Jolly is the story of Anderson County legend and Confederate soldier Manse Jolly. South Carolina lore recounts how Jolly purportedly killed as many as 100 Union soldiers in post-Civil War Anderson, SC. Allegedly, his hatred of Yankees and the deaths of his five brothers during the war sparked this killing spree.
This documentary, replete with reenactments of Jolly’s exploits, recollections from his great-great nephew, Lawrence Henry Jolly, and interviews with historians and local Anderson County residents, reveals the many layers of Jolly’s folkloric life.
ETV producer Sanford Adams recalls the events that led to his fascination with Jolly. On his way to pick up a girl for their first date, Adams noticed the odd name on the street sign that read, “Manse Jolly Road.” Says Adams, “When I got to her house, I had to ask her exactly what a ‘Manse Jolly’ was. She told his story, about all the bodies he disposed of in a well, and of the rumors that he faked his own death after moving to Texas.”
Jolly premiered on Carolina Stories in January 2006.
Behind the Scenes
Interview with Sanford Adams, the director, producer and editor
What was the inspiration behind making this Jolly?
On the surface, Jolly is a documentary about a legend of folk-lore. Anderson County native Manse Jolly was a confederate soldier suspected of numerous post-Civil War murders of Union Soldiers that culminated a Robin Hood-like following. The program combines interviews with Jolly's descendants, local historians, authors, and residents of the area embodying this legend. However, within this story emerges a much more complicated subject; the fluidity of historical fact.
If you could describe the production in one sentence what would it be?
By contrasting fact and folklore, Jolly brings to light the many difficulties felt locally as the divided nation was forcefully reunited.
What is the message that you want viewers to take away from the program?
Not only is the story a significant contribution to Anderson County, it is invaluable to South Carolina and southern history as a whole because it participates in the south's ongoing quest to understand it's volatile past and how it still shapes the present, while raising questions of our acceptance of historical ledger.
What was the most difficult part of making the production?
Building a time machine.
Because of a budget, were there any special tricks used to make the most out of a dollar without decreasing the quality of production?
Relied almost entirely on the kindness of friends and co-workers who aided in every aspect imaginable in the production of the piece, from providing footage to composing music.
Were there any unforeseen obstacles (weather, actors, etc) that hindered production?
Time. Took me 10 years to make this program.
Is there a defining scene and what is its significance?
The opening scene involves a man-on-the-street interview with a person who initially claims he knows all about the documentary's subject, but when asked to give details claims he "just can't get it in my mind." This attitude embodies the entire nature of the legend and the need to question all history and the perspective from which it is told.
Has making the program given you a new appreciation for anything?
Not a new appreciation, but the understanding of a common theme I am interested in exploring in all my future projects.
Was there extensive research done to ensure historical accuracy or was there more room for artistry?
The program questions historical accuracy itself so there is nothing left but artistry.
What type of feedback has this program received?
To this day I continually receive forwarded inquiries as to how one might acquire a copy of the show.