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    Freewoods Farm | A Great Historical Place to Visit

    O’Neil Smalls, Chairman of the Freewoods Foundation

    The sales executives and executive team of the Trembley Group Real Estate in Myrtle Beach love to live, work, and play along South Carolina’s Grand Strand. While a few of the Realtors are South Carolina and Myrtle Beach natives, most hail from the four corners of the United States and Canada. Living in the area is a choice. They’re here because they love everything the area has to offer. They love the weather, the golf, the beach, the history, the nightlife, and the natural beauty of the Grand Strand. And there is nothing like combining a rich piece of the area’s history with the support of a good cause.

    Freewoods Farm

    Freewoods is a 40-acre living farm museum replicating life on small southern family farms owned and operated by African Americans between 1865 and 1900.

    The Freewoods project is a comprehensive, hands-on educational program emphasizing life on small animal-powered and human-powered farms operated by African Americans; provides public education on the importance of small family farms to the economic prosperity of the state and the nation; and promotes tourism and minority economic development.

    As the only African-American historical living farm museum in the United States, Freewoods Farm is devoted to recognizing and perpetuating the contributions of African-American farmers. Freewoods Farm, located in the Burgess community of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, provides education, documentation, and preservation of the activities and practices of these farms. The Freewoods Farm is becoming an economic, educational and environmental engine for the region as well as bringing life to an aspect of American history that has been neglected.

    Sherman’s Special Field Orders, No. 15

    As part of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Special Field Orders No. 15, agrarian reform in the form of forty acres and a mule was promised to freed African American slaves on January 16, 1865. At the end of the Civil War, most of the freed slaves left the plantations with only the clothes on their backs, and although promised 40 acres and a mule, few of the former slaves saw either.

    Some land redistribution occurred under military jurisdiction during the war and for a brief period thereafter. But Federal and state policy during the Reconstruction era emphasized wage labor not land ownership for African Americans. President Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson was an avowed segregationist and almost all land allocated to free slaves during and shortly after the war was restored to its pre-war owners. Johnson’s feud with Congress was responsible for Congress submitting to the states the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which specified that no state should “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

    Agriculture has played a critical role in America’s life, and for African-Americans, it has played an even more critical role. The small family farm structure dominated African-American lifestyle until the early 1960’s and was central to the concept of emancipation. Although African-American farmers made enormous contributions to both the local and the national economy through agriculture, historians have largely ignored their role.

    Freewoods Farm

    The Freewoods living farm museum consists of three educational experiences: the Freewoods Farm, a Wetlands Preserve, and a Main Street.

    Freewoods Farm is the centerpiece of the attraction. Authentic farm methods, tools, crops, animals, and buildings of the period are used to replicate life on the animal-powered farm. Workers use mules and plows to cultivate, cook with wood, make syrup and soap, and harvest crops by hand. The farm consists of tilled fields, grazing land, and farm buildings of the period, such as the main farmhouse, a smokehouse, a tool shed, and livestock, tobacco and storage barns. While Freewoods celebrates the small southern farm owned and operated by African Americans, it is also representative of all small farms throughout the South.

    Freewoods’ Main Street  

    O’Neil Smalls, chairman of the Freewoods Foundation, envisions another of the Freewoods experience as Freewoods’ Main Street. Main Street, the place in rural America where all segments of the population came together, was the political and economic nerve center of rural America. Freewoods will re-create a rural main street of the era with shops, a farmers market, restaurants, and cultural sites. The Rhythm and Blues Rib Festival will support the beginning development of the Freewood Farm Main Street.

    The Freewoods Farm scheduled its first annual Rhythm and Blues Rib Festival for Saturday, May 27 from 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM. The festival featured ribs, chicken, fish and all the fixings plus tours of the farm at 10:00 and 2:00, a DJ and live music, story-telling, games, prizes, and family fun. It was a great success! And of course, the Freewoods Farm vegetable market was open where many took home some sweet potatoes and homemade sugarcane syrup. Keep your eyes and ears open for 2018’s upcoming festival.  

    O’Neil’s sister Geneva, the cofounder of Freewoods Farm with her brother, has been quoted as saying, “A lot of our history is not in the textbooks. After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, you had 4 million slaves with no place to go, no one to put them up and they were just told that they were free. And really what saved them was land.”

    Nothing is more satisfying than a few hours of family fun combined with learning a little of the history of Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand. 

    Historic Carriage
    Future Museum
    Gathering Hall
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    Need help? Call The Trembley Group at 843.945.1880 ext. 100 and we’ll help you look for the perfect listing or buyers agent!

    At The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized service and one-on-one advice. 


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