Family reaches settlement in battle over ancestral lands in South Carolina

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By journalsofus.com


The family of a woman who fought a developer to keep her ancestral land in Hilton Head, South Carolina, has reached a settlement in the legal battle that recognized her ownership, an attorney for the family said this week.

Josephine Wright, who He died in January at the age of 94., had been leading the fight to retain the rights to the land that had belonged to her husband’s family since the Civil War. The search for her had garnered support from celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Kyrie Irving.

The company that owns the development neighboring her property, Bailey Point Investment, had sued Ms. Wright in February 2023, alleging encroachment. The company said its satellite dish, shed and porch encroached on its land, which had “significantly delayed and impeded” development.

The two sides had agreed to the terms of a settlement before Ms. Wright died in January, but the documents were not signed, so they had to wait until it was determined who would be authorized to sign on behalf of her estate, Roberts Vaux. the family’s attorney said in an email.

Vaux declined to provide details of the deal but said the land Ms Wright claimed is “confirmed as hers”.

An attorney representing Bailey Point Investment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for the family, Altimese Nichole, he told South Carolina Public Radio that the agreement requires Bailey Point Investment to stop contacting the family to acquire the land and to fix a roof on the property, put up a privacy fence and provide landscaping.

Mrs. Wright had he previously told the New York Times that her husband inherited the 1.8-acre property from her parents and that it was left in her name after her death in 1998.

The property has been a gathering place for Ms. Wright’s seven children, 40 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren, he said.

However, Ms. Wright’s situation was not so unique among residents of Hilton Head, South Carolina, an island 100 miles from Charleston, South Carolina.

Land in the area was owned by many black families who had settled there long before developers arrived in the 1950s and turned it into a tourist destination, Mel Campbell, 75, an elder in the community. he previously told the Times. Many of the black families were descendants of West and Central Africans who were enslaved and worked on rice, indigo, and cotton plantations.

Many families received big checks from developers for their land, Wright said. She said she had refused when she was offered $39,000 for the land years ago.

Ms. Wright told The Times in August that the value of the land was not just monetary. “It’s a family thing,” she said then, “and we want to keep it that way forever.”

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