Research Brief #02: Land
Descendants owned nearly 1100 acres on Sapelo Island around the year 1900; Almost 300 acres in Hog Hammock in 1891. While still the majority owner group today, Descendants own less than 200 acres now. More than one acre per year has been lost since 2000 through land sales and delinquent property tax auctions. More than 40% of Descendant land lost over the past 20 years occurred from 2013 to 2015 during a period of elevated effective tax rates. Nearly half of properties with delinquent tax notices since 2010 were heirs' property. Eight properties have been lost at auction since 2010.
Research Brief #01: Population
Sapelo Island's Black population and Black landownership both steadily increased throughout the 1800s. Following the Civil War and the failure of the U.S. government's attempt at land redistribution through the Freedman's Bureau, Sapelo's Black people persisted and grew to a population of over 500 people owning over 1100 acres of land around the turn of the twentieth century. However, the Black population and land ownership have been in decline since this period. We recommend that the state fund and empower the Sapelo Island Heritage Authority to act to its fullest capacity to preserve Saltwater Geechee cultural heritage and land.