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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Zeno Ponder, March 22, 1974. Interview A-0326. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Republican bankers maintain regional party dominance

Republican bankers controlled Madison County by purchasing most of the land and collecting high mortgage rates on the shacks built on the land. They used their profits to keep the Republican Party dominant until the Internal Revenue Service investigated their activities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Zeno Ponder, March 22, 1974. Interview A-0326. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ZENO PONDER:
Now those fellows had bought up at about $1.50 an acre about half of the Laurel community. It ran from Mars Hill to Hot Springs. Bought it from the federal government. They had cut timber off of it and received something like $100-150 an acre. Made a tremendous profit. Then they turned around and cut it up into 50 and 75 acre blocks of land and sell it for $25 an acre. And one of the bankers—it didn't make too much difference which—would finance the construction of a little house to be built on stilts, we call it. No underpining. Just drive in a few post, lay your 2x4s down and start building your little shack. It was very convenient then for the sheriff to turn his head and let them do some pretty fair moon-shining and pay 6% interest and take back what was a tremendous profit. Now, when the Internal Revenue Service got into that—and rightfully so—they came in—they should of—and broke the thing up. That was the beginning of the end of the one party system.
BILL FINGER:
Did that break before this 1950 election?
ZENO PONDER:
No, no.
BILL FINGER:
So they were all still . . . you were still fighting that.
ZENO PONDER:
They were still intact, very much intact, when we made our attack in 1950.