Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 25

"Woodland Community Advocate" Joe Hamilton was elected
District 7 Tree Farmer of the Year by the S.C. Tree Farmers
Association for his superlative timber management practices.

A Legacy to

Keep

The Sustainable Forestry and African-American Land Retention
Program Helps Landowners Hold on to Family Property
BY MADELINE BODIN

Joe Hamilton, a landowner and Tree Farmer in
Green Pond, SC, has done a lot of research into
how his land came into his family generations ago.
At one time, the land had been part of the Poco
Sabo Plantation, in the very heart of the Ashepoo,
Combahee, Edisto Rivers convergence. Today the ACE
Basin is coveted real estate, an Eden of pine forests
in the middle of a quickly developing region. The
property can be traced back to Dr. Thomas Lining,
presumably a slave owner, during the Civil War.
Based on his research, Hamilton imagines how it
may have happened: "When Lining learned of General
William Tecumseh Sherman marching through Georgia
during the Civil War, he thought the Union Army would
eventually come to break the back of South Carolina.
He said to one of his slaves, 'Pack up the wagons. The
missus and I are leaving, and we're going to leave this
to you.'"
That slave was Stephen Cunningham, Hamilton's
great-great-grandfather. "Dr. Lining signed over a few
hundred acres of prime land to Stephen Cunningham.
Although unable to write his name, he documented the
transaction by his mark, an X," Hamilton says. "Imagine
being considered as property, and leaving that status to
actually own property."

"Cunningham bartered and he sold some land,
and not at what I would consider a fair price. Although
seemingly an enterprising individual, he lost some land
and some was simply taken away from him. He was
able to sustain and hold on to a little under 50 acres of
the original tract."
The loss of agricultural land owned by AfricanAmericans is a problem to this day. According to the
Census of Agriculture, and a report by the University of
Wisconsin-Madison's Jess Gilbert, "land ownership by
black farmers peaked in 1910 at 16 to 19 million acres."
In 1999, another survey that included all agricultural
lands, including forests, found that African-Americans
owned 7.8 million acres, Gilbert wrote.
Cunningham's land stayed in the family for
generations. Hamilton's father grew cotton and corn,
and had a herd of 25 or 30 cows, which grazed
between the pine trees. "My dad would pick cotton.
I was real young at the time. I'd babysit my sister at
the end of the rows under the pecan tree while family
members were picking cotton."
"My brother shared a story with me. My dad would
load the cotton into his car, take it to the gin, to remove
the seeds, and bale it. They would be gone all day at
times. No matter how early my father got there, when
Fall 2017 * WOODLAND 25



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodlands - Fall 2017

Overstory
Tools and Resources
Forests and Families
A Legacy to Keep
From Forests to Fermentation
Feathering a Forested Nest
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - intro
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover1
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover2
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 3
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Overstory
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 5
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 6
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 7
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 8
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 9
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 10
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 11
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 12
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 13
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 14
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 15
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 16
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 17
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Tools and Resources
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 19
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Forests and Families
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 21
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 22
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 23
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - A Legacy to Keep
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 25
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 26
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 27
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 28
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 29
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - From Forests to Fermentation
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 31
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 32
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 33
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Feathering a Forested Nest
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 35
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 36
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 37
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 38
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover3
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover4
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