Slavery’s Legacy

On this family of pages I will post all information I find that may help African-Americans find their ancestors. Primarily, this means I will list the names in Magruder wills and estate inventories, and anything I can figure out about family relationships, points of origin, manumission, etc. Where surnames are available, most are not Magruder. For African-American Magruders and McGruders, see the page African-American Magruders, and check out the links in the sidebar.

The area I am researching includes Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., with occasional forays into Montgomery County, Maryland, or beyond.

The whole site is SEARCHABLE — just click on the magnifying glass icon by the links under the header.

If you are descended from any of the people I write about–or think you might be–please get in touch! I would be thrilled to know if this information helped you, and very grateful if you would share information from your family.

Often, the stories handed down in families don’t match details on the historical records. Both kinds of information are important, and figuring out how and why they don’t match can sometimes reveal whole new insights. So if you have a story please post comments or get in touch privately by email.

If you are a white Magruder descendant, your family stories are also very welcome. I am occasionally in touch with African-Americans who are trying to learn more about their Magruder ancestors and connections, and you may hold the key to their quests. These connections are part of our family history. Exploring them will give us a larger, more accurate, and more humane understanding of what it means to be a Magruder. So, please post comments or send a private email.

It’s my hope that these pages might become a place where all with Maryland Magruder connections, black or white, might reach other.

EVERYONE’S privacy will be respected. If you tell me something privately, I will not publish it without your permission.


Have I made mistakes? I’m sure I have, and hope to be corrected. Please include the source of your information, be it family or public record, so I can weigh the evidence and figure out if and where I went wrong.


Here’s how these pages will be set up– 

Information for closely related families will be offered in clusters of pages. For example, the first cluster I’ve published concerns people named in the wills and inventories of John S. Magruder and his son Roderick McGregor, and includes those documents as well as runaway ads, notes from medical records, profiles of a few African-American families, etc. I hope this will keep each page relatively small while still grouping related information (and related people!) close together.

Except for the Black Magruder page(s), I will organize these clusters according to my pathways to the information. In the Magruder-McGregor pages, for example, I started with the wills and inventories, then worked from there into runaway ads, census records, manumissions, and so forth. However, the pages called the Gray Family start with published information about this family and then move to what I’ve discovered in Magruder wills and so forth, to augment that record.

I will make every effort to document all the information I publish. You should be able to judge the quality of my information and follow up on anything that interests you. Sources appear at the bottom of each page. I am not using footnotes to tie each bit of info to its source, but I think in context you will be able to match them.

When posting images of documents I also will type out the names found there, in order to keep the site searchable. When typing information, I sometimes will use these formats & abbreviations–

Bill 30 (350)    means    a man whose name is given as Bill, whose age is given as 30 or about 30, who was appraised or sold for $350. Including the dollar value is repugnant, but I don’t do so with any intention to offend. I include it because the figure sometimes reveals information about the person’s age, health, skills, or even family relationships.

+ means married, as in +Matilda (unknown) 1839

the (unknown) means I don’t know her maiden name

~ means “about”, as in b ~1820

>>  means “passed by will” or from an estate, as in Bill>>Nathaniel McGregor

–> for “transferred but I don’t know how”, as in Bill>>Nathaniel McGregor–>Roderick McGregor

RA  means “advertised as a runaway”, followed by the date and the name of the person who placed the ad + any other info provided, as in RA 1839 from W. Brooke, Upper Marlboro, had relatives in D.C.

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