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CHAPTER X.

ITALIANS IN THE SOUTHERN STATES.

SCOPE OF INVESTIGATION.

During the investigation of the Immigration Commission regarding immigrants engaged in agriculture special agents visited rural colonies or the settlements in the following Southern States: North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas. The large number of rural settlements of foreigners in the South and the limited time at the disposal of the Commission precluded detailed investigations such as were made of some of the settlements farther north. Much attention was given to rural settlements of North and South Italians, and what may be termed reconnoissance surveys were made of 35 distinct settlements of these two races from Italy, including cotton farmers, general farmers, small fruit growers, and truckers. The 35 settlements included more than 1,500 farm families, numbering approximately 8,589 persons of Italian origin. Some difficulty was experienced in ascertaining the location of some of the many small rural groups, but probably every one of the more important Italian settlements in the Gulf States, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee were visited. Some groups were located by special correspondents and field agents of the Department of Agriculture. who reported all colonies known to them in their respective territories. State officials, commissioners of agriculture and immizration, industrial agents of railroad lines and private individuals in the field contributed information, and the Commission feels reayonably sure that few colonies of recent immigrants were overlooked, although not all were studied. Neither the federal census report por the census reports of many States give any information concerning the number of foreign-born persons engaged in agriculture—by counties and races--and some flourishing little settlements of Italians, about which no data seem to have been published, were discovered.

The communities included in the Commission's inquiry were distributed by States, as follows:

TABLE 48.- List of Italian rural communities in the South investigated by the Immigra

tion Commission, 1909.

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It is to be regretted that more detailed studies of many of these communities could not be made, for the reports dealing with them do not purport to be complete or intensive. They are extensive, cursory descriptions that may be valuable as points of departure for more detailed investigation. Moreover, in a large way, they are valuable for purposes of comparison and generalization. It is believed that they give true and unprejudiced accounts of the Italian on the land. In practically all colonies visited some schedules were secured from typical families, which in most instances have been incorporated in the reports. Prominent men, both Italians and others, were interviewed; public documents consulted; homes and farms visited; and information concerning schools, churches, and other social institutions secured and checked to assure its reliability.

The investigation purposed to determine accurately the position of the immigrant farmer in southern rural economy, his economic and social status, his progress in Americanization, his effect upon the community, and the effect of the environment upon him.

ITALIANS IN THE RURAL SOUTH.

The Twelfth Census report of occupations enumerates 5,951 Italian males of the first and second generations engaged in agriculture in the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, which States were visited by agents of the Commission. Of the above number nearly three-fourths (4,287) are reported in Louisiana. Somewhat more than 72 per cent (4,330) are farm laborers and 1,621 are farmers, planters, overseers, dairymen, lumbermen, and florists. By far the largest number engaged in agriculture are in Louisiana, where 3,651 farm laborers and 636 Italian farmers, planters, and lumbermen are noted. Texas stands second with a total of 806 engaged in agricultural pursuits. It is evident that in 1900 Italians in agriculture were very infrequent in the South outside of Louisiana.

The table which follows shows the distribution of Italians in agricultural pursuits in the States previously mentioned.

a Only 1,595 are enumerated as farmers, planters, and overseers.

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Italian immigration into the Sisies Sindir recent, the greatest growth having beza mengine years. In Texas, at Bryan, in Branes

Cristais Italian agricultural colony in the South, nunderinga: ks 1.2 sons. Its origin dates back to los The Italiaans Sur side, Ark., in the Yazoo delta region, established in ini is the largest colony in the “black belt." from which sereni smaller auses throughout the delta can trace their origin.

Italian farming in the South covers a wide range of pniuers, widely diversified soils and climatic conditions, several forms of land tenun and various systems of culture. The North Italians among the mountains of western North Carolina practice a self-sutticing, diveni fied agriculture. In southeastern Louisiana and in the coastal plain belt of Alabama the South Italian truckers and small fruit growers are doing exceptionally well on the light sandy soils, when they succeed in marketing their products in a satisfactory manner. In the "delta both North and South Italian cotton tenants are teaching the cotton growers how valuable careful cultivation, kitchen gardens, and small store accounts may be to the cotton “share hand." In the Ozarks Italians from the Sunnyside group have taken up new land, planted orchards, and become successful apple and peach growers. At Sunnyside all seem content to rent land and remain tenants indefinitely. At Knobview and Tontitown it is the open ambition of every man to become a landowner and an independent farmer. It is plain that the Italian farmer has been profoundly influenced by his environment. His farming has been directed and his agricultural methods taught him by his new neighbors.

SOURCES OF IMMIGRATION. The great majority of Italian agriculturists in the South came from rural communities in Italy. Most of them were farmers or farmers' sons abroad. Some few had owned land, but many were tenant farm

ers or farm laborers before emigrating. Perhaps one-half of all interviewed came directly from Italy to farms in the Southern States, and were first employed either as farm laborers, as lumbermen, or as tenant farmers. Comparatively few were engaged in industrial pursuits or as day laborers in Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston, or other coast cities before becoming farmers. Immigration to the South is not only recent, but very small. The total Italian immigration des

. tined for Southern States for the year 1908–9 was 3,701 4 out of a total Italian immigration of 190,398. During the same year 1,651 • station emigrant aliens departed from these States, leaving a net gain of approximately 2,050 persons.

The number of Italian immigrants destined to the States under consideration in the fiscal year 1909, and the number of alien Italian residents of such States who left the United States during the same year, are shown in the following table:

TABLE 50.— Number of North and South Italian immigrants destined to States specified,

and alien North and South Italian residents of such States leaving the United States, fiscal year 1909.

(Compiled from Annual Report of the United States Commissioner-General of Immigration, 1909.)

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The large percentage of Sicilians and other South Italians in the South is notable. Probably more than 80 per cent of the rural Italians in Louisiana are of this class. The same is true of the nearly 2,000 Italians at Bayou, Tex., and of several other settlements of considerable size. This fact may account for the greater percentage of Italian agricultural laborers in the South and for the slower Americanization in certain districts. In the entire United States there are nearly as many North Italians as South Italian farmers, but the number of farm laborers among the North Italians is very small.

Italian immigration to the South has been in part stimulated by the cotton and sugar-cane planters, who, dissatisfied with negro labor, alarmed at the increasing scarcity of every sort of farm labor, and desirous of settling acceptable farmers on the immense tracts of unim

a Report of Commissioner-General of Immigration, year ending June, 1909, pp. 34

9

et seq.

b Ibid., pp. 36 et seq.

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