Gwinnett County, located in the North Central portion of Georgia and part of the metropolitan area of Atlanta, has backed down from the proposed condemnation of the “Promised Land” from a Black family.
The Promised Land community was a plantation with about two dozen slaves prior to the Civil War.
The land is owned by the descendants of freed slaves who once worked on a plantation on the same property. It was then owned by Thomas Maguire.
“During the Civil War, Sherman’s troops burned this whole town, but he didn’t burn this one house, because Thomas Maguire was a mason. Thomas Maguire kept a journal of everyday life, and Margaret Mitchell drew inspiration to write ‘Gone with the Wind’ right here,” said Chad Livsey, whose great-grandfather is among the freed slaves that purchased the plantation land following the war. “He fought and saved up money. He paid $2,500 for 110 acres. I think it was 1920.”
Thomas Livsey is a leader in the Promised Land community. He actively fought the proposed condemnation. The plan was to condemn more than 10 acres that belong to the Livsey family for more than 100 years.
The county wanted to add the land to a planned historical park that would have include recreations of antebellum slave quarters.
“It is a whitewashing because they don’t have any history, they don’t have our history and they act like they don’t know where to start to get it,” Livsey said on Wednesday. “And, they act like they don’t have the resources to come down here and talk to people about our history.”
“Based upon our collective desire to work with Mr. (Thomas) Livsey Sr. and his family as to this property, the county will not move forward with taking formal action on the eminent domain proceedings on April 25,” the county said in a statement.
“We respect the right of Mr. Livsey Sr. and his wife, as a private landowner in determining the best use of this property, and we will work with Mr. Livsey Sr. and his family to reach a joint decision about how best to support the vision and wishes of Mr. Livsey Sr. and his family for the future use of this property.”
Members of the Livsey family had argued that the county planned to pay less than what they saw his land as being worth, and argued that Gwinnett was going down the eminent domain route because the family is Black.
Chad Livsey told the Daily Post earlier this week that he’d received information that the county also planned to focus heavily on the Civil War history, when the Promised Land was a plantation with about two dozen slaves, and its original owner, Thomas Maguire.