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From a selection of 461 names taken at random, the property valuations are as follows: Claseed as laborers....
99 With $500 or less....
34 With $500 and under $1,000..
166 With $1,000 and under $2,000.
83 With $2,000 and under $3,000.
22 With $3,000 and more.
16 Not reported..
Total....... These names include the Italians in Vineland borough, where are many day laborers, section hands, and the like. That the properties are underestimated in this showing is certain; in a number of cases tested real-estate men have invariably increased the estimates 25 to 40 per cent. The individual estimates in the list noted vary from nothing to property worth $20,000. The majority are placed at less than $2,000. The total estimate of tangible Italian property in 1907-8 was $2,482,000, including outlying settlements.
In addition to tangible property in land and equipment, a great many deposit in one or all of the three banks and trust companies in Vineland. These institutions say that they have never lost one dollar on a loan to an Italian.
The Mechanics' Building and Loan Association, organized in 1873, has from the beginning been well patronized by Italians. Many were borrowers for some years until they paid off their debts on their farms or buildings, and are now using the association as a means of investment. Of the 876 members in 1909, just about one-fourth are Italians. These are about evenly distributed between borrowers and nonborrowers. The total of shares held is 4,702 and the period of maturing is between eleven and twelve years. The first house of an Italian is frequently about 12 by 16 and has four rooms on two floors. The assessed value is about $200 or even less. Many have been built by the owner himself with some assistance, the loan association furnishing the funds.
The next table presented gives a general view of the land and property owned by 49 families. It appears that the total of property first bought aggregated 1,193 acres, valued at $48,265, or just about $43 per acre. In 1909 these same farmers owned a total of 1,819 acres, valued with improvements at $132,000, or $77 per acre.
The gross value of all property, including land and improvements, personal property, and crops on hand is $160,504. Nine North Italians and 17° South Italians report indebtedness aggregating $32,849, leaving the net value of property owned by 21 North Italians $83,710 and the net value reported by 28 South Italians $43,945. The showing is rather more favorable for the North Italians, who report an average net value of all property per farm of $3,986 as against $1,758 per farm for the South Italians reporting.
Farms leased and owned:
28 Average size of farm...acres.. 56.33 23. 43 Median farm.
22 Kind of farms: Truck.
16 Small fruit.
12 Farms now leased..
3 Total number of acres.
20 Number of acres tillable.
20 Total value of personal property.
$1,277 Average value of personal property per farm.
$426 First purchase of land and improvements: Total number of acres.
581 612 Average acres per farm.
27.66 24. 48 Total value...
$25, 315 $22,950 Average value per farm.
$998 Average value per acre.
$14 a $42
Farms now owned...
25 Total number of acres.
1,183 Number of acres tillable.
491 Number of acres not tillable.. 447
145 Present value of farms now owned:
Land and improvements. $75, 400 $56, 600
provements per farm. $3,590 $2,264
17 Total indebtedness.
$8,272 $24, 577 Average indebtedness per farm....
$919 $1. 446 Gross value of all property..
301.982 $ti$ 522 Net value of all property.
$83.710 $43.945 Net value of all property per farm. $3,931 $1,758
a Not including 2 farms not reporting complete data.
STANDARD OF LIVING.
As elsewhere noted, these colonists from the time of settlement have congregated or have been segregated in a few well-defined localities. In Vineland borough nearly all are found on the south side of the borough on three or four streets. "New Italy" and Garden road are purely Italian settlements and always have been. In recent years, however, new comers have frequently bought out old settlers, and in all the farming communities a few Italians have settled. In places they are rapidly taking up the old farms, which the former American owners are selling, and these sections are slowly but surely becoming Italianized. For this reason it is not difficult to contrast the American and the Italian standards of life.
Their houses are usually plain, of the simplest architecture, frequently without porches, verandas, or ornamentation of any sort. There are some exceptions, however, and a few of the earlier comers who are now wealthy citizens have well-built, modern homes, with flower gardens, somewhat ornamented lawns with trees and a grass plot.
Most have very few flowers or ornaments and little or no lawn. The grapes, vegetables, and other crops are planted right up to the doors, although a grapevine arbor or covered pergola leading from the house to the road is characteristic. The houses within are not always clean and infrequently neat, orderly or well kept; carpets are luxuries indulged in by few; tablecloths other than oilcloth are the exception; and much of the furniture is of the cheap sort, bought at auction sales. Books and papers are very rare, and pianos or organs are practically unknown even in the parlors of the well to do.
Their food is wholesome and nutritious, but not of the American sort. Macaroni is one of the principal articles of diet, and appears at almost every meal. Bread, well baked in round loaves, Italian style,
sometimes in ovens out of doors, polenta, herbs, garlic, onions, Italian beans, peas, soup, homemade wine, and cheese are and remain their chief articles of diet. Wholesome enough and so well cooked that there are very few dyspeptics, they do not appeal to the American palate. The brick outdoor oven, built in beehive shape, and once rather common, is disappearing. Among the Sicilians about Hammonton nearly every family still retains one of these quaint structures. At Vineland they have never been universal and are giving way to the patent stove. Peppers are used for seasoning, but meat is not common on their tables, and the butcher's wagon seldom stops more than once a week before any of their homes.
As to clothing, the tendency to work in the fields barefooted, and bareheaded often, is characteristic. Even on holidays and occasions of visits to town the women are less neatly or tastefully dressed than Americans, although in American fashion from hat to shoes. The dress of the men differs little either at farm or at market from the clothing of the New Jerseyman. The children born in America are rapidly acquiring American ways and fashions, and those born in town are not readily distinguished from others of the same station in life.
The women and children almost without exception work in the fields with the men. They weed, hoe, prune, tie up or set out plants, pick berries, or gather beans and potatoes. None use horse tools or have anything to do with the work animals on the farm. When not at school and work is slack at home, the children work for the neighbors or in the shops and factories, adding their wages to the family income.
There is little intermarriage with native whites of other races; very much less now, it is said, than some years ago. Marriages take place early within their own race, usually resulting in large families.
The children tend more or less to drift to the cities or towns; partly because of the social advantages, partly for the ready money received regularly, partly because of the long hours, isolation, hard work, and uncertain returns from the farm. It is a noticeable fact, however, that more remain on the land than those belonging to native families, and that the young men are taking hold in cooperative endeavors, attempting newer methods of culture, introducing better machinery, more modern homes, and less drudgery on the farm. A number find employment in the city, of course, usually in factories or some skilled trade, and a few enter the professions.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR EMPLOYMENT.
Several small manufacturing industries in Vineland employ a number of Italian hands. The largest of these industries are the shoe companies, of which there are two. These will illustrate very well the type of opportunity offered for outside employment.
One shoe factory employs about 300 hands. Of these about 150 are Italians-about 100 men and 50 women and girls. The wages are largely piece wages and vary from $3 to $13 per week. A high average is $6; many of the men earn less than $6, and those who earn more than $10 are comparatively few. There are some skilled workmen who earn up to $18.
Another shoe factory employs a total of 125 employees. Thirtynine are Italians--21 males and 18 females-earning as follows:
10 women earn $4.50 to $6 a week.
15 men earn $2 to $3 per day. In this shop all employees are paid piece wages. In both shops a sort of apprenticeship system is in vogue, a skilled worker taking in a raw hand and teaching him certain operations, the value of the apprentice's service being added to the teacher's wage until the raw hand becomes capable of handling the work himself. A good many newly arrived Italians enter the shops in this way.
The Italian workmen are recruited partly from the farms, partly from farmers' families who have moved to town, and partly from the newly arrived immigrants. The majority of the men are said to take up the work for life, although a good many come in when farm work is slow, or use the shop earnings to apply to the purchase of land. In the berry season it is difficult to keep the girls, who wish to get out into the fields and earn the greater wage possible on the berry farms. Some, too, go home to help their parents gather the crop.
. The testimony is that the Italians work harder and more faithfully than the Americans on the same class of work and often earn higher wages, but they are slower, less skillful, especially on machines; that few can handle complicated machines effectively; and that many are handicapped by ignorance of the English language. Few acquire positions of responsibility, although there have been Italian foremer..
The railroad section men, except the bosses, are all Italians. A number of these own small tracts of land and raise their own berries and vegetables, with a surplus for market. The unskilled day laborers, the street gangs, the scavengers, all the odd job men are South Italians. Their wages run up to $1.50 or $1.60 per day. These occupations have exerted some effect on farm labor, both in reducing hours and increasing wages. On piecework or for himself the Italian is faithful, hard working, and very patient; he will compare favorably with any laborer. By the day or week he is not nearly so trustworthy, and if they could be obtained, most employers declare they would prefer other laborers.
Some of the other industries in Vineland employing Italian laborers are:
Persons. 3 factories-wrappers and clothing..
110 1 pearl-button factory...
35 1 macaroni factory..
9 1 canning factory.
40 1 rug (Smyrna) factory.
100 2 glass factories--doing little business now-formerly employed.
180 Several iron, brass, machine factories employ.
28 1 paper-box factory.
16 2 planing mills, sash and doors.
28 1 grape juice company:
14 1 sweet potato flour mill.
20 Total....... Perhaps 1,000 persons all told (including the shoe factory hands above mentioned) are employed in Vineland factories; 450 of them
are Italians who work at almost all seasons of the year. This of course does not take account of railroad men or other day laborers.
In the glass, clothing, hosiery, canning, and grape juice factories and in the iron works and machine shops the Italian workman is found; none of these shops are large, but in the aggregate several hundred Italian laborers are employed.
The characteristics of the Italian laborer need not be further dwelt upon. It is to be noticed, however, that of the North Italians very few are engaged in day labor in the village. There are some of the young people who are employed in the factories and a good many farm laborers, but most are farmers. The Sicilian is the unskilled pick and shovel man.
Of the retail stores-groceries, feed stores, general merchandise, hardware, tobacco, and fruit stores and the like-many are operated by Italians. The best plumbing firm and the largest hardware store in Vineland are both Italian. Almost all the skilled trades are represented by Italians and there is a druggist, pharmacist, a doctor in embryo, and an Italian lawyer in the borough. These firms enjoy the patronage of Italians largely, but have a fair American trade as well.
Outside of Vineland one of the largest industries is the glass works at Minatola, a village on the Central of New Jersey and the West Jersey and Seashore railroads, 5 miles northeast of Vineland. The industry is only fifteen years old; the village contains about 600 inhabitants, nearly all connected in some way with the glass works. About 450 hands are employed when the works are running full capacity. Of these 129 are Italians—125 men and boys and 4 women. Probably five-sixths of these are unskilled laborers who earn from $4 to $8 a week. A few men work on blowing machines and earn $12 or more. Instances of $18 to $20 a week on piecework are not unknown. The works run ten months of the year and are closed down in July and August. During these two months the men all work on the neighboring farms, either on their own little places or for their neighbors. The breathing spell in the open air is excellent, and the earnings are even better than in the glass works.
Several men have bought farms and work in this industry during the winter only. Almost every family has at least an acre of ground on which they raise some vegetables and a few crates of blackberries. The men are reported less intelligent than the American and not so trustworthy. They lose their heads," said a foreman who had worked with them for years, “and for that reason very few make capable laborers.” As a matter of fact there is a good deal of prejudice exhibited, and the American glass blowers jealously guard their occupation and will not allow an Italian to enter the field. Nearly all of the Italians in Minatola are Sicilians or Calabrians; almost none are North Italians. There is also a small establishment which makes women's wrappers, employing some 30 women and girls; 20 to 25 of them are Italians, earning from $3 to $6 a week. This establishment gives employment to the women of the village whose brothers and fathers work in the glass factory.
Very few young women go into domestic service or into hotels as waitresses or chambermaids. They are not adapted to housework, apparently, and would much rather go into the fields or factories.