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Civil War and Reconstruction
The Travails of Reconstruction
Throwing Off the Yoke of Carpetbag Government

Mrs. Jennie Isabel Coleman was 81 years old when interviewed by the WPA. She was a widow and in the words of the WPA interviewer "of high social connection." She obviously took pride in her community and in the "progressive" bent of her ancestors. What were her views of Reconstruction? What reasons can you find for her views?

View the entire interview with Jennie Coleman from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 . Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


"Our neighborhood has always had something peculiar or distinctive about it - a little different from the other portions of Fairfield County. The early settlers were Feasters and Colemans. These two families have made this section noted for its conservation and for its responsiveness to any progressive movement tending to civic betterment and commendable reform.

"The Feasters are of Swiss origin, from the [?] of [?]. The name was originally 'Pfeisters' but changed to 'Feaster' in the early days of the Colony. The family came to the Colony of South Carolina from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I have seen and inspected the grants at land to Andrew Feaster among the records in the office of the Secretary of State, Columbia, S. C.

"The Colemans came from Wales to America; first to Virginia, then to Halifax County, N. C., and, finally, to South Carolina, purchasing lands in this section. The first Coleman was David Roe Coleman, a remarkable man in the early times of the settlement. He was a surveyor, a humane slave owner, a useful citizen, and a good neighbor.

"Our section was a long distance from a railroad; in fact, the extreme northern portion was called 'the dark corner.' Strange men would come in Ku Klux times, find a safe retreat, accept hospitality for awhile, and then leave. The women and older children would surmise that these men were Ku Klux members in hiding, and our romantic fancies would surmise their deeds, hair-breath escapes, and romances. But we really never learned anything - so reticent were our parents and elders on the subject.

"Our section yielded to none in its ardent support of the Red Shirt movement that elected Wade Hampton governor. The hate of oppression and the love of independence united these people to throw off the yoke of carpetbag government. The casuist may see a crime in the acts of fraud at the Feasterville box in 1876, but our people realized that a condition, not a theory, confronted them. Half our votes had been left on the battlefields of our country, we were already the political serfs of our former slaves. And if things kept on as they were, we would become their industrial servants also. We feared that the scum of the North's disbanded army, not content with political supremacy and ownership of lands and property, would come down South and demand social equality, and that the South, held down by Federal bayonets, would have to submit and live among its horrors or seek asylums and homes in other parts of the world."
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View the entire interview with Jennie Coleman from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.