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Site locations noted on map.
Lansford Hastings led Confederado settlers to the unforgiving environment of the Amazon. George Barnsley, an emigrant who originally joined the New Texas settlement, claimed Hastings’ effort “attracted much attention and a number of emigrants settled near him, but either through the climate, or rains, or insects, or more probably laziness, his colony came to nothing. ” The reality was that while unsuccessful settlers moved on, some remained. There were 92 colonists on the land in 1888. In 1940, original settler David Riker, could report, “I’m glad I stayed on. God has been good to me. My sons are good sons, my daughters are good daughters. My wife is good and true. We lack for nothing we ought to have. How many can say the same?”
A 1983 tour guide-book of South America noted of Santarèm:
This city…was settled in 1865, by residents of South Carolina and Tennessee who fled the Confederacy where slavery was abolished. …It now serves as a supply center for miners, gold prospectors, rubber tappers, Brazil-nut gatherers, and the jute and lumber industries. Several bars display the Confederate flag, and you still occasionally meet the settlers’ descendants, who mixed with the multi-racial Brazilians and have names like Jose Carlos Calhoun.
2) Rio Doce
Founded by Colonel Charles Gunter, the Confederado settlement promised early success, but malaria, serious drought and lack of government-promised steamship service weakened the community. Some professionals in the colony migrated to Rio de Janeiro. Others moved to other settlements or assimilated into surrounding Brazilian life. Gunter died at the settlement in 1873.
3) Villa/Vila Americana (settlement near the Brazilian town of Campinas)
The most successful and well-known of the settlements was established with colonists living close together. The community that would become Americana attracted emigrants from other struggling Confederado colonies. It’s home to the annual Festa dos Confederados and is featured, along with its residents and festa, in most contemporary media about Os Confederados. It was founded by Colonel William H. Norris who purchased the five-hundred acre Machadinho Estate and three slaves.
An American historian has written of the Confederado colony:
In many ways the emigrants comprising the group in and near Villa Americana, as the settlement came to be called, were the happiest and most successful group in Brazil. This was perhaps due to the homogeneity of the group and to the fine and unselfish leadership of the Norrises, father and son, who were men of sufficient means to help the settlers overcome the first financial difficulties.
It was an enterprise of Reverend Ballard Dunn who scouted Brazil for emigration and returned to the US to write a book about the country, hoping to recruit colonists. The 350 Confederado recruits traveled to Brazil subsidized by loans from the South American country. He called his colony Lizzieland for his de-ceased wife. Barnsley described the site, as “extremely picturesque, but with the slight defect of being without good lands and in the rainy season was half under water.” Dunn mortgaged the land for $4,000 and three months after settling his colonists on the vast tract of Brazilian land, the Reverend left Lizzie-land, never to return. Floods shortly afterwards destroyed improvements and many of the settlers melted into the Brazilian cultural landscape or slipped to other colonies.
5) New Texas
Texans Frank McMullan and William Bowen organized a colony of 152 Confederados. McMullan died shortly after arriving in Brazil, and leadership of the colony fell to Bowen. But Confederado Judge James H. Dyer fought for control of the settlement. The conflict, isolation, homesickness, shortage of food and money, and inability to build roads to get their crops to market soured most colonists on the chosen site and by 1870 all had returned to the US or resettled in other areas, especially the thriving settlement which would eventually be named Americana. Dyer stayed, building several successful sawmills and operating a steamboat, all the while searching for a hidden treasure of gold. When a storm took the steamboat, Dyer gave up, sold one sawmill and gave the other and his remaining property to his former slave, Steve Watson (Vassão), and returned to the States.
Dr. James McFadden Gaston, a surgeon from South Carolina scouted Brazil for settlement and wrote the 1866 book “Hunting a Home in Brazil.” He headed a 100-person Confederado settlement, but most moved over time to other areas of Brazil till the settlement essentially evaporated into other settlements or into Brazilian culture. Gaston moved several times himself, eventually ending up with a medical practice in the Brazilian town of Campinas, State of São Paulo, close to Americana.
Colonel M.S. McSwain and Horace Land headed a colony to the Brazilian state of Paranà just to the South of São Paulo. Some of the colonists assimilated into ethnic groups around Paranaguà, especially German communities, while some returned to the US.