Vincent and Betsey settled on Sullivan’s Island in the early 1800s and had four children which Vincent freed according to his Will. The family grew and remained on the Island as free people of color. The children all married other free people too. Most of their grandchildren and great grandchildren also stayed on the Island as did great-granddaughter Maggie Pezant. On June 21, 1903, Maggie married Allen Perry Jones from Charleston. Over the years, they had 10 children – all of whom were also raised on Sullivan’s Island. This produced 33 grandchildren and over 70 great-grandchildren, most of whom experienced and loved the times spent on the Island. This house and yard kept the family together as everyone wanted to come to “the Island.”
As some of you know, there has been a hard-fought court battle that jeopardized the house and legacy of the Jones family. The family house was saved, but they were forced to forfeit the land behind it where they spent many, many years celebrating life and each other. A stipulation of not losing the house is that they are required move to original “little house” off the property or risk having it torn down.
The significance of the “little house” is as unique to Sullivan’s Island as it is to the Jones family. The “Little House” is very dear to the family and known to historians as a Keeping House as cited by the Battery Gadsden Cultural Center on Sullivan’s Island. Their grandfather, A.P. Jones constructed it to satisfy the requirement of having a house on each lot. Over the years, their beloved uncle John Jones used the “little house” to work on his carpentry jobs around the island. The Little House was home to his many tools and sometimes you could see the lights on at night as he worked away sawing boards, drilling or making thin sticks for the nieces and nephews kite construction. On weekends, the family would sit on the little house porch eating watermelon or crabs and enjoying the family. Sometimes the annual Christmas card picture would even be taken on that porch. It is a significant part of the family history.
We all hear of the struggles of African American families trying to hold on to their coastal homesteads due to rising property values and real estate speculation. The Jones family contributed carpentry, seamstress services, and home-grown food to many island residents and is considered a living, breathing slice of island history.
The property is considered by many family members to be sacred. It gives them comradery, it gives a place, a common point in this world. It gives every family member, every cousin – from Aunts and Uncles who have died, cousins in Seattle, New York, California – and everywhere in between – a magnetic North. This is the place they can come and be “home.” That sense of belonging and wholeness – this is the value of the house and the property – it’s not a monetary value. That’s why they struggle so hard to keep it going. You know wherever you are in this world that dinner is on the table on Sunday – every Sunday on “the island” and that you are welcome!
A donation to this GoFundMe Project is to help move the “little house” to the surviving property, which includes clearing the land, as well as relocating parking to the front of the property. Most importantly, your gift will keep the heritage of this family’s presence on the island and be a blessing to them all. Thank you.
~The A.P. Jones Family
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