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Eight A Community Center Evolution and Significance of the Campo Site In the Santa Barbara Settlement Area Cyrus B. Dawsey In 1928 MarkJefferson wrote an article for the Geographical Review entitled "An American Colony in Brazil.'" He described his contact with a group of descendants ofAmericans who left the southern United States immediately after the Civil War and migrated to Brazil. Jefferson characterized the people whom he met at Americana, Sao Paulo, as having maintained racial purity, the English language, and many elements of the material culture carried from Georgia and Alabama. After describing features of their rural economy, Jefferson concluded his article on a negative note. He wrote: "They raised their food easily enough and something for a money crop but were apt to become Brazilianized, as they put it, which seems to mean lazy, shiftless, and content to get along on little. The colony is not expected to endure. It may be said to be passing away. ... Economically and socially they had been better off in Georgia than most of them ever were in Brazil."2 Jefferson's 1928 comments portrayed a bedraggled group of descendants on the verge of abandoning the cultural traits that had been taken to Brazil by their ancestors. However, his description failed to account for the colony's remarkable resiliency during the previous sixty years. Though three generations had grown up in a society where few used anything but Portuguese, many of the residents spoke English as a first language. Their manner of dress, food preferences, construction methods, farming techniques , and religious practices still reflected much of the North American heritage. Over sixty additional years have since gone by, yet some of the older surviving individuals continue many of the ways of their ancestors, including a knowledge of Southern English. The generational transfer of the language is not likely to go much further, but the descendants' respect and veneration of the transplanted heritage remain strong. As I will show in 139 A Community Center this chapter, the community possesses certain institutions that have helped preserve the ties to its history. Perhaps no more than 2,000 or 4,000 people made the journey to Brazil in the years immediately after 1865, and many who went soon returned to North America.3 Most of the immigrants originally went to the formal colonies that were established under special agreements between group organizers and the Brazilian government. With the debatable exception of the group led by Maj. Lansford Hastings to Santarem in the Amazon region, all of the colonization efforts failed.4 Immigrants who followed the Reverend Ballard S. Dunn, Dr. James M. Gaston, and Frank McMullan to the Ribeira de Iguape region of coastal Sao Paulo, and those who went with Charles G. Gunter to the valley of the Rio Doce to the north of Rio de Janeiro, were quickly disillusioned.5 Among the difficulties leading to the collapse of these formal colonies were unsuitable soils, excessive rainfall, rough terrain, limited access to transportation facilities, diseases, and conflict among leaders. By 1870 almost all of the people who had gone to Brazil had either returned to the United States or relocated to what became the most viable agglomeration of Americans in Brazil. The group was made up of families who were drawn to the vicinity of the town of Santa Barbara, fifty-four kilometers beyond Campinas in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo. They gathered near the property of Col. William H. Norris, who in 1866 had purchased a portion of the Machadinho Jazenda fronting on the Quilombo stream.6 Though it never included more than 100 families, the group had a very significant impact on Brazilian society. As described elsewhere in this volume , the Americans from Santa Barbara shaped elements of Brazilian agriculture , religion, and education in important ways, and the effects have persisted well into the twentieth century. The community also proved to be remarkably durable. The European immigrants, who arrived in far greater numbers during the late nineteenth century, usually adopted, within one or two generations, most of the Brazilian cultural traits. The Americans, however, remained separate. For decades they influenced the surrounding society while preserving a way of life that was completely different. The persistence of the cultural traits of the Americans can be attributed to many factors. First, their rural-agricultural occupations and the location of reasonably priced farm land that was available for purchase carried the Americans to a sparsely populated area. Few contacts were made with...


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