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Postscript Reflections of a Confederado Eugene C. Harter Some among the confederados know the stories, heard from the lips of their grandparents, recounting the long, hazardous voyage and the early adventures of arrival in a new homeland. Many descendants now speak only Portuguese , but some still use an English dialect much like the language of the original Confederate immigrants who left the Southern states over a century ago. 1 Despite the problems of distance and language, there seems to be renewed interest in this story of Americans who left their native land, most of them never to return. Recently, just prior to his death, exile descendant Dr. JamesJones, looking at the Confederate grounds in Americana and the new interest in the story, said: "I used to think that this place would go aground, but now there is hope." Among the epic accounts preserved by the confederado community, none is more revered than the story of its founding and of the Norris family. The ink was barely dry on Lee's surrender documents. Only a few weeks after Appomattox, sixty-five-year-old William H. Norris and his son, Robert, headed for Brazil, where they cleared some acreage and established a successful farm. Good news travels fast, and within months other Confederates, also with agricultural know-how, bought land in the area. The elder Norris lived to a ripe old age in Brazil, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. His son Robert, born in Brundridge, Alabama, eventually became a respected medical doctor in Americana. Dr. Norris, a dogged and patriotic soldier, had fought in thirty-seven battles and major engagements until he was made a prisoner by the Union army. He carried a bullet in his stomach and the scar of another bullet on his wrist. Several stories recorded by Robert Norris's daughters, Kennie and Julia, were preserved within the confederado community, and today they are archived at the Museu da Imigrac;:ao in Santa Barbara. Kennie's lively account told of their happy and busy social life, and the abundance of fruits, vegetables , milk, and butter from the plantation. Their house was large, surrounded by a beautiful garden and arbor. Like many of their Confederate neighbors, the structure was built in the American style out of hardwood, 206 Postscript located on 400 acres of land. The home, which was equipped with running water, had a large parlor for entertaining, an entire wall of bookshelves, and a fireplace to remove the evening chill. There was plenty of room to live in and to entertain the many sons and daughters of the medical doctor. It also had room to play for the forty-five grandchildren. Their servants and slaves were taught to speak English. Discussions about the war were frequent. The girls' Uncle Henry and Uncle Clay, veterans of that bloody struggle, would tell Civil War stories as they churned the butter (there were six Norris brothers, all fought in the war, and all survived). One uncle told her, "We did not lose that war, Honey, we just wore ourselves plumb out whopping the damn Yankees." The closest neighbors lived a mile from them, and others lived further away, but there was much visiting among the Confederates. According to Kennie Norris, "When one killed a hog, we would get a ham or a shoulder -and we shared things, loaned implements, tools, vehicles or whatever was needed." The cultural life and recreation was described byJulia Norris, who wrote of picnics, dances, and community activities. Some of the young girls founded a society in which they entertained with games, literary discussions , and sewing gatherings. Music abounded. John Domm cleared a space and erected a picnic ground and barbecue. The village brass band would be brought out, and the entire American colony would attend and spend the whole day. Community dances and musical sessions were frequent, with members of the group bringing their instruments. Many played the violin. A circulating library and a Masonic lodge were founded. There in faraway Brazil they tried to duplicate the way of life they remembered in the Confederate states.2 This author's mother, Maglin May Harris, born in 1899 in Americana, said that customs changed little during her years there (1899-1920), even well into the twentieth century. Mother (known to us as Mae, in the Portuguese ) remembered that attempts were made to keep ties with the United States. For example, several of the Brazilian Confederates were members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, belonging to...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817389024
Related ISBN
9780817309442
MARC Record
OCLC
45730752
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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