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The distinction between the figures for the races of the recent immigration and those for the races of the less recent immigration, so far as they are represented in this locality, is very marked. More than three-fourths of the Irish and more than half of the Welsh have been in the United States twenty years or over. The proportion of men of the races of eastern and southern Europe who have been in the country twenty years or more is, as will be noted, very small.
RACIAL CLASSIFICATION OF EMPLOYEES AT THE PRESENT TIME.
The arrival of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe continued steady after the year 1900 and was especially marked during the period 1902 to 1907. The demand for labor arising from the opening of new mines or the extension of old workings was supplied by the immigrants of recent arrival, and the operating forces of the mines rapidly absorbed a constantly growing proportion of immigrant mine workers from southern and eastern Europe. The extent to which recent immigrants found employment in the mines of Kansas and Oklahoma during this period was disclosed by an individual study of bituminous mine workers in these two States. More than 7,000 mining employees furnished information as to race and country of birth, and these data are presented in the table which follows, exhibiting the different races employed.
TABLE 392.-Male employees for whom information was secured, by general nativity and race.
Of the total number reporting as to race, 23.8 per cent were whites, native-born of native father, 5.6 per cent negroes, and 11.3 per cent native-born of foreign father, or, in all, 40.8 of the employees reported that they were native-born. In connection with the second generation it is worthy of note that more than three-fourths were males whose fathers were born in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Wales, and France, corroborating the statement already made that large numbers of these races had come to the Southwest from other mining localities of the United States.
The different immigrants of foreign birth represent 32 races and constitute almost 60 per cent of the total number furnishing information, which is but slightly in excess of the proportions in which they are employed in the Southwest. In connection with the foreign-born, the English, German, Irish, French, Scotch, and Welsh races make up 13.3 per cent of the total employees and 22.5 per cent of those of foreign birth. Of the races from southern and eastern Europe the North Italian shows up numerically the strongest, the number of this race reporting being equal to 16.6 per cent of the total employees. The other races present in the largest numbers are, in the order named, the South Italian, Polish, Slovenian, and Slovak.
The history of immigration to Kansas and Oklahoma may be more clearly presented by submitting a general account of racial movements to the coal-mining districts of the two States and a detailed history of immigration to representative coal-mining localities. With this object in view a history of racial movements to the mines of the two States will be given in regular order."
HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION TO THE OKLAHOMA COAL FIELDS.
From the time when Indians were moved from their homes in Georgia and Mississippi and placed on reservations in the Southwest, the presence of coal was known in Indian Territory. There were outcroppings in various places, but only primitive strip mining was done, supplying the small local demand for fuel. In the early seventies, however, when a railway company was building its road south, an early settler in Indian Territory secured a wagonload of coal from near the present site of the city of McAlester, Oklahoma, hauled it 125 miles north, and showed it to the officers of the railroad. The coal was tested, found to be of excellent quality, and this undoubtedly led to the extension of the road through the coal district. Even before the railroad was built as far as the coal fields some coal was got out by stripping and was hauled north in wagons. After the completion of the road the practice of mining by stripping was continued for several years before slope or shaft mines were opened.
a At the time of the investigation in Oklahoma and Kansas a considerable number of the mines in Arkansas were closed and the remainder were working on a shorttime basis. Consequently no detailed work was done in the State. As a result of a general survey, however, it was ascertained that the total number of miners employed in the State was only about 5,000. Outside of the Spadra field, where there are no immigrants, 40 per cent of those employed in the State are estimated to be natives and negroes, 15 per cent Italians, and 10 per cent Poles. The remaining 35 per cent is made up of Germans, Scotch, Welsh, English, Swedes and Slovaks, in about equal proportions, with the addition of a few Irish and Magyars.
Indian Territory in the early seventies was very sparsely settled, and such labor as was necessary to operate the coal properties had to be brought in from other sections of the country. The method of mining coal by stripping required no particular skill, and few miners were brought in during the first years that coal was produced. However, some representatives of almost every race now in the coal fields of Oklahoma were employed in the strip pits.
During the years 1873 and 1874 the first laborers were brought to the new coal field. These men were Americans, English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh, some of whom had been miners in Pennsylvania. As more properties were developed, the demand for labor became greater, and more and more men were brought from other coal fields, principally those of Pennsylvania. The races mentioned above still predominated, but some Italians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Russians were also induced to come.
There were no cities or towns within many miles of the coal-producing districts, and it was difficult to hold the English-speaking races, as they preferred to work in a more settled part of the country. It was found by the operators that the Italians, Russians, Slovaks, Poles, Magyars, and Lithuanians were better satisfied and more contented, and during the following years these races were induced to come in greater numbers.
After the first mines opened near McAlester, Oklahoma, in 1873, other mines were started in that vicinity, and during 1874 and 1875 properties were developed near what is now the town of Krebs. In 1881 the first mine was put down at Lehigh, and in 1889 and 1890 mining began at Hartshorn and Coalgate. The field continued to be developed as facilities for the transportation of coal became better. New railroads were built through the mining section, and as the country became more thickly settled the demand for fuel increased, and more mines were opened each year.
It is difficult to give a history of any particular race in the mines of Oklahoma, for the reason that representatives of all races were brought in at about the same time, and the history of one immigrant race is the history of all. It was found that it was not well to let any particular race predominate, and in securing men in other coal fields the agents were instructed to secure miners of different nationalities. As far as possible this was done. After the first English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh were brought in during the years 1873 and 1874 all shipments of labor were of mixed races.
From 1890 to 1895 there were many severe strikes in this section, particularly in 1890 and 1895. Military authorities had to be brought to the aid of the operators to protect property. It was found that the English-speaking races were responsible for agitating and bringing on these strikes, and that these men had been prominent in labor troubles in the East. The leaders were sent notices to leave the country, and several train loads were sent out. The places of the men deported were filled with American negroes brought from Alabama and West Virginia as strike breakers, and since then few English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh are to be found in the coal-mining industry in Oklahoma. Immigrants from other countries were not prominently identified in these strikes and were allowed to remain, and each year has seen an increase in the number of immigrants
employed from continental Europe. The following account by races will show in a more comprehensive way the racial movements and displacements in the coal fields of the State:
English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh.-To the English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh the coal field of Oklahoma owes its development to a great extent. The people of these races were the first immigrants brought in and were the original mine workers in this territory.
Pennsylvania furnished the first quota in the years 1873 and 1874. Others came from the same State during the next few years, and some from Illinois. Until 1890 they continued to come from almost every coal field in this country and some direct from the mining districts of their native land. In that year began a series of strikes, which finally caused the displacement of these races throughout the entire district. The strikes in question were for higher wages, shorter hours, and a recognition of the union.
The men of these races were experienced miners and had belonged to labor unions both in this country and at home, and in all the labor troubles during the five years mentioned it was found that the English-speaking races were the leaders and agitators. Though the coal operators recognized these races as the best mine labor to be secured, at the same time they saw that as long as they predominated there would be trouble. In all strikes negroes were employed as strike breakers, and the English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh were displaced by this race and by immigrants from other countries.
The majority of those displaced left the section, and since 1895 few have worked in the mines. Those remaining have made decided progress, and at the present time the majority of the superintendents, mine foremen, and bosses in the district belong to one of these races. The English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh never colonized, but mingled freely with natives, and in a short time became thoroughly Americanized. Since 1895 very few English-speaking immigrants have come into the field; fewer are working in the mines each year, and in the opinion of mine officials it will be only a question of a few years until none are found in the mining industry in Oklahoma, except as bosses or mine officials.
Mexicans. The history of Mexican immigration to the Oklahoma coal fields began in 1890. Men of this race were employed on construction work on one of the railroads. Seeing a chance to earn more money in the mines some applied for work and were engaged. Others came from Texas where they had been employed in railroad work, and of late years many have been coming direct from the coal and silver mines in Mexico. Very few are making their permanent homes in Oklahoma, and a very small percentage own property. More are employed at Dow, Gowan, Lehigh, and Coalgate than in any other places, but it can hardly be said that these people are permanent residents in any of the above-mentioned places, as they are continually moving, and wander from one mining town to another, and about as many are returning to Texas and Mexico as are coming into Oklahoma. More than half of the Mexicans in the Oklahoma mines were born in Texas, but are no more Americanized than those direct from their own country.
Italians. The Italians have increased steadily since the first few representatives of this race were brought to the coal fields in 1874 and
1875. Some of these employees sent for their families, but up to the early eighties the percentage accompanied by their wives was small. When a shipment of men was made there were usually from 25 to 50 brought at a time and only once or twice were a hundred or more secured in a body from other sections of the United States. In 1883 it is estimated there were between 200 and 300 of them, including women and children. From this time until 1895 they continued to arrive in large numbers. Many sent for their friends and families and began building homes. From the year 1895 to the present time the influx of this race has not been so rapid, but there has been a steady increase in the number, and each month there are new arrivals. The Italians coming at the present time are mostly direct from Europe, while those brought in during the early days were from other States of this country. Many leave each year, but the percentage of those coming in is much larger than of those going out, and a considerable number are making Oklahoma their permanent home. From information secured from steamship agents, it is estimated that during the year 1908 about 458 went to Italy. Out of this number about 50 per cent returned to the United States, bringing their friends and families with them, and those arriving during an equal period of time number about 800, making a gain of 575 in the Italian population for the past year.
At the present time Italians are found in every town and mining camp in the coal fields, and the number is about equally divided between North and South Italians. More property is owned by these races than by any other immigrants, and in each community they are prospering. In all cases they have gone to work in the coal mines, and those now in business were formerly miners. It is estimated that there are about 10,000 in the coal regions and that this number will be greatly increased during the next few years.
Lithuanians.-Lithuanians were brought in with the Italians, though not in as large numbers. A few, probably not over 10 or 15, were working in the mines in 1875. They continued to arrive in small numbers until 1889, when there were probably about 200 in the McAlester coal district. Many more were brought in during the next few years, and many sent to Europe for their families. They continued to come of their own accord after the coal companies ceased to bring men, and each year has been marked by an increase in the number of this race in the coal fields. The first Lithuanians were brought from Pennsylvania, but since 1895 they have come direct from Europe.
Magyars.-Magyars were brought in with other immigrants, and in 1883 there were about 100 of this race employed in the different mines. They have continued to arrive in small numbers up to the present time. These people have formed only one colony in the coal district and are scattered through the different towns.
Slovaks.-The Slovaks have also been in the mines of Oklahoma since 1883. A few of this race arrived probably before 1883, but it is certain that during that year about 25 were transported from Illinois to the mining town of Lehigh. Others were brought to Hartshorne in 1892, and since the above-mentioned dates this race has continued.