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Producer, videographer: Ernie Lee Martin
South of the South
The map for this edition of Kentucky Life is a little different, because this time we’re headed all the way to South America to explore a little-known piece of post-Civil War history.
During the late 1860s, after their side had gone down to defeat in the “War Between the States,” approximately 10,000 Confederate sympathizers left the United States for foreign parts, marking the largest exodus of American citizens in history. Between 2,000 and 4,000—from Kentucky and other Southern states—ended up in Brazil. There they gradually congregated in a new settlement that came to be referred to as Americana, in São Paulo.
Quickly dubbed Os Confederados by their new neighbors, the expatriates thrived there for several generations. Eventually, a few began to find their way back.
Eugene Harter’s family was among that number. His forebears had left Appalachia for Brazil with the great Confederate migration. But in 1935, Harter’s father sent them all, including 10-year-old Eugene, back to the States. In a strange twist of fate, Eugene ended up entering the U.S. foreign service and being stationed back in Brazil, near Americana. There he re-learned his family history and discovered that few outside the Americana colony knew about its origins. Having seen both ends of the trek, Eugene is now doing his best to remedy that historical oversight with his book The Lost Colony of the Confederacy.
For another perspective on the story, this special edition also traces the history of the Pyleses, a Kentucky family descended from Brazilian immigrants. Ive Lima of São Paulo talks about the original Brazilian family home as well as the family’s adopted Kentucky home.
And finally, we’ll take you to Festa Confederada, the Americana colony’s annual tribute to its American/Confederate roots. Here the Old South rises again as Confederados eat biscuits and fried chicken, dress in hoop skirts and Rebel uniforms, and sing “Dixie”—in Brazilian-Portuguese accents.
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809: Simple Pleasures and Hidden Treasures • 810 • 811 • 812 • 813
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