Tracing Ancestors from the P.G. County Slave Statistics, part 2: Lewis Magruder, Edward Magruder, Thomas B. Beall, & Henry Phillips

Two months ago I posted confirmation that Susannah Beall Magruder, who in 1828 married Henry Phillips, was the daughter of Fielder Magruder Sr., making her the only sister of Fielder Jr., Lewis, Edward E., and William T. Magruder.

The addition of Phillips to this family brought additional depth to the through-lines of enslaved families from the 1867-68 Slave Statistics back to four Magruder probate records of the 1840s and 1850s. An Enslaved Community: Tracing Ancestors from 1867-68 Slave Statistics in P.G. County, Part 2, published today, includes two brothers, Lewis and Edward E. Magruder; their brother-in-law, Henry Phillips; and Thomas Birch Beall, the husband of one of their cousins, Jane Beall Magruder.

My project is to identify the multiple pathways by which an enslaved person might have become the property of a particular Magruder or related slaveholder in the statistics, with the hope of helping descendants push their family trees back another generation.

The four men in this family acquired slaves from the estates of four Magruders who died between 1840 and 1852.

Fielder Magruder Sr. (d. 1840) and Matilda Magruder (d. 1849) were the parents of Lewis, Edward E. and Susannah B. Magruder.

Fielder’s brother, Edward Magruder Sr. (d. 1842), was the father of Jane Beall Magruder; Oliver B. Magruder, who died young in 1852, was her brother and Edward’s son.

The records known as the Slave Statistics were created after the Maryland legislature passed a resolution asking the Federal government to reimburse the “loyal citizens” of Maryland for the loss of their enslaved laborers. That ship had sailed, but it’s lucky for us that many slaveholders were optimistic enough to visit the county court and “declare” their lost laborers, including in most cases their full names, with ages as of 1864, when Maryland’s new constitution abolished slavery in the state.

The Slave Statistics are incomplete–filing was voluntary, and open only to those who had been loyal to the Union–but they comprise the single most important source for linking ancestors to their last enslavers in Prince George’s County.

An Enslaved Community: Tracing Ancestors from 1867-68 Slave Statistics in P.G. County, Part 2 includes a downloadable database of everyone I have been able to identify who was enslaved by this small extended family, with a second page showing the most likely connections from probate records to the 1867-68 lists. Most are surnamed Semmes, Wright, Crawford, Edmondson, and Brown. One man, William Magruder, is likely the son of one of the white Magruder men.

I’ve provided links to most of my sources, including the original 1867-68 declarations and Magruder family probate records.

William Thomas Magruder, killed @ Gettysburg

Here is a brother of Susannah B. Magruder Phillips, another son of Fielder Magruder Sr. I kept seeing references to William T. Magruder dying at Getttysburg, though none said which side he was fighting for. Turns out he was one of four West Point graduates who switched sides during the Civil War, resigning his commission and joining the Confederate army after fighting for the Union at the first Battle of Bull Run and the Peninsula Campaign (1862). He was killed while trying to rally troops during Pickett’s charge. He had spent the years since his 1850 graduation fighting indigenous tribes in Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, and California.

The first of these links takes you to a basic biography. The second is part of a National Park Service course. If you search “Magruder” on that page, you’ll find an eye witness account of his death.

Susannah B. Magruder Phillips, an overlooked daughter (or two?)

For Magruders seeking white ancestors, or folks with a DNA match that fizzles out when you look at the published genealogies, here’s a wee discovery. An upcoming post will include how this and related discoveries may impact the search for enslaved ancestors in Prince George’s County, Washington, D.C., and possibly even Baltimore.

Fielder Magruder Sr. (1780-1840, s/o Haswell Magruder & Charity Beall) and his wife Matilda Magruder (~1789-1839, d/o Dr. Jeffrey Magruder of Montgomery County) are commonly reported to have four sons—Fielder Jr., Edward E., Lewis, and William T. (who was killed at Gettysburg), but no daughters. Both Fielder and Matilda died intestate, eliminating the most common source for verifying parentage.

Sales from Fielder Sr.’s estate turned up the name Henry Phillips, so I looked at land records for him, and discovered that his wife, Susannah B. Phillips, was Fielder’s daughter. A marriage record for 1828 confirmed her maiden name as Susannah B. Magruder.

The key deed is from 1846, clearly stating that Susannah B. Phillips is the daughter of the late Fielder Magruder. This deed, and another from 1844, record the sale of land by Henry and Susannah to her brother Lewis, and refer to the parcels as land that was distributed to Susannah by the court, at the division of Fielder’s property. So far, this deed is the only record I’ve found that states that she was Fielder’s daughter.

Find this deed in Prince George’s County Court (Land Records), Liber JBB 4, p.768, which you can access on You’ll need to create an account, but it’s free. If you need help getting started searching that site, click my Contact tab & shoot me a line. (Please do not request help by commenting on this post.)

What a handy illustration of why you should read and compare all the sources you can find. I haven’t made an exhaustive search for Susannah, so maybe there is something I’ve missed? Let me know, and please include your sources.

Some have proposed another sister, Ida Magruder, living with Fielder Magruder Jr. and his wife, Ann Truman Greenfield Young, in 1850 and 1860. The entries for her age are inconsistent, but would place her birth in 1822 or 1825. I have looked at her only superficially, but it is a confusing case.

Some identify her as both Fielder Jr.’s sister and the Ida Magruder who married Jeffrey Phillips in 1864, and have identified Jeffrey as the son of Henry and Susannah B. Phillips. This would mean Ida married her nephew, when she was 39-42 years old and he was 29. However unlikely, it’s not impossible. Others, however, have identified the Ida who married Jeffrey as the daughter of Matilda Magruder’s brother Lewis.

Neither the 1850 nor the 1860 census recorded each person’s relationship to the head of household, so it has only been assumed that Ida is Fielder Jr.’s sister. If this Ida is actually his cousin, daughter of his uncle Lewis, his mother’s brother, her marriage would look far less strange.

It is unclear if all census records for Ida Phillips are for the same woman, or same couple. In 1870, we have an Ida born about 1828, and just five years older than her husband Jeffrey, a farmer in Bladensburg born about 1833. His personal property is recorded as just $560, with no real estate. In 1880, this or another Ida Phillips is born around 1830, and ten years older than her husband Jefferson, a farmer in Marlboro born about 1840. Values for property were not recorded in that census year, so can’t be compared. The Ancestry transcription says this Ida and her parents all were born in Pennsylvania. The census image clearly says Henry and his parents were from Pennsylvania, with faint ditto marks for Ida and her parents. If that is accurate, this is almost certainly a different couple. Notice, too, the creeping birthdates. It’s plausible that because she was older than her husband Ida sometimes misrepresented her age, but we would need some hard evidence to reconcile the Pennsylvania births with origins in the Magruder and Phillips families we’ve been looking at.

Have you done a thorough search to identify Ida and her husband? I’d like to say start with the probate records of Matilda’s brother Lewis, looking for the name Jeffrey Phillips. However, Lewis and his wife, Rebecca Duvall (also a Magruder descendant), appear to have died before Ida’s marriage. You could start with records left by their children, siblings of the Montgomery County Ida.

Magruders & allies in P.G. County

I have been doing a lot of research lately, focusing on Magruders in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on those they intermarried with, & on those they enslaved. Though I don’t usually focus on genealogy, per se, I’ll post anything I find that seems to correct a common error, fill in a gap, disambiguate a confusion, or open up a new line of inquiry into old questions. If you want to add something, or argue for a different interpretation, it’s probably best to contact me, rather than simply post a comment. In any case, please include the sources you are relying on. I’d love to engage, but can’t do much with unsupported assertions. First posted 8 Oct 2022.

Miss Lucille & the Alabama Black McGruders win an Emmy!

Way to go, Miss Lucille! And congratulations to everyone who took part in bringing this story to the screen, especially Juan, Marie, Gwendolyn, J.R., & Jill.

Here’s a link to those 9 Emmy-winning minutes of Soul of a Nation.

And if you’re wondering…it’s true, as Lucille’s mother said, that black McGruders in Alabama would almost certainly be related, but the caption-writers at ABC got a little carried away when they swept up nearly all black McGruders into this family. There are black Magruders & McGruders elsewhere, each with their own history to explore. Check out the two Facebook groups: Magruder/McGruder Family Genealogy & African American Magruders/McGruders. Lots of people belong to both, and everyone is welcome.

Sarah Magruder, wife of Samuel

Another piece for the continuing conversation about the identity of Sarah Magruder (d.1734), wife of Samuel Magruder (d.1711), son of Alexander the Immigrant…

Today I was trawling through Maryland Land Records & came on a deed of gift from Sarah to her son Nathaniel, dated 26 November 1716. She gives to Nathaniel an enslaved boy named Charles, about three years old, the son of “negro Sue.” She signed the deed by mark (indicating that she was illiterate) and the clerk of the Prince George’s County Court (Robert Hall) recorded her name as “Sarah M. S. Magruder.” This appears to be more circumstantial evidence for the belief that her birth name was Mills. I can’t link to it, b/c of how MDLandRec site works, but you can look for yourself.

Go to Choose Prince George’s County from the drop down menu. Click on “Jump to new volume,” then enter E for the book & 563 for the page. If you don’t have an account for that site, you’ll need to create one, but it’s free.

Re: Sarah’s possible lack of literacy… I have not seen estimates for her generation, but in Alexander’s only about half of all men who wrote wills signed their names, the others signing by mark.

The Alabama Black McGruders, published at last!

Thirteen months ago I announced that this greatly expanded book by and about the Alabama Black McGruders was nearing publication. Ha ha! But this time it’s happening–available for purchase today on Amazon.

The Alabama Black McGruders tells the story of Charles McGruder Sr. (1829-c.1900) and his parents, Ned and Mariah McGruder. The enslaved black grandson of Ninian Offutt Magruder (1744-1803), a white enslaver, Charles was born in Alabama on the plantation of his white aunt, Eleanor Magruder Wynne. Through a series of events, Charles came to be exploited as a breeding slave and, according to oral history, fathered 100 children.

During the Reconstruction era, Charles and his last wife, Rachel Hill (1845-1933), acquired ownership of land, possibly with help from his white cousin, Osmun Appling Wynne (1804-1877), and established a McGruder homestead where Charles gathered many of his children. They, in turn, established family and community networks of solidarity that allowed them to withstand the rigors of KKK terror and Jim Crow oppression. Now scattered throughout the U.S., and abroad, the Alabama Black McGruders have preserved their oral history, expanded it through research, and maintained their family identity.

In addition to the story of Ned, Mariah, Charles, and Charles’s children, you will meet numerous descendants and learn of their contributions to American arts, education, government, law, science, medicine, and business. The narrative is augmented by nearly 200 pages of archival records, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

J.R. Rothstein, a family member and the principal author, has worked with a team of family historians and genealogists, other researchers, and editors, to craft and document this narrative of the family through multiple generations. I am honored to have worked on the manuscript, in a role that evolved into lead editor and chief nag, taking hundreds of hours over the past year and a half.

The current price of $19.99 for this hardback book of more than 500 pages won’t last–J.R. will need to raise the price considerably to break even–so order your copy now (and maybe another for your local library or historical society). At the moment the shipping time is long, but that may improve as more copies are purchased.

An Enslaved Community: Tracing Ancestors from 1867-68 Slave Statistics in Prince George’s County, MD

If I seem to have disappeared from Facebook, correspondence, and life in general, it’s because I have been working for a couple of months on this huge project, An Enslaved Community: Tracing Ancestors from 1867-68 Slave Statistics in P.G. County.

Please visit the page! Navigation has been improved.

It began as a bit of a wander into the family of Eleanor Hall (widow Clark) Magruder (1765-1852), wife of John Smith Magruder (1767-1825), but expanded dramatically when I discovered that one of her nephews, Francis Magruder Hall Sr. (1786-1826)–a descendant of James Magruder Jr (b1721) and his daughter, Margaret–included in his will a remarkable amount of detail on the family relationships of the many he had enslaved. I soon discovered that this tendency seemed to run in the family. No other document matched that first discovery, but many included enough information to connect individuals and families through multiple events. Most exciting of all, I was able to trace Hall family relations through four generations to three men who appear on the 1867-68 Slavery Statistics for Prince George’s County, MD–namely Charles C. Hill, Richard Wootton, and Walter W.W. Bowie.

The records known as the Slave Statistics were recorded after the legislature passed a resolution asking the federal government to reimburse the “loyal citizens” of Maryland for the loss of their enslaved labor via Maryland Emancipation or induction into the Union army. That ship had sailed, but it’s lucky for us that many slaveholders were optimistic enough to visit the county court and “declare” their lost laborers, including in most cases their full names and ages. All those slavery records that record only given names? Those were designed to perpetuate the illusion that the enslaved had no surnames, no family ties or genealogy. But, lo and behold, whenever it was in slaveholders’ interest to record complete information about an individual it turned out they knew perfectly well the full names and, often, the family relationships of the people they held in bondage. The Slave Statistics are a great example, and therefore a great resource.

My hope is that African American descendants who can trace their family back to an individual named in the 1868 declarations by these three men can match that person to the family information and inheritance pathways I have assembled to trace their lineage beyond the barrier of slavery, and perhaps much further. My sources extend from 1868 back to the turn of the century. Some families and individuals can be tracked through multiple inheritances and transfers among Hall, Hill, Wootton, Weems, and Bowie family members. The page includes links to probate records for about a dozen people, Certificates of Freedom, and other records, plus six downloadable files. Downloadables include the family relationships detailed in Francis Magruder Hall’s will; a family tree to help keep track of the intermarried white families and the pathways by which the enslaved were moved around; and a database holding hundreds of names–every enslaved person named in the twenty or so documents I link to.

This is the first of two, possibly three, projects on related families. What I’m working on now documents the enslaved community held by P.G. County and Washington DC enslavers named Magruder and McGregor, as well as those they intermarried with–Hall, Bowie, Berry, and Hamilton.

Want to help?

To make names in the Slave Statistics findable by anyone searching a name online–and thus lead them to this information–I am looking for a volunteer or two to transcribe all names declared by Charles C. Hill, Richard Wootton, and Walter W.W. Bowie. Please Contact me if you can help. If you download the Slave Stats PDF you can get an idea of how many names it would be. All I need is a typed list, which I can then transfer to this site.