Willow Springs was acquired by a legendary slave woman by the name of Sapphira Wade from her white master in 1823. No one is sure of how Sapphira was able to convince her master to give her the deed, but there are many stories that allude to the possibilities that Sapphira seduced, swindled, or even killed her master to get the land.
The year 1823 is a symbol in Willow Springs used in conversation to depict suffering and joy, such as the pain of slavery, the struggle to escape slavery, and the reward of freedom. Willow Springs is not officially American, connected to the mainland only by one bridge that has to be rebuilt over and over after being destroyed by numerous storms. It's outside the borders of America because it didn't belong to an American citizen when Sapphira acquired the deed.
The present-day residents of Willow Springs owe their lifestyle to Sapphira's acquisition of the deed to the land. They are guaranteed freedom from outside influence because of the transaction. Their freedom was gained from a former slave forty years before slaves were emancipated.