« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
75 feet from the road; that he plant a row of shade trees along the roadside, sow the space along the highway to grass, and clear at least 24 acres of land each year. No speculators were allowed to buy and no real-estate dealers to operate on the tract. Provision was made for local option in 1864, and there never has been a saloon in Vineland.
From the first the raising of fruits and grapes was encouraged, although in the early years a considerable quantity of corn, oats, and wheat was produced. The decline in wheat production in Cumberland and Atlantic counties is shown by the following (United States Census) figures of bushels produced. The constant decrease in the production of oats and the great falling off in wheat since 1880 is noticeable.
Table 4.—Decline in wheat production in Cumberland and Atlantic countries, 1870,
1880, and 1899.
The first farms were not large. Strawberries, raspberries, and grapes grew well and brought good prices in the neighboring city markets; for this reason less and less attention was given to grain and more to poultry and fruit.
The Italians come.—The years following 1872 were lean, prices of farm products low, and there were signs of great agricultural depression. During the fat years and high prices which immediately followed the war, speculation was rife. Farmers bought more land than they could pay for, merchants gladly extended credit, and every one felt that the golden age of industry had come. In the reaction that followed, before the resumption of specie payments, many a farmer in Vineland was brought to ruin, his land eaten up by mortgages, and his property swept away.
In this time of distress one of the three Italians who had come with other farmers and had bought a farm on Wheat road suggested to Mr. Landis that the soil and climate of Vineland would appeal to his countrymen could its advantages be placed before them; and, furthermore, that the Italians would make desirable farmers. Landis, struck with the suggestion, at once cast about for means to carry it into execution. Advertising in newspapers was a favorite method with him, and after some thought he entered into negotiations with Secchi de Cassali, an educated and well-known Italian, editor of the L'Echo d'Italia of New York, to secure his assistance in advertising for immigrants to found an Italian colony near Vineland. Carlo Quairoli, a second Italian, who had recently arrived, assisted in settling the new colonists on the land, receiving for his services a certain commission on all lands he assisted in selling to Italian farmers. Just how much aid Mr. Cassali gave does not appear. Probably aside from his advertising space he did nothing more than several other Italians. It is certain, however, that he took great interest in the colony and received from Mr. Landis for his help considerable sums of money as well as a tract of 20 acres of land, which he holds uncleared to this day. Mr. Quairoli has been and is an indefatigable worker and a friend, counsellor, and guide to hundreds of Italians who have since come to Vineland to make their homes.
There was a small movement of Italians to Vineland in 1873. Most of them came from northern Italy by way of New York, where they congregated, swept streets, picked rags, or worked at various kinds of unskilled labor before coming to south Jersey. In 1874, Mr. Landis visited Italy, studied the conditions surrounding the Italian farmer, and endeavored to secure Italian agents to induce a number of farmers to move to Vineland. His efforts, however, were not successful.
The Italian movement was rather slow at first; the first comer settled on Wheat road in 1870; three or four came in 1873, and after this a determined effort was made to induce others to settle. An old plot of the town, made in 1877, shows 56 parcels of real estate in the hands of Italians; 33 farms in the southeastern part of the town below Chestnut avenue, 20 northwest of the borough on Garden road, and 3 borough lots. This meant the starting of three distinct colonies. In 1880, a petition for funds to carry on an Italian school was made in the name of 100 Italian families, settled in and around Vineland." At that time the population of Landis township, including Vineland borough, was 6,005. Vineland borough was a village of 2,500 people.
In 1908, Mr. Quairoli, as delegate to Rome to report on the colony, made a careful census of the Italian families in Vineland and in the neighboring towns. His returns are enumerated as follows:
Table 5.-A census of the Italian families in Vineland and neighboring towns in 1908.
Disregarding those in Millville and Bridgeton, this enumeration shows 868 families settled within a radius of 6 to 10 miles from Vineland borough in 1908.
“New Italy," as it is called, finds its nucleus in a tract of 3,500 acres of land, bought by Mr. Landis in 1885, at a time when there was a
a For a great deal of material used in this sketch the writer is indebted to Italian articles written for foreign papers by Mr. Quairoli and to original documents in his possession.
eat influx of Italian settlers. The land lies east of Panther Creek, miles east of Vineland, and the roads when laid out through the act were given Italian names: Piacenza, Genoa, Dante, Trento, olumbus, Italia, and Venezia avenues run east and west a half mile part and are now lined for several miles on both sides with neatly kept talian farms. In the center of the principal road are two bronze ionuments on bases of native iron, placed half a mile apart, one epresenting a panther on Panther avenue, the other the female gure of Cornucopia on the avenue of that name. The population of the whole area for miles around is purely Italian.
In “New Italy” there are two Italian Catholic churches, good public schools, but no town site, factories, or industries other than farming and fruit raising. It is an agricultural colony in every sense, and the well-kept, productive farms, decent farm buildings and houses, and pleasant vineyards, proclaim it successful.
METHOD OF SETTLEMENT.
As has been said, most of the first Italian colonists came from northern Italy by way of New York. The greater number had been small farmers in their native land, but few had any considerable sum of money when they arrived in Vineland. They bought the land in small tracts, from 10 to 60 acres, usually about 20, uncleared, for $20 or $25 an acre, just what all of the other settlers had paid, although the lands previously occupied were more desirable both as regarded location with respect to markets and natural fertility of soil. Many of the new farms were very sandy, some were swamps that had to be drained with mattock and spade and cleared foot by foot.
The customary method was—and is, in some cases—to buy a tract, pay $20, $50, or $100 down and receive a contract for a deed on three years' time, interest at 6 per cent. These terms were frequently altered to suit the circumstances of the settler. The testimony is universal that Mr. Landis was very lenient in his terms; that he was always ready to grant an extension of time or make necessary advances to deserving buyers. Shortly before his death, in 1900, he declared that in all his land dealings and sales he had never had one foreclosure of an Italian farm. Every man who bought, paid or, in a few instances, sold out to his own advantage.
The farm bought, the owner erected a small frame cabin and began to clear the land. During the summer he worked by the day for his American neighbors, and in berry season the whole family hired out as berry pickers. Some worked on the railroad or in the several mills, glass works, and factories, putting in every spare moment on their own land. A few chickens and a horse were the first live stock purchased. Nearly every one was able to make a living from his farm and his poultry yard the second year, and to meet his payments by his outside day labor. Several paid for their first tracts in three years and at once began to buy more land. Almost all of the first comers or their sons are now well-to-do citizens with fine farms, good buildings, houses and lots in town, and money in the banks or loan association.
In a general way, this will stand for the method of acquiring land adopted by all who came previous to 1890.
Since that time many have bought out previous owners, usually Americans, and settled on cleared land. All have passed through seasons of depressed agriculture that proved their ability to hold fast and, by persevering industry, weather financial crises and outlast the thrip, the rot, and the blight to which many American farmers were forced to succumb. Some of the individual variations in method of acquisition will be noted in the detail of the various settlements.
The first comers were from the provinces of Lombardy, Liguria, and Piedmont, but in more recent years several families have come from Sicily, Calabria, and a considerable number from Naples and vicinity.
There is no question that the Vineland Italians are a superior class, who learn rapidly American ways and make excellent citizens and farmers.
The individual farm schedules shown in Tables 6 and 7 give some interesting history and economic data with regard to 12 North Italian and 12 South Italian farm families in the vicinity of Vineland. The comparison of the two races brings out some significant facts.