Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- April 01, 1862Monthly Report of the Agent of the German Society of Chicago Report for February and March, 1862 by F. Schlund, Agent
February March Employment secured for 92 68 Passes secured for 1 Shelter secured for 1 Located friends or relatives for 6 4 Located baggage for 9 7 Claim entered for loss of baggage 1 Mis-sent articles located for 3 Claims for damage entered for dispossessed Unionists. 4 Financial advice given 30 5 February March Medical aid and medicines secured for 5 4 Provided fuel and food for 13 21 Found living quarters for 3 2 Wrote letters for 68 50 Loaned money to 3 3 Total 199(sic) 169 (sic)
There is a great lack of farm laborers and I was not able to supply even one half of the requests although the employers offered thirteen or fourteen dollars per month, or one hundred and fifty dollars per year, and in spite of the fact that young men are unable to secure employment in the city. And the supply of domestic help is not nearly adequate to meet the demand.
Again experience proves that the German public cannot be too careful in granting the power of attorney, in giving authority to collect inheritance, in purchasing transatlantic or transcontinental passage, etc. I have often been convinced that our countrymen have reliable or friends in 3the old country who are able and willing to do anything they can for immigrants; yet the latter prefer to trust Americans, whom they know only by name and who must engage a third party in Germany, to transact business, appear in court, collect money, etc.; and frequently both the American businessman and his representative in Germany are dishonest and defraud their clients of large sums of money. Therefore, I advise my countrymen to have whatever business they may have in Germany done by relatives or friends, and, in the absence of such, by the mayor or village president, and to have the respective American consul supervise the transaction. In this way much money can be saved, and there is practically no opportunity to cheat. And if anybody is unable to carry on the necessary correspondence he may apply to the agent of the Germany Society of Chicago and he may be certain to receive competent advice and aid.
Many Germans in America think that bills of exchange receive the same preference over other claims in America that is accorded them in Germany, but that is not the case. If payment is refused in Europe on bills of exchange 4which were purchased in America, they have no more value than, and are granted no preference over, any other kind of demand. Thus, people of dubious character, and people who are not financially responsible, can carry on this type of business in this country. Banks in Germany, however, can not be licensed to operate unless they have furnished a sufficient guarantee in money and unless the sum guaranteed has been registered. Thus the purchaser of a German bill of exchange is protected not only by adequate security, but also by an exchange court which has the authority to give a bill of exchange preference over any other claim, and woe unto the dishonest banker!
We have no such protection here; the avowed honesty of the banker is our only guarantee, and if he unexpectedly closes his doors, all the bills of exchange etc. which he has issued, and all the deposits which he has accepted may be considered lost. Therefore Germans should only do business with those bankers whose moral integrity cannot be questioned, and who may be relied upon to assume no greater financial responsibility than they are able to meet.5
Any American bank which has no other means save the money of depositors must be regarded as very unsound, and has nothing to lose in case it is forced to go out of business.
I cannot understand why the legislatures of the various states of this country do not enact laws which offer the working classes and businessmen more protection against dishonest moneylenders. If a Cook County delegate to the legislature in Springfield should sponsor a bill guaranteeing more security to bank clients as protection against the nefarious wiles and schemes of shylocks, he would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he had made an attempt to promote the welfare of his constituents; and even if he did not succeed in having the bill passed, he would probably give a future legislature and incentive to provide some really worthwhile legislation for the people of Illinois.
Germans should also be very careful about the source from which they purchase passage from Europe to America. There are many dishonest ticket agents here.6
They accept money for tickets from local Germans and promise to send the tickets to the purchaser's relatives in Germany who wish to come to the United States, but very often the agents disappear and the tickets are never received. Thus a man in Hamburg, Germany waited for his ticket for five months, and then--he died from disappointment and worry.
The Homestead Bill which undoubtedly will be adopted by Congress, will cause large numbers of Europeans to come to America; for the Union Army, which will return victoriously from the battlefield, is composed of the pioneer spirit necessary for the expansion of the Western Territories. It is hoped, however, that the Germans will avoid the mistake made by their countrymen who made their homes in Missouri, West Texas, and other Rebel States. The future immigrants should settle in colonies or groups, and not singly, so that they may more effectively promote freedom and progress in the state, as well as in their immediate surroundings. German farmers who live apart from their fellow countrymen are exposed to disadvantages and persecutions, and their best 7opinions and complaints will receive no notice; whereas they will receive attention and exert much good influence in the state as well as in their community, if they live near one another.
Illinois Staats-Zeitung, Apr. 2, 1862.
Co-operation is productive of much good. That is the experience not only of the German Societies in America, but also of the bureaus of emigration in the old world, and especially of the emigration authorities of the free imperial cities of Germany. And we hope that co-operation between these organizations will protect immigrants against swindlers.
We warn all immigrants against buying farms or smaller parcels of land unless the seller tenders a valid abstract, and we emphasize the necessity of having the abstract examined by competent persons; for an abstract is the only official document which protects the purchaser. Furthermore, let no purchaser be persuaded to pay for the examination of the abstract, since the 8seller is legally obligated to defray the cost of such service. It is not sufficient to have a warranty and deed; one must have a legal title. It is also necessary that all debts on the property in question be liquidated, and that such liquidation be attested to by the issuing of a quitclaim deed, before payment for the property is made and ere the pertinent documents have been recorded. Recording should take place immediately after this procedure. One should not be too hasty about buying land, and should give due consideration to the effect of climatic conditions upon health before consummating the transaction. Good soil and good water are prime requisites. It often costs more that the land itself is actually worth to bring wooded or shrubbed land under cultivation, and it is easier to break rolling prairie soil.
The farmer should make but very moderate use of credit; it is better to have twenty acres of unincumbered land than three hundred acres that are mortgaged for three hundred dollars, for to have debts is like having a rope around one's neck. Failure of harvest, sickness in the family, loss of horses or 9cattle are all sufficient to put the property in the hands of the sheriff, for there are still scoundrels who know how to make the position of unfortunates untenable by raising the interest to twenty five dollars per one hundred dollars and by other diabolical means. On the other hand, the farmer who is not harrassed and hampered by debt can make a good living, can look forward to a rich harvest, can improve upon his property, and even lay aside a sum for a rainy day, or for the days when he can work no more.
There is one rule which may be considered a norm for every farmer--poor soil is not ungrateful, but they who occupy it will never grow wealthy; but good, rich soil makes work easy and yields riches in good harvests. Whenever possible a prospective purchaser should select a farm which is correctly proportioned with reference to meadows, woods, and land under cultivation; for one element is as necessary as the other, and if one is entirely lacking, the farm cannot be operated at a profit. An eighty acre farm should contain forty acres of land under cultivation, fifteen acres of meadow, and twenty-five 10acres of wooded pasture. It could be operated without many hands, excepting during harvest time.
If one finds and buys a farm which has no wooded plot, it will be necessary to purchase a grove of two to five acres, in the vicinity, in order to have trees for fuel and lumber, otherwise it will be necessary to continually pay cash for this material, or to make debts; and let everybody beware of either, if he wants to be successful.
A wise buyer will also give much attention to suitable places for erecting a house and other necessary buildings. Dry places on high parts of the farm should be chosen for the house and barns, so that the water can drain off and man and beast are amply protected against dampness. If the drainage is good it is possible to put a good cellar under the buildings, and a dry cellar is of very great value to a farmer.
As a protection against rain and cold it would be advisable to put few 11windows or doors in the north and west walls of buildings, and as many windows as possible in the east and south walls; and if there are woods or hills to the north and west of the buildings to protect them and the inmates against the strong sharp winds that come from the North and the West, so much the better. Wholesome drinking water is, of course, an absolute necessity. It will be an advantage to build the barns on a basement, since the cattle will be warmer, and, as a result, the cows will give more milk; and all the animals will require less food. We do not mean, however, that they should not leave the barn, for they need fresh air and exercise just as well as human beings.
However, let no one go into debt! If there is not sufficient money at hand to acquire a farm which has buildings with basements, or to erect such structures on new land, the farmer should either wait until he can pay cash, or erect one building and wait until he has the means to erect another. In forested areas blockhouses are preferable to boarded structures, though not as suitable; however, if there is a lumber mill near by so that freight 12charges may be eliminated, or if the farmer may obtain the necessary logs from his woodland, he may use boards in constructing his buildings, since they are just as good as logs and are more economical.
Good fences, too, are necessary, as are also enclosures for animals. As to a choice between rails and boards for fencing purposes, all depends upon the amount of lumber which can be taken from the farm, the proximity of the cord wood market, and the price of the cord wood. If the market is not more than ten miles away and the farmer can get from eighteen to twenty shillings per cord for cord wood, and fence boards cost no more than ten dollars, it would be profitable to sell the cord wood and use the proceeds to buy boards.
Immigrants who were farmers by occupation in Germany ought not spend much time choosing a calling in America, but should immediately acquaint themselves with local farming conditions and purchase a farm when they have the necessary money.13
The price of land depends upon the market value of products; according to the present land value a bushel of wheat should not cost less than seventy-five cents, corn not less than twenty cents, oats not less than twenty-five cents, pork not less than four and one-half cents, and beef not less than four cents.
During the first two years a new settler will have but few products, and little of them to take to market; but he will have to go to market to buy seed and food; hence, if he has the means to buy a partly improved farm, he should not fail to do so, for he will be able to progress much more rapidly.
I have described precautionary measures in detail because I am convinced that many of the newcomers do not apply such measures, and do not ask for advice until it is too late.
F. Schlund, Agent.
I J, I L, II D 3, II D 7, II D 8, II D 10, III B 2, III G
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