Benjamin & Dalton Yancey - Members of
The Lost Colony of the Confederacy
ORLANDO SENTINEL - January 21, 2001|By Lee King, Sentinel
South's `Lost Colony'
Family Joined Confederate Exodus To Brazil After War
The saga of the Confederates who left the United States after the Civil War has been called a missing chapter in American history. If so, then the story of the Yancey family in Umatilla is among the missing pages. The Yanceys date back to one of the earliest and most vehement of the Southern secessionists -- so vehement that members of the family moved for a time to a remote corner of South America, in what has been referred to as "the Lost Colony of the Confederacy."
Dalton Huger Yancey and Benjamin Cuunningham Yancey - brothers and "Cnfederados" who went to Brazil after the Civil War
Among the Yanceys who lived in Brazil and came to be known as "Confederados'' were Dalton Huger Yancey, Lake County's first judge and a state senator in the late 1880s; Will Yancey, a county commissioner from 1927 to 1935; and Will Yancey's father, Benjamin Cunningham Yancey, who was among the first settlers in Umatilla, where he and his wife, Lucy, arrived in 1881. The men were sons and a grandson of the family patriarch, William Lowndes Yancey, whose great-grandson, Fred D. Yancey Jr., 85, still lives in Umatilla.
Confederate Senator William Lowndes Yancey (left)
and grandson Frederick Dalton Yancey (right)
Yancey shared stories and documents of his family's history. "Some people have described my great-grandfather as a fiery orator," Fred Yancey said. "And some people have referred to him as an SOB."
Not only was William Lowndes Yancey called "the voice of secession," he favored reinstating the slave trade with Africa. And if it hadn't been for his death at the age of 49, he himself might well have spearheaded the exodus of thousands of Confederate soldiers and their families who abandoned Dixie and moved to faraway lands after the Civil War.
W.L. Yancey was one of the so-called "fire-eaters" whose sizzling oratory inflamed Southern passions. His open disdain for Yankees was no doubt intensified by his disdain for his stepfather, a Northerner who railed against slavery as fervently as W. L. Yancey defended it -- but not with the same scorching temperament.
Controversial and combative, W. L. Yancey was alternately eulogized as a latter-day Moses for his eloquence and jeered as an agitator. Once, he was burned in effigy. Yancey spent three months in jail for manslaughter after killing one of his critics, and as a member of the U.S. Congress in 1844, he was drawn to violence again.
On a chilly winter day, he and another congressman dueled on the field of honor, both of them firing their weapons and both of them missing. He quarreled frequently with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, but willed his field glass -- originally George Washington's -- to Davis as "evidence of my esteem for his wisdom and virtue as a statesman." Yancey had received the field glass from the Ladies Mount Vernon Association for his efforts toward restoring Washington's home.
When Yancey died of illness at the height of the war, others were left to deal with the "pathway in blood" that he had promised in defense of secession. Among them were two of his sons, Ben and Dalton, both Confederate soldiers. They had heard their father's dire predictions that if the North prevailed, the South would forever be subjugated, dominated and demeaned. They undoubtedly shared their father's dread and adopted his views, but not much about their thinking is known.
What is known is that Ben and Dalton, like thousands of other Confederates, found themselves at a crossroads after the South surrendered at Appomattox in 1865. The Southern economy had collapsed, and much of the agrarian landscape lay in ruin and desolation.
Many in the population were not only destitute but also embittered. One observer likened the South to a burning bush with a wet blanket around it. Outwardly, the flames seemed quenched, but under the blanket, the fire still flickered with a consuming hatred.
For these impassioned rebels, leaving the United States was the only way to escape the memories and the fear that they would be forced forever to grovel at the feet of Northerners and freed slaves. Their final gesture of defiance? Becoming exiles on foreign soil.
Ben Yancey, who was 31 at the time, and Dalton Yancey, 22, joined those voluntary exiles in 1867. The destinations were many: Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Canada -- but mostly Brazil, where the Confederates and their skills as cotton planters were openly courted by the emperor, Dom Pedro II. Also, Brazil still allowed slavery.
With people like the Yancey brothers on board, ships sailed south from New York, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Galveston. It's said that they sailed to the chants of "Oh give me a ship with sail and with wheel. And let me be off to happy Brazil."
The spirited yet war-weary emigrants took with them whatever they could: plows, wedding dresses, cotton gins, Bibles, pressed flowers, hound dogs, seeds and locks of hair. One woman took her parlor piano because, she reportedly said, "I'll never be coming back." Some of them had once been millionaires. Most were now impoverished.
A man aboard a ship that sank off the coast of Cuba lost a chest laden with books and boxes stuffed with Confederate bank notes. After the wreck, he lamented that the books were valuable beyond measure but the notes were worthless.
Another ship, blinded by a storm, found itself off the coast of Africa. Only then was it discovered that the metal hoops for the women's skirts -- stored under the compass -- had tugged its needle in the wrong direction.
Once the Southerners arrived in Brazil, the colonies they established included one on the banks of the Amazon River.
Ben and Dalton Yancey joined the only colony that survived long term. The brothers were among about 50 to 100 families who settled in what became known as Americana, about 75 miles northwest of Sao Paulo. Each family typically bought about 1,200 acres to farm -- at 12.5-cents an acre -- along with modest housing, which usually consisted of a palm-thatched hut with earthen floors. One of the things that pleased them most was finding soil that was as red as the clay they had tilled in Dixie.
For reasons unknown, Dalton Yancey returned to Alabama after only a year. But Ben stayed on and became the husband of another emigrant, Lucy Hall. They named their first son William Lowndes Yancey, in memory of the child's grandfather. But in Brazil and later as a commissioner in Lake County, he would be known as Will.
Lucy Hall was the daughter of Hervey Hall, another die-hard believer in the South's cause. It was his books and Confederate money that had been lost off the coast of Cuba.
During the war, Hall had ordered the rugs in his Georgia mansion turned into blankets for the soldiers. Later, when he reached Brazil, probably in 1867 at age 67, he arrived with only modest funds, having sold his entire Georgia estate for 10 cents on the dollar.
Hall was determined to duplicate his former Old South mansion and Georgia plantation, eventually growing acres of cotton, tobacco and coffee. A persevering yet hot-tempered businessman and planter, he once boasted that he had it all in Brazil -- manicured gardens, a cotton gin house, a tobacco-curing barn, eight slaves and slave cabins and even a church.
Typically, the settlers continued to speak English in their homes for several generations, and most families still called themselves "Americans."
Hall enjoyed writing back to Southern newspapers about his success and once exclaimed, "I have never seen such prolific soil. Everything grows as if by magic."
Nevertheless, his success ended tragically. In 1877, just 10 years after his arrival, Hall was murdered by an angry neighbor who then fled to Texas. The settlement of Americana was stunned.
In letters home, Lucy Yancey described a life of struggle, failure and disappointment -- great hardship and dashed dreams in a place that was meant to rekindle Southern pride and gracious living.
"I am tired of living in Brazil," she wrote. "But we are so poor now that I am afraid it would take all we have here to get [back]. My husband is willing to go now and he is anxious to see [his mother] once more. What a joy it would be to greet our dear ones again."
And so the Yanceys -- like many of the other exiles who either got homesick, had financial woes, worried about Brazil's political unrest and economic downturns, feared slavery was ending or generally disliked the lifestyle -- returned to the United States. Numbers vary, but perhaps a third of the initial influx of 5,000 or more Confederados returned over time.
Ben and Lucy Yancey returned to Umatilla in 1881, after 14 years of living in Brazil. They arrived here with enough remaining assets, after selling everything in Brazil, to purchase a quarter-mile stretch of property, known today as Yancey's Addition, according to Umatilla records. Dalton Yancey, who had married in Alabama, joined them in 1884.
Those who returned, such as the Yanceys, were back in familiar surroundings -- but familiar did not necessarily mean friendly. Many of the returning Confederados were subject to ridicule. More than one newspaper editorial railed that they were fools to leave and only failure brought them back.
Regardless, Ben Yancey persevered and became a citrus grower, as did one of his sons, Frederick Dalton Yancey Sr. and his grandson, Frederick Dalton Yancey Jr., who once had more than 300 acres under his management.
Today, Fred Yancey Jr. is the last of the Yancey men in Umatilla. His son, Frederick Dalton Yancey III, 56, lives in Virginia and Fred Jr.'s grandson, Benjamin Cooper Yancey, 21, lives near Denver, Colo. Benjamin Yancey is the patriarch's great-great-great-grandson.
At age 85, Fred Yancey Jr.'s face is burnished by years of toil in the sun, and when fruit is ripening in the fall, he surveys his holdings by driving his golf cart through the 35 acres of oranges behind the house that he and his wife Margaret built in 1948.
In Lake County, Yancey became a respected name in government, a pioneer among citrus growers and a founding influence on the area's religious life. Fred Yancey Jr. is proud of the many awards that line his living room wall, and the city is pleased that the family has been generous -- the Yanceys recently donated money for a new public library.
[Note Fred Dalton Yancey Jr died -
A Youtube Video
William Lowndes Yancey
Benjamin Cunningham Yancey
Dalton Huger Yancey
Frederick Dalton Yancey .
A Book on the subject
Campo Cemetery - Hervey Hall is buried there
Unidentified descendant of "Confederados" in civil war regalia.