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History of immigration-Population-Text Tables 56 to 58).
HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION.
The first federal census of the foreign-born of Schuylkill County, taken in 1860, shows that they constituted about 33 per cent of the total population of 89,510. The foreign-born were not subdivided by country of nativity until the census of 1870, when 6,709 Germans, 13,464 Irish, and about 10,000 other English-speaking immigrants in a population of 116,426 were enumerated. In this total number of foreign-born persons recorded were also about 300 French, who have gradually disappeared. The 85,572 native population included a large number of Pennsylvania Dutch.
No Slavs or other immigrant races from southeastern Europe appear in the national census for Schuylkill County until 1880. They were enumerated under the name of “Poles," of which 556 were reported. In 1890, in addition to 4,492 Poles, 2,015 immigrants from Austria, 1,230 from Russia, and 1,033 from Hungary, besides 714 Italians were enumerated by the federal census. From 1880 to the present time all these peoples have rapidly increased in numbers while the Germans and English-speaking immigrants have annually decreased in numbers.
Before the Slavs entered Community A, Lithuanians from New York City settled in the neighboring town of Jackson. The first Lithuanians and Poles who settled in the community came in the early seventies, Slovaks and Ruthenians did not enter the community until the early eighties, and the Italians and Syrians not until the early nineties. The census of the foreign-born persons in the community, taken by the National Government in 1900, showed that they number about two-fifths of the total population of 20,321, while another two-fifths were native born of foreign-born parents. Onefifth of the population at this period were native-born of native-born parents.
Before 1877, the community mines were worked mainly by English, Welsh, and Irish immigrants, who came to the town from neighboring coal fields. German immigrants and the older Pennsylvania Dutch people have never been found in any considerable numbers in the mines. After 1877 Lithuanians and Poles began to replace the English-speaking miners, and ten years later the Ruthenians and Slovaks were employed in large numbers. Italians were not found in the collieries until about 1900, and at the present time they compose but a small portion of the total number of the miners in Community A.
The two following tables show the periods of immigration for the races found in the largest numbers in Community A at the present time from 1845 to 1908, by numbers and percentage: TABLE 56.—Per cent distribution of early immigration, by year of arrival.
[This table includes only races found in largest numbers in Community A.)
Table 57.- Per cent distribution of present immigration, by year of arrival.
[This table includes only races found in largest numbers in Community A.)
Among the local contributory causes at the sources of the immigration which has found its way into Community A may be mentioned the potato famine of 1846 in Ireland and the oppression of the Slavs in Europe by the Magyars and Germans. The latter cause, no doubt, influenced the heavy migration from Austria-Hungary of the Slavs which started in 1880.
According to general local testimony, the labor conditions which resulted in the United States after the civil war led the mine owners
to turn to Europe for labor. The responsibility for the first importation of laborers from continental Europe to Community A district is laid by local legend upon the late Eckley B. Coxe, of Drifton. During a strike a breaker belonging to Mr. Coxe was burned down. Mr. Coxe replaced it with an iron breaker—the first of its kind to be builtand in the same year, 1870, had his superintendent, one Kulich by name, to secure two ship loads of his Hungarian countrymen to man the new structure.
There is no evidence of any further importations of immigrants by the mine owners, since there has been no necessity for such an effort. The steamship companies may have assisted in promoting the general immigration which followed by advertising and other more direct ways, but undoubtedly the most potent agency through which the lure of the rich coal fields has ever since been attracting European immigrants is the glowing chain of letters which those who settle in the community send abroad.
The reason for coming to the United States almost always given by the Community A immigrants is the economic one, "to make a better living." There is practically no difference between the races in this respect. A small per cent give as their motive in leaving their native countries the opportunity to escape military service, but even this motive is generally coupled with and subsidiary to the economic reason.
In Community A the foreign-born of all races except the Syrians and Hebrews have almost universally found their first occupation about the coal mines. If work was begun in youth, it was in the breaker as a slate picker; if in maturity, it was generally some sort of unskilled labor, either around the breaker or down in the mine.
Many of the Lithuanians and Polish men go inside of the mines as contractors' laborers upon first landing. The Slovaks, Ruthenians, and Italians generally take up some kind of outside labor, either around the breakers or on the railroads, though many of them finally find their way into the mines.
The early English and Welsh immigrants included many miners among their numbers possessed of skilled experience in their home mines, but the immigrants from southeastern Europe were principally farm laborers in their home lands.
The Syrians and Hebrews generally engage in peddling as their first occupation, although a few of the former people become colliery laborers.
The most remarkable process from a sociological view point which is occurring in Community A is the rapid displacement of the earlier by the more recent settlers of the community.
The displacement is taking place through the operation of two forces—the pull of industrial and social ambition and the push of racial friction. Distaste for mine work since the immigrants entered it, as well as dissatisfaction with wages, is inducing the Englishspeaking miners to change their occupations, and is preventing them from allowing their children to enter the industry. The prosperous miner educates his children for softer-handed work, and they have to move away from Community A to find it. The well-to-do storekeeper and the professional man moves away to find a more suitable environment for his growing children.
A night-working immigrant shoemaker or a thrifty saloon keeper buys close in between two ancient householders, and they, disturbed by the nocturnal hammering or the vociferous joviality, quickly place their property on sale and as quickly find foreign buyers, where upon they leave the community.
This is the story heard on all sides among the older residents. Individuals will tell of dozens of families of their acquaintance who have moved away within the last five years. One borough assessor said that 30 families of older immigrant races in his ward had moved away in a period of five years. The assessor of the American section said that 100 families had moved out of the town in a like period of time.
In 1899, among the 15 councilmen of Community A, there were none of the recent immigrants. To-day 4 Lithuanians and i Pole, or onethird of the council, is made up of recent immigrants.
A canvass of the churches whose congregations are made up of Americans, English, Scotch, Welsh, Irish, and Germans was made with the view to ascertaining what loss or gain in numbers had occurred since 1900. The preaching in all these churches is done in English, with the qualification that in two of them German is also used in the service with the English.
Of the 12 churches canvassed, 6 reported losses in membership aggregating 1,734, 4 reported gains aggregating 234 members, while 1 had been sold and the other closed since the year 1900.
Two of the churches showing small gains since 1900 reported also the loss of 62 of their best families within the last two years. These losses have been offset in numbers by the admission to membership of children. In most cases, however, the financial losses sustained through the departure of the old families have not been made up by the new members. These gains in the other two churches were due in one case to recent arrivals of German-speaking Lithuanians, and in the other to the taking over of the remnants of the two dis solved churches. In other words, nearly 10 per cent of the whole population have in eight years been displaced by the more recent immigrants from continental Europe. The evidence shows also that the rate of displacement is rapidly increasing.
The figures in the foregoing table are based upon estimates made by the ward assessors. The canvasses of these men enable them to give fairly reliable data upon the number of families, and their experience as practical politicians render them somewhat authoritative upon the number of adult males and their distribution among the races. Their estimates were corrected in some instances to agree with figures obtained from priests, prominent race leaders, and other reliable sources.
The average estimated number of individuals per family for the most important races in the community are set forth in the following statement: