Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Confederados

Last night, Janice and I went to town to deliver a few pots, and ended up at Lee Epting's house on The Hill.
Lee has always been called the "other Shields brother", cause he stayed at our house more than he did his own, especially at meal time. According to Mama, he still does.

 The Hill has become famous for it's historic "abandoned" homes that Lee found, puchased, restored from as far away as South Carolina. I worked on a couple of Lee's projects houses, and believe me, it was a very expensive labor fraught with every construction nightmare concievable.
There are few dull moments at Lee's house...if you're ever invited to eat with him, by all means do so. I guarantee you, the food will be good, the company outstanding, the conversation lively, and topics that cruise the back roads of southern culture and beyond.

Last night was no different. What started out to be a dreary, rainy, March evening became a cheerful, fire lit night with a feast of salmon, cod, liver and onions, new potatoes, wine, and a bourbon the likes of which I have never tasted. No longer a drinking man, I had to have a little dram to ward off the chill.

The company  included  my dear old Sainted mother Virginia, Peggy Galis, Lee, Janice, and a young man here from Brazil doing research on the Confederados. Don't look at me that way! I had no idea what he was talking about either.

This young man had become interested in the Confederados, at 28, poured his heart and soul into researching the topic all over the South, at his own expense! he speaks fluent English and is here on a 6 month hiatus that includes research timeat  the University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina. Just yesterday, at the UGA library, he found a connection with the Barnsley Gardens of Rome, Ga,. Two of Barnsley's son went to Brazil to scout out the territory and send reports back.

Briefly put, after the Civil War, many who were disgruntled by the outcome of the War of Northern Aggression, went to Brazil to establish a NEW South in a city called Americana. The Brazilian Emperor at the time, Dom Pedro II, offered tax incentives and land as cheap as 22 cents an acre for Confederate malcontents to come to Brazil and basically colonize the area. Some ten thousand took him up on it. These include some family names from the Athens, Ga., Washington, Ga., and Savannah River areas of Western South Carolina.

Things did not go well for most. Establishing a plantation in Brazil was unlike anything in the Southeastern US. The soil and climate are different, and cotton was not the "healthy choice".  Slavery was still legal until 1888 in Brazil, although not commonly used.  Cheaper local labor could be hired to work the farms.
I had never heard of this Confederado migration until last night. As it turned out, most of the Cofederados returned to the US,Americana, Brazil boast a population of 120,000people, but only about 10% can trace lineage back to those original immigrants to Brazil from the Southeastern US.

They still have a festival called the Fiesta Confederada in Americana each year. For a day, hoop skirts, Confederate uniforms, grits and fried chicken and Mint Juleps are order of the day along with pre Civil War music and Cotillions.  They are even allowed to play Dixie in Brazil...Dan Emmett would be proud!  

Who woulda' thunk it... Southerners migrating to Brazil. I guess everything is South of Canada!

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