Historical Nuggets: Berkeley County was named for two of the Lord Proprietors of Carolina, Lord John Berkeley (d. 1678) and Sir William Berkeley (d. 1677). In 1682, the county was officially named and included the parishes of St. John Berkeley, St. James Goose Greek, St. James Santee, St. Stephen, St. Thomas, and St. Denis. Moncks Corner, the county seat, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Summerville, St. Stephen, and Jamestown are just a few of the cities and towns that make up the 1,098 square miles that fall inside the county lines with an average of 161 persons living per square mile.
English and French Huguenot planters and their African American slaves settled the area in the late seventeenth century. As was the case in most of the Lowcountry, rice and cotton brought prosperity to the area’s plantation owners. Today, due to the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric project in the 1940s, many of the old rice plantations are now covered by the waters of Lake Moultrie. The county is also home to Mepkin Abbey a Trappist monastery established in 1949 on the site of the historic Mepkin Plantation along the banks of the Cooper River.
Population & Demographics: Per the 2010 U.S. Census, Berkeley County had a total population of 177,843 with 25% being African American. Although the county’s median income is $51,093, fully 13.9% of the population is identified as “living below the poverty line” with 8.8% being White and 21.4% being Black.
Heirs’ property is an important issue when considering the generational poverty among many African American families in Berkeley County. For most of us, our property is our most valuable asset. Not so, for heirs’ property owners. Because the land is owned “in common”, there is no clear title to the land which prevents the family from obtaining a loan or mortgage or accessing any public funds to improve their home or land. Therefore, owning heirs’ property is more of a liability than an asset until the title is cleared.
Mapping Project: According to the Center’s HP mapping research completed in 2012, there are more than 40,000 acres of heirs’ property remaining in our six-county service area, of which 12,003 acres remain in Berkeley County, representing 29.4% of the whole. The Center has developed a strategic plan to reach out to the areas with larger tracts and higher concentrations of HP in Berkeley County to deliver services where they are needed most.
The Center offers education seminars and legal services to low wealth families in Berkeley County to help them obtain clear title to their family land and keep it. PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE to schedule an appointment TO TALK WITH OUR ATTORNEY or to request a seminar: (843) 745-7055.
To learn more about Berkeley County visit http://www.sciway.net/cnty/berkeley.html or check out the resources shown below.