Lapas attēli

ing better returns, disposing of berries promptly, and securing rebates on commissions.


About 110 Italians own their farms and 15 are tenants. Of those that own their property, the majority are free from debt. Italians came to the locality without funds, but after two or three years spent in raising crops "on shares" they bought farms of their own. The following are typical instances: One man came from Italy in 1890 with his family and $1 in money. For three years he worked "on shares" for one-half of the vegetable crop; then he bought 83 acres of land for $455, paying $300 in cash and giving a mortgage for the rest, with interest at 8 per cent. He now has a comfortable home, 13 acres of land, valued at $1,000, on 8 acres of which during 1908 he raised $600 worth of strawberries and $200 worth of vegetables.

Another man came from Bryan, Tex., in 1907 and paid $1,000 cash for land. This included a house and barn and 5 acres of uncleared land. He cleared this land, planted 4 acres, and received $500 from the vegetables and strawberries sold in 1908.

Within the past three years the Italians have been rather rapidly buying all the available land and have taken more interest in improving their farms. The Italians do not use the banks; they send very little money away through the post-offices, and until recently have spent little upon their homes. Lately they have been buying new farm machinery, harnesses, and wagons.


The interiors of some of the houses are well furnished, others are very plain, and none have much modern furniture. The food is plain; the vegetables raised on the farms furnish the tables during eight months of the year. Chickens and cows contribute largely to the food supply. Health conditions are good.

The women and children, as is the case in the majority of Italian communities, help the men in the farm work. In the growing of garden crops much of the cultivation and harvesting has to be done by hand, and an Italian with his large family is able to cultivate a large area more carefully than an American.

In Dickinson four stores are conducted by the Italians, who practically control the trade of the town. Both Italians and Americans patronize them. In the immediate locality there is no outside employment for the Italians. Farming is the chief occupation and there is no industrial work. In Houston and Galveston there is always a demand for unskilled labor, and construction work on the railroad offers opportunities for Italian laborers. There is a Catholic church in town, and services are held once a month, the priest coming from Galveston. The Italians all attend this church, and some come from farms 8 or 10 miles away. In the public schools 175 Italians were enrolled in 1909, but in attendance they are very irregular, as their parents require them to stay at home whenever there is work to be done on the farm.

Many of the Italians are voters, although they have not taken out their final papers. Under the laws of Texas an alien can vote on taking out his first naturalization papers, and many of the Italians

have done so. Up to the present time none of the Italians have held any public office, and few, if any, seem to have a desire to do so.

The Italians are said to be honest, and the townspeople have very little fault to find with them in business. They are prompt in paying their bills and taxes. There is very little drunkenness and little trouble arises from excessive drinking. The few misdemeanors that occur are settled among themselves and seldom come before the courts. Morally they average well when compared with other foreigners in the State. The Italians are now the most substantial part of Dickinson, and the Americans that are left are slowly selling their property to them. This town compares favorably with such towns as Kenner and Independence, La.

There has been no marriage between the Italians and the Americans or between them and the few German families that are in the locality.

The following table is a summary of the schedules secured by an agent of the Commission from eight typical South Italian families in the Dickinson colony.

The vegetables raised for home consumption do not appear in the schedules, where it would seem that the settlers sell practically all the produce they raise. The values of produce sold per farm are nearly equal. However, it is interesting to note the differences in the values of the produce sold by certain farmers each owning 5 acres of land. Two produced, as an average for 1908 and 1909, $300 worth of truck per farm; one $450, and two $500 worth. These farms nearly adjoin each other, and yet there is a difference of $200 per farm between the lowest and the highest.

TABLE 69.-Economic condition of certain typical South Italian families, Dickinson, Tex.

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The first Italian settler came to Alto Lomo from Galveston, fifteen years ago. There are now in this town about twenty Italian families who give their attention to raising garden produce.

At Lamarque there are three Italian families, and at Arcadia six. At these two places the Italians have settled within the last ten years, having drifted in from other localities in Texas, and engaged in the raising of various kinds of garden vegetables.

These small farmers in the towns previously mentioned sell all their produce in Galveston or Houston. The towns are all on a line of railroad and it is an easy matter for the farmers to haul their crops to the railroad station and secure quick delivery in one or the other of the cities mentioned.

At Little York, situated about 8 miles from Houston, is an Italian farming section where are located about 75 families. The first Italians came to Little York eleven years ago. The majority have worked either in the cities or in other farming localities where Italians are found, and have moved there to be near a market. The Italians constitute the largest part of the truck gardeners around Houston, although there are many Germans and four Japanese engaged in this industry. These Italians haul their produce to Houston in the early morning to get their position at the city market and have their vegetables ready to display when the market opens at 5 a. m.

Four miles out from Beaumont is located another Italian farming section where are about twenty-five Italians, somewhat scattered, owning their places and engaged in market gardening.

In Texas, wherever the Italians have been engaged in agriculture, they have proved successful, in some instances making money on areas that were looked upon as unproductive and introducing new varieties of fruit and vegetables in localities where they were hitherto unknown. Immediately upon arrival they begin to adopt American food and dress, and within a few years the majority buy homes of their own. After those have been paid for they buy more land or make improvements on their properties.




The Italian farming community of Tontitown is situated among the Ozarks in Washington County, Ark. About thirty years ago the locality was a wilderness similar to thousands of acres that to-day lie idle in the Ozark regions of Arkansas and Missouri. Only a small portion of the land was cultivated and the farms were few and scattered. The Italians came in the late nineties from Sunnyside, Ark., a region where malaria then prevailed, to seek refuge in the more healthful altitudes of northwest Arkansas. There they have found health and prosperity and founded one of the most successful farming communities of the southwest.

Tontitown to-day differs little in aspect from any prosperous American community. Most of the land around the town is cleared and set out in apples, peaches, and grapes. The orchards, together with the natural beauty of the locality, give an Italian aspect to the landscape, and it is not at all strange that the Italian ambassador, after viewing the surroundings, asked if he was really in America or in Italy itself.

At the time the Commission's inquiry was made, 1909, the colony numbered 70 families, all of whom came originally from northern Italy. The total number of people in the community was approximately 400.

Small farms, some only 20 acres, none larger than 80 acres, are the rule, and rapid progress is being made in clearing the land and planting apple, pear, and peach orchards. Many acres of vineyards have been set out. The grapes are made into wine, both for home and commercial uses. The orchards are in bearing, bringing in valuable returns. The Italians raise annually quantities of early vegetables that are consumed locally or shipped to northern cities.

The houses are neat frame buildings and all the surroundings present an appearance of prosperity and thrift, a decided contrast to hundreds of neighboring acres of good land throughout the Ozarks that are waiting the coming of hard-working pioneers to transform them from a waste into fertile farms.


Father Pietro Bandini, the resident priest and the founder of the colony, traveled through Arkansas in 1896. At this time Italian laborers were being sought for in large numbers to work on the cotton plantations of the Mississippi Delta region, and Father Bandini was sent to investigate conditions there and elsewhere in the South 48296°-VOL 21-11- -24


and Southwest. While passing through Arkansas he was struck with the possibilities of the Ozark region as a fruit-growing section, and the idea occurred to him that it might be an ideal locality for Italians.

In the previous year, 1895, the first Italian settlers had come to Sunnyside, but, as stated in Chapter XVII, dissatisfaction with conditions there led to the early departure of many of the first settlers. Some of these went to Knobview, Missouri, and others, under the leadership of Father Bandini, migrated to what is now Tontitown.

When the settlers at Sunnyside became dissatisfied Father Bandini, having in mind the region that impressed him so favorably two years earlier, started on a tour of inspection. After viewing a large range of territory, he at last found a suitable site with sufficient available land near Springdale, Ark., and secured options on some of the land for $3 per acre, making the first payment from his own resources. Returning to Sunnyside, he collected 15 families and in the spring of 1898 took them to the region which he had selected for the new settlement. Before they were settled 40 more families came from Sunnyside. No provision had been made for this second colony, who arrived penniless, all their money having been spent in paying their fare from Sunnyside to Springdale. The first 15 families had to submit to crowding in order to make room for the newcomers.

The first land was bought for $3 per acre, but as soon as the landowners in the vicinity realized that the land would be taken at any price they raised it to $15 per acre, requiring a certain percentage in cash, the remainder to be paid within three years with interest at 6 per cent.

After building a few rough cabins of poles and logs to protect the women and children from the cold, the men and older boys went into the coal mines of Kansas and Missouri to earn enough money during the winter months to make their next payment on the land. This first winter was trying-without doubt the most severe the Italians had ever passed. Still, in spite of the cold and the blizzards that partly filled their poorly-constructed cabins with snow, the old men, women, and children managed to live until spring.

The newcomers, moreover, met with nothing but hatred from the native farmers. The arrival of the poor, sickly Italians angered the whole neighborhood, and neither sympathy nor aid was extended them. The opinion prevailed among the natives that one winter would be all the Italians could stand and that in the summer they would abandon their land and allow it to revert to the former owners. The settlers had very little money to spend for food and many of them would have starved during the first winter had it not been for the rabbits and other game that they caught in traps. This game furnished the settlers with the only meat, sometimes the only food, they had during the winter months.

In the spring the men and boys returned home with money enough to make their second payments, and preparations for farming began in earnest. Land was soon cleared and gardens were planted with many varieties of vegetables. The colonists set out a few grapevines and planned large vineyards, obtaining from their friends in Italy cuttings of the Italian varieties of grapes. Grapes had not been cultivated in the neighborhood until introduced by the Italians. Next, they set out several varieties of apples and peaches, following the plans of the native farmer. Coming from the vineyard and

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