1882, Oct 6American Hebrew & Jewish Messenger p 2This report was published in the American Hebrew & Jewish Messenger on Oct 6, 1882. It does not show us the date it was written. Tuska arrived in Cotopaxi on July 30. We don't know how long he stayed.
The Russian Emigrants.
Mr. Morris Tuska, who was appointed by the Executive Committee to investigate the condition of the Cotopaxi colony, has made the following report:Why was Tuska sent to Cotopaxi? Because Colonists had written to HEAS complaining about the fact that they had no homes, no land, no animals, no farm implements when they arrived. So just imagine for a moment - HEAS had given thousands of dollars to Saltiel to build homes. Yet they get letters stating this had not happened. Wouldn't you send someone to investigate? Of course they are going to be suspicious of Saltiel...and rightfully so! This was less than 3 months after the Colonists arrived.
I left for Cotopaxi on the 26th of July and arrived there on the 30th inst. I immediately called on Mr. Julius Schwarz, the General Manager of the colony, whom I found master of the situation and who willingly gave me all information required as to the doings of E. H. Saltiel in whose care the colony was entrusted.
Earlier writers have stated that Julius Schwarz was not there from the beginning of the Colony (May 1882). This report leads us to believe that he was.
The general condition of the colony is, considering the many difficulties having arisen from the mismanagement of Saltiel and from his omission to furnish the colony with the necessary funds, a favorable one. Owing to the indefatigable perseverance of Mr. Schwarz, who rendered himself worth of the trust put in him the refugees were settled on Government land on 160 acres for each family. The lands are very fertile, full of Phosphate and of almost surprising growing power.Here, Tuska clearly states that the Colony has been mismanaged by E. H. Saltiel. And that he did not furnish them with the necessary funds. I would remind you that Saltiel had not surveyed the land, had not built their homes....he failed on every single aspect of his agreement with HEAS.
The farms situated on the first division of the lands called Oak Grove Creek, are drained by a creek that is always supplied with water and is more than sufficient for irrigating purposes. Here three farms are located.Tuska's visit was in July 1882. There would have been a good water supply coming down Oak Grove Creek with the summer melt-off of snow in the mountains. What Tuska could not have known is that there are many years when this creek dries up completely by August, if not earlier.
A high mountain range separates these farms from the second division of the lands from the so-called Wet Mountain Valley. Here the rest of the farms are located. Mr. Schwartz told me that although no water is extant to irrigate still he is confident that the farmers will in the winter be able to care for the necessary supply of water to be used next summer, by digging a three mile long ditch and filling the same with water which is in abundance in the lake, situated on the mountains that border the farms and separate Fremont County from Custer County.By 1882, all water rights had been allocated. The Colonists would need to purchase water rights in order to fill the ditch they dug. Most likely, Tuska was not informed about the need to purchase water rights. It's a moot point as to where the money would come from to dig a ditch....where would the money come from to buy the water rights to fill it?
The colonists sowed mostly potatoes, about 17,000 pounds altogether.The equivalent of 1,700 ten-pound bags of potatoes. Later writers give us a wide range on this number. This is the earliest report.
Mr. Schwarz assured me that he repeatedly requested Mr. Saltiel to give him the means to sow a larger quantity of potatoes, as they are salable and greatly wanted; but Mr. Saltiel did not give him the funds required.Why didn't Saltiel give him the funds? Did he intentionally want them to fail? If they succeeded, who would work in his mines?
Seventeen thousand pounds will, as Mr. Schwarz says, yields about 140,000 lbs; 40,000 lbs he intends to save for seeding purposes, and 100,000 lbs, he will put on the market.Once again, keep in mind that Tuska was there in July. He did not know about early fall frosts at the altitude of 8000'. Most likely, he did not understand the short growing season.
The general price of potatoes varies from 1 1/2 to 2cts. per pound, thus about $2000 are expected from the potato crop. Cabbage, peas, beans, cucumbers, beets, turnips, etc., have been sowed, but owing to the slowness with which the houses have been built, or better said, owing to them not having been built at all, most of the garden stuff was destroyed by grazing cattle, and what has been spared is just sufficient to cover the household requirements.This is quite an interesting statement. The houses had not been completed at this time. With no fences up, the cattle would consume just about anything edible above the ground. Did Saltiel set them up to fail?
Tuska is from NYC. He has no experience with the arid, dry, mountain climate of Colorado. We cannot expect him to understand summer/fall droughts, flash floods that can wipe out everything in it's path, early freezes, snow in July. Nor could he, in 1882, realize that in the next 134 years, absolutely no one would successfully grow crops on this land.
Had Mr. Saltiel used the money so readily put at his disposal for the purposes of the colony, for buying or hiring teams and ploughs, buying potatoes and other seeds, purchasing agricultural implements, erecting houses and buying wire for fencing, the colony not only would have been made self-supporting, but been able to repay every cent that has been spent for their sake.Once again, Tuska is pointing the finger at Saltiel. And the unanswered questions remain to this day - why didn't Saltiel have their houses built before they arrived? Why hadn't their land been surveyed? We now know he did not even start this process until after they arrived in May.
As matters stand at present, the colonists will be able to pull through; they must, however, be provided with cows and wire fences.Tuska is making an assumption here that they will pull through. But he is not taking into consideration weather.
Mr. Schwarz proposed to purchase twelve cows and wire fence for ten acres on each farm, and assured me that by means of the income of the crop and by means of the cows, that will furnish them the two chief feeding articles, namely, milk and butter, they will make a livelihood and will next year get along splendidly; so much the more as Mr. Schwarz has been offered labor for the refugees during the winter, which will help them towards defraying their expenses for living.Again - had Saltiel set them up to fail? It is obvious the offer of work during the winter is in his mines. He did not provide them with the promised cows, fence, houses, implements. One most certainly needs to question why not? HEAS had given Saltiel the money. What had he done with it? (I believe we will see that in future posts.)
The financial condition of the colony. The facts are that Mr. Saltiel used the money put in his hands for his own purposesSaltiel was in the midst of numerous lawsuits in the summer of 1882.
and left several bills unpaid, which he said were paid to him. He did not built the houses, although having received the money for them, he thereby caused the colony great damage, much annoyance and disgrace.It would be impossible to get around this no matter how you want to look at it. This was July. Saltiel had clearly failed to live up to his end of the agreement.
On account of his actions and fully trusting in the ability, integrity and energy of Mr. Julius Schwarz, I took the charge out Mr. Saltiel’s hands and put it into the hands of Mr. Schwarz, who in my strong belief is the only man that prevented the colony’s final destruction.Tuska has removed Saltiel's authority over the colony. Can we expect retribution? Saltiel is 39 years old. Schwarz is about 20. Pretty sure this is not going to set well with Saltiel. Why didn't HEAS ask for a refund from Saltiel? Did they at some future point?
It is with much satisfaction that I note that the Society possesses a faithful, energetic, honest persevering officer in Mr. Schwarz, who gives his heart, mind and all his time to his duties. Mr. Schwarz is now the only manager of the colony, and is ably assisted by Mr. Leon Tobias, who acts a field overseer.We know that Tobias came with the colony in May. We can assume that Schwarz did as well. We also know that Saltiel has been absent much of the time since the Colonists arrived. This was probably the only logical choice to make.
Permit me now to give you a statistical statement of the families that compose the colony.
The family genealogies that I have assembled over the past several years agree with these counts. I have been unable to locate anything about Abraham Moskovitz (Moshkowitz, Mosko, etc) in Denver. And I have not located Joseph Friedman.
There have been on the 30th of July, fourteen families with 61 souls, 34 males and 27 females. One family consisting of six souls, I sent to Denver on request of the head of the family, Abr. Moskovitz. Another family the Schochet Joseph Friedman, who was sent on recommendation of Mr. Saltiel who promised to assist him, but failed to do so, was also sent to Denver as there was no prospect for his making livelihood in the colony. Since my leaving Cotopaxi, 15 more persons, relatives of the colonists were sent, thus making the total number of families 15, with 64 souls, 34 males and 30 females. the working force amounts to 25 persons.
It's interesting that Saltiel sent Friedman to Denver. A Schochet is a butcher. Had they had the promised cattle, perhaps his services would have been needed.
The sanitary condition of the colony leaves nothing to be wished for. No serious cases of sickness have occurred. The refugees show a very favorable appearance, look well and robust, since Mr. Schwarz took charge of the colony.
Kosher meat is procured from Denver and the people are satisfied with their food.I contacted the schools and they have no records before about 1904. But here we have evidence that there was a school in Cotopaxi before July, 1882.
The colonists are clean and neat and take good care of their children. The children will receive education at the public school, recently erected in Cotopaxi. Mr. Schwarz will see that the houses are finished and the crop sold for the best price. The colonists keep their religion in accordance with the ancient customs, keep the Sabbath and holiday, possess a Sephar Thora donated by Rev. Dr. Baar and are on friendly terms with their Christian neighbors.
As of the end of July, 1882, their homes had not been finished.
The colony required thus far the following funds. $5250 paid to Saltiel, $500 paid to E. S. Hart by me, $1000 sent to Mr. Schwarz so far. Total $6750.It doesn't really matter how you want to do the math, even in 1882, this is not much for 70 people.
Mr. Schwarz wrote me that $500 more will be required for food, $600 for cows and about $350 for wire, making the sum of $8,200 that this colony cost the society.There are many documents in the Fremont County Clerk & Recorder's office showing cattle transactions at this time. Even the sale of a single cow was documented. But nowhere do I find the sale of cattle to Saltiel, Schwarz, Tobias, or any of the Colonists.
The colonists are aware that they will have to repay the expenses laid out for them and I have no doubt whatsoever that the society will be partly repaid.He said this with great confidence - assuming that the crops would be ripe before the first freeze.
I hope that despite of the many drawbacks this colony had to undergo,—it will be maintained and stand as a monument of Jewish charity, and as the best proof of the laboring abilities of the refugees and of their capacity and competency to become farmers. Jewish farmers were looked upon with scorn, the Cotopaxi colony has and will render evidence that such scorn is nothing but prejudice, and that the Jew can make as good a farmer as any other human being.
Respectfully submittedIt has been said that Morris Tuska was an uncle to Julius Schwarz. I cannot find that relationship documented anywhere. I have built a family tree and Julius Schwarz had a brother who married a woman who's maiden name is Tuska, but there is no relationship between this sister-in-law and Morris Tuska. So while they may have known each other, there was no nephew/uncle relationship between the 2 of them.
Schwarz was back in NYC by October. He was a lawyer. Perhaps a bit young, but nonetheless, well qualified for his position at Cotopaxi.
Tuska is definitely pointing a finger at Saltiel in this report. And no wonder! If you recall a previous blog, Saltiel himself, tells us in a letter to a newspaper that he did not make a contract with a builder to build the houses until the day before the Colonists arrived. He had not surveyed their lands until AFTER they arrived. So while Saltiel has already confessed that he did not live up to his end of the contract with HEAS, in this report, we have Tuska verifying this to HEAS.
Do you think there will be a rebuttal from Saltiel? His "management" position has been stripped. Will he attempt to make Schwarz look incompetent? You can almost forecast the future at this point!
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