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The existence of coal in the Community A region was known as early as 1770, but no settlement was established until 1837, when the first house was built by one Peter Kehley out of hewn logs. The settlement grew very slowly at first. In 1862 a Philadelphia land company surveyed the section and laid out a town. In the same year the first colliery was built, and after it was placed in operation the growth of the town was rapid. The community was incorporated on January 16, 1866.
The industrial history of Community A is summed up in the history of its collieries, which were established in the following years:
There have been several changes in the original plants of these collieries. Within twenty years of their completion the output of Collieries B, E, F, and G began to fall off to such an extent that it was found more economical to abolish their breakers and to have their coal prepared in other near-by collieries. Collieries E and F are now only inside operations, their product being run through breaker at Colliery A. When the breaker at Colliery B was abandoned, its coal was shipped underground, part to Colliery G and part to Colliery A. Finally the breaker at Colliery G was given up and its coal was carried underground to a colliery located a mile and a quarter outside of the town. Colliery B now sends all of its coal to the same place, while its breaker has been converted into a washery, which is used in cleaning up the culm banks produced under the earlier and less efficient breaker methods. These changes have, however, in the long run not greatly affected the demand for labor, which has increased in spite of the retrenchments.
The descendants of native-born miners, as a rule, do not care to follow the occupation of their parents. In view of this fact it is safe to assume that if there had been no immigration the coal mining industry in the community would not have expanded to the degree that it has.
The immigrants, however, have done practically nothing in the way of initiating new industries. There are concerns, for example, like the two breweries, in which there are immigrant stockholders and officers, but in none have they obtained a controlling interest or full charge of the business. A few small candy and cigar factories and blacksmith shops have been established by foreigners, but these are insignificant in number and size.
There are no industrial establishments in this community which have been established because of the opportunity to employ immigrants.
In 1893 a concern was incorporated for the purpose of manufacturing hats, caps, and clothing. The capitalization was $25,000, and at one time the employees, mainly women, numbered nearly 150.
Disagreements arose among the stockholders, and there was difficulty in obtaining and keeping a sufficient supply of female labor, so that the concern was finally dissolved. The former manager of this concern, and other persons familiar with social conditions in the community, state that the girls of the Lithuanian, Polish, and other immigrant races marry very young. They are able to do so because of the constant incoming stream of young single men of their races, who quickly acquire sufficient prosperity to marry.
A decade or so ago there were several cap factories in Community A, but they have all been dissolved because of the lack of female labor.
Except in the mining of coal there are no skilled immigrants employed in Community A, and the foreign-born miners practically all acquired their skill in this country. The immigrants who have entered the town are not possessed of any industrial skill, and consequently no industries have been established which are dependent upon any particular training of the foreigners.
The only exceptions which can be noticed in this regard are a Ruthenian baker, who entered Community A after an apprenticeship in Brooklyn, and a few blacksmiths who learned their trade in European armies.
From an industrial standpoint, there are no immigrant employers in the community. There are a few immigrants in business, but these concerns are all very small, and the few employees are usually of the same race as the employer. Outside of the breweries there are also no industries in Community A which are dependent on the immigrant
INDUCEMENTS AND OBSTACLES TO IMMIGRATION.
The inducement which has brought, and is still bringing, to this community large numbers of European immigrants is the ready market it affords for the commodity in which they are richest-muscle and time. The immigrants can get what seems at first a prodigious price for a service so simple that it can be indicated by a gesture. The great bulk of the labor connected with coal mining consists in lifting from one point to another an easily distinguished class of earthy objects, merely loading coal.
A feature of the occupation which enhances the reward is the element of danger, which, however, does not act deterrently upon the immigrants, as their limited imagination shields them from the fears which would harass a more sensitive class of persons in such hazardous employment.
The organization of mine employees into small gangs under the control of a skilled contract miner also works to the ignorant immigrant's advantage by facilitating his advance in the trade. Working so close to his skilled boss, who is frequently of his own race, it requires only observation and imitation for a comparatively short period of time, and then he himself becomes a full-fledged miner with the chance of greatly augmenting his earnings.
The number of men who can be put to work underground varies in accordance with the number of points at which the coal seams are exposed. As the exploitation of a coal bed proceeds these opportunities to get at the coal multiply rapidly. The ramifications of a mine bear a certain resemblance to those of a tree. The effect of this char
acteristic of the industry has been seen up to the present in the constant increase in the use of unskilled laborers.
Besides this natural growth in the opportunity for labor, room for the later immigrants is being still further enlarged by the gradual withdrawal of the native and earlier English-speaking immigrant workman from the mining ranks. Some idea of the extent and rapidity of this racial displacement may be obtained from the following statement compiled from the records of one of the large coal companies:
The increase in the total number of employees included in the above statement during decade 1897-1907 was about 8 per cent, and the decrease in the number of natives and early immigrants amounted to nearly 12 per cent. On the other hand, the increase in the number of the recent immigrants, such as Lithuanians, Poles, Ruthenians, and Slovaks, reached 44.7 per cent.
The only obstacle which will be encountered by the recent immigrant in Community A is the scarcity of both rentable and purchasable houses. Board and lodging can be secured with foreign families, but there are comparatively few professedly boarding groups. There are practically no vacant houses in the town, and the only building extension now possible is upward. Only a few houses with more than two stories have been built.
Anything like a general feeling of antagonism toward the recent immigrants as a class does not exist in Shenandoah, for the reason that they form the bulk of the population of the community. They form large factors in the business, social, and religious life of the town and have a certain amount of influence upon local public sentiment.
While among the old settlers there are social circles which are not. open to the foreigners, and while many English-speaking families shrink from contact with the recent immigrants, the employers recognize the necessity of their labor, the merchant caters to their trade, the politician seeks their support, and the amusement venders open to them their resorts.
The churches of the old settlers make no effort to secure foreign attendance, because the latter have more imposing churches of their
If any one race is the object of local prejudice, it is the South Italian, but on account of the small number of the race in the community, their transitory residence and residential isolation, this hostility is not pronounced.
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.