The Jukes in 1915

The Jukes in 1915

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The Jukes in 1915

The Jukes in 1915

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Excerpt

Into an isolated region, now within two hours' railroad journey of the nation's metropolis, there drifted nearly a century and a half ago a number of persons whose constitution did not fit them for participation in a highly organized society. This region was the frontier of that day and those who went there had many of the characteristics of our western frontiersmen of a century later. Some of them were hunters, some of them extreme nomads (tramps), and like practically all extreme nomads were addicted to drink; some were miners and found at this place opportunity to make a living at an occupation that requires no capital and which may be readily abandoned or resumed; some were neurasthenic, found muscular activity and persistence in work irksome, and craved stimulants to lighten the labor of even minimum activities; some were feeble-minded and had found that Nature makes fewer demands on intelligence than does organized society; and still more were feebly inhibited and had either already so violently offended the mores as to flee the "revenge" of society, or had found that there was less tendency to repression of their intermittent, instinctive outbreaks where the arm of organized society was not yet long enough to reach. For all of such socially inadequate this retired, well-wooded, and well-watered valley afforded a haven of refuge at a day when the system of State "institutions" had been little developed.

That there should be such strains in a colony that had been founded only three or four generations before is not strange when we recall that the emigration of criminals and ne'er-do-wells, among others, to this new country was assisted, in order to relieve the congested centers of Europe, of some of those whose presence was incompatible with the development of high civic ideals. It is the descendants of such people, among others, that came to the region which the Jukes family made notorious.

Here are some of the migrants or their immediate progeny: Max, the hunter and fisher, the jolly, alcoholic, ne'er-do-well; Lem, the stealer of sheep; Lawrence, the licentious, free with his "gun." Here, too, were found Margaret and Delia, the wantons, and Bell, who had three children by various negroes. So some negro and, doubtless, some Indian blood became in time disseminated through the whole population of the valley.

The progeny of such stock showed the expected reactions to their primitive environment. Some proved themselves feeble-minded, grew up ineducable . . .

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