Tag Archives: Slavery

Payne Erskine. When the Gates Lift Up Their Heads: A Story of the Seventies. Boston: Little, Brown, 1901.

Although this novel is set in the mountains of western North Carolina, plantation slavery is presented is part of the local heritage and figures in the plot. The shoe is on the other foot when John Marshall returns to his hometown near Asheville in the 1870s. Northerners have come to this part of the South and they are making their presence felt through land purchases and business deals. His family home has been sold and is now a boarding house run by the optimistic and energetic Portia Van Ostade. Old racial and social attitudes are still alive, but the younger characters find romance across the sectional divide. The happiness of one young couple is threatened by a secret from the past.

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1900-1909, 1901, Buncombe, Erskine, Payne, Mountains, Novels to Read Online

Eugene Hall. Vernal Dune: In Which Is Shown the End of an Era. New York: Neale Publishing, 1913.

The subtitle is a giveaway of the author’s intentions. This novel is a strong defense of slavery and the antebellum social structure of North Carolina. It is loosely based on the Theophilus Hunter Jr. family of Raleigh, and fictionalized versions of several North Carolina political figures appear in novel. Eugene Hall is the pseudonym of Emma Eugene Hall Baker.

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1910-1919, 1913, Hall, Eugene, Historical, Novels to Read Online, Piedmont, Wake

Buddy Strickland. Dreamweaver. Indian Trail, N.C.: Dreamweaver Publishing, 2006.

This part-memoir, part-novel alternates the story of Buddy, a southern boy growing up in the 1940s, with a fictional recreation of the lives of Lea and Amos, Buddy’s Cherokee ancestors. Through the two stories readers can learn about the enslavement of Native Americans, mill village life, and mid-twentieth century Southern popular culture.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Cabarrus, Historical, Piedmont, Rowan, Strickland, Buddy

Bob Zeller and John Beshears. Jacob’s Run. Wilmington, N.C.: Whittler’s Bench Press, 2007.

It’s 1860 and Coleman Blue is a reporter for the Wilmington Standard. He’s comfortable in his hometown and doesn’t give much thought to the slave trade that is responsible for a significant part of its prosperity. That changes when he’s questioned by Ira Spears, an agent from Philadelphia who’s come to town to investigate the deaths of slaves insured by his company. Since those slaves were owned by two men whom Blue has long suspected of corruption, the newspaperman leaps into an investigation that upends his worldview and imperils his life.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Beshears, John, Coast, Historical, Mystery, New Hanover, Zeller, Bob

Joanna Catherine Scott. The Road from Chapel Hill. New York: Penguin, 2006.

This Civil War novel follows the intertwining stories of a young woman from an elite Wilmington family, a runaway slave, and a dirt-farmer’s son turned fugitive-slave-catcher.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Historical, Novels to Read Online, Orange, Piedmont, Scott, Joanna Catherine

Charles Price. The Cock’s Spur. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 2002.

In the mountains of western North Carolina in the 1880s, moonshining and cockfighting are a regular part of the rough-and-tumble life. Webb Darling, the self-proclaimed king of the moonshiners, rules the region from his hilltop cabin. In contrast to the cruel and conniving Darling is a former slave named Hamby McFee who dreams of making enough money to escape from his life in the mountains, where he still farms the same land he worked as a slave. Unfortunately, the only chance Hamby has at making enough money to leave may be to win it from Darling.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2002, Coast, Historical, Mountains, Piedmont, Price, Charles

Charles Price. Freedom’s Altar. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1999.

Set in the violent, lawless days just after the Civil War, this novel explores the deeply complicated questions about how the South would recover and adjust to new ideas about race and class. Daniel McFee, a former slave who had fought for the Union, has returned home to western North Carolina to become a sharecropper on land owned by his old master, Madison Curtis. Despite good intentions, both Curtis and McFee have trouble adjusting to this new relationship. It’s especially hard to make any meaningful progress when the whole region is overrun with violent vigilantes all too willing to take matters into their own hands. The novel is based in part on the author’s family history. Freedom’s Altar won the 1999 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for the best novel by a North Carolinian.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1999, Historical, Mountains, Price, Charles

Michael Phillips. The Shenandoah Sisters.

Two young women from very different backgrounds must rely on each other in order to survive in the turbulent times following the Civil War in fictional Shenandoah County, N.C. Mayme Jukes is a former slave whose family members were killed by Confederate soldiers. Katie Clairborne is the last person left on the once majestic Rosewood plantation. In these novels, the girls usually face danger and emerge with a deeper understanding of race, friendship, and their Christian faith.

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Filed under Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Phillips, Michael, Religious/Inspirational, Series

Allan Gurganus. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. New York: Knopf, 1989.

Ninety-nine year old Lucy Marsden spins an epic tale that covers the Civil War, slavery, marriage, and death. With an energetic and humorous style, she tells the story of her remarkable life. Married at fifteen to a Confederate veteran thirty-five years her senior, Lucy has survived long enough to be the oldest living Confederate widow. The novel alternates between past and present, telling the story of Captain Marsden’s experiences in the war, Lucy’s childhood, her close friendship with a former slave, and her life at present, where she is living in a nursing home in fictional Falls, N.C., a town in the eastern part of the state probably based on the author’s hometown of Rocky Mount.  The book was made into a movie/miniseries in 1994.

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All won the 1990 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction.

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Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Gurganus, Allan, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places