By Maddie Heid for The Island Eye News
The rich history of the Jones Family is an African American story like no other and continues to be well known throughout the Sullivan’s Island community.
As the story goes, back in the 1800s, slave trader Vincent Peter was on a voyage to Africa. On the boat, he met a young woman named AOuhu (in the family record, she is referred to as Betsey), who tried to repurchase her way to shore with a handkerchief of gold. The two soon fell in love and settled on Sullivan’s Island.
Vincent and Betsey had four children, and although Betsey was still considered a slave, Vincent was able to free their children. Furthermore, in his will, Vincent made the children promise to love their mother and never sell her back into the slave trade.
The family remained on Sullivan’s Island and continued to grow and flourish. On June 21, 1903, Maggie Pezant Jones married Allen Perry Jones and had 10 children; all raised on Sullivan’s Island. The children grew up to have over 33 grandchildren.
Although the grandchildren spread across the country to places like Oregon, New York, and California, there was one thing that always brought them together: Little House.
“I have cousins across the country that are like brothers and sisters to me because of the summers we spent in that house,” said youngest grandchild, Allen Perry Hazel. “All the Aunts and Uncles were so close, they would die for you, and we would do the same,”
The Jones family is one of the oldest and last remaining African American family on Sullivan’s Island.
“Our mom, Rovena, wanted to keep the house in the family,” Allen Hazel said. “So she made a rule that as long as you’re alive, the Little House is your property. That way, the house couldn’t be sold.”
Although the rule worked for decades, the family soon learned the horrifying truth that the property line was inaccurate. This unfortunate revelation led to the beloved house being brought to a hard-fought court battle and endangering the Jones family and the adored home.
For now, The Little House has been saved. But the family sacrificed giving up the land it stands on. If the home is unable to be moved, it will be torn down.
The Little House has stood on Sullivan’s Island for more than 200 years. From catching lightning bugs to crabbing in the marsh, this house is considered sacred to the entire Jones family.
“My earliest memory is being at the Little House, and my mom putting me on my grandpa’s knee as a toddler,” Andrea Hazel said.
The house is not just a memoir to the Jones family, but a gem to the entire Sullivan’s Island community.
“No matter who you were, everyone always had a place at the dinner table on Sunday night,” Allen Hazel said with a laugh.
The Jones family will attempt to move the Little House to the surviving property next door to save the cherished house. But, this is not an easy task. It involves clearing land, relocating parking, and much more, which will cost thousands of dollars.
The Little House serves as a place of serenity and inclusivity for the entire community. Siblings Rovena, Allan and Andrea still go there everyday, enjoying the view of the marsh and continuing the Sunday supper tradition.
The Jones family has set up a GoFund me called Help Save Historic “Little House!” in an effort to raise money to move the house. To date, the family has received more than $7,000 in donations with a goal of $20,000.
The Jones family is one of the oldest and last remaining African American families on Sullivan’s Island.
To help out please visit gofundme.com/f/help-save-the-jones-family-little-house.