Most of the
Italians in the Fredonia area immigrated from Valledmo, Italy in Sicily.
They landed in New York City and proceeded by train to Buffalo. The
biggest reasons for coming to this area were employment at the canning
mills, and to start family owned bussinesses.
There were primaraly three schools in the Fredonia area at this time period. They were the Eagle Street school, Seymour Street school, and the Barker Street school. The schools were set up according to neighborhoods. The Eagle Street school was the primary school for the Italian kids attended. St.Anthony's was a main reason for the Italian neighborhood being located here.
The Normal School was a private school which ran kindergarten through college. Between 1910-1920 five people were Italian that graduated from college. Because it was a private school the majority of the Italian population could not afford to send their children here.
The kids worked in the canning factories during the summer, and worked in the family bussineses during the entire year. One of the canning factories was the Salsina factory it was opened in 1916 by five cousins from Italy. Working regulations were non existent at this time for children in New York State.
The local news paper The Grape Belt published an article in 1902 about a town school board meeting. The majority of the meeting was spent debating about school issues, specifically dealing with the Italian population in Fredonia.
It was thought that the Italian children were not good enough for the American school systems, the language barrier at first was a major contributor to this problem. The kids eventually were taught English to break down this barrier. Some of them made the honor roll in their later school years.
This proved that the Italian children were just as capable in the schools as the American children. When given the oppurtunity to perform they met and sometimes even surpassed the schools expected criteria.