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Carolina Piedmont Country

John M. Coggeshall

Publication Year: 1996

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v

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pp. vii

Folklife, a familiar concept in European scholarship for over a century, is the sum of a community's traditional forms of expression and behavior. It has claimed the attention of American folklorists since the 1950s. Each volume in the Folklife in the South Series focuses on the shared traditions that link people with their past and provide meaning and...

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pp. ix-x

In October 1988, Lynwood Montell first approached me about the possibility of writing this book. It is to him that I owe my first debt of gratitude, for offering me the chance and for encouraging me to write. I sincerely appreciate Lynwood's continuing faith in my ability....

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pp. xi-xviii

The drive through the beautiful autumn-tinted countryside was a welcome relief from the intense interview I had just conducted. Rounding a bend in the blacktop, I suddenly saw a rare sight in the Carolina Piedmont today. There, glittering in the late afternoon sun, was a small field of cotton. The contrast of colors immediately struck me: the shimmering...

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1. The Piedmont Region

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pp. 3-14

The Piedmont geographical region extends from the Hudson River in New York to central Alabama—technically serving as the foothills of the Appalachians. More specifically, encyclopedist Karen McDearman observed, "the term Piedmont refers to the Piedmont 'crescent' of North...

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2. Regional Economy

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pp. 15-32

After the devastation of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the South in general, and the Piedmont in particular, changed dramatically. Huge numbers of recently freed African Americans sought employment. Many white and black farmers,...

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3. Contemporary Social Groups

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pp. 33-45

Changes to the political economy of the Carolina Piedmont over the past century have had related repercussions on Upstate folk groups over that same period. As the region shifted to tenant farms interspersed with mill villages, town centers, and black neighborhoods, the groups inhabiting...

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4. General Social and Cultural Values of Piedmont Folk

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pp. 46-60

Despite the variations in real and perceived behaviors differentiating Upstate groups, the residents of the Carolina Piedmont share certain values and ideas. This common heritage is the result of the mixing of European and African traditions during centuries of change here in the...

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5. Folk Speech

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pp. 61-73

A discussion of the varieties of folklife expressed in the Carolina Piedmont might begin anywhere, from the organization of space to social life to worldview. But perhaps it might make the most sense to introduce Upstate folklife by the sounds specifically associated with it: the "southern accent"...

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6. Storytelling and Verbal Artistry

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pp. 74-92

One of the stronger genres winding continuously through Carolina Piedmont folklife is that of storytelling and other verbal artistry. From the general stores and quilting parties of earlier generations to the family reunions and fast-food restaurants of the present, Piedmonters have long...

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7. Customary Beliefs

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pp. 93-104

Interwoven with ideas based on modern scientific thought are those rooted more firmly in folk tradition. While contemporary Piedmont residents have a knowledge of general science and have access to professional medical care, customary beliefs about natural phenomena and supernatural...

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8. Social Gatherings and Activities

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pp. 105-124

African- and Anglo-American traditions would remain separate if not for social interaction, for it links beliefs and provides a context for their use and understanding. Social activities like holiday celebrations and family reunions offer appropriate contexts for the reinforcement of cultural...

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9. Games and Recreations

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pp. 125-144

As in every other culture, residents of the Carolina Piedmont have taken time off from cotton farming, mill work, and the other common drudgeries of their lives to enjoy various types of games and recreations. Some of these are played by children, others by adults. Some are viewed as spectator...

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10. Religion and Religious Ceremonies

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pp. 145-158

As one of the fundamental roots of the area's system of values, and as one of the principal forces justifying numerous social activities, religion plays a substantial role in shaping the folklife of the Carolina Piedmont. Predominantly conservative Protestant, the area's denominations support...

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11. Foods and Food Traditions

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pp. 159-180

Adding flavor and aroma to Upstate folklife are the foods that typify the region and its people. In fact, these foods play a significant role in numerous social activities in the Piedmont. Whether grown by moon signs in backyard gardens, served at family-based Sunday dinners, or consumed as...

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12. Traditional Occupational Culture

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pp. 181-200

Four principal areas of work have long constituted a division of labor and class that has consistently shaped social interaction in the Upstate for the past century. Farmers, both tenants and owners and blacks and whites, form one general group, with their long-standing traditions and stereotypes...

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13. Material Culture

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pp. 201-218

The ways in which people organized their personal spaces—the houses in which they lived, the objects they created, and the cemeteries in which they reposed—form the final elements of Piedmont folklife. Some of these elements represent part of the background of traditions: the mill houses...

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14. Synthesis

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pp. 219-225

The gravel road stretched to the horizon, running due north along the township line. On both sides, aligned in perfect rows like green soldiers, marched tall cornstalks, genetically engineered and thus almost precisely the same size. Black soil, perfectly free of any rocks, anchored the...

Informant Biographies

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pp. 227-230

Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 231-262


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pp. 263-271

E-ISBN-13: 9781621031864
E-ISBN-10: 0878057676
Print-ISBN-13: 9780878057672

Publication Year: 1996