« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
BLE 8.-Condition of land and size of farms first rented or purchased-Continued.
TABLE 9.-First purchase of land, condition, size of farms, and price paid.
of acres per farm.
a $511 1,4 .438
a Not including 3 farms not reporting complete data.
The South Italians, who came later, for the most part purchased land at least half of which was in cultivation. Twenty-five of the 28 are now landowners. The 32 per cent who bought an average of 20 acres of uncleared land paid $30 an acre for it, or $606 a parcel. The same number made first purchases of land three-fourths or more in tillage. These parcels averaged the same in area, but cost an average of $1,333 each, $67 an acre, or more than twice the cost of the uncleared land. Some of these last purchases (including land reported one-half and more tillable) represent sales of old farms previously owned by Americans and sold because they were not returning a surplus over expenses."
The median farm first purchased by a North Italian was 24 acres, five purchases only being between 40 and 80 acres. The South Italian purchased a farm of 20 acres and only two purchases-one of 55 and one of 86 acres exceeded 40 acres. While the land was being cleared or paid for, 11 of the 21 North Italians engaged in some supplementary occupation. The rest were able to make a living from the
a See report on Malaga and Newfield, pp. 88-93.
land immediately, either because they had bought partially cleared land or because they had savings or other income to fall back upon Nine of the 11 above referred to found work as farm laborers for part of each year until a living could be made from the farm, a period varying from one to five years.
Only 7 of the 28 South Italians studied did any outside work after buying land. Most of them were laborers in the vicinity before buying and more of them bought or leased improved land. It is scarcel true that, taking the community as a whole, 70 per cent of the Italians who are now buying have no supplementary occupation. A considerable number near Minatolo work in the glass works part of the year to help pay for the small parcels of ground they are buying.
SOIL, CLIMATE, TOPOGRAPHY.
Physiographically the region belongs to the "pines" or "pine barrens" of south Jersey. Originally the whole tract east and south of a line drawn from Long Branch through New Egypt, Mullica Hill, and Salem was covered with a heavy growth of pine, oak, chestnut, and, along the rivers, cedar. Within the memory of men now living the whole triangular section was clad in second or third growth timber and much of the area is still a wilderness.
The uplands of this region, once an old sea bottom, slope gently toward the sea on the south and east. Much of the land is to the eye a dead level, but a more careful survey or drive over the now cultivated portions shows that there are noticeable undulations, quite sufficient for good drainage. A topographical map shows that Vineland and the greater portion of Landis Township lie on the divide between the Great Egg Harbor River, on the northeast, and the Maurice River, which bounds the tract on the southwest. Nowhere is the elevation more than 150 feet above sea level. A surveyor's bench mark on the First Baptist Church, Vineland, records an elevation of 118 feet, and there are low spots barely 50 feet above mean tide. Speaking of the elevation of the "pines," the New Jersey Geological Report says: "Of 44,000 square miles south of the Red Sandstone plain not more than 1,200 square miles rise above 100 feet elevation; one-third of the surface is less than 50 feet above sea level. Between the Great Egg Harbor and Maurice River watersheds the ground rises above 100 feet to beyond (i. e., southeasterly) Landisville and Vineland." Speaking in comparative terms, then, the region about Vineland is high, dry, and salubrious.
Geologically, the pine region is classified as of Tertiary and postTertiary formation, except the recently deposited and accumulating alluvium along the rivers and bays.
Three or four types of soil appear, often within the space of a few hundred yards. The better soils are a sandy or gravelly loam, running into heavy clay in spots, with a sandy or gravelly subsoil, which gives evidences of marine deposits to a great depth. This soil was covered with white oak and hard woods and is found in large bodies in and around Vineland borough. It is considered the most fertile and durable soil in south Jersey.
a From report of State geologist, New Jersey, 1888.
The loose gravel sand of the higher portions is a second type. Much of it seems to have been deposited on a submarine formation by river currents and tides. In many places the sand is very coarse and loose and contains almost no humus or nutritive qualities whatever. It is so porous that it can hold moisture and fertilizers but a short time. Only high grade, immediately available fertilizers can be used to advantage and these must be applied every year.
Over other tracts or elevations lying between low and high, a fine sandy soil takes the place of the looser gravel. This is said to be a better soil, peculiarly adapted to sweet potatoes on account of its looseness and ability to retain fertilizers. The greater portion of the Italian farms are composed of these gravelly sands, fine sands, or sandy loam soils. All are porous, easily worked, quick and responsive to warmth and fertilizers; most have loose drift subsoils, and all seem adapted to grapes and small fruits. Because of the porous nature of the soil the roots penetrate deeply, and in time of drought many of the sandy soils retain their verdancy, if the surface is kept stirred, even when the vegetation on the heavier clays wilts and dies.
The yellow drift or gravelly loam subsoil when brought to the surface and rolled down forms a natural macadam, and when the sandy surface soil is covered with it, makes the smooth, adamantine highways for which south Jersey is famous. There are few places where good roads are so cheaply and readily constructed. There are perhaps 175 miles of such roads and streets in and about Vineland, although some of them are now more or less out of repair.
Because of the very slightly rolling nature of the surface, the slight elevations have only local effects upon the climate. A very few feet laterally makes a difference of weeks in the frost period, and within a mile in the heart of the pepper district, on an apparently level surface, isothermal lines may be drawn inclosing areas unsuitable for growing peppers on account of the early autumn frosts. Aside from this, the climate of Vineland, tempered by the ocean, is one to three degrees warmer than Newark, N. J. The mean tem
perature runs high and the daily range is great; for the year the range runs as high as 116 degrees and a monthly range of 84 degrees has been noted. This is largely due to the sandy nature of the soil which holds the heat for a very short time.
The latitude of Vineland is 39° 29′ and the longitude 75° 1′, and her isothermal line passes near Washington, across West Virginia into Kentucky, thence to near Cincinnati. The report of the geological survey of New Jersey gives the following mean temperatures over a period or twenty years: Spring, 50.58°; summer, 74.73°; autumn, 55.20°; winter, 32.87°; year, 53.24°. The winter mean is about 2° below Baltimore.
The average annual rainfall is 48.27 inches. The highest monthly precipitation is in August, with an average of 6.09 inches, the lowest, in April with 3.12 inches. The climate on the whole is very salubrious; there is no malaria and reputable physicians have recommended the region to those suffering with pulmonary troubles. The water is good, drainage excellent, air dry, and the breezes refreshing the greater portion of the year.
Agricultural operations are carried on throughout almost the entire year. The season of "all frost," i. e., days with a thermometer
registering below 32°, is twenty-six days yearly, varying from sixteen to thirty-five days. In the ordinary course of events farming operations are suspended for a month or six weeks in the winter. Tradition tells of winters when plowing could be done every day, but in recent years a closed season of frost and some snow, perhaps, is to be expected. The latest date of killing frost in the spring recorded up to 1901 was May 13, the average date April 19. In the autumn the earliest killing frost similarly recorded was October 2, the average date October 19. This gives an average growing season of six calendar months. But spring frosts ruin the peach crop with sufficient frequency to make peach growing a precarious industry.
When the Italians came to Vineland they found the Americans on small farms, planted to vines and small fruit. For that reason they bought small tracts. A list of 18 Italian buyers recorded in the real estate transfers for 1875 furnished the information that only 2 bought more than 30 acres, 8 bought from 12 to 20 acres each, and the remainder purchased smaller lots. At the present time, the mean holding is 30 acres or less and very few indeed own more than 100 acres. Fifty-acre farms are considered large, and some owners with 60 to 75 acres complain they are "land poor." But if the farms now owned by the Italians are not large, about 60 per cent of those studied have more than three-fourths of the acreage in cultivation or in orchards. The median farm owned by the North Italian farmer lies between 40 and 80 acres, actually 42 acres; one farm of 325 acres is mentioned, but this is the largest in the tract and the only farm enumerated by the Commission over 80 acres in extent.
The median farm of the South Italian is 20 acres, and nearly 70 per cent of the farms owned have three-fourths of the area in cultivation.
A list of 91 farm acreages copied from the tax duplicates of Franklin, Landis, and Buena Vista townships are shown in the table which follows:
TABLE 10.- Vineland and vicinity: Size of typical Italian farms; number of farms of specified acreages in Landis, Franklin, and Buena Vista townships.
Grape raising is practically universal; every farmer has from onehalf acre to 5 or 6 acres of grapes. At first the Concord was the standard grape, but the rot attacked it early and in the late seventies local papers were full of discussions concerning the extent of the disease and the remedial measures possible. Finally the Concord went out entirely and the Ives Seedling has taken its place. The Clinton and Riesling, both wine varieties, are also grown by the Italians. For years the United States Government has carried on experiments in viticulture on the farm of Col. A. W. Pearson with the result that the black rot has been checked by spraying and proper culture. The Concord grape has been proved successful under right conditions, and several other varieties and new methods of culture have been successfully introduced.
The Vineland grape juice factory has a capacity for 1,000 to 1,200 tons of grapes yearly. Of this amount not more than 25 per cent is now being supplied by the local farmers, and hundreds of tons must be imported by rail from other places annually. This factory furnishes an outlet at a fair price for all grapes that come upon the market. Last season grapes sold for almost $45 per ton in Vineland. The yield per acre varies greatly. Three tons per acre are sometimes gathered, but often the yield is less than 1 ton.
A large part of the grapes raised by the Italians is made into sour wine, which is really a simple grape juice, made by drawing off the liquor from the pressed grapes. One family often uses several barrels of this wine during the season. Some farmers have regular customers in Philadelphia and New York, and some sell to the refiners, the selling price being $25 to $30 by the 50-gallon barrel. As in Italy, this wine is used on the table as a beverage after the manner of tea or coffee. Few Americans like it.
Formerly large quantities of strawberries were raised, but of recent years this enterprise has been on the decline. Prices have been low and crops uncertain. Ordinarily nine-tenths of all berries shipped