Client Story

A Father’s Gift Bears Fruit

Posted On April 11, 2018

Ercelle C. was born on the King Plantation off Folly Road in 1914.  She picked cotton as a child and thanked the good Lord the day the boweevil put an end to it.  Her father worked as an independent farmer to buy land for his family.  He saved up his nickels and dimes in a little black bag. “I admire him for what he did,” she said. “I know how hard he worked and what he did without.”

Ercelle’s mother died in 1926 and her father bought seven acres of farmland a year later and worked it until the day he died.  “He was thinking ahead.  He wanted land for his children.”

When Ercelle moved back from New Jersey where she had raised her own family and lived for more than 40 years, she put a mobile home on the land that was her father’s, and looked forward to the day when her daughter would move down to join her.  Then she found out the land wasn’t hers.  It was heirs’ property.  That’s when she came to the Center.  “If it wasn’t for the Center I couldn’t have done anything. They helped me get my parcel deeded to me.  Without that, my daughter would never be coming down.  It made all the difference in the world.”

Today, at age 103, Ercelle still turns the soil and plants her greens in two raised beds beside her new house she shares with her daughter, Donna, and son-in-law. “I rode a mower until I was 90,” she says proudly.  There’s a smell of fresh baking in her tidy, cheerful kitchen.  She has made dozens of cookies to take to local nursing homes.

She will continue to “do” for others as long as she can, but she mostly wants to settle the rest of her father’s land, which is still heirs’ property. “Tax time is always at-risk time,” she says. She worries that the young people don’t understand what the land means.  “They can’t feel what it meant to my father.  I still can. That’s why I want to keep it.”