(author: Louis Russo, 1994)

(adapted from files found through "Wayback Machine," after the webpage went offline c2004)

"The County of Cumberland is situated at the extreme southern part of the state, where it is bathed by the Bay of Delaware. It borders on the east with the County of Cape May and with Atlantic County which separates it from the ocean; on the north it borders Gloucester and on the west it borders Salem County, which separates it from the Delaware.'' " 1 The happy town of Vineland rises in the northeast of Cumberland County, 24 kilometers north from the Bay and 45 kilometers west of the Atlantic Ocean.'' 2 This is how an astute Italian immigrant, Carlo Quairoli, once described Vineland in 1910.

Today, while traveling through Vineland, one can take witness of one of the few agricultural areas left in New Jersey. Still largely untouched by land development, the agricultural areas of Vineland are an anomaly of family-run farms. In today's highly mechanized and technological world, it seems that the family-run farm might soon be extinct. With the need of land for housing, many area farms are being encroached upon by suburban housing developments. Agricultural market forces are also decreasing the number of family-run farms, as it is very hard for these farmers to compete with large, corporate farms in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Mexico and South America. In the face of this possibility, it is imperative that the roots of farming in Vineland and Cumberland County are traced before they disappear.

From the approximate year of 1861, Vineland has grown into one of the most important agricultural centers in the eastern United States. With its beginnings in 1860 by an ambitious and determined land developer named Charles Kline Landis, Vineland grew rapidly during its first century of existence. Also growing rapidly was its participation in agriculture; for it was founded by Landis as a utopian, agricultural colony. Vineland's agricultural output started to thrive with each passing year. Since the early 1930's, Vineland's agricultural prosperity has been due in large part to the efforts of the Vineland Cooperative Produce Auction Association. It is the largest produce cooperative still in existence in the country, handling 95% of auction sales in southern New Jersey and over three-quarters of all total produce sales in the region.

I shall attempt to tell the story of how the city was founded and how its agricultural industry grew and prospered, using the personal diaries and writings of Charles Kline Landis, an interview with the president of the Vineland Cooperative Produce Auction, an unpublished manuscript written in 1910 by an Italian immigrant named Carlo Quairoli, newspaper and journal articles of the day, and contemporary sources.


The first farmers in the Vineland area were the Lenni-Lenape, the Native-American tribe that inhabited southern New Jersey. They cleared pieces of land by burning underbrush and cutting down trees. They domesticated and grew corn, kidney and lima beans, pumpkins, artichoke, sunflowers and tobacco. Also harvested were wild strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, walnuts, hazelnuts, hickories, and butternuts. The Lenni-Lenape then taught the first European settlers how to grow these crops.

Adding to the Lenni-Lenape farming practices and crops, European settlers brought other crops with them as they settled throughout South Jersey. The first settlers to the area, the Dutch, introduced cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, parsnips, beets, spinach, onions, many varieties of flowers, and perhaps most importantly, fruit trees.
5 By the late 1700's, Irish immigrants brought over white potatoes. Travelers returning from the Caribbean islands brought sweet potatoes. Livestock followed: sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, and more importantly, chickens. 6

Actual ownership of the land known as Vineland has had an interesting history. Originally inhabited by Lenni-Lenape tribes, King Charles II of England gave the territory to his brother, the Duke of York, in 1664. The Duke of York gave the title to the land to Lord Berkeley and George Carteret on June 28, 1664, who named the huge tract of land Nova Cesarea or New Jersey. Lord Berkeley sold his half of the land to two men named Fenwick and Byllinge. In 1675, Byllinge sold his half, in trust, to a group of creditors, William Penn, Gawen Lawrie and Nicholas Lawrie. In July of 1676 George Carteret sold his share, in trust, to the same group. The tract of land owned by this group became known as West Jersey. West Jersey was divided into 100 parts, 90 of which were controlled by Byllinge and 10 by Fenwick.

Fenwick "confirmed and strengthened" his title to the land by 'buying' it from the Lenni-Lenape. He bought present day Cumberland County and surrounding areas from the Lenni-Lenape tribal chiefs Mahowskey, Newsego, Cheekeenaham, Touecho, and Shacanam in return for: four guns, powder and lead shot, 336 gallons of rum, an uncertain amount of shoes and socks, four blankets, and 16 coats. Fenwick's heirs sold the land, in lots of a few hundred acres, to the forefathers of the families who owned the land in 1861: the Souders, Nixons, Coombes, Elmers, Lees, Hollingsheads, Pacemyers, Bricks, Maddens, and Vanamans. In 1820, David C. Wood purchased the western part of this area, which would become Vineland, roughly 16,000 acres. David then gave the title to the land to his brother Richard D. Wood.

With the exceptions of a few trappers and those who make their living from lumber, the Vineland area was a neglected forest, void of any forms of civilization until the early 1860's.
9 Landis described it as being, "a wilderness of a forbidding aspect; no beautiful parks, but oak of second or third growth, pine and brush...the land was level, but with enough roll for drainage (9 feet per mile)...many miles were covered by small streams and swamps that needed to be drained.' 10 The only inhabitants were woodcutters and backwoods trappers, most of whom did not even own the land they lived on. Most of these early settlers were uneducated, poor, and lived in log cabins with dirt or clay floors. 11 Many were also very hostile towards any development of the land, fearing losing the access to the timber that they cut and sold in the nearby town of Millville. The sale of this timber usually amounted to fifty cents a day, which was paid with in supplies at the Millville supply store. 12

The land in the Vineland area, was then owned by a group of wealthy individuals: Judge L.Q.C Elmer, Charles E. Elmer, "the honorable" J.T. Nixon, J.M. Moore, J.W. Coombes, William Garrison, Richard D. Wood, and others.
13 Without railroad access for the tract, they let the land lie fallow and desolate. The nearest railroad was the West Jersey Railroad, which ran a line from Camden to Glassboro, and then to Bridgeton. 14 Consequently, with this situation and low levels of literacy and skilled labor among the few inhabitants, the Vineland area was virtually unutilized.


The story of the founding of Vineland starts, oddly enough, in Hammonton, New Jersey. In 1857 a man named Charles Kline Landis bought five thousand acres of land on the newly opened railway that ran from Camden to Atlantic City.
15 Landis, whose last name was an Anglicized version of Landi, was born in Philadelphia on March 16, 1833, son to Michael G. Landis, "who came from the hardy pioneer stock that entered Pennsylvania about the same time as William Penn.'' 16 Landis enjoyed a privileged upbringing, passing the state bar exam in 1852. He opened a law office in Philadelphia and then organized several building and loan associations. 17 By 1857 he and his law partner, a man named Byrnes, had established Hammonton.

He planned to build Hammonton as a colony, selling the land only to settlers, not other speculators. Landis encouraged fruit growing, introduced the New England model of education, forbid the sale of liquor, and built roads. Within three years, the colony of Hammonton was a stable town with over 2,000 inhabitants.
18 The colony was very prosperous, producing more food than needed and selling large amounts of produce to Philadelphia and New York City. Most of the immigrants that Landis attracted to Hammonton were New Englanders who had previous farming experience. While successful, Hammonton must not have quenched Landis' thirst for colonization. He felt that he needed to try his grand plans for a colony on an even larger scale to accomplish his dream:

" found a place which, to the greatest possible extent, might be the abode of happy, prosperous and beautiful homes; establish the best of schools; also manufactories, and different industries and churches of different denominations; in short, all things essential to the prosperity of mankind.., and the moral protection of people, that the home of every man of reasonable industry might be made a sanctuary of happiness, and an abode of beauty, no matter how poor he might be. In fact, I desired to make Vineland so desirable a place to live and throw such a halo of beauty as would make people loathe to leave it, and, if they did so, would draw them back again.''

Landis set out, looking for more land to colonize. He visited several places in North Jersey and the Western U.S., examining markets, the climate, and soil. He wished to find land that could accommodate the growing of fruit trees because they would require less capital investment than grains and yield higher profits. In short, fruit-culture was better adapted to the kind of town and colony that I wished to found...''"
20 He again decided to locate his colony in South Jersey because of the fertile soil (sandy and clay loam), temperate climate, long growing season, and close proximity to Philadelphia. Landis also cited the "healthfulness" of South Jersey, other real estate developers and land speculators also advertised this from the founding of Vineland into the 1920's, one even said that Vineland is "excellent for pulmonary effections (sic), dyspepsia and general debility...Chills and fevers are unknown. 21

Through a friend, engineer George B. Roberts, Landis learned of a new railroad that was built from Glassboro to Millville. Landis also learned that the railroad's main promoter and developer, Richard D. Wood - a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker, owned between 18,000 - 20,000 acres of land along this railway.
22 In July of 1861, Landis met Wood in Philadelphia and told him of his colonization plan. Wood was interested, so they agreed to travel by train to Millville to see the land and negotiate on a price. Over the objections of Wood's lawyer and wife (who thought Landis was insane for wanting to establish a city in the woods), Wood settled on selling approximately 15,000 acres of the land to Landis at $7.00 per acre, without interest, for 3 1/2 years. Landis would pay Wood a percentage on each land sale until he had paid off his debt to Wood. Wood would also retain the timber rights to the land until it was bought by a third party. 23

Landis set up his headquarters at a farm owned by Wood and run by a man named Andrew Sharp, located on east side of present day Main Road across from present day Park Avenue, and traveled throughout his newly acquired land. On August 8th, 1861, Landis drove the stake that would become the center of his soon-to-be-created town.
24 He picked the present-day intersection of Landis Avenue and the Boulevard, along the Glassboro to Millville railroad, as the center of his town. It is interesting to note that the Glassboro to Millville railroad is still in operation by Conrail.

While driving the stake with his surveyor and a group of workmen he had recruited from Millville, a man walked up to Landis along the railroad and asked what he was doing. Landis told him of his grand plans of building a city and agricultural colony. The man, who was an old local, stared at Landis without saying anything. He then went up to one of the workmen and told him to get paid as often as possible, because his boss was insane.
25 So then, on that day, August 8, 1861, Vineland was launched. Landis had several objectives that would govern the sale of his land and the building of the colony:

1. A house had to be erected on all land sold within one year.

2. At least 2 1/2 acres of land had to be cleared and cultivated each year.

3. Houses would have to be placed at least 75 feet from the road on the outskirts of town, 20 feet within the town, so that flowers and shade trees could be planted along the roads. Landis considered the shade trees very important so that they would be visually pleasing, but so that they would also draw birds that would help control the insect population of his proposed farming colony. (The shade trees were so important to Landis that Italian language signs were erected in the New Italy section of Vineland by the township committee that warned of prosecution and fine for anyone who damages or cuts down a tree along the road).

4. No one will be obligated to fence in their land, so that manure would be spread by grazing animals, helping fertilize the land for farming.

5. The sale of liquor would be forbidden unless overturned by majority vote of the town's inhabitants.

6. The center of town was divided into 50 by 150 ft. lots, with each block containing 24 lots. He built streets to run east/west, naming them: Park, Peach, Pear, Plum, Grape, Wood, Elmer, Chestnut, Montrose, Almond, Quince, and Cherry. The north/south roads would be the Boulevard that ran along both sides of the Millville-Glassboro Railroad at the town's center, Horse Bridge Road (present-day Main Road) at the towns north side, Malaga Road (present-day Delsea Drive and a former Lenni-Lenape trail) at the south side, West Avenue on the west side of the railroad, and East Avenue on the east side of the railroad, and lastly, between West and East were numbered streets: Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth.

7. Landis Avenue, the center of the town running east/west, would be built 100 feet wide, all other streets in the town would be 66 feet wide, and farm roads would be 50 feet wide. All roads would be laid out as right angles and grass would be planted to keep out weeds. Landis remarked, "...the lack of natural scenery would be made up by the labor of art.''

Landis hired a work crew, paying them twice the accepted wage for the area, 50 cents per day. He showed a rare compassion for workers for a entrepreneur, capitalist, and speculator, saying that low wages would hurt the colony because they ..."degrade all, rich and poor, giving one class more than sufficient for their needs ..., at the expense of the other class who are robbed and impoverished, and deprived of all opportunity for self-improvement.''

Landis then went to Washington D.C., trying to go through the necessary channels to establish a post office for Vineland. He seems to have been shocked when the Second Assistant Postmaster General refused his request on the justification that his town had no people in it. Landis returned to his hotel where he met Robert Tyler, son of former president John Tyler. Tyler was a personal friend of the Postmaster General and with this political pull, got him to grant Landis his post office provided he payed a yearly sum of $20.00.

He then formed his own newspaper, The Vineland Rural, in order to advertise the sale of his land, also advertising in the Boston Journal, the New York Herald, and the Public Ledger.

Landis sold his first piece of land to a former Connecticut ship captain, Colonel George Post next to Wood's Main Road farm. Post bought sixty acres and Landis named a new road that traveled east/west between the two farms as Post Road (the western part of this road has been renamed Maple Avenue). After this initial sale, Landis found it very hard to sell any more of the land, as prospective buyers were discouraged by the undeveloped wilderness. Consequently, Landis picked out his best workmen and offered them the sale of ten acres, payable on time. Landis even paid for the construction of houses for these men. He did this to spur settlement and make the land look more accommodating as visitors and prospective buyers would see homes as they examined the land.

Gradually, Landis sold many land blocks to settlers, most of who came from New England (A list of the first settlers is provided at the end of this document).
32 By 1864 the town had remarkably grown to roughly 650 houses and 4,000 inhabitants. 33 1864 proved to be an important year in the history of Vineland. First, the town experienced unprecedented growth. Second, a horrible drought destroyed the year's crops, except for a record crop of turnips. Lastly, the town decided, en masse, to buy exemptions for the 93 men who had been drafted into the Union army. Because of this, many former soldiers and draft dodgers came to Vineland. 34

Landis was overjoyed at the prosperity of his colony, but was dismayed at the fact that most of the new settlers were not farmers and were moving into the center of town. He stopped advertising the in-town lots and only advertised the farm lands surrounding the center of town, as Landis wanted to draw more experienced farmers to the area.

The farmers who were here at the time were all from New England and New York. Their farms were very successful, as it was reported in 1865 that one day's labor on Vineland's soil would accomplish twice as much as the same labor on their previous New England or New York farms.
36 William O.H. Guynneth and Robert Brandriff were two of the more successful farmers at this time. Guynneth, a former Bostonian, had 30 acres of chard, wheat, corn, and clover. Brandriff owned 90 acres, 60 of which were in cultivation at the time. In 1863, Brandriff made a $2,000.00 profit on his farm, averaging 20 bushels per acre of wheat, 75 bushels per acre of corn, 200 bushels of round potatoes, 100 of sweet potatoes, 560 of carrots, 620 of turnips, $100.00 per acre for cabbage, and 2-3 tons of grass. 37 Fruit and vegetable starved Millville was the main market for their produce.

In order to attract more farmers, Landis lobbied the state legislature to drain swamps, build a railroad to Delaware (another potential market), build a bridge across the Delaware River to Philadelphia, and undertake an entomology study to stop the damage done to crops by insects. He then imported seeds for Chinese yams, a crop which he thought would be perfectly suited to grow in Vineland because it came from a similar climate and soil. Lastly, he recruited strawberry pickers from Millville to help the farmer harvest their crops.

In 1873 Landis noted that the soil in Vineland would also be suitable for growing grapes. In order to bring experienced grape growers to Vineland, he started the first Italian newspaper in the United States, The Echo of Italy. In this paper Landis advertised Vineland, saying he would grant 20 acres of land provided it was cleared and utilized for the growing of grapes.
39 This newspaper was edited by Secchi de Carali, a political exile formerly from Castel San Giovanni, Piacenza, Italy. He and Landis advertised and lobbied for Italians to move to Vineland, which they did in great numbers. 40 This, in this writer's opinion, has had the greatest effect on the development of farming and Vineland.

Many Italian and Sicilian immigrants flocked to the eastern part of Vineland, which was given the name "New Italy" or simply, the Italian colony. Landis built streets extending out from the main city to New Italy, naming them after the new arrivals and the cities from which they emigrated: Dante, Trento, Piacenza, Pantera, Genoa, Palermo, Venezia, Italia, and Cornocopia.
41 (The names of the first Italian immigrants are at the end of this document).

The areas north, south and west of the city were also utilized under the same system, although not as large in scale as New Italy. North Vineland, known as Blackwater, attracted many Italian farmers to the area around present-day Wheat and Garden roads. At the intersection of two railroads in the northeast corner of the Vineland tract, Landis formed another colony, Landisville along the present day roads Grove, Central, Weymouth, Tuckahoe and Atlantic. In the southwest part of the tract there was a colony comprised of mostly German families around Mill, Elmer, and Malaga Roads.

These areas, particularly New Italy and Blackwater, were immediately drained or cleared for farming. The only large, local market for grape production was Welch's Grape Juice, which was started in Vineland by Dr. Welch and Harry Upham to sell unfermented wine. With their success, they moved the business to western New York. The loss of this market combined with the fact that the Italians soon realized the soil and climate were more suitable for growing vegetables, so grape production in the area decreased.

Strawberries, blackberries, peppers, pickles, sweet potatoes, mulberries, peaches, apples and pears replaced the grapes. The South Vineland area was the first region to heavily farm early vegetables like lettuce, carrots, beets, parsley, and cabbage.
44 Much of this produce was sold to the Vesuvian Preserving Company from New York that canned peas, beans, strawberries, mulberries, peaches, pears, peppers, and tomatoes (whole and in sauce). 45

Taking the place of Welch's was the Vineland Grape Juice Company, where the Italians were paid three cents per pound, the same price grapes brought in the New York and Philadelphia markets. Corn was grown in great quantity, but not for human consumption. It was mostly used as a type of corn that was fed to horses, pigs and poultry.

Poultry became a large, successful industry at this time. Many of the Italian families raised chickens and sold surplus eggs to market in Philadelphia and New York. There was an equal distribution of families that used egg incubators and those that used the hens themselves.
47 Many other areas in Vineland and the surrounding towns such as Norma, Alliance, and Brotmanville produced large amounts of eggs, especially among Jewish immigrants that came to the area at this time. In 1931, an Egg Auction was formed on Delsea Drive near Park Avenue. 48 The Egg Auction was hit by the decline of the poultry industry in the late 1960's and the fact that many of its members did not support the auction, instead selling independently, and the auction closed in 1973. 49

Carlo Quairoli described the soil of New Italy as sandy and fine, but a few inches below the surface, a hard layer of lime that was difficult for roots to penetrate and hard on the points of a hoe. However, with irrigation and fertilization, the soil yielded as much as other soils. Many of the Italians imported quality seeds from their Italian homelands and transplanted them to Vineland. This enabled the growing of onions, cherries, plums, apricots, figs, beets, melons, cucumbers, and garlic.

It was these farmers that perfected the cultivation of fruit trees and vegetables and enabled Vineland to start exporting large amounts of produce, supplying the nearby cities of Millville and Bridgeton. Constant improvements and hard work made this possible. "The work so wonderfully accomplished by our fellow countrymen with an industry and a love of the land which they had never seen before; they took possession of the uncultivated land, of abandoned farms, and have made them blossom like gardens, and it is in the south of this state, at the doors of the cities of New York and Philadelphia that there is this agricultural rebirth.''

By 1882, 2,000 quarts of strawberries earned $125.00 at six cents per quart. By 1883, 100,000 quarts of blackberries were marketed for three to six cents per quart. By 1886, 1,600 tons of grapes were harvested at ten cents per pound. By 1896, the production of blackberries increased to 247,100 quarts.

The Italians gave Landis the agricultural productivity that he wanted, and enabled his colony of Vineland to prosper beyond his imagination, as the population soared past 10,000 inhabitants. Landis himself was amazed at how far the New Italy colony had progressed by 1880 that he showcased it to all prospective land buyers.
53 By 1917, Vineland was the featured attraction for Farm agencies and realtors. Vineland's farms were highly prized when they went up for sale. 54

After the founding of the New Italy colony, Landis took time off, traveling throughout Europe on two long trips. Having fulfilled his dream of creating a city out of wilderness, Landis died a respected and revered man on June 12, 1900.


With the prosperity of the Vineland agricultural communities, also came problems. To reach Philadelphia and New York markets, the farmer had to pack his produce in barrels and burlap bags and haul it to a freight station along the railroad. These stations were located in Vineland, Bridgeton, Rosenhayn, and Norma. The produce was then taken into the New York and Philadelphia commission houses. Many times, however, the farmer had no way of knowing if the price he received in Philadelphia or New York was fair or correct. Farmers would many times be cheated or simply continue to ship produce to a saturated market, which further reduced the price and cost the farmer money.

Alternatives were needed to this arrangement. In delivering to local markets, the automobile enabled local buyers to drive trucks directly to the farm to pick up produce right out of the fields. The invention of the automobile enabled South Jersey became the largest truck farming region in the state.
57 Barges were utilized in selling tomatoes to Baltimore and Camden, but changing health regulations stopped this practice. 58 For selling to urban markets (truck farming), chiefly Philadelphia and New York, the prospect of forming a cooperative produce auction seemed a viable option for Vineland's farmers by 1930.

Since the formation of the first produce auction, Eastern Shore of Virginia Produce Exchange in Olney Virgina, in 1912, several produce auctions formed on the East Coast within the next 20 years. In South Jersey there were: Cooperative Grower's Association, Inc. of Tabernacle (founded in 1918), Cedarville Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. (1928), Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market Association, Inc. in Highstown (1931), the Gloucester County Agricultural Cooperative Association, Inc. (1933), the Landisville Fruit Growers Cooperative Association, Inc. (1934), the Hammonton Cooperative Fruit Auction Association, Inc. (1935), and two farmer-owned non-cooperative auctions Swedesboro (1938) and Pedricktown (1939).

The purpose of a cooperative auction is to allow for fair, competitive pricing, equal access to market information, and low marketing costs since buyers come to the farmer. The main weakness is that the farmer is dependent upon the bidding of the buyers.

So then on April 30, 1930, a group of South Vineland farmers formed a committee to begin a produce auction in Vineland. After meeting with officials from Landis Township (as part of the city of Vineland was then known), they secured a gravel pit on north Main Road near the Fire Hall on Oak Road to serve as a location for the auction. The Landis Township Committee leased five acres to the farmers committee for 99 years, to be renewed every seven years for one dollar.
61A Board of Directors was formed with

Jack Thornbarrow as president, Joseph Mosio as vice-president and Oswald Sterm as secretary. The first directors to serve were Frank Miller, Harold Clark, Alex Tonetti, Lou Campregher, Joseph Castagnola, and Joseph Scarpa.

On May 4, 1931 a bid for $437.00 was taken from John J. Ferrarie to build an auction block and shed. Alfred Pagnini became Clerk for the auction, earning $20.00 a week. The Cumberland County Board of Agriculture prepared by-laws for the auction and they were accepted on May 4, 1931. Douglas Reed became the Auction Market Master and auctioneer at $30.00 per week. With assistance from a Mr. Rose from the New Jersey State Division of Markets and a Mr. D. Babbitt, the Cumberland County Agriculture agent, the first auction was held on May 21, 1931.
63 During its first year of operation, Harry Richardson was granted the privilege of opening a lunch counter at the auction, and Sam Ronchetti Sr. was hired as the auctioneer's helper at $1.25 per day.

In 1932 a membership drive was held at the Panther Road Hall in New Italy. Speakers from Cedarville and Glassboro explained how markets operated. To attract more members, the membership fee was decreased form two to one dollars. By June 2, 1932, the auction started the practice of holding a morning sample sale. This sample was supposed to be taken from the middle of the farmer's load and represent the whole load. A fee of 3% of the selling price was added to each transaction to be collected by the auction. Also, Sam Ronchetti Sr. became the auctioneer, which he still serves as of this writing. In 1933 an addition was built to the auction block building and Ben Ronchetti and Mike Frucano were hired to work on the auction loading platform. The first buyers at the auction included Viano Brothers, Dandrea, Morris L. Mole, Joseph Yore, Ralph Daiuto Sr., Morris April Brothers, Musto, and Bianchi.
64 During World War II, the Produce Auction and the Egg Auction supplied produce to the war effort. 65

In the face of the fair, market competition provided by the auction, Vineland's farmers became even more prosperous. It is at this time that roadside stands started to crop up all throughout the region.

Farm labor was mostly supplied by migrant Italian and African Americans. Most Italian families came from Philadelphia and were often paid as a single unit, estimated at $1,000.00 per season. Many Italians stayed in South Jersey, rising from laborer to farmer. Some stayed and recruited other workers for a farmer. This was called a "padrone"

system, where the recruiter would be paid a sum for each person that they recruited. Private and government-sponsored employment agencies also placed workers from Philadelphia and New York on farms throughout New Jersey.

African-American migrant workers often came from North and South Carolina. Many returned home during the winter, but many remained and settled in New Jersey. African-American workers were preferred over Italians in Salem and Gloucester counties because they spoke English and usually had previously worked on farms. However, Italians, who were willing to work for lower wages, forced many African-American workers out of the fields. Other ethnic groups that did migrant farm labor were Poles, Russians, Germans, Austrians, British, and Canadians, although in very minute numbers.

Worker' ages ranged anywhere from 8 to 73 and living conditions were usually very poor and unsanitary. Cabins were not routinely provided until the 1920's. Conditions did not improve until 1945 when the State Assembly passed the Migrant Labor Act, which created an independent state regulatory agency to govern the conditions under which migrant workers lived and worked. In 1959 the Migrant Labor Board proposed a law that required hot water and heating to be provided in all migrant dwellings. Even though it was vetoed by the governor, the Migrant Labor Board found most Southern New Jersey farms within compliance.
69 With World War II, a labor shortage was created and Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Carribean migrant workers started to replace the Italians and African Americans. This trend is now fully completed. 70

During the 1950's supermarkets started to dominate produce retail. Many of the supermarkets bought their produce directly from the farmer, so the importance and influence of the produce auctions decreased dramatically: Pedricktown, Landisville, and

Cedarville all closed in 1969, Tabernacle in 1971, Glassboro in 1974, and Hammonton in 1979.
71 The Vineland Cooperative Produce Auction is the only surviving auction to thrive, as Swedesboro is on the verge of closing within the next few years. Loyalty to the auction among its members, a variety of products, and outstanding quality are what the Auction's president attributes to the ongoing and improving success of the Vineland Cooperative Produce Auction. 72

Today, the Vineland auction accounts for 95% of all produce auction sales in the state. Approximately 60% of the "Block('s)" (as it is called locally) business is through auction sales, with direct sales accounting for the other 40%. The Auction's 550 active members handle at least 3/4 of all fresh produced grown in the six southernmost counties in the state. The average farm is 75-100 acres with 100% of the land under irrigation. Most of the farmers are now fourth or fifth generation farmers. The average age of the members is 58, as today's world is luring young farmers away.

The auction has increased its yearly sales from $2.5 million in 1962 to over $46 million in 1990, handling over seven million packages of produce in 1991 (as compared to 1.4 million in 1962).
74 About 80-90 trailer loads of produce are handled each day, 200-300 on weekends. This is done despite the fact that the number of farms and acres under cultivation is consistently declining each year, with improved technology more than making up for the loss of land.

The buyers at the auction today number about 35, most being local dealers who supply supermarkets or chainstores such as Wakefern (Shop Rite) and Shop-N-Bag. The United States Army is also a large buyer, buying for overseas military bases. Produce is taken from Vineland to a seven day quarantine in North Jersey, overseas to Rotterdam or Amsterdam, where it is then distributed to the European bases 15 days after it was auctioned. The only hinderance to overseas trade is the availability of cheap air transportation, as Japan and the Philippines expressed interest is trading electronics, rice, or fish for wheat and vegetables. Canada and Mexico are also large markets for their produce, especially since the passage of NAFTA.

Observers from Japan, Israel, the Philippines and even the Amish of the Lancaster/Kutztown area of Pennsylvania have visited the auction to research the plausibility of starting their own systems.

For the future, Auction President Charles Bylone sees renting space within supermarkets to sell produce, genetically altered vegetables to improve shelf life, and pre-packaged produce. The auction is again expanding, has recently added vacuum and forced air cooling, and is looking to speed up the auction with the utilization of computers and electronics.

Within this document, I have attempted to chronicle the formation, development, and history of Vineland's agricultural industry. More than just a mere historical chronology, this research has enabled me, and hopefully the reader to gauge and understand how this particular way of life has transformed over time. Beginning with the dreams of a single man, Vineland today is a major agricultural center that affects the whole produce market of the East Coast. Only history will be able to judge if this way of life can go on prospering in Vineland in the wake of the changing market and world.

Hopefully, we will still have agriculture and the Vineland Produce Auction in Vineland for many years to come.


1Quairoli, Carlo. Monograph about the Famous Italian Colony in Vineland, New Jersey. (unpublished 1910), 1.

2Ibid., 1.

3Bylone, Charles C. Interview.

4 Sebold, Kimberly R. and Sarah Amy Leach. Historic Themes and Resources Within the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail – Cumberland and Salem Counties. US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Historic American Buildings Survey/ Historic American Engineering Record, 68.

5 Ibid., 68.

6 Ibid.

7 Warner, A.G. Sketches, Incidents and History: Vineland and the Vinelanders. Vineland: Crocker Steam Job Printer, 1869. Report by South Jersey Magazine. Winter (1994), 29.

8 Ibid., 29.

9 Landis, Charles K. personal diaries. Volume 1, 3.

10 Landis, Charles K. The Founders Own Story of the Founding of Vineland, New Jersey. Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society, Vineland: Vineland Printing House, 1903. Report by Standard Publishing Company: Vineland, 1974, 12.

11 Ibid., 12.


13Warner, A.G. Sketches, Incidents and History: Vineland and the Vinelanders. Vineland: Crocker Steam Job Printer, 1869. Report by South Jersey Magazine. Winter (1994), 29.

14Wentzel, Don. “The Millville and Glassboro Railroad”. South Jersey Magazine. Summer (1991): 2.

15“A Novel Enterprise”. American Agriculturist. April (1865): 14.

16“Charles K. Landis, Vineland’s Founder, Died Yesterday …” Vineland Evening Journal. 11 June 1900, 1.

17Ibid., 2.

18“A Novel Enterprise”, 14.

19Landis, The Founder’s Own Story., 7.

20Ibid., 7.

21Ibid., 8. See also “A Novel Enterprise”., Warner, Part 1, 25. and “Money Making Farms”. E.A. Stout Agency: 1917. Report in South Jersey Magazine, Winter (1978), 28.

22Ibid., 8.

23Ibid., 11.

24Ibid., 14.

25Ibid., 15.

26“Avviso!” Landis Township sign, 1909.

27Quairoli, 5.

28Landis, The Founders Own Story, 12.

29Ibid., 16.

30Ibid, 17.

31Ibid., 18.

32Warner, Part I, 28.

33“A Novel Enterprise”, 15.

34Warner, Part 4, 38.

35Landis, The Founder’s Own Story., 20.

36“A Novel Enterprise”. 16.

37Ibid., 17.

38Landis, Diary #17, 69, 116. Diary #20, 1.

39Quairoli, 8.

40Ibid., 8.

41Ibid., 5.

42Ibid., 7.

43Bylone, “History of the Vineland Auction”, 1.

44Ibid., 1.

45Quairoli, 29.

46Ibid., 42.

47Ibid., 42.

48“A Tale of Two City Auctions”. Daily Journal. 13 June 1991, 1.

49Bylone, Interview.

50Ibid., 30.

51Ibid., 37.

52Bylone, “A History of the Vineland Auction”, 1.

53Landis, Diary #20, 1.

54“Money Making Farms”. E.A. Stout Agency, Inc. 1917, pamphlet.

55Vineland Evening Journal. 13 June 1900, 1.

56Bylone, “A History of the Vineland Auction”, 2.

57Sebold, 71.

58Ibid., 72.

59Fabian, Morris S. and David J. Burns. The Role of Farmer-Owned Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Organizations in New Jersey. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, A.E. 315, Rutgers University: 1966.

60Harrington, Donnie. The Produce Auction as a Cooperative Venture. United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Cooperative Service, staff report (provided by Charles Bylone).

61Bylone, “History of the Vineland Auction”, 2.

62Ibid., 2.

63Ibid., 2.

64Ibid., 4.

65“December 7, 1941”. Daily Journal. 7 December 1944: 1.

66Sebold, 73.

67Ibid., 73.

68Ibid., 73.

69Ibid., 75.

70Bylone, Interview.

71Harrington, 3.

72Bylone, Interview.

73Bylone, Interview.

74Bylone, “History of the Vineland Auction”, 4.

75Bylone, Interview.




Caspar Geoffra – 8 Acres Lincoln and Vine Roads
Gerolomo Geoffra – 4 acres on Vine, East of Lincoln
Angelo Geoffra – 10 acres south side of Vine, east of Lincoln and also the town lot of
West Boulevard and Almond
G. Magioncalda – 12 Acres
Luigi Lera – Town lot Almond near 8th
Petro Gardella – 33.37 acres
Antonio Basso – 5.25 acres
Joseph Tasso – 2 acres West Boulevard and Wheat Road
A. Cagnaro – 18 acres
B. Biggio – 15 acres and 1.5 town lot
Augustino Cresci – 12 acres Piacenza Avenue
G. Scriveni – 38.83 acres Genoa Avenue
C. Bartolotti – 25 acres
G. Raffo – 12 acres south side of Genoa Avenue
G. Cavagnaro – 5 acres Garden Road between Mill and Malaga
C. Quairole and Company – 30 acres
L. Cavagnaro – 5 acres Garden Road between Mill and Malaga
Andrew Giovanni Michele – 50 acres
N. Vanni – 20.24 acres
G. Penngetti – 16 acres
Barette – house East Landis Avenue
Zunino – house on Lincoln near Vine
Ferrolasco – house on East Blvd North of Chestnut
Volpe – house built Union Road south of Piacenza
J. Ferretti – house Union and Piacenza
G. Sangvenetti – house north side of Landis and east of Lincoln
Zurieno – house Lincoln near Vine
A. Gardella – house on Garden Road between Malaga and Mill
G. Penza – house Garden Road below Mill
A. Bronchini – 4 town lots at 8th and Quince
Batista Carlo – 12 acres Garden Road near Mill
Frederick C. Brandi – 2 town lots south side of Almond near 6th Street

[property list] Taken from The Vineland Rural newspaper, 1874. (C.K. Landis Property)



"A Novel Enterprise." American Agriculturist. April (1865).

"A Tale of two city auctions." Daily Journal 13 June 1991: 1.

Baker, Charles K. Cooperative Fruit and Vegetable Shipping Point Auctions. Farm Credit Administration; USDA, 1951 (out of print).

Bylone, Charles C. "History of the Vineland Auction." Unpublished paper, 1991.

Bylone, Charles. President, Vineland Cooperative Produce Auction. Interview, Feb. 1995.

"December 7, 1941." Daily Journal 7 December 1994: 1.

Fabian, Morris S. and David J. Burns. The Role of Farmer-Owned Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Organizations in New Jersey. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, A.E. 315, Rutgers University: 1966.

Harrington, Donnie E., The Produce Auction as a Cooperative Venture. United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Cooperative Service, Staff Report.

Jacob, Samuel. "Immigrant Farm Colonies of South Jersey: Governor Investigation." Daily Republican. 21 March, 1921.

Juliani, Richard. Little Italies in North America. Ed. Robert F. Harney and J, Vincenza Scapraci. Toronto: The Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1981.

Juliani, Richard. "The Origin and Development of the Italian Community in Philadelphia." The Ethnic Experience in Pennsylvania. Ed. John E. Bodner. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1973.

Lagumina, Salvatore. J. WOP: A Documentary History of Anti-Italian Discrimination in the United States. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Press, 1973.

Landis, Charles K. The Founder's Own Story of the Founding of Vineland, New Jersey. Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society. Vineland Printing House: Vineland, NJ 1903. Reprinted in 1974 by Standard Publishing Company, Vineland.

Landis, Charles K. personal diaries, volumes 1-22.

Lopreato, Joseph. Italian Americans. New York: Random House, 1970. 35-40,

Mead, Margaret. “Group Intelligence Tests and Linguistic Disability Among Italian Children”. School and Society 25 (April 16, 1927): 465-468.

Meade, Emily Fogg. "The Italian Immigrant on the Land," Charities 13 (March 4,1904): 541-544.

Meade, Emily Fogg. "The Italian on the Land: A Study in Immigration”. Bulletin of the US Bureau of Labor. 70 (May 1907): 473-533.

"Money Making Farms," E.A Stout Agency: 1917. Reprinted in South Jersey Magazine, Winter (1978).

Quairoli, Carlo. Monograph About the Famous Italian Colony in Vineland, New Jersey, unpublished: 1910. (located in the collection of the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society).

Sobold, Klmburly R. and Sara Amy Leach. Historic Themes and Resources within the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail – Southern New Jersey and the Delaware Bay: Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem Counties. US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Recor. PO Box 37127 Washington DC 20013-7127.

Start, Dennis J. The Italians of New Jersey. N.J. Historical Society, Vol. 20. Newark: 1985.

Warner, A.G. "Sketches, Incidents, and History: Vineland and the Vinelanders. ,, Crocker Steam Job Printer: Vineland, 1869. Reprinted in South Jersey Magazine, Winter (1994) Part 1, 25-30.

Warner, A.G. "Sketches, Incidents and History: Vineland and tho Vinelanders.- Crocker Steam Job Printer: Vineland, 1869. Reprinted in South Jersey Magazine: Spring (1994). Part 2, 34-37.

Warner, A.G. "Sketches, Incidents and History: Vineland and tho Vinelanders.- Crocker Steam Job Printer: Vineland, 1869. Reprinted in South Jersey Magazine: Summer (1994). Part 3, 18-21.

Warner, A.G. "Sketches, Incidents and History.. Vineland and the Vinelanders.” Crocker Steam Job Printer: Vineland, 1869. Reprinted in South Jersey Magazine. Fall (1994): Part 4. 35-38.

Warner, A.G, "Sketches, Incidents and History; Vineland and the Vinelanders., Crocker Steam Job Printer: Vineland, 1869. Reprinted in South Jersey Magazine. Winter (]995): Part 5. 45-48.

Wentzel, Don. "The Millville & Glassboro Railroad”, South Jersey Magazine. Summer (1991): 2.

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