Black history is full of amazing and inspiring stories and this one is no different. During the 1950s and 1960s, Dorothy (Giles) Ngongang picked cotton with her family as sharecroppers on a South Carolina farm. Her parents and nine siblings lived in a two-bedroom hut on the land. They slept on sacks of flour. When they lived in the little hut across the street from the large white house with a wraparound porch, the family never imagined they would purchase the large house decades later. But they did and here is the story of the family who recently hosted a Christmas gathering on the land Dorothy’s family worked on for generations.
Dorothy’s ancestors begin their work on the South Carolina land after the Civil War. To keep producing their crops, plantation owners employed the former slaves as sharecroppers, who would rent out a portion of the land. In return, they would receive part of the crop, usually cotton, they picked for the landowner. This is the life Dorothy and her siblings had as a child. She remembers how her parents and siblings would pick about 200,000 pounds of cotton annually and would receive a payment of about $200-300 a year. At the time, Dorothy and her siblings never thought they would obtain college degrees and become successful in their chosen fields. Dorothy obtained a degree at Mars Hill College, where she became the first African American student. Through hard work, breaking barriers, and dedication, the siblings dug themselves out of poverty, got married, and started their own families.
In her early 70s, Dorothy received a call from Peggy, one of the children who lived in the white house. Dorothy remembered Peggy as all the children would play under the porch of the white house. Peggy told Dorothy that they were selling the house and wondered to know if Dorothy wanted the house. Peggy knew the house needed repairs, but she was unable to do these repairs. When asked about contacting Dorothy to but the house, Peggy replied to her it was keeping the house in the family. So, Dorothy called a few of her siblings, and they came up with the $45,000 to purchase the home in April of 2015.
Dorothy recalled the feeling she had when she thought about how they grew up in a hut across the street from that house, and now they were able to purchase the home, fix and up, and have a base where all the family could meet for the holidays and other events.
Dorothy and her family worked at fixing up the old house into their home. In fact, they held their first Christmas at home in 2017. About 30 members of the family came to the Christmas where they had a great time reminiscing, eating meals, playing games, and visiting. Dorothy’s son, Decker, shared the family gathering on his social media account, where he stated the only real problem the family had was sharing the wi-fi with 30 people.
Sources: https://www.becauseofthemwecan.com/blogs/the-feels/this-family-bought-the-land-their-ancestors-picked-cotton-on-and-hosted-an-unforgettable-holiday-gathering https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2018/01/24/this-family-grew-up-picking-cotton-decades-later-they-returned-to-the-place-they-sharecropped-as-homeowners/?utm_term=.b55cb6107d38 https://www.countryliving.com/life/news/a46376/family-buys-home-where-ancestors-picked-cotton/