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OWN

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Years in locality:
Head..

2.
2..
2.
2.

11. Family.

2.
2.
2.
2

11. Present family size.

6.
10.
5.
5.

5. Number of members 10 years or 6.

8.
5.
3.

2.
over.
Male..

4..
5...
3.
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1 Female

2.
3..
2..
1..

1. Previous location.

Italy
Italy

Italy. Italy. Italy.
Previous occupation..
Farmer Farmer Farmer Farmer

Farmer Value of property brought. $500.

$75.
$250.
$100.

$50 Occupation in locality previous None.. None... None.

None.

None.
to purchase.
First land bought:
Date..

1906.
1906..
1906.
1906.

1907. Number of acres.

10..
10..
10..
10.

10. Price..

$300.
$300.
$300.
$300.

$300. Terms.

down, bal down, bal- | 1 down, bal down, bal down, bal. ance 3 ance 3 ance 3 ance 3 арсе 3 yearly yearly yearly yearly yearly

payments. payments. payments. payınents. payments. Condition..... All woods... Pine woods Uncleared... Covered pine covered with

woods. pine. Occupation till living could be working for All work Foreman C. Working for Worked for made from land.

C. T. D.

T. D. Co.a C. T. D. C. T. D. Co.;a sons for C. T.

Co.a

Coa
cut wood. D. Co.a
Number of years.

2.
2
1
2.

11. Earnings per day.

$1.25.
$1. 25.
$2.
$1. 25.

si. 25. Acres of land now owned.

20..
20.
20
20.

10. Acres tillable.

18.
15.

8.
Fruit trees.
Peach trees.

Several.

4. Live stock now owned:

Cattle...
Mules.

1.
Swine.
Financial condition:
Value of land and improve $1,400. $1,740. $1,250. $1,200.. $1,240.

ments. Live stock..

150.

12. Other property.

15..

10. Gross value of all property. $1,400. $1,905. $1,250.

$1,200.

$1,202
Indebtedness:
On land.

$1.040.
$764.
$812.
$690.

$605. Other...

$35. Net value of all property

$325.
$1,141.
$438.
$510.

$657.

spare time

10.

10.

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a Carolina Trucking Development Company

of certain typical North Italian families, St. Helena, N. C.

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10..

1906.
1906.
1906.
1907.

1906.
10.
10..

38..

10. $10. $300. $300. $1,155.

$300. down, balance 3 down, balance 3 | down, balance 3 down, balance 3 | down, balance 3 Fearly payments. yearly payments. yearly payments. yearly payments. yearly payments.

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CHAPTER XIII.

INDEPENDENCE, LA., SOUTH ITALIAN STRAWBERRY GROWERS.

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INTRODUCTION.

Independence is situated in Tangipahoa Parish, 62 miles north of New Orleans, on the main branch of the Illinois Central Railroad from New Orleans to Chicago. To the public generally the name Independence may not mean anything, but to the produce commission men and strawberry dealers of the great cities of the mid-West the name is of the utmost significance, knowing as they do the importance of this section as a trucking center. Few people are aware of the importance of the trucking industry in Louisiana. The leading varieties of the staple vegetables are grown in nearly all parts of the State, but it is along the Illinois Central Railroad which runs northward from New Orleans, through the sandy pine lands, that the most extensive truck farms in this part of the South are located. A few miles north of the city in the Tangipahoa Parish the railroad winds through large areas planted to strawberries, vegetables of various sorts, bush fruits, and occasional peach orchards.

During the latter part of March, the month of April, and early May enormous quantities of early strawberries are shipped by carload lots from nearly every little station on the railroad line in this parish. Until within recent years this parish, like many others in the State, was largely undeveloped territory covered with pine and other timber. On the cultivated areas cotton was the staple crop. Few of the farmers were prosperous and there was little interest in agriculture. Lumbering was the chief and most profitable industry. With the successful introduction of the strawberry and the improvement of the transportation facilities of the railroad, new areas were opened and old towns received a new impulse. Independence was one of the latter class to which Italians have given a new lease of life.

There are at present in this locality about 250 South Italian famlies, numbering 1,000 to 1,200 persons, all of whom are engaged in specialized agriculture. For over fifteen years the money crop, and practically the only crop that is raised near this town, has been strawberries. Soil, climate, and railroad facilities are such that the strawberry crop alone is a very profitable one. During the berry season of 1909 the total shipment of strawberries from this town amounted to more than $203,000. For the season of 1910 the Italian farmers' association shipped 264,105_crates of strawberries. The gross proceeds were $357,639.76, an average of $1.35 per crate. The net proceeds to the members of the association were $342,070.40, or an average of $1.291 per crate.

The farms of the strawberry growers are small, averaging from 5 to 30 acres, and every available inch of land is in cultivation. The houses seem to be built in the midst of the berry patches where the Italians have hardly left room for their yards and sheds. In this locality the land is level and there is little natural means of drainage. Originally the area was covered with a heavy pine growth, but this has been cleared away on most of the farms and strawberry plants set out. Some of the farms are situated within the limits of the village and others are scattered through the country immediately adjoining:

In the vicinity of Independence the population is about three-fourths Italian. The remaining one-fourth is composed of old settlers who are slowly selling out as the Italian demand for land increases. The same shift has taken place in the business houses of the village. The stores have gradually changed hands until now the majority of the storekeepers are Italians. The community is one of the most noteworthy in Louisiana. It is wealthy and prosperous, and few people in the North realize that some of the berries for which they pay a dollar a quart in fancy markets during the winter months are the product of an industrious colony of people from southern Italy.

The general feeling about the Italians in this section of Louisiana can be summed up in the words of one of the Illinois Central officials as follows: “The present generation, most of whom have come from Italy, are clannish and do not affiliate with the Americans to any extent. The next generation will improve in this particular, and about the third generation will be so nearly American that you can not tell where the American leaves off and the Italian begins. They are certainly great developers of the agricultural interests of Louisiana."

The farms and homes of 17 representatives were visited by an agent of the Commission in the summer of 1909, while much additional information was gained from responsible citizens, both Italians and non-Italians, from immigrant agents, state officials, railroad men, shipping agents, and others, in addition to personal information received from other farms and from visits to many industries.

HISTORY OF SETTLEMENT.

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In Mississippi and Tennessee the cultivation of strawberries for the Northern markets began about 1875. It proved a profitable industry and soon spread into Louisiana and Arkansas The first strawberries grown in Independence were produced during the early eighties and the natives who first planted them were so successful that many the American farmers were encouraged to set out small acreages of strawberry plants. In a few years the industry had expanded to such an extent that outside labor had to be secured in order to handle it. Thus it happened that in 1890 the first Italian, with his family, came to Independence from New Orleans, as a farm laborer

, working by the month for one of the prosperous American farmers and incidentally acquiring a practical knowledge of strawberry culture.

In the same year another family arrived in the town. This was the origin of the Italian colony. These first Italians having seen the prosperous condition of the strawberry growers in the locality and the scarcity of laborers, immediately wrote to their friends in other sections of the United States and to their friends and relatives in Italy, urging them to settle in Louisiana, with the result that soon several other Italians began to move in with their families. Of the heads of the 17 families from whom the Commission secured detailed

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