Charles Dodson, Husband of Bertie Seawright, went to South America with a group of the Seawrights. When he got there he found that the climate was so much like South Carolina that he sent back home for cotton seeds. He became the first person to introduce cotton to Brazil.
Drefus relates this story:
Before WWI, two beautiful young sisters arrived in Donalds, SC., from Brazil, South America. They came to further their education in South Carolina's more modern system of higher learning. They were admired and welcomed by their many cousins whom they had never seen.
The girls were the granddaughters of Ebenezer Wilson Seawright who moved to Brazil after the Civil War.
Katherine and Rosa Keese are the ladies I am thinking of. It didn't take long for them to fit right in with the young folks and be admired and praised by the older people. Customs here were very different from their homeland, but that didn't take the girls long to over come. The proms and lawn parties of that day made getting acquainted easy. Dating and college went hand in hand.
Katherine was the first to go steady. The local young druggist and drug store owner was the lucky man. Robert D. Brownlee popped the question and Katherine accepted. We soon heard wedding bells echoing through-out the little town of Donalds.
Two fine children were born to this family, one boy and one girl, William A. Brownlee and Dorothy Brownlee (Henry).
Rosa also had a sweetheart and they were very serious at that time.
Rosa and Henry Dodson were engaged but their plans were very cloudy by the approach of WWI. Henry had been drafted and Uncle Sam had made his plans. So they postponed the wedding until a later date. Rosa hurriedly left for Brazil before the German U-boats cut off the shipping lanes to her home. The story does not end yet. Poor old Henry reluctantly marched off to war in Germany. Finally after two long years the war ended and Henry set foot on American soil again, but not for long. After visiting relatives he headed to Charleston, SC, and caught the first boat headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil. You guessed it, the wedding took place as planned. One fine boy was born to Henry and Rosa. They named him C.K. I suppose that stood for Charles Keese Dodson. Neither Henry nor Rosa ever returned to America.
The Greenville News
August 30, 1936 Sunday Thursday
The Greenville News
May 2, 1957 Thursday
Charles Dodson and Roberta Seawright were married at 7 PM on Dec 21, 1887 at the home of the bride's father, William Seawright. The service was performed by Rev William Franklin Pearson, pastor of the Little Mountain Church in Abbeville, SC.
Source: a handwritten note of marriages performed by Rev Pearson.
Rev Pearson's note names the bride as Bertie Eugenia Seawright.
CHILDREN OF CHARLES DODSON AND ROBERTA SEAWRIGHT
Kittie M Dodson
BIRTH 10 SEP 1890 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 21 JAN 1962 • South Carolina, USA
Married: 1903, South Carolina, USA
Lander Holmes Willis
BIRTH 25 MAY 1885 • Sullivan, Laurens, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 26 MAR 1955 • Laurens, South Carolina, USA
Son of John Roland Willis and Sarah A. "Sallie" Miller
Henry Hill Dodson
BIRTH 26 JUL 1892 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina
DEATH 26 JUL 1936 • Chácara Recreio, Santa Barbara d'Oeste, São Paulo, Brazil
Married: About 1905 • São Paulo, Brasil
Rosa May Keese
BIRTH 6 AUG 1888 • Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, Sao Paulo, Brazil
DEATH 28 SEP 1969 • Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Daughter of Thomas Alanzo Keese and Emily Virginia Seawright
Rosa and Henry Dodson were engaged but their plans were very cloudy by the approach of WWI. Henry had been drafted and Uncle Sam had made his plans. So they postponed the wedding until a later date. Rosa hurriedly left for Brazil before the German U-boats cut off the shipping lanes to her home. The story does not end yet. Poor old Henry reluctantly marched off to war in Germany. Finally, after two long years, the war ended and Henry set foot on American soil again, but not for long. After visiting relatives he headed to Charleston, SC, and caught the first boat headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil. You guessed it, the wedding took place as planned. One fine boy was born to Henry and Rosa. They named him C.K. I suppose that stood for Charles Keese Dodson. Neither Henry nor Rosa ever returned to America.
Henry and Rosa would have one son
Charles Keese Dodson
BIRTH 1921 • Brazil
Lillie E Dodson
BIRTH NOV 1893 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 11 MAR 1915 • Laurens County, South Carolina, USA
Married: 10 Jun 1914, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
Samuel Earl Elledge Sr
BIRTH 21 JUL 1885 • South Carolina
DEATH 17 APR 1931 • Ware Shoals, Laurens, South Carolina, USA
Son of John Porter Elledge and Mary Judson Cooper
Jeanie Ruth Dodson
BIRTH 8 APR 1895 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 27 MAY 1967 • Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Married: 3 Dec 1919 • South Carolina, USA
John Robert Dunn Sr
BIRTH 23 NOV 1877 • Shoals Junction, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 07 MAR 1942 • Gaffney, Cherokee, South Carolina, USA
Jeanie and John would have at least six children:
BIRTH 17 APR 1897 • Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 20 OCT 1899 • Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
Died as a young child
Ora L Dodson
BIRTH 12 OCT 1898 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 21 OCT 1978 • Simpsonville, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Married: May 27, 1925, • Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Lawrence Edward King SR
BIRTH 13 JUNE 1896 • South Carolina
DEATH 20 NOVEMBER 1980 • Simpsonville, Greenville, South C
Ora and Lawrence would have at least two children:
Margaret B Dunn
BIRTH 7 JAN 1921 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 30 AUG 2008 • Ware Shoals, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Married: 9 Jun 1942, South Carolina, USA
James Howard "Slick" Drake
BIRTH 2 JAN 1917 • Shoals Junction, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 25 NOV 2002 • Ware Shoals, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
John Robert Dunn JR
BIRTH 5 MAY 1922 • Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 2 OCT 2003 • Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Married: 24 Oct 1944 • Due West, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
BIRTH 06/21/1918 • Laurens County, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 2008 • Lexington County, South Carolina, USA
Daughter of Benjamin Arnold Knifgt and Fannie Dorothy Balentine
Charles Henry (Sam) Dunn
BIRTH 11 AUG 1923 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 26 JUL 1993 • Gaffney, Cherokee, South Carolina, USA
Married: 29 Jul 1949 • Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Lillie Rebecca Wilson
BIRTH 5 JUNE 1928 • Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 3 MARCH 2013 • Clinton, Laurens, South Carolina, USA
Daughter of Fred Guy Wilson and Arrena Adaline Gerrard
William Acker (Billy) Dunn
BIRTH 11 OCT 1924 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 8 FEB 1967 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Married: 20 Apr 1946 • Greenwood, South Carolina, USA, at his mother's home
Virginia E. Pearman
BIRTH 1928 • Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 30 DEC 2019 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Saughter of the late Floyd and Ethel Smith
BIRTH 4 JAN 1928 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 4 JAN 1928 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Twin of Bernie - Died of premature birth
BIRTH 4 JAN 1928 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 4 JAN 1928 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Twin of Bertie - Died of premature birth
Wilma E. DODSON
BIRTH 12 NOV 1900 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 14 MAY 1975 • Greenwood County, South Carolina, USA
Married: 10 Mar 1921 • Greenville County, South Carolina, USA
Myrth James "Jimmie" Killingsworth
BIRTH 27 JUN 1898 • Sullivan, Laurens, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 23 SEP 1971 • Ware Shoals, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
He was the son of Samuel "Sam" Clarence Killingsworth and Betty Lou Clodfelter
Wilma and Jimmie would have at least four children:
Charles Edward "Ed" King
BIRTH 27 OCTOBER 1932 • Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 20 JANUARY 2014 • Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Wilma Eugenia King
BIRTH 28 JUL 1934 • Simpsonville, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 24 DEC 1994 • Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Died from injuries suffered in a car crash
Married: 08 OCT 1954
Paul Gerald (Jerry) Jones
BIRTH 18 DEC 1932 • Simpsonville, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 19 NOV 1986 • South Carolina, USA
He was the son of Paul Goodwin Jones and Essie Mae Howard
Frances Noree Killingsworth
BIRTH 6 MAY 1922 • South Carolina
DEATH 21 MAR 2012 • Greenwood, Greenwood, SC
Married: 23 Nov 1946 • Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Lynwood Talmadge Martin
BIRTH 14 JUN 1914 • Blacksburg, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 12 FEB 1984 • Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina, USA
He was the son of Lyman Hall Martin Sr. and Eula Mae Wylie
Hazel Betty Killingsworth
BIRTH 30 JUN 1926 • Ware Shoals, Greenwood County, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 12 NOV 2017 • Fort Mill, York, South Carolina, USA
Married 1st: 1948 • South Carolina, USA
George Hagan Haddon
BIRTH 16 MAR 1926 • Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 10 SEP 1975 • Donalds, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
He was the son of George Paul Haddon Sr. and Annie Belle Jordan
Edwin Andrew Manos
BIRTH 9 MAY 1918 • High Point, Guilford, North Carolina, USA
DEATH 23 OCT 1998 • Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
He was the son of Gus Athos "Constantine" Manos and Leona Dennard
Hazel and George would have at least three children:
George Hagan Haddon Jr
BIRTH 5 JAN 1952 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 7 JUN 1997 • Washington, Wilkes, Georgia, USA
Married: 14 Apr 1990 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Mrs. Sandra Marie Frix
Michael Paul Haddon 3c
BIRTH 1954 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH OCT 1954 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Died as an infant
Wilma Eugenia Haddon
BIRTH 30 AUG 1957 • Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
Married 1st: 28 Aug 1976 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
Victor V Schelechow
Son of Russian immigrants George Schelechow and Lydia Haase
BIRTH 31 JUL 1950
Married 2nd: 2 Jul 1988 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
James Frederick Thies
BIRTH 20 DEC 1956 • Catawba, Catawba, North Carolina, USA
Son of George Fredireck Thies and Clara Louise Cox
Myrth James "Jimmy" Killingsworth II
BIRTH 8 MAR 1930 • Ware Shoals, Greenwood, SC
DEATH 14 OCT 1952 • North Korea
BIRTH 8 OCT 1930
DEATH AUG 1961
Jimmie and Delores would have one son, born about a month before Jimmie was killed in North Korea.
Myrth James Killingsworth III
BIRTH 14 OCT 1952
Nancy Lee Killingsworth
BIRTH ABT 1936 • South Carolina, USA
Married: 25 Jun 1960 • Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Joe Harold Martin
BIRTH 21 SEP 1937 • Ware Shoals, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 22 SEP 2017 • Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
Nancy and Joe would have two sons:
Monty J. Martin
BIRTH 26 JUN 1965
Mickey L. Martin
Charles "Charlie" Mark Dodson
BIRTH 14 SEP 1905 • Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina, USA
DEATH 12 APR 1957 • Chácara Recreio, Santa Barbara d'Oeste, São Paulo, Brazil
World·CBC IN BRAZIL
Bom dia, y'all: Brazilian town loves its Dixie roots
Descendants of Southern U.S. settlers wave Confederate flag, munch fried chicken. Just don't ask about Trump
Matt Kwong · CBC News · Posted: Jul 30, 2016 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: July 30, 2016
Brazilians in Confederate Army uniforms celebrate their Southern U.S. heritage in the town of Santa Bárbara d'Oeste. Joao Leo Padoveze, right, is partial to blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes when he cruises through town in his black Chevy pickup. (João Leopoldo Padoveze/Fraternidade Descendencia Americana)
There's a place down south — way, way down south — where America's Confederate iconography exists in a blissful, non-politicized vacuum.
The Brazilian "Confederados" of Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, 140 kilometres outside traffic-choked São Paulo, treasure their Southern bloodlines.
Townsfolk here wear belts emblazoned with the rebel Stars and Bars, the buckles glinting in the Brazilian sun. They hoist the Confederate flag outside a small Protestant chapel surrounded by corn and sugar cane, the crops their ancestors brought over when they fled post-Civil War America.
Residents of this town of 180,000 still taste the flavours of Dixie in 150-year-old recipes for fried chicken and biscuits.
They even belt out Dixie during their annual Festa Confederada, an April jamboree where women dress like antebellum Southern belles. The men, wearing Confederate Army finery, square dance with them on an alfresco floor painted like the Southern Cross.
Marcelo Sans Dodson points to the Keese family name, one of his Southern U.S. ancestral bloodlines, on an obelisk erected in the town of Santa Bárbara d'Oeste to mark 100 years of settlement by the Confederados. (Matt Kwong/CBC)
"I wish I was in Dixie, hooray! Hooray!" Marcelo Sans Dodson sings, standing near a white obelisk bearing another rebel flag motif. "In Dixie's Land I'll take my stand, to live and die in Dixieee…"
The 42-year-old agricultural engineer — a Confederado with a multi-ethnic mix of Syrian, American, Spanish and Italian roots — croons in Portuguese-accented English.
But Southern lilts can still be heard around town. Confederate descendants of an older generation, like 65-year-old Daniel Carr de Nuzio, retain the soft drawl imported by the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 Americanos who settled here from 1865 to 1875.
'Good ol' boys' vs. a liberal
"My good friends in the States are all Republicans. They're good ol' boys," says de Nuzio, who notes that his paternal grandmother was of African descent.
Women in hoop skirts dance at annual Festa Confederada, which honours the Confederate roots of the Brazilian town of Santa Barbara d'Oeste. In April, 2,000 participants ate fried chicken, biscuits and creamed corn and drank draft Brazilian beers. (João Leopoldo Padoveze/Fraternidade Descendencia Americana)
"They hate Obama and they hate Democrats — but I like 'em! I'm liberal! So when I go out, I have to keep my big mouth shut."
As for his thoughts on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump: "Simply crazy," de Nuzio sighs. "Anyway, politicians are politicians."
In the same breath, de Nuzio, the fifth-generation descendant of Col. William Norris, the Southerner who helped settle Santa Bárbara, adds that he travelled to Georgia to picket in favour of keeping the Confederate battle flag emblem on the State House.
Children sport Confederate-era costumes during the annual celebration in Santa Barbara d'Oeste in honour of the town's history. Started in 1981, the event doubles as a fundraiser for the town's volunteer-run historical association. (João Leopoldo Padoveze/Fraternidade Descendencia Americana)
To North Americans, these may sound like contradictory remarks, particularly in a U.S. election year in which Confederate imagery has been a symbol of the radical right at political rallies.
But there's nothing unusual for the people of Santa Bárbara.
"The flag means something different to people in Brazil," de Nuzio says. "It means our heritage."
Descendants of the settlers often take visitors to their ancestral gravesites. They guide them through the Museum of Immigration, past the ruffled Gone With the Wind gowns, then past letters penned by rebel veterans describing 1880s agrarian life in exotic Brazil.
Trump? Trump who?
Costumed dancers, residents of the Brazilian town of Santa Barbara d'Oeste, perform at the annual Festa Confederada in April. (João Leopoldo Padoveze/Fraternidade Descendencia Americana)What they shy away from, though, is talk about current American politics. Bringing up the Trump name can get downright awkward.
"We are a non-political organization," says Dodson, a volunteer historian and treasurer for the town's Fraternidade Descendência Americana, when asked about the candidate.
It's a sensitive matter. Surprisingly so, given Trump's dominance among Southern Republicans in the primaries. But some Confederados would rather not clash with American friends who helped trace their genealogies after their shared forefathers started this cotton-producing colony.
João Leopoldo Padoveze, a 35-year-old photographer and distant cousin of de Nuzio, speaks fondly of his "familia" in Georgia. His "American father," a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, lives in the Peach State.
Marcelo Sans Dodson stands in front of the open-air dance floor at the site of the annual April Festa Confederada in Santa Barbara d'Oeste, Brazil. (Matt Kwong/CBC)
"I miss them," says Padoveze, who adds that he is a descendant of Southerners from the Carr and Crisp clans, as well as having some Italian and slave ancestry. "Everything those guys show to us and teach us, we try to emulate here."
For people paying attention to the U.S. election, though, this can be fraught. One proud Confederado confesses that a Facebook post admiring U.S. President Barack Obama once drew so much online scorn from relatives 7,000 kilometres away that he decided never to muse about politics online again.
The same anti-Trumper joked, anonymously, "Some Republicans will vote for a brick — if it's a Republican brick."
Domestic political drama
For the most part, however, Santa Bárbara d'Oeste is like any other Brazilian town too worried about domestic political drama to care about international affairs.
Joaoa Leopoldo Padoveze, a sixth-generation Confederado, tours the cemetery where roughly 600 other American descendents in Santa Barbara d'Oeste are buried. Padoveze is a descendent of Col. William Noris, who helped to settle Santa Barbara and also founded the nearbytown of Americana. (Matt Kwong/CBC)
A crippling economic crisis has cast a pall over the nation, along with the ongoing calamity over the impeachment of Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff and the corruption allegations against her.
"I don't go really deep into U.S. politics," says Natalia Cruz Novaes, 35, a descendant of the Weissinger Confederate family. "Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, I'm just not interested."
Around the corner, a black Chevy pickup bearing a Confederate flag bumper sticker trundles to a stop. Padoveze, wearing blue jeans, wears a Sons of the Confederate Veterans pin showing the Southern Cross emblem on his wool coat.
He's partial to blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd when he cruises through town.
"I like Sweet Home Alabama. I like Free Bird. I got these songs playing in the car all the time," he says.
Nanci Padoveze, who creates many of the costumes worn during the annual Confederate festival in the town of Santa Barbara d'Oeste, shows off her rebel flag wallet and a purse with the words "Lady Rebel" stitched in. (Matt Kwong/CBC)
"But what makes me sad is that the band doesn't use the Confederate flag in their shows anymore," he adds, a trace of regret in his voice. "You know, because of all the controversy."
Confederados are tired of defending their reason for loving the rebel flag. If anyone will listen, they would much rather tell outsiders about how their ancestors brought watermelon seeds to Brazil, or how the Americans trained locals in new farming techniques using horse-drawn plows, promoted freedom of religion, and introduced school curricula later adopted by Brazil's educational system.
They're also more than happy to simply let their rebel flag fly freely and celebrate it for what it is: an emblem of their heritage.
Gean Carlos Costa, an administrator at the Santa Barbara d'Oeste historical centre, only has happy thoughts about the rebel flag. (Matt Kwong/CBC)
Confederate flag is 'a symbol of love'
"A symbol of love," offers Dodson. Certainly not racism, he says. Not in a country where 50.7 per cent of the population describe themselves as black or of mixed race, according to the 2010 census.
And while Brazil was a slave-holding nation until 1888, historians say archival records show only about 10 per cent of the Southern immigrants were involved in slave farming.
Confederados cite oppression in the U.S. during the Reconstruction era, economic opportunities, an invitation from Emperor Dom Pedro II to help cultivate cotton on fertile soil, and the desire for liberation from "dictatorial" Yankees as more compelling reasons for the immigration.
But forget racial politics, says Gean Carlos Costa, who works at the town's historical centre.
Costa is so accustomed to the Flag of Dixie that when he sees images in newspapers, a much lighter thought comes to mind — one that makes the room erupt with good-natured laughter.
"To me, it's simple," he says. "When I see that symbol, I think of our parties."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Kwong was the Washington-based correspondent for CBC News. He previously reported for CBC News as an online journalist in New York and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at: @matt_kwong
MASSEY: Way Down South in Brazil, Part 5
By Tim Massey Trailing The Past
Feb 12, 2021
Father Constantine and Tim Massey try out a Romi Isetta at the Romi Car Factory museum.
Photo Courtesy Of Tim Massey
Laiza Crisp on stage in 2018 in the Tennessee dress showing the flag of her ancestral American home Tennessee.
Photo Courtesy Of Tim Massey
After a once in a lifetime experience in Brazil, I arrived back home and realized there were places I should have visited, things I should have done. This wasn’t Gettysburg or Philadelphia — I couldn’t just jump in the car and drive up for a weekend. While many here talk about the Festa Confederada, I had been there, I have experienced it, I knew the people.
In the next year, I received a lot of speaking requests and used a Power Point program loaded with pictures. I did take over 7,000 photos in Brazil. Laura McKnight, a close friend that lives in middle Tennessee and whose family I know in Brazil, and I hooked up a couple times to give programs together. Laura and I are working on a book project together. The Sons of Union Veterans even asked me to present “The Confederadoes” at their state meeting. Three historic groups made me their official ambassador to Brazil.
Gwen told me that she and Rex were going back in 2018 and were making reservations — including me. I was excited that I would get to relive a lifetime experience once again. She said she was registering us at a hotel in Santa Barbara d’Oeste. She felt that we had imposed enough on families and knew our way around well enough to be on our own. I was not too thrilled about staying in a hotel but I wasn’t driving the bus. I told Gwen that I had an agenda. I wanted to visit the train stations in Americana and Santa Barbara, the American Immigration Museum, the Masonic Lodge, and Tennessee Harley Davison.
My first trip, as Lillian and I photographed the Festa, I was fascinated by the Rebel Bikers of Brazil. I was taking photos of their vests when one of them said something to me. I really wanted to run but said “Engleeze!” He said, “Oh, you’re from the states.” He told me that he was telling me to be sure and get a photo of another biker’s jacket because it was really neat. He asked where I was from in the states and I told him Greeneville, Tennessee. He said, “I’ve been there, I love to eat at the General Morgan Inn.” He said he comes to Morristown a couple times a year to a factory there as part of his job. It is a small world after all!
I was glad I didn’t run because I had a great time hanging out with the Rebel Bikers. They have clubs that are reminiscent of our Hyperion and do a lot of children’s charity work. Lucci Reple is their national president, an engineer by trade, and I count him among my close friends in Brazil.
I flew out of Tri-Cities to Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale where I met Gwen and Rex for the flight to Brazil. After an all-night flight, we arrived in Campinas. Cesar picked us up and drove us to the hotel. We settled in and decided to walk the streets a while and get a feel for the area. The first place we stopped was a motorcycle shop and I texted my boss a picture of me sitting on a bike and told him I had arrived safely.
The folks at the Hotel Nossotel were nice but did not speak any English. The lady at the desk always had a big smile when I was walking toward her to ask something. She was probably thinking “What’s this idiot want now?” We had to leave our keys when we left the room and I am sure that was so they could run up and turn off the air conditioner.
They had a great breakfast buffet and yes, those tapioca rolls! I know they had to make an extra couple pans while we were there. One morning, the manager had the cook make an American breakfast just for us. I had to explain to him that we could eat scrambled eggs and bacon at home but while in Brazil, we wanted to eat the local faire. He was probably trying to save the tapioca rolls.
He also loaned me a history book about Santa Barbara d’Oste. I could decipher some of it, but in the photos I recognized, Col. Norris, Joseph Whitaker, the train station, Rebels Roost and a few other places. I really would have liked to have brought that book home with me but returned it. But guess what?
Adriana and Cesar picked us up and we visited the Americana train station. Adriana couldn’t understand why I wanted to go to Tennessee Harley Davison. She said, “Why do you want to go there — it’s just a motorcycle shop?” They took us to an old mill that had been converted to a museum and various office spaces and shops. It had a large river coming off the mountain that had been its power source and a swinging bridge to cross. We dined at a place along the river and they had a case of those fish that look like they washed up on the bank and laid there a while. I’m sure those fish are good, but I want mine filleted and not staring back at me.
We told Adriana and Cesar we were going to do our own thing and Tim really wanted to go to Tennessee Harley Davidson. Gwen had been a Harley girl when she lived in Atlanta and Rex had been a HOG guy too, so they were in on that adventure with me.
I had hooked up with Marcelo Dodson on social media after Gwen and Rex met him their first trip. He had introduced me on stage at the previous Festa. Marcello is a Mason and Shriner and knew I was as well. I had told him I wanted to visit the Lodge, the Santa Barbara Train Station, and the immigration museum.
Marcello is another interesting story. His grandmother came to the U.S. to get her degree at the University of South Carolina. While there, she fell in love with a fellow student. He was drafted to the Army during WWII and asked her to marry him before he was shipped off. She told him there were two conditions to her marrying him. First, he would need to return safely from the war and second, he would have to move to Brazil. He kept his promises and that is Marcello’s story.
We would walk up the streets and visit the bakery, an ice cream shop, and other stores. Everywhere we went my social media friends grew as they wanted to “Friend-up” with us. I tell folks I have over 1,400 Facebook friends in Brazil, yes, I met every one of them.
Since we had decided to adventure out some on our own, Gwen told me to go the desk and get us a taxi. She said to “make sure they get us one that speaks English.” When our Taxi arrived, a nice young man with a new Honda with extra seats came in with a big infectious smile. His name was Renan Leao pronounced “Henan” and he spoke no English. When I tried to talk to him, he disappeared and came back with a tablet. He talked, his tablet interpreted, I talked and same thing. We were set!
I told Renan I wanted to go to Tennessee Harley Davidson in Campinas and off we went. My fascination was twofold. First, I had bought a big black Heritage Classic Harley and was into the biker thing. Second, Tennessee is big in Brazil and I wanted to explore why, even though I knew the answer. The Sons of Confederate Veterans has a group for bike enthusiasts called the Mechanized Cavalry. I had been a member for years even though I didn’t have a bike. I was “dismounted” as they say. After I got the bike, I had gone on rides and sewn the patches on a vest and was wearing it in Brazil. I also took along 100 Tennessee State flag patches to give my new biker friends.
Tennessee Harley Davidson was a large store. It had its own bar and lounge area. Hanging from above was the Tennessee State flag, the Confederate Flag, the U.S. flag, and the Brazilian flag. I did a lot of shopping. I bought all the shirts with “Tennessee Harley Davidson” on them. I had a lot of friends wanting shirts. I made sure I brought my HR lady April Swatzell one too. The owner came out with a couple bike flags for Gwen and I that have the Tennessee State Flag on one side and the Brazilian flag on the other. A biker group meets there for a Friday ride each week. They call themselves “The Friday Vagabonds.” We had fun visiting with them and posed for a group photo. They had all been here to Tennessee and ridden our bike trails. Small world.
There is a lot of “Tennessee” in the area where the Crisp family and others from Tennessee settled. The shop owner told me that “out of the U.S. Harley dealers” take the name of an area in the U.S. He said with all their ties to Tennessee it was only natural to use that name.
Since I missed eating at McDonald’s my first trip, we told Renan to stop at McDonalds. He had to order for us and got a kick out of me taking photos in a burger place. I saw a vintage 1930s car at a gas station and he wheeled in so I could get out and take pictures of it. He took us to parks and out of the way places he thought we should see. Along the way we discovered he had been a student of Adrianna.
One morning when I went down to breakfast there was a gentleman seated dining. He was dressed in a long black robe with a little round hat and a long white beard. I said Bom Dia (good morning) and he replied in kind, then said something else. I said, “Engleeze” he said “Oh, you’re from the States. I told him I was from Tennessee and he said, “Really? I was born in Alamo, Crockett County, Tennessee.” I told him I had been there a couple times and knew it well. He told me he had lived in Louisiana and moved to Brazil in 1957. He was in the service of the Russian Orthodox Church and went by Father Constantine.
When Gwen and Rex came in I introduced everyone and we dined together. We learned that “Father” was there for the Festa. Yes, he was proud of his Confederate ancestors and pulled up his robe to show me he was wearing a “CS” belt buckle. As Gwen would say many times, “Father” was a Godsend. We took him everywhere we went as long as he was there. He could tell us what the food was on menus and he would order for us. He was our own personal interpreter while we were out around together.
Renan had so much fun running around with us crazy Americans that he told us he was not taking any other business while we were there. He was at our beck and call anytime we wanted to go somewhere. He was another Godsend.
Marcello arranged for us to visit some of the area sites that I wanted to see. There were others staying at the hotel that wanted to tag along. Renan popped up another seat to accommodate everyone. We visited the Santa Barabara d’Oste train station which has its own American Museum. It is part of a park now. They left the old gage rails down so people could see how the trains ran and how wide the rails were. Across the street is the headquarters of the American Descendants Fraternity. We had a nice visit there and it was fun seeing all the history displayed on their walls. Marcello gave me a couple posters that I managed to get home without bending.
The next stop was the American Immigration Museum which was incredible with all the artifacts those first Americans brought with them. There are stoves, plows, personal items, furniture, doctors’ items, wedding dresses, and an incredible amount of Confederate money. When Norris set up that first American bank, they used Confederate money which is one reason the Festa just takes Confederate dollars. It was closed last time I was there and was again, but Marcello and Gwen connected with our friend the mayor who stopped by to make sure it was opened for us.
Gwen arranged for us to visit an old factory that is now a museum she wanted me to see. They built Italian cars called the Romi here for years. Maria Padoveze opened the private museum for us and gave us a tour. It has a lot of history of the area from stone age tools and bones up through modern times. The Romi car manufacturing was the centerpiece of the museum.
The best part was those Romi cars in which the front is the door and opens taking the steering wheel with it. Father Constantine and I tried one out. A lot of famous Americans owned a Romi.
I have come to the realization that this edition to the series is not the last. As I said at the beginning, I had not written about Brazil because I didn’t know where to start or where to stop. There have been a lot of fun memories in these pages and I know there are other subjects I should be covering. Join me next week as we continue to trail the past in Brazil.
Greene County historian Tim Massey is an award-winning writer for Civil War News with more than 40 photos featured on various magazine covers. He has served on various boards and held positions in several historic organizations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.