Civil War Index
After the Civil War….1867 & 1868…many Southerners left the United States and settled in Brazil. Some have migrated there during the Civil War. They were known as “Confederadoes,” Southerners who felt they did not wish to live in the United States under the rule of the occupying forces. Navarro Co. Texas was occupied for several year by these forces. Many historians claim that as many as 10,000 to 20,000 persons were in this group, but the number was, perhaps, nearer 4,000 by 1872.
The Emperor Don Pedro of Brazil, strong member of the Masonic Lodge, actively recruited these families from the South for their expertise in farming and cotton planting, offering passage and inexpensive land. These families were primarily from Alabama, Texas, and South Carolina. Many returned to the United States after a few years, but other families remained in Brazil and left their mark there, carving out a foothold and prospering. Many descendents of these families were integrated into Brazilian society and live there today.
Each year these descendents gather to recall their heritage, to feast on fried chicken.. blackeyed peas…grits…and..”Rattlesnake” watermelon.
These families migrated to Brazil because they felt their country had been invaded and confiscated and there was nothing left. They went to Brazil in an attempt to re-create the life they had known in the “Old South” with huge plantations and slavery. The “War of the Rebellion,” ….”The Late Unpleasantness”…..was a sore subject and those who migrated to Brazil…Cuba…Mexico.. were angry and bitter.
They began their journey from Galveston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Mobile, or Newport News…mainly to Brazil where inexpensive land was offered for as little as twenty-two cents per acre. Their expertise would establish Brazil as a leader in the cotton marker that had been depleted by the Civil War. They took with them the practice of slavery, but slavery was terminated in 1888 when Brazil law abolished the practice.
Those early migrants dreamed of a mass migration by other Southerners…reaching, perhaps, 100,000, but, General Robert E Lee warned against such a mass exodus and the migration slowed and stopped.
They purchased huge tracks of rich farmland, purchased slaves, and, after 1888 when Brazil abolished slavery, took advantage of the cheap labor in Brazil to farm their huge holdings. They grew cotton, coffee, rubber….and “Rattlesnake” watermelons.
These watermelons, grown from seed brought to Brazil from the South, grew in popularity throughout Brazil and up to one hundred trail car loads were being shipped from Americana by the later 1800s.
History records that these “Confederadoes” introduced new farming techniques and that huge cotton crops the first two years after arrival retired debts on lands purchased.
CONFEDEROES & NAVARRO CO TEXAS
McNight & his brother,
Calvin McNight enlisted in 1862 under the command of Capt. Samuel Wright at Dresden, Navarro Co. Texas. He was a farmer from Hill County who, while encamped at Dallas, was promoted to the rank of 5th Sergeant. He participated in more than thirty battles and was discharged at Marshall, Texas in 1865
His brother, Thomas Stuart McNight, a blacksmith, served the confederacy until he received a medical discharge in 1864.
Alfred Iverson Smith
Alfred Iverson Smith and his family left Dresden, Navarro Co in October 1866 in a covered wagon to join other Confederate veterans at Milligan, Texas where migrants, led by Frank McMullen of Hill Co Texas, boarded a train for Galveston. One hundred and forty migrants sailed from Galveston on the sailing ship Derby. The Derby ran aground on the Isle of Pines, Honda Bay in Cuba and was wrecked. However, most belonging were salvaged.
The migrants then sailed for New York and booked passage on another vessel, arriving in Rio de Janeiro in February.
The entrance to the present day Americana, a Brazilian city founded in 1865 by Confederate migrants, most of whom were Freemason and, primarily Presbyterians … greets visitor with a huge Masonic emblem.
Col. William H Norris of Perry Co. AL purchased five hundred acres of land…twenty two cents per acre…and established the settlement. The George Washington Masonic Lodge was formed. Grave markers in the Americana Cemetery today bear the Square & Compass.