Samuel Terry is 101 years old, and still works the land on his farm near Black Creek. He will be 102 on May 28, 2021.
Born in Jasper County, Terry is the last surviving child out of nine born to the late Harry Terry and Ella Griffin Terry. He gives his mother credit for instilling in him strong work ethics, honesty, and integrity.
He learned to plow fields with a mule before from his grandfather, and by the age of 15, he was working for $9 a month at a local farm and logging for 50¢ a day. Later, he loaded log trucks and pulpwood for $5 a week. He says that the steady jobs were responsible for building his character.
Terry got a job at Big Survey Plantation the same year he married, 1942, and he stayed there with his family for the next 75 years.
For the job of plowing the fields with horses, Terry was paid $2.05 a day, provided housing, and given five acres to farm.
Terry and his wife Jessie Lee Pinckney were married for almost 70 years and had 10 children, 42 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren and 45 great-great-grandchildren. “The Lord helped me raise them,” he said. “Church is a good place to raise children.
At Big Survey Plantation, as farm machinery was invented and purchased at the farm, Terry had to learn how to operate tractors and other equipment. With only a grade-school education, he became known for his ability to figure out problems and fix them. He seemed to have a knack for figuring out how to make things, such as double doors.
Through his seven decades on the plantation, Terry held a variety of positions and saw the ownership change numerous times. He retired in March 2017, making about $450 a week.
On July 2, 2018, he was honored for his lifetime of hard work by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott during Scott’s visit to the Colleton County Museum and Farmers Market.
He was honored once again by being chosen to be the Grand Marshal in the Rice Festival, but COVID forced the Festival to be cancelled.
Terry said he didn’t know why he was chosen to be Grand Marshal, but he was excited. “I guess I was chosen because of good reports about me,” he said.
He has seen a lot of inventions come and go in his lifetime, and has a hard time choosing his favorite. “I really don’t have a favorite invention. I am just happy to have my family around me now,” he said. “Most of my children live nearby, and they make sure I eat right…in fact, sometimes I have to tell them to stop with all the feeding!” he chuckled.
Terry said that he never thought he would live this long. “I have no friends to talk to about the past. Everyone I knew has passed on,” he said, including his beloved wife. But he is glad to have seen all that he has in his life and stated that the secret of his longevity rests on his commitment to serving the Lord. He raised his children to trust God and go to church.
“Things aren’t like they used to be. Children don’t respect their parents now, because they aren’t taught to. Prayer should never have been taken out of schools, and the government should let parents discipline their kids,” said Terry.
But thankfully now, Terry’s legacy of hard work and integrity lives on through his descendants. By his example, he has taught family and friends how to love, how to work hard, how overcome challenges and problems, and how to follow the Lord.