Wednesday, July 9, 2014
As you head over the Ben Sawyer Bridge, onto Sullivan's Island, below and to the right is a small island. It's overgrown now and the waterway alongside it is silted in. Other than its beauty, it has no significance to the average person.
But this island was once home to great controversy. It was the government vs. Ingram White.
The retired shrimper learned in 1977 that he may lose his 25-year fight with the South Carolina Supreme Court for 50 acres of land in the intracoastal waterway.
Considered a squatter, he had claimed ownership of the 50 acres of highland on the island since March of 1953.
He had a home of sorts in the middle of the 50 acres. The court ruled that he was to be evicted from the marshland which was owned by the state. He claimed he lived on the highland, not owned by the state. In fact, he countered that “if they claim the land I live on is marshland, then so is two-thirds of Sullivan's Island because it's the same height above the water.”
He came to be known as Old Man Ingram. He lived alone on the island in a handmade house with no electricity, fresh water or plumbing.
Goats, chickens, ducks, pet dogs and cats occupied the island with him. He commuted to Sullivan's Island to get drinking water from his sister-in-law's home.
An eviction letter was officially sent to him in December of 1977 and he had until the 23rd of that month to vacate.
In a Moultrie News article, he vowed to fight and did not plan to leave the island.
When he did not leave as ordered, Old Man Ingram was charged with contempt of court.
By May of 1978, Judge Clyde Robinson of the Court of Common Pleas for Charleston County ruled that the Town of Sullivan's Island and the State of South Carolina owned the entire property in question.
Sullivan's Island Mayor Wilfred Lipman said the town was vigilant in protecting the ownership of property rightfully belonging to the public. He added that the town was not without compassion for Ingram.
Since Sullivan's Island officials had no immediate plans for the property, Lipman said officials would be willing to enter into an agreement with Ingram to occupy the land until plans were developed.
Ingram is said to have moved in with family members and passed away several years later.
Today, the island sits undeveloped.