Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

The strange story of Confederates in Brazil

Did you know that "Dixieland" is thriving in the South--away down South
in Brazil?

There is a town in Brazil called Americana where the Confederate flag
flies without controversy. Descendants of Rebels who fled the U.S.
after the Civil War live there and try to keep some of their traditions
alive-although most of them don't speak English.

Americana is located in a fertile sugar-cane region 85 miles northwest
of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city.

In a nearby graveyard, about 400 Confederate settlers and some of their
offspring are buried in the shade of pine, eucalyptus, mango and palm
trees. One of the graves belongs to W.S. Wise, great-uncle of Rosalynn
(Mrs. Jimmy) Carter. Capturing the defiance of those who came to Brazil,
another epitaph reads, "Roberto Stell Steagall--once a Rebel, Twice a
Rebel, and Forever a Rebel. Born 1899, died 1985."

About 3,500 Southerners arrived in the area between 1866 and 1890. The
soil and climate were similar to the southern U.S. They introduced
cotton, the metal plow and the sewing machine.

Most of the exiles were plantation owners, but there were some
teachers, doctors, lawyers and businessmen. They came from Alabama,
Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and Mississippi. They felt conditions
under Reconstruction would be unbearable, so they decided to leave the
old South and head for Brazil. Another attraction was the abundant slave
labor available in Brazil, where slave labor was not abolished until
1888. Many settlers could not adapt and returned to the States.

Those who stayed were warmly welcomed by the Brazilians excepting in
the cemeteries. Brazilian cemeteries were for Roman Catholics, and most
of the newcomers were Protestant, so they had to start their own

Initially, the transplanted Americans did not mix with the local
residents. However, this self-imposed segregation began crumbling in
the early 1900s as grandchildren of the settlers began marrying outside
their community and began to mix with Brazilian culture.

At this point no one has any idea how many descendants of this
transplanted group now live in South America.

The Genealogy Library is open from 11 to 5 Wednesdays.

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