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The oldest Polish church in the town was erected by the early Lithuanians. The Lithuanians asked their bishop for a Lithuanian priest, but instead he sent them a Polish clerical who finally, through the large number of his countrymen attracted by the opportunity to listen to services in their own tongue, succeeded in giving the church its present status as a Polish (St. Kasimir's) Roman Catholic Church. Many Lithuanians from the province of Suwalki, where they were brought up in a Polish environment, still go to St. Kasimir's on account of their familiarity with the language. The church edifice is of wood, and despite its comparatively unimposing exterior has the seating capacity for a large congregation. The church also conducts a parochial school. The present incumbent is a man of scholarly tastes, with several ecclesiastical titles and some achievement as a controversial author. One of his books written in English is a refutation of modernism.
The St. Stanislaus Polish Roman Catholic Church is a wooden structure which cost about $23,000. It contains furniture valued at $4,000, and its priest lives in a rectory worth $11,500. The total congregation numbers about 2,200 souls, including about 400 families, and supports a parochial school where instruction is given in both Polish and English to about 150 children. There is an $18,000 mortgage on the church, and it has other debts amounting to $1,000. The average contribution of each member, according to the priest, is 50 cents a month.
The new St. Michael's Greek Catholic Church is the most striking edifice in Community A. Situated upon an elevation, its trinity of ovoid steeples give a far-eastern cast to the town when viewed from a distance. The site of this church alone cost $30,000. It is wholly constructed of wood, and its façade is extensively ornamented.
The total cost of the church property, including rectory, is in the neighborhood of $60,000. The parish includes only about 235 Ruthenian families, over one-third of which live in hamlets 3 or 4 miles outside of Shenandoah. Banking men in the community express the opinion that the financial burden is greater than the congregation-practically all poor people can bear.
St. Stefan's Slovak Roman Catholic Church is a small wooden structure, and has no resident priest. Services are conducted regularly, however, by a priest from Mahanoy City.
The Italians have no church of their own, but there is a small congregation of them which uses the German Catholic Church of the Holy Family a part of each Sunday. An Italian priest from Mahanoy City conducts their services.
In all of the churches above described the services are carried on in the language of the respective congregations. The only people from southeastern Europe in Shenandoah who do not enjoy the privilege of worshipping in their own tongue are the Syrians. They form a small and comparatively poor constituency and are not all of one faith. The Roman Catholics among them attend the Irish Catholic Church, as do also a few of the second generation of the Lithuanians and Poles.
The other churches of a non-English character are those attended by the Germans, and in their services English is very largely used. The rector of the German Catholic Church of the Holy Family delivers
his sermons first in German, then in English, according to whichever medium he finds best adapted to the expression of the idea.
With the exception of the First Methodist and the Presbyterian churches, which are both of brick, the Protestant edifices are all plain, wooden structures of small capacity and less pretentious exteriors than the Catholic churches.
An idea may be gained from the following tables of the relative extent of the religious undertakings of the two principal elements of the community society-the fully assimilated first settlers, and the more recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. The appraisals of the church properties set forth in the tables are necessarily only approximate. The value given is supposed to represent the cost of the site, the church edifice, including furniture, the rectory or parsonage, and any school buildings belonging to the total church property. No account is taken of indebtedness in the tables submitted below, which probably averages much higher among the institutions maintained by the recent immigrants than among the Englishspeaking races.
The following statement shows the value of church property maintained by the English-speaking immigrants in Community A in 1909; also the denominations and seating capacity:
The statement below shows the value of church property maintained by the recent immigrants in Community A in 1909; also the denominations and seating capacity:
There is practically no special religious or welfare work done in the community for the benefit of the recent immigrants. The reasons are not difficult to discover. In the first place, the instrumentalities
for spiritual life among them have already, under the administration of the Roman Church, been very amply provided. Secondly, the evangelical denominations are so feeble that all of their energies are consumed in merely keeping alive.
A few minor exceptions to the preceding general statement may be mentioned. With the view to reaching some of the Lithuanian and Polish families which are not affiliated with the Catholic churches, the Methodist Church has recently assigned two Polish religious workers to Shenandoah. Meetings are held in a hall situated in the immigrant district, and auxiliary efforts are made along the line of teaching and the sale at cost of translations of English books of an edifying nature.
A member of the English Baptist Church has been holding in her home a sewing and embroidery class which is attended by some 15 Polish and Lithuanian girls. Besides instruction in needlework, instruction is also given in English by means of Bible readings and other religious literature.
The attendance of the immigrant races at church is normally very high, especially in the case of those people who have churches of their own. The swarms of persons who crowd out of the Roman Catholic churches on a Sunday morning in Community A offer a marked contrast to the thin and wavering stream of Protestant churchgoers.
The Hebrews, Poles, Ruthenians, and Slovaks are all steady in church attendance. That the same can not be said of the Syrians and Italians is due to the lack of church facilities among these races. Beyond the association in church of the Italians and the Germans, and of the Syrians with the Irish and the native Presbyterians, the slight tendency among the second-generation Lithuanians and Poles to attend the Irish church, and the missionary enterprises of the Methodists and Baptists, there is nothing more that can be said regarding the relationship between immigrants, their children, and the natives.
The only other religious organization in the community is the Salvation Army, which is weak in numbers, and does not reach the immigrants at all.
GENERAL PROGRESS AND ASSIMILATION.
Investments-Americanization-Libraries Street trades-Progress of immigrantsImmigrants in business-Immigrants in the professions-Citizenship [Text Tables 60 to 66].
It is difficult to make a comparison of the different races in respect to the tendency to save. The bankers in Community A report large immigrant deposits, real estate men tell of investments in houses and farms, and the post-office authorities and dealers in foreign exchange report large annual remittances abroad. All of the recent immigrant races in Community A save and send money abroad.
An attempt was made to secure information from the three local banks as to the distribution of their deposits among the various races. One institution, which employs a Lithuanian clerk of considerable ability and which has given the most attention to the immigrant patronage, was able to give definite proportions for the various races. cashier of one of the national banks had recently made a computation that 31 per cent of their deposits were from non-English-speaking races. He estimated that of that proportion only 3 or 4 per cent belonged to races other than the Lithuanian and Polish, and that of these two the Lithuanians were the heavier depositors. The other national bank could give no very definite information. The president of the institution estimated that 50 per cent of the deposits were immigrant, while the cashier thought 75 was nearer the true figure. In banking circles this concern is considered a Polish stronghold, although its employees thought that their Lithuanian deposits equaled those of the Poles. As their directorate includes the strongest Polish merchant in Community A, but no Lithuanians, the bank no doubt favors the Poles.
In the following statement an attempt has been made to merge these various estimates into a definite proportionment of the aggregate deposits of the three banks:
The cashier of the youngest of the three banks stated that their business had been largely built up by converting the hoarding foreigners into depositors. They have two Lithuanians and one Ruthenian on their board of directors. According to their experience, the Poles have been slowest to give up the hoarding habit. The officials
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of one of the national banks claimed that the Polish people were still in the habit of using one of their own countrymen as the custodian of their savings.
The Ruthenian and Slovak deposits, as well as those of the other races, given in the above statement include amounts from immigrant families living outside of Community A in the neighboring colonies. A newly established branch of an Italian banking house in Philadelphia reported scarcely any deposits from their people. The Italians and Ruthenians put relatively less money into the furnishing of their houses than any of the other races. The Italians also live on very little, spend little, and remit large sums of money to Europe.
A foreman in a washery, which employs mostly Ruthenians, said that after saving from $500 to $700 the Ruthenians returned to Austria-Hungary. Banking officials claim, however, that the Ruthenians, as well as some of the other races, frequently returned to Community A after they had squandered their savings in Europe.
The following statement shows the relative ownership of homes in Community A among the recent immigrants:
The consensus of opinion among bankers, lawyers, and real estate dealers in the community is that the immigrant races are all alike in their preference for real estate as an investment to any other kind of security. They want something tangible in exchange for their money. The financial agents report practically no sales of stocks or bonds to the masses of any of the local foreign races. There are a few leading men in all of the races, however, who own stock in the breweries, banks, electric lighting company, and traction companies, but they form exceptions to the general rule.
Within the last five years a slight tendency has been noted among the Lithuanians and Poles to buy farms in the Ringtown Valley district, from which place comes most of Community A's supply of farm produce.
In sending money abroad the immigrants use chiefly the steamship agents and agents of New York banks among their own people. For smaller orders they use the international postal money orders. Most of the forwarders of immigrant money carry their accounts with a local trust company. An estimate made by the cashier of the company regarding the total remittances of the immigrants, through the various agents, for the year 1908 was nearly $200,000. An effort was made to get the information from the agents themselves, but they showed an unwillingness to give it, by pretending ignorance. The post-office officials in Community A went over their moneyorder applications for the period from August, 1907, to July, 1908, and submitted the following amounts as sent to the countries enumerated in the statement following.