More on Washington & May (or Mary) McGruder

I could as easily have titled this post “Do as I Say, Not as I Do.” I say to always search census records with multiple spellings, and then, if you still don’t succeed, try searching for neighbors. Apparently, I did neither of these things the first time I searched for census records for Washington Magruder and his wife May. I was also under the sway of Alice Maude Ewell’s 1931 memoir, in which she wrote that Washington and May had been free for many years before the war, and that after the war they moved to Washington.

Well, on a second try, I found them still in Prince William County, Virginia, in 1870 and 1880. So if they did “follow their children to Washington City,” as Ewell put it, they did so at a very advanced age. I found no records for them prior to 1870. In 1870, three children named McGruder lived with them, the youngest possibly a grandchild. In 1880, due to extreme fading of the ink, their name has been transcribed on as “McGruden.” The only child with them at that time was seven year-old James Ward. In both years, they lived next door to Alice Maude Ewell with her parents and many siblings. Read all about it on the updated version of Washington McGruder

More on the Mullin/Mullen Family

I have just finished a major overhaul of my page about the Mullin/Mullen family, whose members were manumitted between 1803 and 1817. The first to gain freedom were “Old Basil” Mullen and his wife Ester or Easter, who were manumitted by the will of Benjamin Hall in 1803. (Benjamin Hall was the father of Eleanor Hall [widow Clark] who married John Smith Magruder.) Basil was a carpenter, and it seems he immediately set about earning money to purchase and manumit his relatives. In 1806, he manumitted his daughter, Sarah Digges, with four of her children, having purchased them from Henry Lowe Hall (son of Benjamin and brother of Eleanor Hall Magruder). In 1810 he purchased another daughter or daughter-in-law, Dolly Mullen, with one of her children, and a son, Basil, who was also a carpenter, with his wife Suck [Sukey] and one of their children. Finally, in 1814, Basil purchased his son Joseph with wife Kate and two daughters from John Smith Magruder, and manumitted them in 1817. Read more about this hard-working and loyal family and the process of “bootstrapping” to gain freedom.