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Legacy of the Sacred Harp

Chloe Webb

Publication Year: 2010

Brought to this continent by the settlers of Jamestown, the sacred harp, which refers to the human voice, is known as “fasola.” In Legacy of the Sacred Harp, author Chloe Webb follows the history of this musical form back four hundred years, and in the process uncovers the harrowing legacy of her Dumas family line.

Published by: TCU Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Grandma could easily have left her old Sacred Harp songbook to any of her other grandchildren. I’ve wondered if she even gave a thought to what might become of the book, or if in her heart she knew what a treasure it would become to me. One might say it just happened; she just handed the tattered book to the nearest outstretched hands. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

For their help with Legacy of the Sacred Harp, I am indebted to the following people and sources: The genealogy book, Dumas Families of Union Parish, Louisiana, by John H. Wilson, Carine Dumas Nolan, and Lorena Craighead Dumas, which was published in 1979 by the Dumas Family Reunion. John H. Wilson’s research, plus that of professional genealogists Dr. John E. Manahan and Yvette Longstaff, ...

Chronology

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pp. xv-xvi

Part One. The Civil War Generations

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Chapter 1. The Sacred Harp

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pp. 3-12

In a dentist’s waiting room, I turned through pages of the August 1987 issue of Texas Highways and a photograph caught my eye. Aged hands held a book of music with oddly shaped notes. The article’s headline read, “Sacred Harp, a Tradition Lives.” The unusual music looked curiously familiar and the out-of-date print of the book’s title page called to mind a music book Grandma ...

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Chapter 2. Grandma's Louisiana

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pp. 13-23

In the months after I first heard Sacred Harp music, I learned of additional singings in or near the Dallas area. Although I knew I’d never be as accomplished as life-long Sacred Harp singers, I was fascinated with the shape-note music. Part of the appeal was that music proficiency was not a requirement; with a complete lack of self-consciousness, they sang for the simple joy of ...

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Chapter 3. To Georgia—an Unclaimed Inheritance

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pp. 24-35

The Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) was formed in 1989 as a temporary federal government agency to resolve the savings-and-loan crisis. Doug’s financial background as a CPA and the Chief Financial Officer of a large company landed him a position in the investigations arm of the RTC, the department determining why specific savings-and-loan institutions had failed ...

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Chapter 4. The Home Place, 1822

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pp. 36-47

In Georgia in the autumn of 1990, only a few months after the Dumas reunion in Louisiana, Doug and I found ourselves attending the reunion of another family branch, descending from Benjamin Franklin Dumas’ son Edmund. We were welcomed warmly and introduced throughout the chatty crowd as “long-lost kin, from the brother who went west.” My pictures from the Louisiana ...

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Chapter 5. Revelations—Settlement of the Will

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pp. 48-54

Marriage records at the courthouse revealed that Aaron David Dumas and Winnie Collier were married in January of 1847 in a ceremony performed by his brother, Edmund Dumas, pastor of Union Primitive Baptist Church. I wondered about the young wife Davie left behind on his adventure to California, and I turned again to Carine for answers. ...

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Chapter 6. The Minutes

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pp. 55-65

I was unable to escape the specter of a direct link with slavery. It seemed that I was swimming a river with a treacherous undertow. My questions demanded answers, and this time, Carine had none to offer. “Of course, I’m aware there were slave owners in our family’s early history in America. In fact, you’ll find I’ve made note of it all the way back ...

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Chapter 7. The Prodigals

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pp. 66-80

On a Sunday afternoon near the end of summer, Doug and I drove from Atlanta to Birmingham and checked in at a hotel near his branch office downtown. He planned to be in Birmingham all week, thus allowing me to continue the next morning on a long drive to visit Carine in Louisiana. I headed west on the interstate at daybreak. Summer was now full-blown and stretched ...

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Chapter 8. Crash Course in Slavery

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pp. 81-90

Although the colors of the forests hinted more strongly of approaching autumn, my return trip to Birmingham did not offer the same carefree spirit. I had to acknowledge disappointment and ask myself what I’d expected to find. With an embarrassing naïveté, I’d imagined the best of all worlds, gathering rosebuds of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Scarlett O’Hara, and Rhett ...

Part Two. The American Revolutionaries

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Chapter 9. Aunt Izzie

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pp. 93-102

Almost as soon as Doug and I returned home to Atlanta, I received news that Mother had lost the vision in her left eye. Despite her objections, I left home again and made a quick trip to Amarillo to see for myself that she was all right. Apparently the deterioration of Mother’s vision had occurred gradually, and she had already made adjustments. Still watching her closely, my worry ...

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Chapter 10. Dumas Tavern and Mount Gilead

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pp. 103-117

Doug had planned to drive to Raleigh and stay in North Carolina for the time his business required. We’d heard that autumn color was spectacular throughout the northern Georgia mountains and into the Carolinas. There might never be a better time for such a trip. Soon after sunrise on Saturday morning, Doug and I were leaving...

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Chapter 11. Unseen Epitaphs

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pp. 118-130

“Does it bother you that you met blacks named Dumas?” Doug asked. I thought for a moment. “It was more of a surprise. Meeting Asia was a shock, like diving into cold water. But he’s just a person, and when you’re talking to someone, you aren’t thinking of color. There is only one thing that disturbs me about Asia’s family having the same name. I’m convinced there’s ...

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Chapter 12. The Presiding Elder

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pp. 137-141

The hotel room’s radio alarm, set earlier than usual, roused me fully awake. I peeked through the draperies for a hint of morning’s mood and saw that it was still dark outside. From the seventeenth floor, I had a broad view of Raleigh’s major traffic routes being mapped by the automobile headlights of early risers. The sky’s faint glow became brighter, and I watched in fascination ...

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Chapter 13. Carolina—the Spiritual Trail

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pp. 142-150

We’d been back in Atlanta only a few days when Doug told me apologetically that he would be returning to North Carolina frequently for awhile. He said he’d understand if I preferred to stay home much of the time. He would be in Greensboro first. When I consulted maps to see where Greensboro was located, I was surprised to find it even closer than Raleigh ...

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Chapter 14. Rocky River

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pp. 151-159

The trip to Winston-Salem was another brief and pleasant drive from Greensboro. I found the Wake Forest campus easily and was directed to the recently-completed library that housed the Baptist Historical Collection. I again followed the suggestion of the Richmond County courthouse clerk to begin with the earliest records and work forward. ....

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Chapter 15. Fasola and the Margent Bible

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pp. 160-166

When Doug and I returned to Atlanta, the phone recorder held only one message that required a quick response: Barbara needed to make reservations for an upcoming luncheon. She had assumed that I would also want to hear a speaker from the Huguenot Society, so she had sent in registration fees for both of us. The luncheon fell on a date when Mother was planning to ...

Part Three. The French Protestants

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Chapter 16. The Huguenots of Saintonge

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pp. 169-180

With an eye on the clock before leaving to pick up Mother at the airport, I sat down to read the summary of Huguenot history that Barbara had sent. It was a small booklet prepared by the National Huguenot Society and meant to serve as preparation for the Huguenot Society lecture and luncheon on Saturday. I scanned the beginning pages searching for names or dates that ...

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Chapter 17. The Advcate

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pp. 181-188

Early on a Wednesday morning, long before the appointed time with my Huguenot Society sponsor, Miss Elizabeth Salle, I arrived at the Manakin church with my camera and extra rolls of film. I turned into a wide drive at a sign that said, “Manakin Episcopal Church, established 1700.” The earth had not yet thrown off its blanket of fog and frost covered the ground in a ...

Part Four. Early Jamestown Colonists

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Chapter 18. Stranger in a Foreign Land

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pp. 191-202

Mother had noticed another change in her vision. Because she had no sight in her left eye, the progression of macular degeneration in the right eye demanded immediate attention. She was referred to a specialist in Dallas for laser surgery to save any peripheral vision, and in the aftermath she retained only a sliver of sight in the right eye. Changes must be made. I considered...

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Chapter 19. The Sea Venture

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pp. 203-211

After absorbing the story of Jerome Dumas and the families of his son and grandsons, I was ready to address Carine’s challenge to learn the other half of the story—Unity Smith Dumas’ family. I expected to find very little in-formation from the seventeenth century, certainly no personal details, about ordinary people. However, the will of Unity’s grandfather, Henry White, recorded ...

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Chapter 20. The Year 1619

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pp. 212-219

When George Yeardley finally sailed into Jamestown harbor aboard the Deliverance, he learned from the remnant of Jamestown settlers that Temperance Flowerdew had miraculously survived the hurricane, but he had no way of knowing what had happened in her life since she’d returned to England. Regardless of the inclinations of his heart, Yeardley was a young soldier who ...

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Chapter 21. Homecoming

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pp. 220-225

We left Richmond early on Saturday morning, wearily facing a long drive back to Atlanta. The road trip was like a time travel journey from the days of our nation’s beginning, through the interim years, and into the present. My mind dwelt on the significance of Sir George Yeardley’s contributions as governor of Jamestown Colony and the far-reaching consequences of his ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 226-237

The next years passed as rapidly as if a steady breeze were turning pages of the calendar. Doug’s work took us from Georgia to California before we built a home in Arizona to retire. To be near grandchildren, we eventually returned home to Texas, only minutes from the waiting room where this story began. Clara Dumas, Reverend Dumas’s widow, has become a close friend over ...

Appendix

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pp. 238-239

Bibliography

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pp. 240-248

Index

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pp. 249-255


E-ISBN-13: 9780875654454
E-ISBN-10: 0875654452
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875654164
Print-ISBN-10: 0875654169

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 50
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1