Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie's Will

Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie's Will


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Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie's Will by Gene Stowe, Carl A. Sergio

In the early twentieth century, two wealthy white sisters, cousins to a North Carolina governor, wrote identical wills that left their substantial homeplace to a black man and his daughter.

Maggie Ross, whose sister Sallie died in 1909, was the richest woman in Union County, North Carolina. Upon Maggie's death in 1920, her will bequeathed her estate to Bob Ross--who had grown up in the sisters' household--and his daughter Mittie Bell Houston. Mittie had also grown up with the well-to-do women, who had shown their affection for her by building a house for her and her husband. This house, along with eight hundred acres, hundreds of dollars in cash, and two of the white family's three gold watches went to Bob Ross and Houston. As soon as the contents of the will became known, more than one hundred of Maggie Ross's scandalized cousins sued to break the will, claiming that its bequest to black people proved that Maggie Ross was mentally incompetent.

Revealing the details of this case and of the lives of the people involved in it, Gene Stowe presents a story that sheds light on and complicates our understanding of the Jim Crow South. Stowe's account of this famous court battle shows how specific individuals, both white and black, labored against the status quo of white superiority and ultimately won. An evocative portrait of an entire generation's sins, Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie's Will hints at the possibility for color-blind justice in small-town North Carolina.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934110607
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication date: 08/30/2007
Pages: 309
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Gene Stowe grew up in Monroe, North Carolina, and was a reporter for the Charlotte Observer for twelve years. He is head of the writing program of Trinity School at Greenlawn in South Bend, Indiana. Learn more about the author at

Carl A. Sergio earned degrees in art design and psychology at the University of Notre Dame. He is currently working in Chicago while preparing to attend graduate school.

Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Prologue     3
Worlds Apart
The Marvin People     7
The White Man's World of Violence     17
The White Man's World of Power     26
The Court     37
The Rosses
Susan     49
Bob and Dennis     54
Mittie Bell     60
Sallie and Maggie     65
The Neighbors     70
The Tenants     77
The Will     83
The Cousins     90
The Trial
Jury     99
First Witness     105
George Sutton     111
Witnesses to the Will     117
Preachers     126
Frank Crane     135
Harriet Taylor     144
Cousin Margaret and the Cook     153
Visitors     161
Dr. Potts     170
Boarders     175
Alienists     179
Doctors, Neighbor, and Kin     188
News     193
Caveators Rest     198
Propounders Reply     202
R.A. Hudson     212
Character Witnesses     220
Propounders Rest     226
Sikes and Parker     230
A.M. Stack     237
E. T. Cansler     242
Charge and Verdict     248
Reaction     257
New Trial     262
The Heritage
The People     269
The Land     275
The Abundance of Peace     281
White Ross Genealogy     288
Black Ross Genealogy     294
Sources     296
Index     303

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Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie's Will 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O.o.. backs away. Closest me and fangeh had to relationship was her trying to sleeps with me. But me, being a sir, said NEIN!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Xavier died