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Italians. Next in numerical importance to the Magyars are the Italians. Members of this race have been employed in the mines and about the coke works of the field since 1890. A few were then employed in railroad construction, and some of these began working in the mines. The numbers employed were very small, however, and the race was not of importance until about 1900. The period of greatest Italian immigration has been from 1902 to 1908. In that period the development of the industry was so rapid that there was constant recourse to employment agencies in New York and other cities, and a larger number of Italians than of any other race was available. The percentage of families among the Italians is very small, and the men are constantly moving from mine to mine. They live for the most part in groups, which in many cases consist solely of males. Many each year leave the community for Europe, but there are always new arrivals sufficient to keep the number of the race on the increase. About 1,900 men of the Italian race were employed in the field in 1908, and fully 90 per cent of them were South Italians.
Slovaks and Poles.-Slovaks were employed in mines in the vicinity of Pocahontas as early as 1886, but in very small numbers. The first representatives came in from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. As with other foreign races employed in the field, the increase was very slight prior to 1898. The Poles arrived in this field about 1895, and, like the Slovaks, the first were from the bituminous coal fields of Pennsylvania. Very little increase occurred until about 1900. During the early period new arrivals were constantly being employed, but many of the older representatives of the race were moving to other localities. For the past eight years immigration both of Slovaks and Poles has been very active. Men were secured from labor agencies in New York and from other coal fields, and a great many came from abroad direct to the field. The proportion of families among the Slovaks and Poles is much smaller than among the Magyars, but greater than among the Italians. About 850 Slovaks and 610 Poles were employed in the field in 1908.
Russians and Lithuanians.-There were about 250 Russians and 100 Lithuanians employed in the field in 1908. The exact date of their arrival is unknown, for there is no record of any members of these races, except that probably a few arrived, prior to 1898. They were first introduced by employers, who secured them from New York labor agencies. Some men have been bringing in their families within the past two or three years, but the majority are single men or married men whose families are in Europe. They constantly move about from mine to mine, and it is not uncommon for a company to carry 25 or 30 men of either race on one pay roll and on the succeeding pay day to have none.
Other races.-Probably 225 men of various races of recent immigrants were also employed during 1908. These men were principally Roumanians, Croatians, Greeks, and Syrians. They are usually found living with other immigrant races, though in some instances, especially in the case of the Greeks, they form groups and live entirely by themselves. They are constantly moving from place to place and are never accompanied by families. Some members of these races have been employed since 1900, but there has been no permanent increase in the numbers of any one race.
During the last three months of 1907 and throughout 1908, there was a great deal of moving from place to place within the field by the immigrant population. A considerable number also went either to other coal fields or to Europe, but, on the other hand, some came in from other fields. The greater part of the moving occurred within the field, however, in the effort to secure regular employment. The following tables show the approximate number of men of the various races and the percentage of each employed in the district for each county separately and for the district as a whole:
TABLE 476.-Approximate number of employees in the Pocahontas coal fields, by race. [Compiled from original and secondary material.]
TABLE 477.-Approximate number of employees in each specified county in the Pocahontas
coal fields, by race.
[Compiled from original and secondary material.]
The racial composition of the field may be rendered more apparent by showing the elements in the population of several mining communities. Communities No. 1 and No. 2, submitted below, afford representative types of localities arising from the opening of new mines and the influx of an immigrant labor supply.
Community No. 1 is a purely mining community and one of a series of small towns along the Tug River. Very little municipal life is manifest. The town itself is the headquarters of a group of 12 mines, all operated under the same management. The general
superintendent and chief officers of the mines are located there, and the settlement is larger than any other connected with these 12 mines.
The mines began operation in 1902. Previous to that year there were no settlers of any kind except some scattered mountaineers. The first employees were negroes and native whites, the former being in the large majority. The whites native-born of native father were for the most part mountain people who were unreliable as regular workers and few in number. Negroes could not be secured in sufficient force, and were unsatisfactory as steady miners. From the very first it was realized by the operators that the local labor supply was insufficient, and immigrants were obtained from New York in as large numbers as possible through the company's agents. At present the employees number about 3,000, and are racially classified as follows:
There has been very little change in the racial composition of the force during the past five years, except that the negroes have been displaced by immigrants. It is stated that since this displacement has taken place it has been easier to retain immigrants. The reason for this detention, it is alleged, is that the companies pursued a policy of eliminating negroes who were overbearing to the immigrant and all who showed any decided tendency toward lawlessness.
The coal mines in and near Community No. 2 have been in operation since the year 1883. The earliest immigrants were Magyars and Russian Hebrews. The former were employed in the mines and the latter engaged in business. Magyars arrived as early as twenty years ago in very small numbers. The largest immigration, however, has occurred within the past ten years, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, Russians, and Magyars arriving during that period.
The present population of the community is, racially, as follows:
RACIAL COMPOSITION OF MINE-OPERATING FORCES AT THE PRESENT TIME IN WEST VIRGINIA.
The following table shows the nationalities employed in the West Virginia mines and their relative proportions on June 30, 1908:
TABLE 478.-Nationalities employed in the West Virginia mines June 30, 1908.
[From Annual Report of the Department of Mines of West Virginia, 1908, p. 92.]
As a result of an individual investigation among mine workers in all the coal districts of West Virginia original data as to race and country of birth were received from 5,963 employees. The detailed showing is submitted in the table below:
TABLE 479.-Number of male employees in West Virginia for whom information was secured, by general nativity and race.
In the table above only 2,790 persons, or 46.8 per cent, are nativeborn of native father, while the remaining 53.3 per cent, or 3,173, are native-born of foreign father or foreign-born. The showing as to persons native-born of native father is striking, because the number of native whites is so large when compared with the negroes. Of the total 46.8 per cent the whites form 40.5 per cent, the blacks only 6.3 per cent. Of the foreign-born, the South Italians represent 17.3 per cent of the total number of working people scheduled; North Italians, 5.7 per cent; Slovaks, 5.6 per cent; Magyars, 5.4 per cent; Croatians, 4.5 per cent; Poles, 4.1 per cent; Germans, 1.2 per cent; English, 0.9 per cent; Irish, 0.3 per cent; Scotch, 0.4, and Russians, 1 per cent.
The workers considered above are employed, for the most part, either as miners and coke drawers or as unskilled laborers. The preponderance of the South Italians is worthy of notice, that race being exceeded only by the American whites.
Of the persons native-born of foreign father, the southeastern Europeans form the largest percentage.
PERIOD OF RESIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES OF FOREIGN-BORN EMPLOYEES IN THE WEST VIRGINIA COAL FIELDS.
The percentage of foreign-born persons in the United States each specified number of years is presented in the table following by race of individual.