John S. Thorne (ca.1840-1904), a Black businessman and entrepreneur, was called a "Black King of Edisto" for his efforts to make land-owners of formerly-enslaved Edisto Islanders. Acting as agent for groups of Black men and women and using the monies they entrusted to him, Thorne purchased four plantations totaling over 1,300 acres. He then had the plantations subdivided and the subdivisions redistributed to each of his "investors" in proportion to the amounts of money they had entrusted to him. Within a decade after the end of the Civil War, he had made landowners of around 90 Black Edistonians. This kind of Black land-purchasing cooperative was rare if not unique in the South at this time. Thorne also was a banker to both Black and White Edistonians, owned and operated six cotton gins, and his own general store.
This small book is an attempt to catalogue Thorne's life and activities on Edisto Island.