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This contract between freed persons and the proprietor of Merrington Plantation revolved around the cultivation of rice. Thirty-nine persons signed the agreement to keep two-thirds of the crop yield in exchange for the right to occupy the land for a single planting season. In addition to securing all seed and cultivating the rice crop, the farmers were responsible for “keeping buildings, fencing, trunks, bridges, ditches and other erections and improvements on the said lands in good order and condition.”

Graves family legal papers, the South Carolina Historical Society

The farmers, many of whom were likely family members with last names such as Reese, Pias, Gibs, Drayton, and Jones, marked and “x” adjacent to their names.