« AnteriorContinuar »
to come. Their largest settlements are in Lehigh and Coalgate, and about 700 live in these two communities. There are about 20 families in Hartshorne, and a few families are found in each of the towns in the coal field. The colonies at Lehigh and Coalgate are not as large as they were three or four years ago, as work has not been very steady, and many have left for other coal-mining sections.
French. In the year 1881, when the first coal mine was opened at Lehigh and miners were brought from Illinois, there were about 15 Frenchmen in the party, and these men formed the nucleus of the present colony. During the next three or four years other French miners, many being married men with families, were brought from Illinois. Several of these miners afterwards visited France and Belgium and when they returned 8 or 10 families of immigrants accompanied them. This started immigration to Lehigh, and the French continued to immigrate to the locality up to the year 1895. When the town of Coalgate was founded, some of them moved to that town. In 1895 it was estimated that there were about 900 in and about Lehigh, Coalgate, and the coal camps in the vicinity. Many owned homes and some were in business. In 1895 there was a strike for higher wages and an eight-hour shift, in which the French took an active part. Negroes were brought as strike-breakers from Alabama. All of the leaders were forced to leave the community, and many French either returned to Europe or went to other sections of the United States. Those owning property returned after the strike was settled, but since 1895 French immigration to Lehigh has almost ceased. It is estimated that there are at present about 700 French in and around Lehigh and Coalgate. In other mining towns in the section there are very few. There is little prospect of further immigration on the part of the French.
Bulgarians. During 1908, 10 or 12 Bulgarians came to Hartshorne and applied for work. They were employed and sent for their families. During the past eight months 8 other families emigrated direct from Europe. There are now about 15 families in the town. It is probable that a number of these people will come in the near future. None have worked in the mines here before, but those now employed are giving satisfaction.
Poles.-Poles have been employed by the different companies since 1876, when the first representatives of this race were brought from other sections of the United States. A few were induced to come each year up to 1896, and since then others have come to join their friends, families or relatives. There has been no steady immigration of this race, however, and although they are found in each town in the coal region, they have formed no colony as other races have done and usually live in communities with the Lithuanians and the Slovaks. It is estimated that there are about 800 Poles in the Oklahoma coal fields.
Russians and Syrians.-Russians were brought in by the coal companies just as other immigrant races were, and since 1875 there have been a few of these people employed in the mines. As in the case of the Poles, they have formed no communities and are scattered among other immigrant settlements. Very few have arrived in recent years. In the town of Krebs there is a Syrian colony of about 150 persons,
and a few are to be found in each town. Very few work in the mines, most of them being peddlers or storekeepers.
RACIAL MOVEMENTS TO SELECTED LOCALITIES IN OKLAHOMA.
In order to gain a clearer and more detailed conception of the movement of alien races to the Oklahoma coal fields as well as an idea of the present racial composition of the coal-mining localities, it has been considered worth while to present a history of immigration to the mining towns of any importance in the mining region and an estimate of their present population by races. This detailed presentation is by communities, each community being designated by an Arabic numeral, in regular order.
Community No. 1 is located near the center of Pittsburg County and is the county seat. The first settlement was made here in 1873, at the time of the opening of the first mine in Oklahoma.
The community is now the center of the coal fields of Oklahoma, and many of the companies operating in the district have their offices here. The general history of immigration to Oklahoma began at Community No. 1 in 1873 and 1874. The town was founded by immigrants from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Few of these are left, and those still residing in the community are connected with the mines in an official capacity or have gone into other branches of business. The immigrant population is falling off each year, as there are only two mines near the city now in operation, and miners are moving to the neighboring towns in order to be nearer their work. The population in 1900 was 3,479; in 1907 it was 10,000, and at the present time the population is estimated to be 12,000. The foreign-born portion of the population is estimated at 2,100, made up by races as follows:
Community No. 2 is about 4 miles from Community No. 1, with which it is connected by steam and electric railroads. The town sprang from a small mining camp which was founded about 1874, the first settlers being English and Irish. A few Italians made their homes in the town in 1875, and from that year have continued to settle until at the present time the community has the largest Italian colony in the State.
The population at the present time is estimated at 2,200. Many immigrants live just outside of the city limits and, including these immigrants, the town has a population of 3,000. Of this number 1,550 are foreign-born, divided by race as follows:
The Italian colony grew rapidly from the early eighties up to 1900. Since that time many have been coming in, but not in as large numbers. The number of Italians in the town is constantly changing, the number when work is steady at the mines being from four to five hundred more than when the mines are not running at their full capacity. Many own homes and these are permanent residents, but there is a large floating population of young unmarried men and others who have not brought their families from Europe. These people leave and go to other coal-mining sections when work is dull and return when work is more steady.
Italians are constantly leaving the town and others are coming in, but it is estimated that each year sees a net increase of about 30 families in the permanent Italian population. Lithuanians have also been in the community since the early eighties, but have formed no colony. Syrians also are present in small numbers. All immigrants at first were brought in or induced to come from other coal fields. Since 1895 all have come of their own accord, and many are emigrating direct from Europe.
Community No. 3 is in Pittsburg County at a short distance from Communities 1 and 2, with which it is connected by steam and electric railroads. The first settlement was made in 1887, and in that year the first immigrants arrived. These immigrants were Italians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Slovaks and were brought in from other coal fields by the mine operators. Others came from the neighboring communities and in 1895 there were about 325 immigrants in and around Community No. 3. The population has varied from time to time. Few immigrants made their permanent homes in the town prior to 1900, and it is said that at times when the mines were not being operated the town was almost deserted. Since 1900 the Italians have begun to purchase homes and at the present time there are quite a number who are permanent residents. A few Lithuanians, Poles, and Slovaks also own homes.
The population in 1907 was 517. At the present time there are 700 people in the town. The foreign population consists approximately of the following numbers, by race:
Community No. 4 is in the eastern part of Pittsburg County, 17 miles from Community No. 1, on the through line of a steam railroad and the electric traction line originating at Community No. 1. The town was established in 1889, when the local mines were opened, and by the year 1900 had a population of about 1,800, of whom one-half were foreign-born. The state census of 1907 shows 2,989, of whom 1,200 are of foreign birth. It is estimated that 500 are Lithuanians, 300 Italians, 300 Poles, Russians, Slavs, and Austrians, and 100 English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh, and Mexicans.
In 1889 the first coal-shipping mine was opened in the locality. The men who were operating this mine had been engaged in the mining business in Pennsylvania, and as labor was scarce in Indian Territory, and experienced miners hard to secure, they turned to the coal fields of Pennsylvania to supply the experienced miners necessary to develop the property. The miners brought in during 1889 and 1890 were principally Americans, Irish, Scotch, English, and Welsh. As was afterwards ascertained, many of them had been prominent in the labor disputes in Pennsylvania a short time before coming to Indian Territory. During the following year, 1890, these men were the agitators in a severe strike, which closed the mines at Community No. 4. American negroes were brought in from Alabama and West Virginia as strike-breakers, and when the mines resumed operation, most of the English, Irish, Scotch, Americans, and Welsh had been displaced and either returned to Pennsylvania or to other coal fields. Since then few members of the above-mentioned races have been found in the mines of the community or in the immediate vicinity.
During 1889 and 1890 a few Italians had come from the neighboring communities and secured work. These were the first immigrants from southern Europe to locate in the town. As the coal properties were developed, there was a greater demand for miners, and from 1891 until 1895 the companies continued to bring in men from other fields. Various nationalities were purposely selected, for the reason that the operators had been taught by the strike of 1890 not to allow one race to predominate.
The Italian immigrants in the town sent for their friends in other sections of the country and in Europe. They soon began to build homes and now the Italian colony in the community is very firmly established. The North and South Italians immigrated at the same time and have built homes and live in the same neighborhood.
The first Lithuanians, Poles, and Russians coming to Community No. 4, had been employed on construction work on a neighboring railway. Finding that they could make more money in mining, some of them applied for work in 1889 and 1890, and were engaged. Others at a later date were brought from other coal fields. They have also induced their friends and relatives to join them and at the present time the Lithuanian predominates among the immigrants of the community.
Community No. 5 is in Okmulgee County, on the line of two railroads. In 1907 it had a population of 1,051 and in 1909 there were 1,800 people in the town. The foreign population is at present estimated to be 500, divided by races as follows: Scotch, 150; English, 125; Irish. 75; Italian, 100; Slovak, 25; Polish, 25.
The coal field of which the town is the center is in an early stage of development. Although 18 mines are in operation, all of them are small and are scattered over a large area. The largest mine in this section employs only 140 men, and the next largest 75.
The first mining was done in the field in 1895. The coal was produced by stripping and no skilled miners were employed. The first immigrants were brought to the community in 1900 and were English, Irish, and Scotch from the coal fields of Kansas. There were 40 of these men about equally divided among the three races. In 1901 other miners were brought from the same State and among them were 5 or 6 Slovaks and about the same number of Poles. These were the first immigrants from continental Europe to enter the field. In 1903, 50 Italians were brought from the Indiana coal fields and were the first of this race to arrive. Others of the abovementioned races were brought to the community, until the year 1905. Since that time no immigrants have been brought in by the coal companies. There has never been any steady immigration of any race to this section. Few, if any, immigrants have come in directly from Europe, and the immigrants now in the community have been brought in by the coal companies or have come of their own accord from other coal-mining sections.
Community No. 6 is in the southern part of Coal County on the main lines of two transcontinental railroads. In 1907 the town had a population of 2,188. At the present time it is estimated at 2,500. Of this number 750 are immigrants, classified by race as follows:
The first mine was opened in 1881, and at that time immigrant races were first introduced. At about the same time mining was started in a neighboring town, but the mines have been abandoned and few foreigners are now found there.
Community No. 7 is located in the central part of Coal County and is on the main line of the two railroads already mentioned. In 1907 it had a population of 2,921. At the present time there are about 3,500 people in the town. Of these, 1,500 are foreign-born. Estimated by races there are 600 Italians, 400 French, 150 Slovaks, 200 Magyars, 150 Mexicans, and 50 of miscellaneous races.
The first immigrants came to the community in 1890 from Community No. 6. These immigrants were of the races mentioned above. Many French also arrived up to 1895, but since that time the influx of this race has almost ceased. Italians have continued to arrive each year and their colony is growing and more are making permanent homes here each year. The Slovaks and Magyars continue to come, but few of them are becoming permanent residents. Mexicans are also constantly arriving in the community.