Have you ever wondered exactly what your ancestor (assuming he was literate) might have read? If your ancestor lived in the Southern United States prior to the Civil War, there is a great bibliography which may give you an idea.
Gilmer, Gertrude C. Checklist of Southern Periodicals to 1861. Boston: F. W. Faxon Co., 1934.
My Mississippi farmer might have read Southwestern Farmer which is described as "a weekly journal designed to improve the soil and the mind." (p. 90)
My Alabama ancestors might have read Soil of the South which later merged into American Cotton Planter to form American Cotton Planter and the Soil of the South. (p. 67) I'm pretty sure that most of my Alabama lines avoided the temperance magazine/newspaper published in Tuscaloosa called Crystal Fount.
The checklist also contains many denominational publications, especially those published by the Baptists.
My Southern Methodist ancestors were most likely to read Methodist Review which began publication in 1847. (p. 41)
There should be similar guides to materials from other parts of the country.