SC land slipping away from families amid fragile claims and explosive growth

When 71-year-old Evelyn Brown describes her childhood home, she speaks of acres of farmland near Mount Pleasant that formed the backdrop for her earliest memories.

Her great-great-grandfather George Singleton acquired the property in 1892 during an era after the Civil War when land ownership was steadily rising among African-American farmers. Around that time in South Carolina, more than 44,500 acres of land had been sold to African-Americans through the S.C. Land Commission, which was created to help freedmen acquire property.

Much of that land sat in isolated, low-lying coastal areas that were less desirable at the time. More than 100 years later, those areas would see some of the most rapid population growth and development on the East Coast.

Brown’s family settled in an African-American community in Awendaw known as Ten Mile, tucked off U.S. Highway 17. There, they grew cotton and corn, sharing the land and its upkeep.

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