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.
Got £550,000? Nether Bellyclone, Alexander’s birthplace, is for sale
Many thanks to the reader who sent word that Nether Bellyclone–the Perthshire farm where Alexander McGruder, the Immigrant, was born–was put on the market last September. After poking around online I can confirm that it remained unsold in early February.
The house and farmyard have been severed from the surrounding cropland, and now comprise just over an acre, called by the developer “Lot 1, Nether Bellyclone Steading.” The buildings have fallen into disrepair. In photos, it looks like someone stripped out the interior of the house for renovation, but left the job unfinished.
Permitting has been obtained to renovate the house, convert two of the outbuildings to houses, and knock down the rest to make way for a newly-built house west of the old one. A tract of adjoining farmland, called “Lot 2, Nether Bellyclone”, was put on the market for development.
The realtor’s site has multiple photos and a video tour of the house’s interior. Photo 5 shows a plaque placed on the house by the American Clan Gregor Society in the 1970s, memorializing Alexander’s birthplace. Photo 10 shows an outbuilding that incorporates some of the oldest stonework on the farm.
Alexander McGruder/Magruder was born about 1610, when Belliclone was a small estate in the Drummond family domain. His mother, Margaret Campbell, was the widow of Andrew Drummond, 4th of Belliclone, and held a lifetime right to the estate, after which it would pass to her eldest son.
Sometime before 25 May 1605, she married the elder Alexander McGruder, who served as Chamberlain to James Drummond, brother of the Duke of Perth. James Drummond had been created the first Lord Madderty, and also held the titles Barron of Innerpeffrey and Commendator of Inchaffray Abbey (a secular title–the abbey was long gone). Margaret and Alexander had at least two children, James McGruder, who became Chamberlain to the Duke of Perth, and Alexander, our ancestor.
The elder Alexander McGruder died before 1 May 1617, date of the first reference to Margaret Campbell with her third husband. After his father’s death, we think our Alexander was taken a few miles away, to Craigneich, to be raised by his McGruder family.
In Maryland, Alexander named one of his plantations “Craigneich,” most often recorded as “Craignight.” Knowing that in Scotland “inch” is pronounced “anch,” we can see how “Inchaffray” became in America “Anchaffray Hills,” and then “Anchovie Hills”–the plantation where Alexander was living when he died. A third tract he called “Dunblane,” for the cathedral town where he may have been educated. He called a fourth tract “Alexandria,” after himself, and another simply “Good Luck.” He did not name any property for Belliclone, which he left no later than his seventh year.
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 MdLandRec.net. 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.
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 MDLandRec.net. 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.
In which battle was Alexander McGruder/Magruder captured?
For those interested in this (thus far) unsolvable question, I have just expanded an old blog post and converted it to a page, In which battle was Alexander McGruder/Magruder captured? I have waffled on this, but am currently leaning toward Worcester, 3 Sept 1651.
An Enslaved Community updated
All names are now searchable! Many thanks to Marie McGruder for help with transcription. I’ve also added new detail about division of the enslaved by the Weems-Bowie family, and improved navigation within the page. Have a look!