Monday, July 18, 2016

March 10, 1883, the Phillip Nussbaum letter

This is a letter that Philip Nussbaum wrote to the American Israelite.  He lived in Pennsylvania and had been in Colorado in December 1882 and had visited Cotopaxi.

Letter to Editor from Philip NussbaumSent 10 March 1883 Published on 23 March 1883 in the American Israelite
To the Editor of The American Israelite
In December last I was sojourning in Colorado, and while in those parts, visited Cotopaxi with a view of personally investigating how our brethren were faring in their newly-made homes. As anticipated, I found the colonists enjoying the best of health, as the Cotopaxi climate is very salubrious, notwithstanding the expressed opinion of the Denver committee to the contrary.
He must have arrived by train.  How long did he stay?
A long residence in Colorado and some ten years of experience as a stock-raiser, justify me in the above contradiction, as I am very well acquainted with the entire mountain range, climate and soil all around Cotopaxi, clear to Fairplay and the Snowy Range, and have grazed my stock during the summer and early fall in very close proximity to Cotopaxi, but was compelled to drive my herd to the valley in November.
During the entire time of my abode in those parts we have had splendid summer pastures, but grazing alone was profitable and not farming, as the season for the latter are entirely too short, extending from June only to September, and under those circumstances, aside of being a rocky, mountainous range, what colony, even if most completely equipped (which this is far from), could succeed in making a living and supporting its families?
Here he explains the difference between cattle ranching and farming.  Cattle could succeed, farming could not.  He also confirms that the farmers were far from being equipped.
I am satisfied the H.E.A.S. would never have had the remotest idea of planting a colony in that barren country had it not been for the instigation of Mr. E.H. Saltael whose object the circumstances only too plainly demonstrate, and he alone is to blame and is responsible for the unsuccessful issue of the Cotopaxi Colony, and not the H.E.A.S., who have done everything in their power for the promotion and welfare of the unfortunate emigrants, and they (the colonists) are aware of it and are thankful and ever praying for the good health and long life of its committee.
Additional evidence that Saltiel did not provide for the Colonists.  A witness.
Had not the high-flavored, or, as Mr. Henry called it, “rose-colored” report of Mr. Julius Schwartz, LL.D., appeared, no trouble would have been known and no Denver committee needed.
Although adding the no doubt deserved LL.D. to his name, he does not possess good, sound judgment, but, on the contrary, manifests his inexperience and downright ignorance of the requisites of a new colony, peopled by strange people in a strange land, by forwarding a report to the easily beguiled committee (who have reposed all confidence in him) that there was nothing left undone and that the colony was in a very flourishing condition. Although at the time the report was made (I believe in August) everything looked brighter. The crop, if such it can be called, consisting solely of potatoes, was in the ground, yet, nevertheless, J.S., LL.D., brought his great imaginary powers, “Col. Sellers”-like, to his aid, supported by his mathematical abilities, and calculated upon a realization of at least two thousand dollars from the crop, which only goes to show that he had as much knowledge of the fall and winter climate as he did of the potatoes. His calculation went wide of its mark, and the unfortunate emigrants in course of time found out the true state of affairs, but, of course, as is usually the case, after the barn door having been left open, and instead of having potatoes to sell, they found themselves compelled to buy, and were willing to work outside of the colony to meet their daily wants, but only a few succeeded in obtaining work.
Confirmation of my prior posting that Schwarz's math calculations were inaccurate.  And possible confirmation that the Schwarz report was written in August, but not published until October?
This state of affairs they communicated to some of the committee, but could get no reply; they wrote again and again, but no answer was sent them.
It was plainly seen from the President’s (Mr. Henry) report to the Denver Committee that he imagined the colonists well supplied, and that they from choice alone preferred begging for charity. 
Now in the name of humanity and common sense, what could the poor emigrants do? Reply from New York was denied them (as you can see by the letter they wrote to me), work to keep body and soul together they could not obtain; they had no alternative but to lay their very lamentable condition before the Denver Jews.
The Denverites sent a committee Metaglem out to them, and they, in return reported wrongly and greatly misrepresented and exaggerated the matter, and in fact caused more real harm than good to the poor colonists. The ignorance displayed in reporting that a house sixteen by twenty, doubly boarded, etc., costs only, together with stove and cooking utensils, one hundred dollars, is perfectly absurd. I have seen the houses and have been in them, and have the figures of a carpenter. It takes just thirty-five hundred feet of lumber to build the house and partitions, etc., but should not cost over one hundred and fifty dollars, not including any utensils – but there is no use in crying over spilt milk now.
Direct conflict of the report that said the house would require 5000 board feet.

The houses are comfortable enough for eight or nine months of the year, but in the dead of winter no one cookstove can keep them warm, and they have no other.
This is the first time we have heard that they needed more than the cooking stove to keep them warm in winter.  Daytime temperatures can drop to below zero, and a house made of 2 slat boards with tar paper between them, and no insulation, could easily need more than a kitchen cook stove.
They have plenty of wood, not a great distance off, but have to hire it hauled, as they have only one span of horses on a farm of twelve miles.
Today it takes 2 cord of wood to heat a well heated home during the winter in Canon City.  How much wood did they have to hire hauled?
In conclusion, I will say that the emigrants of Cotopaxi are a set of hard-working, industrious people, with good manners and behavior, and are willing to work, as work is what they want and not schnorring. But work they cannot obtain in that forsaken spot, winter is hard upon them, and burdened with families, what can they do but beg or wait until everything is exhausted and starve to death with their families?
By that first winter, the train work would have been gone, no "construction" during the snow season.  Work in the mines?  There was no other industry in Cotopaxi at that time.
Had the colony been planted on a reasonably good tract of farming land where the change for the display of sinew and muscle could have been had, I assure you your committee would have been spared all this superfluous aggravation and trouble, and the emigrants would have been on a fair way to prosperity and happiness.
But, nevertheless, this misstep must not, and shall not dishearten this most praiseworthy H. E. A. S. of the United States, as all beginnings are difficult, but so much more gratifying is the reward.
The moral this high-priced lesson has taught them, is not to take every one’s word for selecting a location to plant a colony.
Probably the best advice yet.
The selection requires a great deal of judgment and good common sense, and, furthermore, an eye for the future and not greed for personal fame and gain, but to put heart, hand and mind in concert to aid our unfortunate brethren to a future state of prosperity and happiness.
I am of the opinion that a great deal of good may arise out of this controversy, as an exchange of views as to the best plan of planting colonies is the proper question to arrive at now.
In my opinion, timber-land in close proximity to a river would be the most suitable place, where an opportunity for improvement and display of energy could be had, and I would kindly request our co-religionists who have this matter at heart to express their views upon it and let us all have the benefit of it.
Yours respectfully,
Ph. Nussbaum.
Bradford, Pa.
March 10, 1883
A little more research and I found that Philip Nussbaum was born in 1830 in Russia.  He was living in Bradford PA in the 1880 census.  He was a grocery merchant, married to Pauline, and his children were Celia, 19, Louis, 23, Benjamin, 21, Mary, 17, and Rebecca, 14.  From the 1900 census, we learn that he immigrated to this country about 1853.

In the 1870 census, he lived in the Colorado Territory, in Pueblo and is listed as a stock dealer.  In the 1860 census, he lived in Dunkirk, NY, and was a peddler.  He died 13 Jun 1970 in Bradford PA.

********* All content is copyright protected and may not be copied, reproduced, reused or reposted in any manner without permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment