Clipped From The Index-Journal
gave chance to farm, live under Chapel The the home house structure By ALLEN EASLER Index-Journal staff writer PROMISED LAND A racially homogeneous community founded after the Civil War, Promised Land is a little plot of; earth the residents created for themselves where they could withstand the racism of the post-Civil War era. , Located between Greenwood and McCormick along S.C. 10, the community was founded on the Samuel Marshall plantation after ' the Civil War. Marshall's children sold. the land, after his death, to the S.C. Land Commission for $10 an acre. The Land Commission, in turn, divided the land into 50 parcels of around 50 acres each. To purchase, buyers had to put $10 down and pay $10 an acre. Later, the price was dropped to $3.25 an acre. . The nutrient-ridden soil could barely support crops for food, much less cash crops like cotton. Still, those black families who took advantage of the offer were fairly successful making a living on the exhausted land. In 1870, 11 black families were living in the area. Some were able to, raise the $10 down payment and were eventually able to purchase the land. Others, unable to come up with the money, worked the land as sharecroppers or tenant farmers. Sharecroppers lived on the land arid raised crops on the condition they give a portion of their crops to the landowner. By 1890, 89 families lived in Promised Land. The family names of the original settlers included Morton, Moragne, Nash, Smith, Greene, Goode and Wideman. The key attraction of the community was the opportunity for property ownership and the "promise" the future held as land owners. Thus, the community became the "promised land" for those who were able to buy property. Another often-told origin for the community's name is false. According to the story, "the blacks bought the land from a white man and promised to pay but never did." Many Promised Land residents frown on that story because it perpetuates racial stereotypes. ; Promised Land flourished as a farming community until the early 1900s. In 1911, the price paid for cotton dropped around the world. Pjus, the federal government placed new restrictions on planting. Despite the setbacks, cotton farming still continued to be profitable in the community. . ; But, in 1919, the boll weevil sfruck Promised Land. Cotton crops were decimated by the voracious bpetle throughout the south and rrlidwest during the first half of the The key attraction of the community was the opportunity for property ownership and the'promise" the future held as land owners. Thus, the community became the "promised land" for those who were able to buy property. 20th century. Different parts of Greenwood County were hit at different times. Many in Promised Land were forced out of cotton farming and into other crops such as corn, peas, peanuts and sweet potatoes. Others were forced out of farming completely and migrated north to the large cities for manufacturing jobs. Those non-farmers who remained found work in Greenwood and the surrounding communities. Many found their way to the recently-opened cotton mills. The Promised Land . School served the community. One teacher, Lizzie Chiles, taught children for nearly 50 years in a one-room school house. Because many students were needed in the fields, the school year started late and ended early. Most students went no further than the eighth grade because they were needed to work at home. Two churches, Mt. Zion A.M.E. and Cross Road Baptist, have been fixtures in Promised Land. Mt. Zion Church was founded in 1875 after James Fields sold church leaders one acre of land for $40. Cross Road Baptist Church was ' founded in 1882 after Wells Gray sold church leaders two acres for $32. Also in 1882, Mt. Zion bought a church bell. For nearly 100 years, the bell tolled community news, such as deaths, In 1980, the bell was painted gold and mounted on a concrete slab for display beside Mt. Zion Church's current structure. i For many years, revivals and ' homecomings were held on the second Sunday in August. Former Promised Land residents who had moved elsewhere returned to renew old friendships and trade family news. But, the loss of the old school building as a community center has seen attendance lessen. Today, Promised Land has about 100 households. It ceased to be a farming community in the 1950s. Still, it clings to its rural character.