The ancestors I value most

by Natasha Boyce

The personal ancestors I value most are my great-grandparents, Jim and Mary Suber. They met as sharecroppers on some farmland in New Berry, SC and were “married” at 13 and 14.

For many, sharecropping was the equivalent of slavery. So their work conditions were less than ideal. My aunt told me that one day, the landowner attacked my great-grandmother. And my great-grandfather defended her against the landowner. Well, it was an unspoken rule that if a black man committed any “crime” against a white man (such as hitting a white man), they would need to run and disappear before sundown. So, my great-grandfather fled to Rutherford County, NC. Once he found some new land to tend and established himself, he returned to New Berry to rescue my great-grandmother and take her to North Carolina.

Sharecroppers in North Carolina  Photo courtesy of
Sharecroppers in North Carolina
Photo courtesy of

I really like that story. I appreciate that my ancestors endured the harsh conditions of slavery and sharecropping so that I can enjoy the life I live today. And I hope a little of my great-grandparents’ rebellious spirit and desire for change lives on in me.

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