THE KOSSUTH COLONY AND JACOB D. MOSKOWITZ AN EXPERIMENT IN THE SETTLEMENT OF HUNGARIAN IMMIGRANTS IN DAYTON, OHIO By Stanley R. Cichanowicz University of Dayton December 3, 1963 History 401 Acknowledgments: The author wishes to acknowledge all those persons who were either directly or indirectly involved in the development of this paper. Special thanks go to Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely and also to Mr. & Mrs. Steve Erli, persons who always seemed to have the right answers at the right times. Also, special thanks go to Elizabeth Faries, Librarian of the Dayton Room of the Montgomery County Library. In the last decade of the nineteenth century and in the first twenty years of this century, the city of Dayton experienced a great influx of European immigrants into its population. At the time, little or nothing was written of these people. It is only known that Dayton, with its expanding factories, enticed many Poles, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Germans and Irishmen to come and settle within its boundaries. This paper is a study of only one segment of this immigration movement into Dayton. It is a study of one man’s dream to establish a miniature model city in which his fellow Hungarian immigrants could retain the traditions of their homeland, while at the same time live in an atmosphere where they could enjoy the security of a steady job and be free from those who would take advantage of their ignorance and unfamiliarity with the country to which they now pledged allegiance. The man with the dream was Jacob D. Moskowitz; the miniature city which he founded was the Kossuth Colony, the construction of which was begun in 1905, with the first Hungarians moving into the Colony in 1906.
CHAPTER I HOW THE KOSSUTH COLONY CAME TO BE The Man with the Dream By Jacob D. Moskowitz
Jacob D. Moskowitz was born in the small town of Popin, Hungary, on March 12, 1867.Nothing is known of his life as a boy, except that at the age of seventeen he emigrated to the United States, arriving in this country on July 1, 1884. Prior to coming to Dayton, Jacob Moskowitz travelled quite extensively throughout the eastern region of the United States. At first he settled in Maine, then he moved on to Pennsylvania, and then, he settled in Ohio. It was in 1891 when Jacob met and married the woman who was to be his wife, Sally Baer. The wedding took place in Deshler, Ohio. It is not known exactly what Mr. Moskowitz did during the next seven years of his life, but it is known that sometime during that period he moved from Deshler to Toledo, Ohio. For in 1898, Jacob Moskowitz answered an advertisement inserted into a Toledo newspaper by the Malleable Iron Works of Dayton, Ohio, an advertisement which noted that a position was open for a man who had a command of several languages, the position being that of a foreign-labor contractor. Mr. Moskowitz more than met the requirements of the Malleable Iron Works; for while in Europe, he had acquired a speaking and writing ability of seven different Central-European languages. And of course by this time, he could speak and write English almost like a native son. So in 1898, Jacob Moskowitz, having applied for the job and been accepted, packed his belongings and moved to Dayton with his family. The Need for Foreign-Labor Contractors. The use of foreign-labor contractors by various industries was not something new at the turn of the century. For it is commonly known that such agents were used to provide Irish and Chinese laborers for the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad after the Civil War. But it is not exactly known when labor contractors were first used by Dayton’s industries. The reason why the Malleable Iron Works desired to hire a foreign-labor contractor was to bring into the Dayton area a large contingent of foreign labor. For at the turn of the century, Dayton’s economy was booming and the production demands of the factories exceeded the city’s ability to provide the necessary labor forces. Although no labor statistics are available on Dayton at the time, national statistics reveal that the unemployment rate remained around an average figure of 0.8 per cent during the period of 1895 to 1910. Because of the large amount of heavy industries in the city, it can be fairly well assumed that the unemployment figure in Dayton was equal to the national average, if not below it. Thus, to correct this labor shortage, it was necessary for companies such as the Malleable Iron Works to draw upon the huge reservoir of foreign labor being created by the heavy emigration of Europeans to the United States. For from the years 1891 to 1920, some four million immigrants came from Austria-Hungary alone. As a foreign-labor contractor, Jacob Moskowitz soon proved to be more than man enough for the job. Over a period of just a few years, he brought over seven hundred Hungarian workers into the city, all of them settling in the west side of Dayton, close to the Malleable Iron Works. He obtained most of the laborers from factories in the eastern and central states, bringing in skilled mechanics as well as unskilled workers. Homes were built for the people and Mr. Moskowitz himself financed the construction of a clubhouse, meatshop and general store, all of which he owned and operated until approximately 1902. The settlement soon became know as the West Side Colony. Mr. Moskowitz’s activities in the West Side Colony gained for him a reputation throughout the city. He was soon recognized as the leader of the Hungarian settlement and he gained much respect for his endeavors to look after the social as well as the physical welfare of his fellow countrymen. The Dayton Daily News had this to say about him: Mr. Moskowitz has done more than merely look after the physical wants of his countrymen. He has helped them to organize societies, churches and beneficial societies…Mr. Moskowitz is a self-made man, and his exertions to perfect himself have not made him irritable and superior, but, on the contrary, have converted him into a man who is agreeable, entertaining, and possessed of shrewd business sense. Then, after he got his Dayton settlement into good shape, Jacob Moskowitz moved on to Berwick, Pennsylvania, this taking place around 1901. There he organized a colony for the American Car and Foundry Company. It was a colony larger that the West Side Colony, consisting of some twelve hundred persons, all living in an atmosphere similar to that of the Dayton settlement. Within a period of just a few years, Jacob Moskowitz had secured a reputation throughout the country as a leader of his people in this country and an organizer of two large and successful labor colonies. At this point, it seemed only natural that he be the man chosen to organize yet another labor colony. A colony which was to be located in Dayton and which was to provide laborers for one of the largest industries in Dayton – The Barney and Smith Car Works.
CHAPTER II THE BARNEY AND SMITH CAR WORKS In 1905, the Barney and Smith Car Works was one of the oldest and most established factories in the City of Dayton, the factory having been established in 1849. It was one of the most important manufacturers of railroad cars in the country. It was known the world over for its passenger cars, the insides of which were ornately decorated with expensive wood panelings. And although passenger and freight cars were the staples of the Car Works, it had manufactured many sleeping cars even before Pullman himself had started to manufacture them. The main part of the plant was located on Keowee Street and extended east to Findley Street, covering an area of some fifty-eight acres. Eight miles of railroad tracks wound throughout the grounds and in 1907, approximately seven thousand cars of inbound freight were received, thus illustrating the complexity and extent of the plant’s operations. In 1904, a major policy change was made by the officials of the Barney and Smith Car Works. It was decided that emphasize would be switched from the production of wooden cars to the production of cars made of steel. So in 1905, a plant was erected for constructing all kinds of steel cars, passenger and freight. But the job requirements of that type of production demanded that a large group of unskilled laborers be made available. It was apparent that Dayton, already experiencing a shortage of unskilled labor at the time, would not be capable of supplying the necessary workers. So in 1905, Jacob Moskowitz was hired by the Car Works as a labor contracting agent. Mr. Moskowitz quickly devised a plan whereby a large number of Hungarian immigrants not only would be brought into Dayton, but would be settled in such a way so that the Car Works would be guaranteed a stable pool of laborers. The name of the settlement would be, “The Kossuth Colony.”
CHAPTER III THE KOSSUTH COLONY The Establishment of the Kossuth Colony On August 5, 1905, the Dayton Realty Company was formed by Jacob Moskowitz for the purpose of establishing the Kossuth Colony. He himself provided the capital for the formation of the company. It being necessary that the Colony be located close to the Car Works, fourteen acres of ground were selected on Leo Street in North Dayton. After the site was chosen, work began almost immediately, so that by the summer of 1906, a small miniature city had suddenly appeared just north of the Dayton City Limits. It extended east to west from Troy Street to Baltimore Avenue, and south to north from Leo Street for the length of two city squares. The land was laid out in streets the same as an ordinary town or village, two streets a square long running each way. Some forty houses were built, each at a cost of approximately $800. Each house was a double, each side consisting of five rooms. All the homes were constructed and painted alike. Each house was separated by a fence and each dwelling had a coal shed located in the rear. A hole was cut in the fence and a water hydrant was centered in the hole, the hydrant provided water for both families. The streets were unpaved and there were no sidewalks; and of course, “outside plumbing” was the rule for the day. Other than the houses, the only other building inside the Colony was a large two-story structure which was located at the Colony’s entrance. Built at a cost of $35,000, the building served as the social and economic center of the Colony. It occupied a whole city block and situated within it were various kinds of stores and offices. Because of its uniqueness, a separate section will be devoted to the description of this building. The Clubhouse The building itself was known as “The Clubhouse.” As was mentioned the preceeding paragraph, within this building were located stores and offices of all sorts There was a model clothing and dry goods store from were clothing and general household items could be bought. There was a grocery which was possible larger than any found in the city of Dayton. It was equipped with the most modern conveniences and was kept immaculate in appearance by the owner. The hard wooden floors were kept well oiled, the counters were tiled and such a unique innovation as electric fans was present to keep the customers cool during the hot summer months. Also located in the building were the business offices of Mr. Moskowitz. At the entrance of the offices were two windows through which checks were cashed, business transactions were carried on through which grievances could be presented to the proprietor of the Colony. Within his offices, Jacob Moskowitz ran a bank where deposits could be made, the money being transferred once a week to a Dayton bank for safe-keeping. Also located in the network of his offices was a post-office, where out-going mail was received and from where incoming-mail was distributed. A bell would be rung at seven o’clock in the evening and the people would come and receive their mail. A ticket office was also part of the complex operations of Mr. Moskowitz. Colonists, if they had relatives in Europe who desired to come to the U.S., could purchase steamship tickets from the office and then mail them back overseas. The tickets were good on the Cunard Steamship Lines. Another unique feature of the building was a huge cooling system which furnished cold air for the meat counters and for the beer vaults. This was an ultramodern innovation for the time; for in most all other Dayton stores and taverns, perishable goods were still being cooled by direct contact with ice. But in the Colony, the meats and beer were cooled by cold air which was piped into the counters on the first floor from the cooling system located in the basement. On the west side of the building was located the most interesting feature of all, a huge beerhall which featured a bar seventy feet long with ten foot elbows at each end. The bar was one of the largest in Ohio. The beerhall itself could accommodate as many as five hundred persons at one time, with two hundred persons capable of standing around the bar. At the bar, a dozen kegs of beer could be tapped at once, this being quite unique, for the largest saloon in Dayton could only tap four kegs simultaneously. Situated throughout the rest of the hall were tables and chairs, where the patrons could sit and enjoy their favorite beverage. Also in the hall were numerous pool tables along with blackboards on the walls upon which the players kept the scores of the games. A bowling alley was a feature which was added onto the Clubhouse a few years after the Colony was originally built, the exact date not being known. The Fence. The most striking aspect of Jacob Moskowitz’s miniature city was a twelve foot high wooden fence which completely surrounded the Colony. The only entrance to the Colony was located at what is now Notredame Avenue and Leo Street. At the entrance was situated a Watchman’s Shack and also a large sign, on which was written in English: “NOTICE: Public Welcome To Visit This Colony At All Times.” Because of the fence, the Colony soon was referred to by outsiders as “The Stockade.” Filling the Colony. When the Colony opened in 1906, Jacob Moskowitz had no trouble in filling it. By advertising in Hungarian newspapers throughout the East Coast, and, by employing labor promoters in cities with large Hungarian settlements, he was able to nearly fill the Colony by the end of the first year. Workers, when contacted, were told of the good living conditions in the Colony and were also told of the good working conditions at the Car Works, one condition being that of a six day working week. Many of the Hungarian laborers came to Dayton by rail, with their tickets being paid for by Mr. Moskowitz; while others, having been told of the Colony by friends, came to Dayton on their own.. The Rules of the Colony. Certain rules were established by Mr. Moskowitz which all the inhabitants of the Colony were expected to follow. The first rule was that all the workers in the Colony had to be employed at the Barney and Smith Car Works. No one could work in any other factory and live inside the Colony. This rule was established to assure that the Car Works had its stable supply of labor, this being the very purpose for which the Colony was founded. If a person was fired from the Car Works, he was automatically evicted from the Colony. The second rule was that the inhabitants were required to make all their purchases, with the exception of furniture and other miscellaneous items from the store which Mr. Moskowitz operated inside the Colony. Anyone caught buying goods outside the Colony without the authorization of Mr. Markowitz was automatically evicted. Also, anyone evicted from the Colony automatically lost his job at the Car Works. The last rule of the Colony was that the inhabitants were required to use brass script money, issued by Mr. Moskowitz, as the medium of exchange inside the Colony. Each payday, the workers would exchange a certain portion of their pay into brass script, which was then used for making purchases inside the Colony.
CHAPTER IV LIFE INSIDE THE COLONY The Boarders
When the Hungarians arrived in Dayton in the summer of 1906, most of them had nothing more than a single trunk containing all their life possessions. They came to Dayton on a promise, a promise made to them by a total stranger, that they would find in the Kossuth Colony a life a little better than the one they had had from where they had come. And, the Hungarians did find life a little better in the Colony, although it was not the proverbial city with its streets of gold; for life was hard in the Colony. Almost without exception, each house accommodated from five to ten boarders. The charge for room and board was $8.00 to $10.00 a month, with the board being due the first of each month. This entitled the boarder to lodging, food and to have his clothes washed and ironed. Needless to say, such a houseful of people kept the landlady busy. Much of her time was spent in caring for the rooms and in doing the wash. Using just a scrubboard, the landlady washed all the clothes by hand. Also, the hard wooden floors had to be scrubbed once a week and the rooms of the boarders constantly had to be kept clean. The meals had to be ready on time and it was up to the landlady to see to it that each boarder received his due portion of meat and vegetables at each meal. To assure this fact, the meat was sliced in one-half pound portions when it was purchased at the store. Thus, every man received an equal share. If the women had any time left during the day, they could be found gossiping across the backyard fence, a custom which seems to be international in practice. Or, if it were winter, the women would go over in groups to the nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Tracks, pails in hand, to gather loose coal which had fallen from the passing coal cars; for coal was an expensive commodity in those days. At the Car Works, the men put in a full days work. They left for work at around six or six-fifteen in the morning. They did not ride a streetcar, but in groups, they walked the short mile from the Colony to the Car Works. It was indeed a strange sight to see this small army of men trudging down Troy Street in the morning and again in the afternoon. One individual, who operated a clothing store in North Dayton, stated that “the men looked like a flock of geese trailing by my store in the evening.” As laborers at the Car Works, the men were paid approximately $1.50 per day and worked around fifty-five house a week. Their weekly wage was a little under the national average wage for lower-skilled factory help, which was $10.65 per week. After work, the men would generally congregate in the Clubhouse for a glass of beer. A peculiar thing connected with the men’s drinking was the fact that there was no treating. Each man purchased what he wanted and then carried his drink to a table in the room. There he would sip his drink and enjoy his pipe. Then, as they arrived home, the men cleaned up and usually put on a highly colored undershirt. The heavy shoes were discarded for slippers and then supper was eaten. Hungarian papers were read aloud after the meal, and the men would then spend a peaceful evening among themselves Little Hungary
Often times, the Colony was referred to by outsiders as “Little Hungary.” Indeed, this was an appropriate title for the Colony, for the language of the Colony was Hungarian. And also, Hungarian traditions and customs were adhered to just as strongly as they had been in the “Old Country.” On Christmas Eve, a group of men would come over from the West Side Colony. Dressed as shepherds and magi, the men would carry on their shoulders a small Nativity Scene. Inside the Kossuth Colony, they would go from house to house, singing Hungarian Christmas Carols and receiving donations which would then be turned over to the Church. Afterwards, the families would settle down for the Christmas Eve meal, which consisted of sih, sauerkraut, soup, noodles and a wide assortment of nuts and fruits. During the meal, a blessed wafer was passed around the table, with each person breaking off a small portion and then passing it on, this “sharing of bread’ being a sign of brotherhood and love among all men during the Christmas Season. On Easter Sunday, the families would attend the early Sunrise Mass. Before the Mass began, each family would have its own basket of food blessed; afterwards, the food would comprise the Easter Breakfast. The Monday following Easter was just as much a part of the Easter celebration as was Easter Sunday itself. In fact, the day was held in such esteem that the Car Works did not require the Hungarians to report to work. One inhabitant stated that in the 1920’s, after Barney and Smith was out of business and a large number of the men of the Colony were employed at the Duriron Corporation, the Duriron Company had to close its plant on Easter Monday because none of the Colonists reported to work, despite the refusal by the Company to excuse the men from work that day. Weddings especially illustrated the rich traditions which were adhered to in the Colony. On the Sunday prior to the wedding, the bride-to-be would give each of her bridesmaid a long white ribbon. The bridesmaid would then take the ribbon and pin it on the man she wanted to accompany her to the wedding. Also, during the week before the wedding, the appointed ushers went to the homes of the persons who were to be invited to the reception and recited a formal invitation. On the Saturday of the wedding, before going to the ceremony, the wedding party congregated in the home of the bride. There, the best man recited a farewell speech to the family of the bride, in which he thanked the parents and brothers and sisters of the bride for having raised such a fine woman. By the end of the speech, the bride was sobbing in happy grief and the wedding party was ready to start. Accompanied by a band, the wedding party walked down the streets of the Colony to the Church, where the ceremony took place. After the Mass, the party then returned for breakfast, then had their pictures taken, and then, the wedding party went to the Clubhouse where a reception was held. No gifts were given to the bride and groom, only money. The newly married couple also received money by means of the “bridal dance,” a custom whereby the men at the reception gladly paid for the privilege of dancing with the bride. Education. When the Colony was originally started, roughly only twenty percent of the inhabitants could speak English. Some tried to learn the language on their own, while others attended classes in English, which were sponsored by the Dayton YMCA at Webster School. But, the vast majority of the inhabitants did not acquire a working knowledge of the language for many years. Actually, there was little need for them to learn English, for Hungarian was the language of the Colony and the people spent most of their time inside the compound. Consequently, most of the children could not speak English when they started into grade school. This posed some difficulty, for no special Hungarian teachers were hired to teach the children. The students who could understand English helped the other students along until they acquired a working knowledge of the language. The schools that the children attended were Allen-Sub School, located at Troy and Leo Streets, and then later on, some went to Our Lady of the Rosary School. The Spiritual Needs of the Colonists. The vast majority of the Colony’s inhabitants were members of the Roman Catholic Faith. When the colony was first established, the spiritual needs of the people were taken care of by Father Frohmiller of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, which was located nearby. Father Frohmiller could speak broken Hungarian as well as several other languages. After 1909, the people were cared for by the pastor of Holy Name Parish, a church founded specifically to care for the large number of Hungarian Catholics who still resided in the West Side Colony. The priest came to the Colony for weddings and funerals; and of course, he came every Sunday to hear Confessions and to say Mass. The religious services were held in a church which Mr. Moskowitz had donated to the Colony. Actually, the building was just a house with the center partition taken out; but, it served the purpose. Medical Needs. If any of the Colony’s inhabitants needed medical attention, Mr. Moskowitz would contact a doctor to come to the Colony. Of course, as was the practice at the time, birth was by midwife. Entertainment. For entertainment, the inhabitants were satisfied with the simpler things of life. Most of their free time was spend with their children, with picnics sometimes being held on Sundays. Lecturers were brought into the Colony along with plays presented in the Hungarian language. Also, on some weekends, dances were held in the clubhouse. Police and Fire Protection. When initially constructed in 1906, the Colony was outside the city limits. Consequently, the Colony was policed by Mr. Moskowitz’s own guards. But despite the fact that the Colony was not annexed to the City of Dayton until September 13, 1909, the Colony did enjoy fire protection provided by the Dayton Fire Department, the city being paid so much for installing fire hydrants and piping city water inside the Colony.
CHAPTER V THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE KOSSUTH COLONISTS AND The relationship that existed between Mr. Markowitz and the inhabitants of the Colony is hard to describe. At best, it could be called paternal. It is a type of relationship that is difficult to transcribe from feeling to mind to pen to paper. Every time this author interview a one-time inhabitant of the Colony and discussed Jacob Moskowitz, he could denote a sort of special reverence and respect which each person had set aside for the manager of the Kossuth Colony. Jacob Moskowitz was literally like a father to the Colonists, caring for them, advising them but quick to punish them if any of his rules were broken. It is a fact that persons were evicted from the Colony for making unauthorized purchases from stores outside the Colony. Guards often searched boys who were suspected of bringing unauthorized purchases into the Colony. One inhabitant related her own personal experience to the author: It was in 1910. I was outside the Colony for some reason and I decided to buy some cabbage. I bought it and was coming back into the Colony when I noticed that Mr. Moskowitz was looking at me. He followed me home and when I got there he asked me what I had in the bag. When I didn’t answer, he opened the bag and put the cabbage on the table. He didn’t say anything but just walked away. Then, my husband came home from work that night and told me that he lost his job at the Car Works and that we had to leave the colony. The next day we left the Colony. But then, on the other hand, Jacob Moskowitz was a man whom the people trusted. He was the adviser to and the spokesman for the Colonists. If any person would be arrested by the Dayton Police, Mr. Moskowitz would act as the defendant’s lawyer and would put up any necessary bond, the money then being repayed to him by the offender at a later date, interest free. That Jacob Moskowitz was not just a greedy businessman is illustrated by the fact that no person was ever evicted from the Colony when he was laid off from work and thus was unable to make the rental payments on his home. The person had only to present a note from the factory, stating that he was laid off, and then the person could receive his rent and food on credit until such time when he was capable of paying for it. Enough respect was held by the people for Mr. Moskowitz that he was always invited to the weddings and celebrations that took place inside the Colony. And then, even long after the fence had come down and Mr. Moskowitz had sold all his holdings in the Colony, his old friends would come out to see him and they would discuss old times. But Why the Fence? The first impression would lead one to believe that the fence was built to keep the inhabitants of the Colony inside and to force them to buy from the stores of Jacob Moskowitz. But, it is this author’s contention that the fence was intended not so much to keep the Colonists in, but to keep other certain parties out. Mr. Moskowitz, later in 1938, gave his reasons for building the Colony and for fencing it in: The Colony was established to meet a strange labor condition of the day. There was a extreme scarcity of labor and the Barney and Smith Car Shop had received orders for the then new steel cars, totalling many millions of dollars. Laborers and artisans necessary to fashion these cars were brought here but hired away by some competing concern, or some other industry. In order to break up this practice, everything the men and their families required was put within the enclosure, then known as the Stockade. Guards maintained by the Colony were at the gates and no one could enter the Colony except the residents, this being done to keep out labor racketeers of the day, who would entice workers away. Research done by this author seems to uphold Mr. Moskowitz’s claim. There was a shortage of labor at the time (as was noted in Chapter I), and it only seems natural that other companies would attempt to entice workers away from the Colony if given the opportunity, using the same tactics that Mr. Moskowitz himself had used to bring the original inhabitants to the Colony. Adding to the weight of the above argument is the testimony given by a man who was not in Dayton at the time the Colony was established, but who was employed as a labor agent for the Pocahontas Coal Company during that era. When this author posed the question of why did he think the Colony was fenced in, he answered, without knowledge of Mr. Moskowitz’s 1938 statement that most probably it was done to contain the common practice of raiding done by one company upon another, a practice whereby workers were baited to leave one company in preference to another. He stated that he himself was constanly confronted with this problem while employed for Pochahontas Coal. The fact that Mr. Moskowitz used the fence to help enforce his “buying regulations’ cannot be denied. The fence, with its guards, made it easy to check up on the Colonists as they entered the Colony. But, it must be remembered that the Colony represented an investment of nearly $100,000; and, Jacob, Moskowitz was out to protect that investment. It could not be determined just axactly why brass script money was used as the medium of exchange in the Colony; but more than likely, it also represented an attempt to restrict the purchasing activities of the Colonists, for the money had no monetary value at all outside the Colony.
CHAPTER VI PUBLIC REACTION TO THE COLONY New Newspapers When the Kossuth Colony suddenly appeared in 1906, public reaction was mixed. The Dayton Daily News immediately assumed the role of the “campaigning newspaper’ and launched a vigorous denunciation of the Colony and of Jacob D. Moskowitz.. The story of the Colony remained front-page news for nearly two weeks, with photographs of the Colony and interviews with its inhabitants featured daily.The chief accusation hurled by the News was that the Colony, with its fence, was contrary to the ideals of America. In that accusation, the News was correct; but, the paper also inferred, in its one-sided interviews and play upon sensationalism, that Mr. Moskowitz exploited the Colonists and placed them in a compound where living conditions were substandard to those enjoyed by other American workers. The last two accusations, the News was never able to prove. In a letter written to the Editor, Mr. Moskowitz challenged the News to prove its accusations. Dear Sir: You have had in the past few days a great deal in your columns in reference to the Hungarians here in North Dayton.Your paper has this day requested me to make a statement in regard to the management of them. I very much prefer that this statement be made by other gentlemen totally disinterested. I therefore suggest to you that you select three who shall do an investigation of the methods employed in the Colony and report to the public through the columns of all the Dayton Newspapers. If this plan is compatible to you, I will ask Mr. Adam Schantz, Mr. Wm. W. Hanley and Mr. Joseph H. Crane to act on this committee. J.D.M. The News never did comply with the suggestion, nor in that matter, did it even recognize the receipt of the letter in any of its editorials. In fact, when the letter did appear in the News, it was not placed on the front page where it justifiably belonged, for Mr. Moskowitz was directly offering a suggestion on how to arrive at the truth of the Colony, but it was buried on the bottom of page two. The furor created by the News was so great that a Labor Investigator was send down from Columbus to investigate the Colony. Probably to the dismay of the News, the investigator cleared Mr. Moskowitz of the charges and he found no infraction of labor laws. Although the News stated that its campaign was directed at Mr. Moskowitz and not at the Hungarians themselves, the tone of some articles makes this author question that assertion. Articles with such titles as, “Father Frohmiller Must Christianize The Scum of Europe,” and, “Hungarians Are Dangerous,” appeared in many editions of the paper. One such article goes on to say: …The Hungarian seldom goes unarmed. He doesn’t cart around a fine revolver and seldom is caught with a handsome pearl-handled stiletto like his Italian friend. He resorts to cheaper agencies of death, dangerous pocket arms which he usually manufacturers himself. The Dayton Journal, on the other hand, upheld the Colony and Jacob D. Moskowitz. Why it did so is not exactly known. It could have simply believed in this manner of settling immigrant labor. Another reason could have been that the Journal upheld the Colony simply because the News opposed it; for there was no love lost between the two competing newspapers. The Dayton Daily News offered its views on why the Journal upheld the Colony. It suspected that Jacob Moskowitz might have gained a controlling interest in the paper.. Although no list of stockholders of the Journal could be located for that era, it is interesting to note that the stock of the Journal was open for sale to the public between the years 1904-1907. So, the possibility does exist that the assertion of the News could have been correct. Reactions of the Citizens Like the newspapers, reactions by the citizen of Dayton were mixed. The letters in the “Letters to the Editor Column” of the Journal praised the Colony, while the letters in the News denounced it. Most people regarded the Colony more as a novelty that a point of issue. On Sundays, whole families would come to the Colony, picnic-baskets in hand, to see for themselves the strange fenced-in settlement of North Dayton. Despite the denunciations of the News, the Colony remained unchanged. For seven years, the fence stood, the workers trudged down Troy Street and the inhabitants were required to buy from the stores of Jacob Moskowitz. It was not until the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, that the first changes took place inside the Colony.
CHAPTER VII THE END OF THE COLONY
To give an exact date for the death of the Colony is an impossibility. For to this day, many of the double houses still are lined up in their original positions. It can only be stated that the decline of the Colony began in 1913, with the coming of the Dayton Flood. Although the Colony was relative untouched, for the homes were built on ground higher than the surrounding neighborhood of North Dayton, economically speaking, the flooding waters could not have done more damage even if the colony would have been flooded itself. For to the south of the Kossuth Colony, the Barney and Smith Car Works, the economic foundation of the Colony, was inundated with fourteen feet of water. The flood exceeded all previous ones and caused over a million dollars worth of damage to the Company. Not only was the new steel plant ruined, but the raging waters swept away millions of dollars worth of equipment. While back in the Colony, almost with a touch of romanticism, boards were ripped from the fence for the first time, this being done to construct badly needed rafts which were to be used in rescue work. Barney and Smith Car Works never did recover from the flood. When it emerged from the receivership which had been instituted after the flood, car production had declined to a new low level which persisted throughout the period of government operation of the railroads during World War I. By 1916, it was experiencing a labor turnover of one thousand men a month, thus illustrating the instability of the Car Works. By 1918, the plant was operating only at 50 per cent capacity, thus forcing many of the Colonist to seek employment elsewhere. Many of the Colonists moved to Columbus, Ohio, where was located another Car Works. Many others remained in the Colony, obtaining jobs in various factories throughout the city. The boards that had come down from the fence during the flood were never replaced, and by 1915, the fence was almost completely torn down. From this time on, the inhabitants were allowed to go and come as they pleased. They were no longer required to buy from the Colony’s stores and the issuance of script money was discontinued. In 1921, the same year in which the Barney and Smith Car works was put for public auction, Jacob D. Moskowitz began selling his properties within the colony. Homes were offered to the remaining inhabitants, and on February 25, 1921, Jacob D. Moskowitz sold his store and bar, and left the Colony.
CONCLUSION Often times, History is a cruel critic. It tends to pluck a separate event out of the past, expose it out of context and then force it to run through a gauntlet of contemporary values and mores. Often times this author, during the course of his research, heard it said that, “If those Hungarians knew then what they know now, they wouldn’t have lived in the Colony.” That statement might be true, but the point is, you can not judge the actions of the Hungarians, nor the policies of Jacob Moskowitz, with “what is known now.” Mr. Moskowitz was not only a businessman, he was also a Hungarian. His keen sense of business directed him into business endeavors which were created out of the labor situation of the day; his understanding of the wants and needs of his fellow countrymen caused him to become the leader of the Dayton Hungarian Settlement.The Kossuth Colony and Mrs. Moskowitz both now belong to History. Whatever its judgment may be, one fact will always remain – it was indeed a unique chapter in the story of Dayton. BIBLIOGRAPHY Interviews Personal interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, 1617 Mack Avenue, Dayton, Ohio. September 23, 1963. November 12, 1963. Mrs. Dely first moved into the Colony in 1909 at the age of eight. She has lived in the Colony since that time, with the exception of two years, 1911-1913. Mr. Dely moved into Dayton in 1912. From 1912 to 1915, he lived in the West Side Colony. Upon marrying Mrs. Dely in 1915, he moved into the Colony, where he has resided ever since. Personal interview with MR. & MRS. STEVE ERLI, 1624 Mack Avenue, Dayton, Ohio. September 28, 1963. Mrs. Erli came to the Colony in 1913. They provided the author with a vivid description of life in the Colony. Personal interview with MR. LOUIS KLEIN, 246 Niagara Avenue, Dayton, Ohio. November 8, 1963. He ran a Department Store at the corner of Troy and Leonards Streets from 1910 to 1963. A long time inhabitant of North Dayton, he was very helpful in providing background material on the atmosphere of the time. Personal interview with MRS. ROSE MELESKI, 305 Grove Avenue, Dayton, Ohio. November 9, 1963 She was employed as the business secretary of Jacob Moskowitz from 1912 to 1915. She provided inside information on the business activities of Mr. Moskowitz. Personal interview with MR. I.M. MARKS, 1801 Tennyson Avenue, Dayton, Ohio. November 3, 1963. Although Mr. Marks did not meet Mr. Moskowitz until the time of the flood in 1913, he was extremely helpful in providing information on the business personality of Jacob Moskowitz. Personal interview with MRS. EUGENE MOOR, 2122 Bushwick Drive, Dayton, Ohio. November 5, 1963. She is a granddaughter of the late Mr. Moskowitz. He had lived with her and her mother the last years of his life. She was able to provide information on the personality of Mr. Moskowitz. Personal interview with MRS. JOSEPH NAGY, 619 Willow Street, Dayton, Ohio. November 13, 1963. Mrs. Nagy was one of the first original immigrants to move into the Colony. She gave this author bountiful information on life in the Colony. Personal interview with the secretary of MR. GLEN THOMPSON, Editor of the Dayton Journal-Herald, November 1, 1963. Personal interview with a clerk at THE DIVISION OF VITAL STATISTICS, City of Dayton Municipal Building, Dayton, Ohio October 28, 1963. Telephone interview with a clerk at THE COUNTY RECORDERS OFFICE, Montgomery County Court House, Dayton, Ohio. October 20, 1963. Correspondence Letter from Mrs. Jeanette M. Kern, 1 University Place, New York, New York. November 19, 1963. Mrs. Kern is a daughter of Mr. Moskowitz. She provided information on the person life of her father. Books Drury, A. W. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County. 2 vols. Dayton: S.J. Clarke publishing Co., 1909. The City of Dayton and Vicinity and Their Resources. Dayton: Dayton Daily News, 1904. Reports Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Industrial Survey of Dayton and Montgomery County. A Report Prepared by the Traffic Department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Baltimore: Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 1918. Unpublished Material Deem, Warren H. “The Barney and Smith Company: A Study of Business Growth and Decline.” A Paper Prepared for a Class in American Economic History at Harvard University, 1953. Public Documents Historical Statistics of the U.S., Colonial Times-1957. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960. U.S. Department of Justice. Our Immigration; A Brief Account of Immigration to the United States. M-85. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962. Newspapers Dayton Daily News. July 21, 1906. July 22, 1906. July 23, 1906. July 25, 1906. July 31, 1906. August 2, 1906. August 7, 1906. November 1, 1909. March 20, 1939. Dayton Journal. July 28, 1906.
Interview with Mrs. Eugene Moore, November 5, 1963. Dayton Daily News, March 20, 1938, p. 7 Interview with a clerk at the Division of Vital Statistics, City of Dayton Municipal Building, October 28, 1963. A. W. Drury, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County (S.J. Clarke Publ., 1909), II, p. 272. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Letter from Jeanette M. Kern, New York, N.Y., November 19, 1963. Interview with Mrs. Eugene Moore, November 5, 1963. Historical Statistics of the U.S., Colonial Times-1957 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960), p. 91. U.S., Department of Justice, Our Immigration; A Brief Account of Immigration to the United States, M-85, 1962, p. 9. The City of Dayton and Vicinity and Their Resources (Dayton: Dayton Daily News, 1904), p. 101. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Drury, op. cit., I, pl 615. Drury, op. cit., I, p. 616. Warren H. Deem, “The Barney and Smith Company: A Study of Business Growth and Decline” A Paper Prepared for a Class in American Economic History at Harvard University, April 30, 1953, p. 43. Ibid. Drury. Op. cit., p. 616. Ibid. Letter from Jeannette M. Kerns, New York, N.Y., November 19, 1963. Dayton Daily News, March 20, 1938, p. 7. Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1906, p. 1. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1906, p. 2. Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1906, p. 2. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Steve Erli, September 28, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1906, p. 1. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Interview with Rose Meleski, November 9, 1963. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Interview with Rose Meleski, November 9, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1963, p. 2. Dayton Daily News, March 20, 1938, p. 7. Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1906, p. 2. Ibid. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 22, 1906, p. 1. Dayton Daily News, March 20, 1938, p. 7. Interview with Mrs. Joseph Nagy, November 14, 1963. Ibid. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Interview with Mrs. Joseph Nagy, November 14, 1963. Ibid. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Steve Erli, September 28, 1963. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 23, 1906, p. 7. Interview with Mrs. Joseph Nagy, November 14, 1963. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Ibid. Ibid. Interview with Mr. Louis Klein, November 8, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 23, 1906, p. 7. Historical Statistics of the U.S., Colonial Thimes-1957 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960), p. 91. Dayton Journal, July 28, 1906. p. 10. Ibid. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, November 12, 1962. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Dayton Journal, July 28, 1906, p. 6. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Steve Erli, September 28, 1963. Ibid. Dayton Daily News, July 23, 1906, p. 7. Drury, op. cit., I, p. 346. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Dayton Daily News, August 2, 1906, p. 4. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Interview with Mrs. Joseph Nagy, November 14, 1963. Dayton Daily News, July 23, 1906, p. 7. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Ibid. Interview with Mrs. Eugene Moore, November 5, 1963. Dayton Daily News, March 20, 1938, p. 7. Interview with Mr. I.M. Marks, November 3, 1963. The editorial policy of the Dayton Daily News towards Mr. Moskowitz in 1906 was completely contrary to the position it took in 1904. In 1906, it referred to him as the “Czar of Little Hungary”; while in 1904, it had nothing but praise for him and his West Side Colony. Dayton Daily News, August 7, 1906, p. 4. See any of the editions of the News, beginning with July 21, 1906. Dayton Daily News, July 25, 1906, p. 2. Ibid. Dayton Daily News, October 4, 1906, p. 12. Dayton Daily News, July 23, 1906, p. 7. See any of the editions of the Journal, beginning with July 22, 1906. Although the following article has no bearing on the Colony, I offer it as an illustration of the animosity which existed between the two newspapers. It appeared in the News on November 1, 1906 and referred to the Dayton Journal. It states, “A year ago that paper distinguished itself by printing on its first page, Bold Black Headlines which not only shocked and incensed the entire community, but caused husbands and fathers to hastily throw the paper out of their homes in order that their wives and daughters might not read the disgraceful lines.” Dayton Daily News, July 31, 1906, p. 2. Interview with the secretary of Glen Thompson, Editor of the Dayton Journal-Herald, November 1, 1963. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Deem, Op. cit., p. 47. Interview with Mrs. A.M.Supowit, November 1, 1963. Deem, op. cit., p. 47. Industrial Survey of Dayton and Montgomery County, A Report Prepared by the Traffic Department of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (Baltimore: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 1918), p. 303. Ibid. Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dely, September 23, 1963. Ibid. Ibid. Telephone interview with a clerk at the County Recorders Office, Montgomery County Court House, October 20, 1963. Ibid.
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