Land is the ultimate recession and inflation-proof investment. Buying a piece of land is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think about making an investment. It is deemed a safe choice because it is in limited supply and prices continue to rise as the year passes. Our world has around 36.8 billion acres of habitable land, with a major portion owned by a few affluent groups.
Mississippi is a beautiful state with excellent hunting and fishing opportunities. Unsurprisingly, certain names stand out when it comes to land purchases in the Magnolia State. Some inherited land from their forefathers as early as the 1800s, while others are self-made millionaires who began buying land early and have been amassing acres for years. But, in any case, it begs the question, who are the largest landowners in Mississippi? This article uncovers Mississippi’s four largest landowners, history, and other interesting facts.
The 4 Largest Land Owners in Mississippi
1. Gaylon Lawrence, Jr. – 180,000 Acres
Owning more than 180,000 acres, Gaylon Lawrence, Jr. is Mississippi’s largest land owner. Gaylon Lawrence Jr. manages The Lawrence Group, his father’s vast array of firms and interests. The late Gaylon M. Lawrence was a businessman and farmer in the United States. He was the owner of US Airconditioning Distributors, the world’s biggest privately owned heating, ventilation, and air conditioning distributor, and owned more than 165,000 acres of farmland in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi. His family also owned five community banks and 30,000 acres of citrus farms, making their enterprises the largest fresh fruit producers in Florida.
Lawrence purchased the Wilson family land holdings in 2010. Lawrence spent an estimated $110 million to purchase the Wilson heirs’ estate, which encompassed far more than an old Tudor village on the Arkansas-Tennessee border. The Lawrence Group owns 42,000 acres of farmland surrounding Wilson, one of the Delta’s largest contiguous tracts of agricultural land, thanks to that nine-figure investment and additional purchases.
2. Westervelt Heirs – 518,000 Acres (Divided into Three States: Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia)
In the late 1800s, Herbert Westervelt founded a paper company. Westervelt Company, as it is presently known, operates in renewable energy, lumber, and wildlife services. Westervelt’s heirs control more than 500,000 acres in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia, although the exact number of acres owned in Mississippi is unknown.
The Westervelt Company has a great history of sustainability, environmental responsibility, and quality, which has not changed. The company has witnessed a lot in its history, including the Great Depression, two World Wars, two centuries, and its own historical events that have molded the Westervelt Experience. Herbert Westervelt entered the paper industry in 1884, founding Prairie States Paper Corporation, currently known as The Westervelt Company. Recognizing the importance of nature as a significant resource in the paper-making industry, the Westervelt family nurtured a love of the environment and its preservation.
Conservation understanding helped their transition from a manufacturing company to a land resource management firm. With over 500,000 acres of timberland, they continue to expand. They now concentrate on ventures that save natural resources for the future.
3. Molpus Woodlands Group, LLC (Molpus) – 66,946 Acres
The Molpus Woodlands Group, LLC (Molpus), a timberland investment management business based in Jackson, Mississippi, has successfully bought approximately 66,946 acres of timberland in southeast Mississippi on behalf of two clients. These historically well-managed timberlands have been best handled for over 70 years and provide access to a diverse range of pulp, paper, lumber, and panel producers across southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama.
Molpus Woodlands Group, LLC (Molpus) purchases, manages, and sells timberland as an investment vehicle for pension funds, endowments, foundations, insurance firms, and high-net-worth individuals. Molpus presently oversees 1.9 million acres of timberland assets across 17 states. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies and practices are incorporated into Molpus’ investment research and decision-making. Molpus believes its high ESG performance positively impacts the environment and the company’s future.
Molpus was established in 1996 as a timber investment management organization (TIMO); however, the company dates back to 1905. Molpus is one of the country’s oldest timber-related businesses.
4. Westchester Group Investment Management – 50,000 Acres
Westchester Group Investment Management acquired a 50,000-acre farming portfolio in the Mississippi River Delta. The corporation acquired the property in the Greenville area, on Mississippi’s western border with Arkansas.
Westchester Group Investment Management is a company based in North America established in 1986. Westchester has over 30 years of expertise in acquiring, managing, and marketing agricultural real estate assets worldwide. Their goal is to meet their client’s investment objectives (institutional, corporate, and individual). Westchester has knowledgeable people on the ground in most markets throughout the world, working with local growers, third-party operators, and end consumers. These important ties provide them with the region-specific information they need to successfully source, acquire, and manage rural assets.