as more meat and fuel are required, and those who do not own homes have to pay rent. In summer they live in huts on the farms and rent costs nothing.

Taking a family of four persons as a basis, it is estimated that in actual cash it costs about $12 per month for living expenses. The money expended represents flour, clothing, etc. The rest of the living comes from the garden. This estimate represents the spring, summer, and early months of autumn. For the winter the cost of living

is about $20 per month. During these months fuel, meat, and more expensive shoes and clothing increase the cost of living. Of course, some families spend a little more or less, but the amount mentioned is considered the average living expense of a man, his wife, and two children. The living expenses of an American in the same grade of employment are about twice as great, the food, clothing, etc., being of better quality and greater in quantity. The native also spends about twice as much for meat as the Italian and raises fewer vegetables in his garden.

The interior of the Italian home is not as clean and neat as that occupied by an American in the same grade of employment, inasmuch as the Italian women work in the fields and have little time for the proper care of the house. The most serious criticism of the housing conditions among settlers is the lack of sanitary precautions. Sleeping quarters are overcrowded, often five or six persons occupying one small room. Filth is allowed to accumulate, while refuse and dirty water are thrown upon the ground close to the dwelling. On the farms where the houses are very small, kitchens are used for sleeping and dining rooms, and as the South Italian women are slovenly cooks and housewives, conditions in these apartments are

very bad.


The women, and all of the children of the settlement who are old enough, work with the men in the fields. Families that own or rent farms devote all or most of their time to their own land, but if they have any spare time when the crop is in good condition they hire out to neighboring farmers. Women and the older children do the same work as the men, while the younger children do the weeding. Families who neither own nor lease land work from one farin to another doing cultivating and weeding. Women and children also find employment on the farm or in the factory of a neighboring canning company as bean pickers and stringers. During the winter none of the women or children of the settlement work for wages.


The Italians have no difficulty in finding employment in the locality. There is a constant demand for labor, both on the farms and in the other industries of Canastota. American farm owners are anxious to rent land on shares to Italians, and there is no trouble in securing supplies and equipment on credit, so that a very small outlay of money is required to make a beginning as a tenant farmer. There is still much muck land which has never been thoroughly drained, cleared, or improved, and this can be purchased at very reasonable figures, only a small cash payment being necessary, the balance being payable in yearly payments extending over three to five years. There is also improved land for sale, the price of course being higher, but the terms of purchase are reasonable. Cleared and drained areas of muck sell for $125 or more an acre.

Areas yet uncleared, but capable of being drained, sell for from $40 to $60 an acre. Before the establishment of drainage systems this soil brought only $2 or $3 an acre, which would probably represent the value of undrained areas at


the present time except for the valuable timber they support. Owners are relying on the Italians to clear the muck lands and put them under cultivation, and until this is accomplished there will be plenty of opportunities for labor.

The scale of wages for farm laborers is as follows: Men, $1.50 to $2 per day; women, $1 to $1.25 per day; children, $0.50 to $1 per day.

Besides the farm work, there is a demand for section hands on all railroads, and employment can be found in the factories of Canastota. A canvass of the factories of the town showed 215 Italians working in the different industries of Canastota during the summer of 1909; after the farm work is over many who have been farm laborers seek other employment and the above force is greatly increased.


The South Italian settlers at Canastota have several societies which encourage amusements and social intercourse. Besides these societies there are church organizations which give entertainments which are the means of bringing the immigrants together. On Sundays during the summer months there is much visiting from farm to farm, and in winter, when there is more time to spare, they indulge in a general period of recreation and amusements. At that time parties are given in the different homes, and when a marriage occurs it is the signal for jollification.

As is usual the Italians in Canastota and vicinity have for the the most part segregated themselves. All live in one neighborhood, and, as already said, others have formed a small settlement in the muck land, called Onion Town. The rest have distributed themselves among the various farms of the locality. The Italians of Canastota are without doubt adopting American customs much quicker than those in manufacturing and mining localities. Few were found who did not speak English, and their dress, standard of living, and the degree of civic interest manifested go to show that they are rapidly becoming Americanized. The second generation, especially, have made good progress and are doing much toward the complete Americanization of the settlement.

The reasons assigned for the rapidity with which Italians have adopted American customs in this locality are that as farm laborers they are thrown constantly with Americans in their work; as renters they are tenants on farms owned by Americans and thus come in almost daily contact with them; they buy their seed, fertilizers, machinery, etc., at American stores, sell their produce to American buyers, and thus form some idea of business methods; as owners of property they naturally show some civic interest. In the schools, both in the town and country, Italian children are closely associated with the children of Americans, and this influence is felt in the immigrant home. Community of interest also has an Americanizing influence upon the settlers. Americans and Italians farming in the muck land raise the same crops, prices of seed and fertilizer and conditions of the market affect both races alike, immigrant farm laborers receive the same wages on the farms of Americans as on

a See Field operations of the Bureau of Soils, United States Department of Agriculture, 1906, pp. 160-161.

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