United States. Immigration Commission (1907-1910).

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exclusive attention to one crop. The immigrant plows his land, puts
m his crops of corn, rye, oats, potatoes, or millet, and, as a rule, there
aU cultivation ends. The boardmg season begins about the time the
crops need most attention, and they are neglected for the more
prohtaWe business of keeping summer boarders. The machineiy
and tools used by the Hebrews are the same as those of Americans,
and mclude farm wagons, plows, harrows, mowers, and occasionally
a reaper for rye and oats. Immigrants show httle judgment in the
tertUization ot land, and many use no manure or fertilizer, although

Recent Immigrants in Agriculture: Hebrews. 77

some applied plant food is absolutely necessary on the poor and worn

As has been explained, Hebrew farmers sell little of their crops,
and nearly everything produced is kept for home consumption.

None of the 24 farms investigated annually produced any one
crop to the value of more than $350, and only one reached that
amount, the crop in this case being apples. Nineteen farms were
reported as producing hay to the average value of $191 per farm;
12 were rep/jrted as producing potatoes to the average value of $129
per farm, and 1 produced garden truck to the value of $125. These
were the only instances where the average value of any single crop
per farm exceeded $100.

Improvements and buildings are in all cases good. The Hebrew,
upon purchasing a piece of property in this vicinity, at once sets to
work to improve the dwelling, and usually enlarges it so as to accom-
modate as many summer boarders as possible. As a rule the
dwelling houses in all the settlements are kept in excellent repair.
Barns and other outbuildings are not given much attention, but in
several instances have been converted into very comfortable dormi-
tories. In some cases dancing pavilions had been erected. The
value of property bought by Hebrews has generally been greatly
enhanced not by improving the land, but by the addition of large
dwelHngs or summer hotels.


Markets and marketing faciUties are very good. New York City
is near enough to Ulster and Sullivan counties to afford a splendid
market; this is especially true in regard to dairy products. Milk
trains run regularly over the road connecting the two counties with
the city. There is also a large local demand for garden truck, poultry
products, dairy products, and fruit during the summer months to
supply the hotels and boarding houses. Local production is not
equal to the demand, and butter, eggs, and vegetables are shipped
in from other places. In winter it is necessary to ship in hay and corn,
as the quantity of these crops raised does not supply the deniand.

The dwelling houses of all the settlements under consideration are
good and are kept in excellent repair. Outbuildings and barns may
sometimes be neglected, but in no instances the dweUings. Many
houses have been so added to and enlarged that they are really
summer hotels, and are provided with modern improvements.

The sanitary condition of the cheaper boarding houses generally is
not good, and quite often the interior of the dwelling is very unclean.
There is said to be considerable overcrowding of sleeping rooms in
this class of houses, often from six to eight adults being quartered
in one apartment. These conditions obtain, however, only in the
cheaper boarding houses; those charging higher prices are in aU cases
more cleanly and there is less congestion.

78 The Immigration Commission.


There are few existing opportunities to secure emplo3'ment in the
section except at farm labor, and as such work is not acceptable to
the Hebrews, most of the younger generation seek employment in
the city; in fact, none of the men, women, and children on the farms
work for wages or seek employment in the neighborhood, and the
farm laborers of the locality are either Americans or Poles.

With the growth of the settlement there are opportunities for
immigrants in all lines of business, and as the population is increas-
ing there is a demand for more Hebrew stores of all kinds. Physi-
cians, dentists, druggists, carpenters, blacksmiths, harness makers,
and men in almost every trade can find good openings. Hebrews
experienced in farming can find an excellent market for all farm
products — there is a special demand for milk, butter, poultry, and
eggs; a farmer can demand almost liis own price for all kinds of
fresh vegetables, and hay, oats, rye, com, and buckwheat always
command good prices. For the first-mentioned products the highest
prices are paid during the summer months, while in the winter the
staple crops are in demand. Thus the farmer has a splendid market
for the entire year, and there is a fine opportunity for those who will
devote themselves to farming alone to win profitable returns.

No industries other than farming, keeping boarding houses, stores,
and summer hotels are being developed. Many Hebrews are in busi-
ness in the different towns and villages, owning clothing, grocery,
drug, and general stores, butcher shops, harness and shoe shops, news
stands, etc. In business they are more progressive than natives, and
handle a better and more diversified line. The American storekeeper
has not branched out and improved his business as the population
has increased, but has been content with the old methods of keeping
a "country store." Hence the Hebrew has quickly outdistanced
him and secured the trade lost by the native on account of his obso-
lete methods. Americans in business say that when immigrants first
came into the section they extended them credit at their stores, but
so many accounts were lost that they ceased to credit any Hebrews;
on the other hand, Hebrew storekeepers give credit to people of their
own race, and seem to have no difficulty in collecting money.


_ Property owned by Hebrews in Sullivan and Ulster counties con-
sists of farms, hotels, and stores, and real estate in the different
towns and villages. Most of the investments made by immigrants
have been in farms or «ome form of business enterprise. Debts
owed by immigrants consist of unpaid balances on farm purchases.
These obligations are covered by mortgages on the land.

The table given below shows land and improvements now owned,
condition of land, size of farm, and average value per farm and per
acre m 24 typical cases. It must be borne in mind in going over
the table that on nearly every farm there is a large and improved
dwelling or summer hotel, which greatly increases the value of the
farm and accounts for the high average price per acre.

Recent Immigrants in Agriculture: Hebrews.


Table 16. — Land and improvements now owned, condition of land, size of farms, and
average value, U typical Hebrew farms, Sullivan and Ulster counties, N. Y.

Condition ol land.

of farms.

of acres
per farm.

Average value per—



Tillable but not cultivated







a $158

One-fourth and under one-half cultivated

6 84

One-half and under three-fourths cultivated


Three-fourths or more cultivated . . .


a Including a hotel.

b On each farm is an expensive dwelling enlarged to accommodate boarders.

The next table shows net property values of the 24 farms under
consideration. The valuations shown were given by the Hebrew
farmers themselves, and in most instances undoubtedly they are
high, and it is probable that in many instances the owner has over-
valued his buildings and put a low estimate on the value of his land.

Table 17. — Number of heads of families owning personal and real property of specified
net value, 24 typical Hebrew farms, Sullivan and Ulster counties, N. Y.


Land and

Live stock
and im-

Crops on


$100 and under 8250

1260 and under $600

$600 and under SI ,000 . . .
$1,000 and under $1,500.
$1,500 and under $2,500.
$2,500 and under $6,000.

$5,000 or over

Not reported



The statement shows the average size of .farms to be 97.75 acres, the
middle or median farm having 84 acres. It is further shown that the
total real-estate value of 24 farms and improvements, with an aggre-
gate of 2,346 acres, is 1140,400. The gross value of all property
is $170,929. The amount of indebtedness is large, amounting to
$61,600 on 17 farms. Two more farms of the 24 show indebted-
ness, but do not report the amount. The average indebtedness per
farm is $3,624. Part of this sum is owed on land and part for the
erection and improvement of dwellings. Following is a general sum-
mary showing the financial condition, etc., of the 24 farms included
in the Commission's inquiry:

Farms leased and owned:

Total farms of race 24

Average size of farm (acres) 97. 75

Median farm (acres) 84

Kind of farms, general - 24

Firstpurchase of land and improvements

Total number of acres - - 2, 346

Average acres per farm 97. 75

Total value.... $123,000

Average value per farm 15, 125

Average value per acre - $52

80 The Immigr^ion Commission.

Farms now owned 24

Total number of acres 2, 346

Number of acres cultivated " 1, 693

Number of acres not cultivated a 528

Present value of farms now owned:

Land and improvements $140, 400

Average value of land and improvements per farm fo, 850

Average value of land and improvements per acre $60

Number of farms showing indebtedness 19

Total indebtedness 6 161, 600

Average indebtedness per farm * $3, 624

Gross value of all property $170, 929

Net value of all property c $95, 704

Average net value of all property per farm '$4,396


In comparing immigrants with natives in regard to thrift and
indtostriousness on the farm, it is safe to say that in general the
native sm-passes the Hebrew^ in both particulars. The Hebrew is
careless of his machinery and implements, allowing them to stand
out in the weather and suffer for lack of repairs; he is wasteful
with his crops, and occasions much loss by improper harvesting and
lack of care of his products, and by poor judgment in feeding live
stock. The Hebrew seems to be averse to the manual toil of the farm
and will employ laborers rather than do the work himself; hence by
his superior industry the native farmer is enabled to cultivate a much
larger acreage than the Hebrew and at no expense for farm labor.


The cost of Kving in immigrant houses is perhaps a little higher
than in the home of the average American farmer. The food con-
sumed in Hebrew boarding houses is abundant and of good quality.
As a Hebrew farmer expressed it: "The boarders from the city are
not particular where they sleep, as they rather expect to ' rough it '
when they come to the country, but" they insist on having good,
wholesome country fare, and in order to be successful the fanner
must set a good table."

The menu consists of the usual meats and vegetables; pork, of
com-se, being excepted. Hebrew women are not as good housewives
as Americans; the food not being cooked or served in as cleanly a
manner, nor is the proper care or attention given to the interior of
the home.

Clothing worn by Hebrews is of about the same quality as that of
neighboring American farmers. Few women or children work on the
farm; this fact at once strikes one who has visited a typical Italian
farm where all the women and children are busy in the fields. A
large percentage of the cMldren upon reaching an age where they
would be useful on the farm go to the city to secure employment.

I AT°* !°'^}"ding 1 farm, 12.5 acres, not reporting condition of land.
Not including 2 not reporting amount of indebtedness.
cKot including 2 not reporting net value.

Recent Immigrants in Agriculture: Hebrews. 81


Summer boarders from whom most of the Hebrew farmers secure
their living, come from New York City. There they are engaged in
various confining occupations and are eager to spend their vacation
in the country. On account of the altitude, the section is considered
very healthful, and the proximity of Sidlivan and Ulster counties to
New York City, leads people to flock to these counties during the
summer months.

The price of board and lodging varies from $7 to $15 per week,
according to accommodations, and very few Hebrew families have
less than thirty or fortyi boarders for the season, which usually lasts
about two months. Board and lodging at $7 to $10 per week means
crowding, sometimes from six to eight persons sleepmg in the same
room, and many occupying cots in the barn and tents near the house.
Where the price of board is higher, there is less crowding and the
houses are usually fitted with modern conveniences.


The amusements and entertainments among immigrants are much
the same as those of Americans. During the winter there is a great
deal of visiting among the farmers, and meetings of various clubs, and
societies are held. But the Hebrew social season opens in reality with
the arrival of the summer boarders and continues until they return to
the city. The boarding houses have tennis courts, croquet grounds,
etc., for the entertainment of their guests, while the hotels have ball
rooms and the frequent dances attract the Hebrew people for
miles around. Picnics, excursions to different points of interest,
baseball games, and other outdoor amusements are indulged in, and
tend to draw the people from all parts of the two countiss.
There are also various societies among the Hebrew farmers which
encourage social intercourse and are the means of bringing the people

together. i • i i_

There is a strong local prejudice against Hebrews, which has its
foundation in various causes. First, there is the natural racial
prejudice; then when Hebrew immigrants first began to come into
the region they traded at American stores, and spent their money
among natives, but as the immigrant population increased they
entered all branches of business and the Americans gradually lost
their trade, and this added to the local ill feeling against the race.
Furthermore, many disputes have arisen because hve stock owned by
Hebrews has been allowed to overrun the farms of Americans, thus
helping to mcrease their unpopularity. On account of this general
prejudice, Americans are averse to associating with Hebrews, and as
soon as several immigrant families secure a foothold in a locality
American farmers begin to sell their property and leave the section.
They can generally find ready Hebrew pm-chasers and in a short tinie
the particular community is enthely Hebrew. Associating little
with Americans and apparently wishing to have only people of then-
own race around them, after buying a piece of property they at
once influence friends or relatives to purchase the adjoining farms
if possible, and as the prices offered are usually good the owners are
nearly always willing to sell.

82 TTie Immigration Commission.

The tendency of the colonists seems to be to congregate in certain
locaUties, and in the villages of Parksville, Centervflle, Fallsbure,
South Fallsburg, Greenfield, and other small places, there are relativefy
large Hebrew populations. The reason for such congregation is that
around the places mentioned there are many farms and boarding
houses owned by Hebrews; these created a demand for supplies of afl
kinds, and Hebrew people quickly established places of business in
the villages. These new establishments soon diverted trade from
the native establishments, and in some instances practically forced
the native tradesmen to sell out and go to neighboring towns. The
Annual Report of the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society
(1908) says:

There is another element in this section which is rapidly increasing, and that is the
village population. Some of the hustling villages, such as Centerville and Parks-
ville, have an almost exclusive Jewish population. Nearly every one of them haa
its physician, dentist, druggist, and all that goes to make up a typical Jewish rural
settlement in the old country, but so unlike the native American village.


Sullivan and Ulster counties are supplied with good schools, which
are well attended by Hebrew children. Teachers say that immigrant
children are very bright and eager to learn, that they make as good
progress as Americans; and often the brightest scholars are Hebrews;
moreover, the Hebrew children are more regular in attendance than
Americans, and the truant officers have no complaint to make against
Hebrew parents.

The presence of the Hebrew immigrant has undoubtedly had a
strong influence in raising the educational standard of the section
and in the improvement of schools; the attendance has often been
doubled; schools which had been closed for lack of attendance have
again been opened and the teaching force increased. Hebrew
farmers are well represented on the local school boards, and in several
locaHties all of the school officers are of that race.

The Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society is also taking
great interest in instructing and educating the farmer in agriculture.
In this regard the annual report of the Society for 1908 says, in part:

To put the Jewish farmer on at least an equal footing with his Gentile neighbor is
the purpose of the comprehensive educational campaign inaugurated this year. We
consider our educational work of far greater importance and as more fully carrying
out our object than the mere granting of loans.

The Society pubUshes a monthly farming journal in Yiddish,
known as "The Jewish Farmer." The aim of this paper is to provide
for the non-English reading Hebrew farmer expert advice on agri-
cultural subjects not otherwise available. A bulletin is issued from
time to time, known as the "A, B, C of Farming," which treats of
some special subject of timely agricultural importance. The organ-
ization of Hebrew farmers' associations is also encouraged in the
diflferent rural communities. There are associations of this nature
m Sullivan and Ulster counties. Their aim is to accomplish the
cooperative buying of supplies and selling of products, improve-
ment of farnung methods, arbitration of disputes, and social inter-
course. The society has also estabUshed free scholarships for the
benefit of the children of Hebrew farmers in the agricultural colleges

Recent Immigrants in Agriculture: Hebrews. 83

of various States. These scholarships are awarded by competition,
open to those who reside and work on their fathers' farm or farms. _

The following agricultural associations have been established in
Sullivan and Ulster counties: Parksville Farmers' Association,
Sullivan County League of Hurleyville, Ferndale Farmers' Associa-
tion, Sullivan County League of Centerville, Sullivan County League
of Mountaindale, Hebrew Aid Society of Briggs Street, and Ulster
County Jewish Farmers' Association.


Most of the Hebrew farmers show considerable civic interest ; they
subscribe to newspapers and seem to keep abreast of the times on all
questions of public interest. The majority have taken out either
first or second papers and it is said all are eager to become American
citizens. A great deal of interest is shown in elections, and Hebrews
have been elected to different local offices and have generally given
good service.


Concerning the sobriety and general moral character of immi-
grants, it is generally stated that they are no more addicted to the
use of alcoholic beverages than Americans, and the general moral
character of the different settlements is excellent. The universal
opinion seems to be that the Russian Hebrew is below the native in
honesty, and the complaint that petty larceny and minor crirnes
have been on the increase since the coming of Hebrews to the section
is insistently made. Local merchants and livery men claim they
have lost many accounts by crediting Hebrews, and in many cases
it is difficult for Hebrews to secure credit from Americans in business.
It should be noted, however, that several prominent citizens state that
they attribute the petty crimes to sumnier visitors from the city,
rather than to the permanent Hebrew residents.


The advent of the Hebrews has had an obvious effect on the region.
Before their coming the native farmers each season had many
boarders from the city; people who patronized American stores;
and the summer hotels in the neighborhood were always full of
wealthy tourists, who each summer brought much money into the sec-
tion. Since the influx of Hebrew imeaigrants the number of Gentiles
coming to the locahty has fallen off greatly. Hebrews buy only at
stores owned by people of their own race, and as many of the summer
hotels have passed into the hands of Hebrews, Uttle trade is given to
Americans in the community. Consequently the native m busmess
has suffered. On the other hand, on account of the demand created
by Hebrew purchasers, the price of farm land and other real estate
in the section has almost doubled, schools have been enlarged and
improved, the price of dairy products, poultry, eggs, gram, fruit,
and feed for five stock has greatly increased, and the American who
has retained his farm finds himself in a better position to make
money than ever before.

48296°— VOL 22—11 7

84 The Immigration Commission.

A shift in population has also been caused by the coming of the
Hebrews ; native farmers who have sold their farms have moved to
other localities, and certain places which six or eight years ago had
an exclusively American population now are entirely Hebrew.


Hebrews of the second generation associate little more with natives
than the older immigrants ; very few of them remain on the farms of
their parents, and as soon as they are old enough to go to work they
seek employment in New York City. None have intermarried with


Very httle money is sent abroad each year, and that sent is for
assisting friends or relatives to come to this country.

Without doubt, farming holds out many advantages and benefits
to the Hebrew immigrant. Hebrews who have been on farms some
years say that they have enjoyed a higher degree of prosperity in
Ulster and Sullivan counties than ever before in their hves. Of course,
they have great difficulties to overcome, owing to ignorance of agri-
cultural conditions, racial prejudice on the part of the natives, etc.,
but each year they are making progress, and undoubtedly it will
only be a question of time until the Hebrew farmer will become an
influential factor in agricultural communities throughout this part of
New York. ^ ^


The table following shows the economic progress and present con-
dition of 12 typical Hebrew families out of the 24 from whom detailed
schedules were secured by agents of the Commissioa.


The Immigration Commission.

Table 18. — Economic history and fresent financial condition oj

Data reported.

Family 1.

Family 2.

Family 3.

Family i.

Family 6.

Years in locality:











Present household size






Number of members 10 years
or over.

















New York,

N. Y.



New York,

N. Y.
Owned store.




New York,

N. Y.
Street vender




New York,
N. Y.

Ean restau-



New York,

Butcher and





Previous occupation

Value of property bought

Pirst land bought:

Number of acres




?4.000 .


$1,500 cash
and mort-

Poor and



$2,000 cash,

S500 per

year until

Hilly and




$1,000 cash
and mort-

Fair condi-




Stony and
not under



Sl.OijO cash
and mort-

Land stony. .




Acres of land now owned

Acres tillable...





Number of apple trees

Not reported

Not reported

Live stock now owned:









Financial condition:
Value of land and improve-

Online LibraryUnited States. Immigration Commission (1907-1910)Immigrants in industries. (In twenty-five parts) → online text (page 10 of 64)