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Sanctuary saved: South Carolina family’s fight for ancestral land comes to an end after settlement: Reports

A South Carolina family has reached a settlement after countersuing a real estate developer to keep land they’ve owned since after the Civil War, according to reports.

The family’s matriarch, Josephine Wright, lived on the property for at least 30 years, many of which were spent with her husband, attorney Samuel Wright, until he died in 1998.

Wright herself died in January at 94 years old, but not before putting up a fight to ensure that children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and more could continue to gather and celebrate on their family’s land.

The property was a staple in her late husband’s family since the end of the Civil War. An enslaved person who had been freed purchased the property, according to South Carolina Public Radio.

The battle for the land began when developer Bailey Point Investment, LLC acquired land surrounding Wright’s 1.8-acre property in 2014. 

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The company is developing a 147-home subdivision in the area and at some point offered to buy Wright’s property for $39,000, she previously told USA TODAY.

Josephine Wright, 93, of Hilton Head, South Carolina, who fought developers that she said sued her after unsuccessfully trying to buy her property.

Bailey Point Investment kicked off their developments in 2022 and worked both around and on her property, Wright previously told USA TODAY. 

They cut down trees and their work caused dust to cover her car and house. She also noted that someone flattened her tires and a snake was hanging in a window.

Debris spread out on a part of the property of Josephine Wright.

Homeowner said developer used ‘tactics of intimidation’ to get her to sell

In February 2023, Bailey Point Investment sued Wright and argued that her screened-in porch, shed and satellite dish were creating a nuisance, lowering property values and throwing a wrench in their plans.

In the lawsuit, the developer said the shed, porch and satellite dish “continue to annoy and disturb” the company.

Wright hired a civil rights attorney and countersued. In her own filing, Wright said the developer used “a consistent and constant barrage of tactics of intimidation, harassment, [and] trespass” to get their hands on her property.

Now that a settlement has been reached, Bailey Point Investment, LLC must stop contacting the family about the land, fix her roof, put up a privacy fence and provide landscaping, family spokesperson Altimese Nichole told South Carolina Public Radio.

Josephine Wright stands in front of her property, which has been in the family since the end of the Civil War.

Community support pours in for widow fighting for her family’s land

In May 2023, Wright’s granddaughter started a GoFundMe to help cover her legal fees, setting a $350,000 goal. Donations poured in and the family raised nearly $368,000. They gained support not only from community members but also celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, who donated $10,000.

Tyler Perry also made plans to build her a five-bedroom home and according to family spokesperson Altimese Nichole, all permits have been secured. They just need a county inspection, according to South Carolina Public Radio.

According to the outlet, the family plans to establish a foundation in their matriarch’s honor to connect families with resources and education on land preservation.

Wright told television station Fox 28 Savannah that her late husband, Samuel, was a lawyer who always advocated for those who didn’t have the resources to do so themselves. She viewed her legal filings against Bailey Point Investment, LLC as her chance to speak up as well.

“I consider myself a very quiet person,” she told the outlet in October. “I am not an arguer … This to me is new.”

Last summer, Wright told USA TODAY that the entire ordeal was “very stressful.”

The home where Josephine Wright, 93, of Hilton Head lived. Wright and her family were sued by a developer for property her family said she owned for more than 30 years.

“I’m hoping the outcome of this will be that these people will leave us alone and let me keep my property for the sanctuary of my family,” she said at the time. 

“This has always been a sanctuary and it is like a home for others who come to visit us. That’s what I’m hoping…to have peace of mind and peace of my property.”

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