Local News

Rediscovering Little Egypt

An almost-lost freedmen's town in Lake Highlands.

KERA’s great reporter Bill Zeeble takes a look at how a couple of professors at Richland College and their students are rescuing the history of the rural community founded by former slaves Hanna and Jeff Hill, named for the Egypt Chapel Baptist Church that was in the area. Little Egypt existed from the 1880s until about 50 years ago. A taste:

“We had electricity but we had no running water,” Gloria McCoy says. “We didn’t have any indoor plumbing. We had the outhouse. And we had butane gas. And we did have a telephone.”

This was the 1950s. The McCoy house actually had Little Egypt’s only telephone, says Gloria’s older sister, Joann.

“People in the neighborhood did not have phones but a lot of them got their calls there [her house], and we would run up the road and tell them, ‘So-and-so! Telephone’s for you!’” Joann says.

It’s important to revisit this history. For one reason: there are still communities in the area, like Sandbranch, that aren’t much removed from these stories.

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