The Morris Chronicle is completed after nearly four years in the making! "In pursuit of documenting the old fashioned way of slow-cooking a Hog in a pit dug in the sand in Barnwell County as my ancestors once did, I ran across a gentleman named Morris Peeples. And is the case so often in my folklife documentaries, this film became more than a film about a South Carolina folk heritage foodway and traditional cooking by a folk foodways artisan. I have often found that when I enter into the folk culture by way of documenting food traditions I find myself immersed in that culture and it's relationships in ways that tell a much larger story - but in ways that tell that story from the inside out. This is an intimate kind of filmmaking. It requires much trust between me as chronicler and my subject as storyteller. And as food is connected intimately to life, we end up being intimately connected to aspects of life within the folk culture that we didn't go looking for."
- Stan Woodward, Producer/Director
Morris Peeples is a film that sets out to document a 93 year-old barbecue master as he cooks a hog in the old fashioned way - the way that farmers in the Springfield community in South Carolina have cooked in this Edisto River region in Barnwell County. This film starts out to be about Morris setting aside a hog for a BBQ requested by an attorney in Barnwell - his attorney. As we move linearly through the cooking of the barbecue, we learn that Morris is supervisor and honorary member of a hunt club that in what Morris calls "the Big House" about 300 yards from his sharecropper house, where he and his 52 year old wife, Faye, live. When Morris takes us to the "Big House", we become connected to a story of the relationship between the landowner who began the hunt club, Morris Peeples, and the men who are members of the hunt club who spend weekend outings at the "Big House" The Hatiola Hunt in which Morris is an honorary member brings Morris together with men whose Southern roots are entertwined with Morris's.
Morris lived the life of a sharecropper. He is a man who inherited almost supernatural strength - on the inside and the outside - from his father, as well as a knowledge of the soil and how to get the most out of it that earned him the reputation of being able to get more quality product out of an acre of land than anyone else in the county. He is a sage - a man whom his brothers and their sons in The Hatiola Hunt club seek out for wisdom ,as well as a zest for living. As we come into Morris's life we find a person with the love for people that is so infectuous that it draws the young and the old to him.
This documentary was made possible by a grant from the SC Arts Commission Folklife and Traditional Arts program awarded to community sponsor, The Lexington County Histaorical Society and Museum, Lexington, SC.
STILLS FROM THE MORRIS CHRONICLE