Sunday, August 6, 2017

Impact of Seeds, Immigration, & Nativism on California Farms in 1920

California Immigrants
In the United States, the Old Immigrant Wave happened around 1815-1865. The majority of these immigrants were from Northern & Western Europe. The influx of immigrants caused many native born Americans to become anti-immigrant, & some Irish faced discrimination because of their Catholic religion. Many of the immigrants came from Ireland, because their country suffered major famine in the 1800s. About 1/3 of immigrants during this time came from Ireland (4.5 million Irish migrated to the U.S. between 1820 & 1930). Most Irish immigrants settled near their point of arrival in cities along the East Coast. In the 1800s there were about 5 million German immigrants who sailed to the United States. Many of these German immigrants moved from the Atlantic coast to the West to buy farms. These immigrants also settled in cities like Milwaukee, St. Louis, & Cincinnati. Many Asian immigrants settled in California because of the railroad expansion & the California gold rush. About 25, 000 Chinese had immigrated by the early 1850s & settled in California. 

Chinese in a strawberry field, Pajaro Valley, California. California farmers hired large numbers of ethnic laborers from across the Pacific to plant, cultivate, pick, & pack their crops. They employed Chinese men to work the land until Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), which stopped these laborers from immigrating. Growers then brought in Japanese workers. By 1900, the small agricultural town of  Watsonville counted 400 Japanese among its few thousand residents. In the 1920s, when Japanese immigration was restricted, California  agriculturalists became more dependent on Filipino & closer Mexican workers. With each new round of hiring, growers helped change the ethnic composition of California. Thrse immigrants often went on to rent & buy local acreages to plant & farm for themselves & their families.

The New Immigrant Wave in the United States took place around 1880-1920. Most of these immigrants came from Central, Eastern, & Southern Europe. By 1920, there were around 4 million Italian immigrants. The immigrants in this wave were often less skilled & illiterate, which caused many Americans (especially the Anglo-Saxon Protestant population) to join the anti-immigrant sentiment. These Americans feared that these new immigrants would take jobs away from native born Americans, because they would work for less money.
Irish Immigrants
After World War I ended in 1918, millions of distraught & displaced Europeans sought refuge in America. With the new wave of immigration came the resurgence of nativism (emphasis of traditional customs & opposition to outside influences). Most American citizens were disillusioned by the carnage of the war in Europe & clung to the old, comfortable policy of isolationism. Many denounced un-American lifestyles & turned their backs on immigrants.   
Japanese immigrants in a strawberry field with orchard, Pajaro Valley, California

Your Neighbor, the Foreigner from The Pacific Rural Press, Volume 101. 1921

When a local farm is sold or "rented, do you worry for fear some foreigner has taken it? Every native-born American farmer does, & he will continue to worry, for more & more foreigners are arriving & quietly alighting & folding their wings on the farms up & down the road. 

"Some say that the “old timer" is going, but go yourself to Sutter, Tulare, San Diego, or any of the foothill & mountain counties & you will find plenty of them left on the land. Then, too, in Southern California, & as far north as Fresno, the more or less newly arrived "Easterner" is increasing the American farm population. About 65,000 farms are now in the hands of American farmers in California.

"There are close to 100,000 farms in California today. About 35,000 of these are operated by foreigners, 1/3 oriental-controlled & 2/3 controlled by European races; 1/3 owned by foreigners & 2/3 rented. The orientals rent close to 95 % of their holdings, & the average renting of the other nationalities amounts to about 50 %. Orientals operate about 1/10, & the Portuguese nearly another 10th of all the farms in the State. The total number of rented farms in California is placed between 20-25 %.

"The 2nd largest group of foreign-owned or operated farms are those of the Portuguese, estimated at about 80—70% rented... They, too, are scattered from one end of the Coast Range & central valley to the other, & throughout Southern California. They are strong along our northern coast, Humboldt & Siskyou counties, in dairying; all through the San Francisco Bay counties & down the western side of the San Joaquin Valley from Martinez to Hanford. Between Tracy & Los Banos they have nearly 80% of the alfalfa & dairy ranches, & the Portuguese population around Crow's Landing reaches the highest figure in the state, being about 90%. They are fast going into fruit-raising since 1918, especially in Santa Clara, Stanislaus & Merced counties. From Monterey county south along the coast & then through Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange & San Diego counties, about 1/3 of the beans, beets, & grain is raised by these people. Their main concentrated settlements are near San Leandro, Haywards, Watsonville, central Stanislaus county, Merced & along the entire “west side." Ninety percent of the Portuguese come from the Azores & Canary Islands & not directly from Portugal. The 1st settlers came to San Francisco 40 years ago'as sailors...Among the Portuguese there is probably the largest percentage of non-English-reading populations which are American-born. More than any other of the Anglo-Saxon or Latin races here, with the exception of the Armenians & Russian-Germans, they remain clannish & among themselves. They are so many in number that this is emphasized. The Portuguese are California's best example of staying by one thing—dairying.

The 3rd largest foreign group are the Armenians, controlling about 3000 farms — 20% rented, & mostly in Fresno county. Their leaders 1st came to Fresno 30 years ago. 

"The Swiss-Italian can be found anywhere that dairies are located. One of their 1st stamping grounds was Humboldt county, where they began about 10 years ago to replace the original Scandinavian community founded 40 years ago. The last 3 years have seen Portuguese commence to replace them there because they can live cheaper & pay-higher rents. These Swiss have since then been drifting south into Marin county, where there have always been many. Their main concentration points were started 20 years ago & are in Monterey county at Soledad & Gonzales... They are scattered all through the coast & valley counties south from San Francisco, especially in San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara counties, & are strong in the southern counties in dairy communities. The Swiss, no matter whether German-Swiss, French-Swiss, Austrian-Swiss, or Swiss-Italian, is one of California’s finest citizens. There are many of each kind & each one speaks a different language. They operate perhaps 2500 farms - 50% rented.

"The Italians we have come from Italy. Yet, no matter where they started from, the Alps or Sicily, they pan out well here, becoming Americanized quickly. The north Italians are nearly all vineyardists. Ninety-five% of the Sonoma & Napa county wine grape vineyards are operated by Italians, or have the labor furnished by them. Many Sicilians are in Madera county vineyards. Kern county is their latest settling place, going in for cotton & field crops. As a rule, the central & south Italian people go in for truck gardening, & can be found around every large town or city. They have built a unique mon0poly in southern San Mateo county around Halfmoon Bay, where they control 05% of the artichoke crop & form 50% of the population. The Italian can be found in little hill country communities the State over, & he is on the increase. At present they operate about 4,000 farms, mostly small & 50% rented. As with most foreign communities, some own 90 to 99% of their places & in other communities 90 to 95% are renters, depending largely on how well each community has done as a whole.

"The Russian-German colonies each have a different history of their founding. Some came here from the old country 15 years ago & others have since come in from the Dakotas & Nebraska & are coming very fast today. Until recently they have been at a standstill, not spreading out. Now they operate about 1500 ranches — 15% rented. Southern Sacramento & northern San Joaquin counties have large settlements engaged in general farming, grape & fruit growing. Especially is this true at Lodi, where they are now displacing old German families. Many are located at Kerman in Fresno county, & their holdings extend in a large semi-circle north & east of Fresno, through Clovis, Sanger & Reedley. They are engaged in cotton growing in Kern county at Shatter. Everywhere they are good farmers & adapted to any kind of farming; are thrifty, "but keep to their own society, not even associating with low or high Germans, who speak about the same tongue."

"Many of California's old settlers have been Swedes & Danes. Today they are scattered evenly over the State, & are seldom renters. There are 2 predominant Scandinavian settlements here to which all the new arrivals come — Turlock in Stanislaus county & Kingsburg in Fresno county. At Turlock, & in fact throughout Stanislaus county, they are general farmers & dairymen. Here they are slowly being replaced by Portuguese. At Kingsburg they are raisin & peach growers. There is a growing poultry-raising settlement at Petaluma. They operate perhaps 2,000 farms & rent only 10% of them, & are strong supporters of any co-operative or association movements.

"There are a few hundred Spaniards here. They originally came to Suisun to work in the cement factory & for the last 8 years have drifted into farming. Their main settlement is at Vacaville, though some are in Stanislaus county. Practically all are laborers, moving from the asparagus in the islands to early fruit at Vacaville & ending with prunes in the Santa Clara Valley.

"At present the Hollanders here are few & scattered, but have collected largely in southern San Joaquin county & are engaged in general farming. They operate but a few hundred farms.

"The British are scattered throughout every branch of agriculture & are particularly numerous in fruit & vineyards in Sonoma & Napa counties; in Marin county — largely Irish — & in citrus in southern California.

"The Germans, French & Russians, like the Italians, Swiss, Hollanders & British, are so much like Americans they are lost in the shuffle & are soon counted as Americans. They are scattered & in every line of farm industry. Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, JugoSlavs & Greeks are increasing. They settle in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Santa Clara, Fresno & Los Angeles counties & are narrowly restricted to fruit growing. About 1000 ranches are operated by these people, 30% rented.

"The Japs are by far the greatest class of foreign farm operators, renting or controlling about 10,000 farms 95% rented. The Hindus have come with the Japs. Today they are found in the rice belt of the Sacramento Valley, where they supply 30% of the farm labor, & the Jap forms another 30%.

"Americanization is the answer to most of foreign farm population troubles of today. The Asiatics can never be assimilated, but the others can be & will be, so why not go in stronger for Americanization today? Already the 2nd generation of all the European races are becoming indistinguishable from the offspring of our “old timers."

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