Will of Roderick M. McGregor d.1857

29 slaves were listed in the 1858 inventory of Roderick McGregor’s estate, with eight more (including the Bowie family) added in a supplemental inventory in 1860. Others, not in the inventories, can be identified from other sources.

1858 Inventory of slaves, estate of Roderick McGregor

1858 Inventory of slaves. Prince George’s County Register of Wills (Estate Papers) 1790-1855. Estate Papers of Roderick M. Magruder. MSA C2119-63.

Sam (1000), Jack (1000), Bill (1000), Tony (400), George (900), Henry (800), Ambrose (100), Jeff, his wife Adeline & five children (2100), Tom, Mary his wife & two children (2200), Otho (500), Warren (600), Esther (700), Pinkney, [Cloe? Clara?] his wife & two children (2200), Bob (900), John Henry (800), John Godfrey (1000), Basil (800), Ned (600)

From other sources we can add more information for many of these people. See also Runaways from R. McGregor for additional detail, including personal descriptions.

  • Jack Bowie (mulatto) b ~1837 (per runaway ad 1858). Jack was advertised for sale in January 1858 and sold by the time estate accounts were settled in 1860. Jack was a son of the elder William Bowie and Matilda Bowie (see below). On May 19, 1862, Joseph C. Willard and Henry A. Willard (owners of the Willard Hotel) petitioned for compensation for several enslaved people freed by emancipation in Washington, D.C., in April of that year. Among them was Jack Bowie, whom they had purchased out of the Washington Jail at the request of his mother, to save him being sold south. Read their petition at Civil War Washington. See also William & Matilda Bowie page. Jack is also mentioned in an undated McGregor family letter of 1861 or 1862.
  • William (Bill) Bowie “slave of estate of R. McGregor” was drafted on 24 Sept 1864, at Ellicott’s Mills, per Baltimore Sun, 26 Sept 1864. On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, he was manumitted after-the-fact by Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate. This William was another son of the elder William Bowie. He subsequently deserted, but later re-enlisted under an assumed name, Robert Tompkins, having been paid to take the place of “a Duchman” who wished to avoid service. His complicated story was sorted out by a Bowie family descendant, James Bacon, and included in his book, The Ties That Bind. William is buried at Arlington Cemetery under the name Robert Tompkins.
  • Tom Vermillion (mulatto) b 1821-24 (per runaway ads in 1838, 1844, 1849). If this is the Tom on the inventory, we can also identify his wife, Mary Vermillion. However, I have not found them on the 1870 census. This surname goes back at least to the 1776 Maryland census, and appears in Upper Marlborough by 1780. Several worked as overseers (though I don’t know on which plantations), including Lawson Vermillion in Upper Marlborough in 1850.
  • Henry Buchanan (mulatto w/ yellow complexion) b ~1820 (per runaway ads 1838, 1844). An enslaved man named Henry is mentioned as a runaway in an undated McGregor family letter of 1861 or 1862.
  • Hanson Shaw b~1828 (per runaway ad 1844). He was 5’5″, and his mother was owned by William Coats, who lived on the plantation of Thomas B. Crawford.
  • Anthony (Tony) Chase b~1816 (per runaway ad of 1844). He was  5.5” and had a scar on his right arm and foot “from childhood burns.” From medical bills in the estate papers, we know that Tony was often ill, which probably explains his low appraisal value. See Medical Records R. McGregor Plantation. See also African American Magruders in DC Slavery Petitions for a Lucy Magruder, formerly Lucy Chase, claimed by Samuel A.H. Marks. Marks stated that he purchased Lucy to prevent her being sold south, and that Nathaniel McGregor was witness to the sale.
  • In March of 1861 a runaway plot involving slaves on the McGregor plantation, as well as a neighboring property, was uncovered by Nathaniel McGregor. In a letter to his elder son he said it arose “altogether from George’s lies.” He whipped George with 75 lashes, then required Sam and Ned, two other enslaved men, to complete the punishment up to 100 strokes. In letters of January, 1862, George is mentioned as a runaway. Another man seems to have run away at the same time, named as John in one letter and Geoffrey in another.
  • Ned Dodson b~1821 (per runaway ad of 1844). He was 5’4″, and had been purchased from the estate of Dr. Edelon, near Piscataway, in P.G. County. See Dodsons among the Magruder-Hamilton Slaves. An enslaved man named Ned is mentioned in McGregor family correspondence in 1861 and 1862. In 1861 he was required to take part in whipping George. In 1862 he was assigned to the stables, in place of an unnamed runaway (possibly George, Jeff, or John, all of whom were mentioned as runaways in January) who had been captured, whipped while held at the jail, and then sent to labor in the fields, as further punishment.
  • An enslaved man named Sam is also mentioned in the McGregor family correspondence of those years, and appears to have been especially trusted by the family. Along with Ned, he was made to take part in whipping George for his part in the runaway plot.
  • Otho Berry slave of estate of R. McGregor” was drafted on 24 Sept 1864, at Ellicott’s Mills, per Baltimore Sun, 26 Sept 1864. On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, he was manumitted after-the-fact by Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate.
  • Warren Berry – On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate, made an affidavit that Warren Berry had joined the Union army, and manumitted him after-the-fact. On the 1870 census another Warren, Warren Petty (38), and his wife, Clarissa, live two households from Roderick McGregor (younger).
  • (Bob) Robert Turner slave of estate of R. McGregor” was drafted on 24 Sept 1864, at Ellicott’s Mills, per Baltimore Sun, 26 Sept 1864. On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, he was manumitted after-the-fact by Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate. (Jno H. Turner “slave of estate of R. Magruder” was drafted at the same time; I have not identified this man or this Magruder estate. Possibly a mistake for R. McGregor.)
  • John Godfrey b~1837 (per runaway ad 1858). On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate, made an affidavit that John Godfrey had joined the Union army, and manumitted him after-the-fact.
  • Basil Mullin – On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate, made an affidavit that Basil Mullin had joined the Union army, and manumitted him after-the-fact. See Mullin/Mullen Family page.
  • Ambrose b ~1795 per inventory of John S. Magruder, Roderick’s father, 1825; at that time had a wife & four children. Given the low appraisal of this Ambrose, it is likely the same man, now over 60.
  • I believe Pinkney & Cloe his wife are Pinkney Belt (45) and Clara Belt (35) living near McGregor family members in the Marlboro District on the 1870 census, along with their six children. Martha (b  1853) is old enough to have been one of the two children on the inventory. Pinkney Jr. (b 1857) might be the second child, but I think it’s more likely the other child is Charles Belt (b. 1851), who in 1870 was living as a servant in the home of Roderick McGregor (younger). On the 1880 census, in the Spaulding District of P.G. County, Pinkney & Chloe appear again with six children at home, two of whom were born before 1870. The older children have left home. See census images in the sources at the end of this page. Pinkney Jr. lives in the same district with his wife and children.
  • Esther b~1807 per inventory of John S. Magruder, 1825. If it’s the same Esther, the appraisal is high for her age. Possibly a house servant, possibly a different Esther.
  • A John Henry from P.G. County appears on an 1890 Veteran’s Schedule. A boy John Henry was sold from the estate of Matilda Magruder in 1849, for $431, but it’s too common a name to draw conclusions.
* * * *
Roderick McGregor 1860 inventory: Bowie family

Additional inventory, 1660, the Bowie family. Prince George’s County Register of Wills (Estate Papers) 1790-1855. Estate Papers of Roderick M. Magruder. MSA C2119-63.

“Negrows” William 59 (800), Matilda 56 (350), Tom 15 (1000), Nat 13 (850), Margaret 9 (450). This family was manumitted one year after Roderick’s death. See William & Matilda Bowie page.
Roderick McGregor, additional inventory 1860: 3 names

Additional inventory, 1860, three names. Prince George’s County Register of Wills (Estate Papers) 1790-1855. Estate Papers of Roderick M. Magruder. MSA C2119-63.

Adam 18 (900), Milly 17 (750), Nancy 17 (750). Roderick received children named Milly and Adam from his father’s estate, in 1825, but clearly these are much younger.

* * * *

The total number of 37 is a close match for the 39 slaves declared on Roderick’s 1850 Slave Schedule. However, unless ages on one or both of the documents are wildly inaccurate, the population was not as stable as it appears. See Interrelations page for more discussion.

We have names for at least five more people who were held by Roderick McGregor at some point, but do not appear in the inventory.

  • Phill b~ 1811 (per inventory of John S. Magruder, 1825), purchased by Roderick from his brother Henry McGregor in 1835, the same year he brought William [Bowie] into the state. Phill was left to Henry in their father’s will.
  • Barney b~1822, also purchased from Henry McGregor in 1835.
  • Frederick Chapman b~1818 (per runaway ads 1838). Fred Chapman was 5’8″-5′-10″, “very black,” with a scar on his right collarbone. Along with Ned Dodson, he had been purchased from the estate of Dr. Edelon, near Piscataway, in P.G. County. Fred was advertised twice in 1838, then again in 1839, when Roderick McGregor heard that he might be working on some vessel on the Potomac River. Said to be fond of strong drink and to play the violin. There is no indication he was ever caught, but he could have been caught, jailed, and sold without creating a paper trail.
  • Emanuel Carroll – A doctor’s bill in the estate papers records an October 1857 visit to Manuel. (See Medical Records R. McGregor Plantation.) On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate, made an affidavit that Emanuel Carroll had joined the Union army, and manumitted him after-the-fact. An Emanuel Carroll, identified as “colored?” registered for the draft in Washington D.C. in June or July, 1863. He is listed as a free DC resident, and a teamster. I cannot say if this is the same man. In 1880, a  black Emanuel Carroll was living in Rhode Island, with his wife, Maria, and family. Again, I cannot say  if this is more than a matching name. The given name “Manuel” also appears in the estate of John S. Magruder (father of Roderick and Nathaniel) and in the Magruder-Hamilton Slaves, where we see Manuel Dodson, a “boy” in 1827, manumitted in 1854 if instructions in Elizabeth Magruder’s will were followed.
  • John R. Dodson – On 30 Aug 1865, at the Prince George’s County Court, Nathaniel McGregor, as executor of Roderick’s estate, made an affidavit that John R. Dodson had joined the Union army, and manumitted him after-the-fact.
* * * *

Roderick McGregor’s will (signed 5 May 1856) left varying amounts of cash to his sister Ellen McGregor Ewell and to the children of his brothers Nathaniel and Henry. The remainder of his estate, including real estate and slaves, was left to Nathaniel’s sons Roderick and John Francis. Court records show a later division of the land between them.

The estate was settled in 1860, but Roderick (the younger) did not turned 21 until 1864, his brother John six years later.  Receipts in the estate papers indicate that the plantation was managed by Nathaniel and two overseers, John T. Sansbury and William H. Tucker. Sansbury signed his receipt; Tucker signed by mark, witnessed by A.M. Ewell.

All indications are that, with the exception of runaways, enslaved people working on the plantation remained there until the war. We know that at least eight men from the enlisted or were drafted into the Union army. Roderick (the younger) was about 24 in 1867, but did not file for compensation, so there is no record in the Slave Statistics. (His brother-in-law and first cousin, John Ridout McGregor, was widely suspected to be a Confederate spy, so it may not have been possible for Roderick to register for compensation.) The younger McGregors continued to farm in P.G. County, so it’s likely some formerly enslaved people stayed on (or returned) to work for them.

  • On the 1870 census, in the household of Roderick McGregor (younger) is a 19 year-old mulatto servant, Charles Belt. Next door lives Robert Pinkney, a 33 year-old black servant. A few households away lives his uncle Roderick’s ex-wife, Ann McGregor, living with her nephew, Elijah Berry. In their household lives one servant, 13 year-old Charles Backston. Also nearby is Roderick’s sister, Isabella (Belle) McGregor and her husband, Thomas Somerville Dorsett. In their household lives 79 year-old Milly Robinson, a black woman, not specified as a servant. Between and around these related families, most close neighbors are black or mulatto farm hands, with their families. Their surnames include Belt, Brown, Burgess, Diggs, Edilin, Fletcher, Galloway, Hall, Holland, and Petty.
  • In Roderick’s household on the 1880 census is a black servant, Martha Williams, sixteen years old. Other young people named Williams are servants in the household of Roderick’s mother-in-law, Margaret Weems Somerville Bowie, widow of Richard W. Bowie. Roderick McGregor’s mother, Susan Euphemia Mitchell McGregor, along with his unmarried sister, Susan Mitchell McGregor, are living with Isabella (Belle) McGregor, and her husband, Thomas Somerville Dorsett.
  • Several black families surround (and fall between) these McGregor households. Their surnames include Addison, Belt, Brooks, Coates, Diggs, Edilin, Fletcher, Hall, Harrison, Henry, Marshall, Nalley, Pottenger, Queen, Shaw, Simms, Smith, Wallace, and Webster. Only one or two are old enough to have appeared on the elder Roderick’s 1858 or 1860 inventories, and their names do not match any here. (Caveat: we don’t know the first names of most of children on the inventories.)
  • Roderick and his sister, Agnes Woods McGregor, married, respectively, Margaret Elizabeth Bowie and her brother Thomas Truman Somerville Bowie, children of Richard Bowie (deceased) and grandchildren of William Mordecai Bowie. I have more work to do tracking and identifying people enslaved by this extended family, but in the meantime see Will of William Mordecai Bowie, which includes enslaved people named Addison.

* * * *

Archives of Maryland:

Prince George’s County Register of Wills (Estate Papers) 1790-1855. Estate Papers of Roderick M. McGregor. MSA C2119-63.

Prince George’s County Register of Wills (Estate Papers) 1789-1831. Estate Papers of John S. Magruder. MSA C2119-60-3.

Prince George’s County Circuit Court (Land Records), 1865-1866. FS 3, pp 85-89. Manumissions by Nathaniel McGregor, MSA CE 64-10; digital images (MDLandRec.net : accessed 1 Apr 2021).

General Assembly (Laws), 1834-1835, Session Laws 1834, Chapter 316, MdHR 820916, 2/2/6/14, An act to allow Roderick McGregor… to bring into this State, a negro man herein named, passed 21 March 1835, reproduced as Archives of Maryland  Vol. 541, p395 (accessed 18 Nov 2011).

U.S. Census:

1840 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County, combined population & slave schedule, Maryland, 3rd District, (Marlborough), p4, dwelling/family 5, family of Roderick McGregor [elder], digital image, Ancestry.com  (accessed 18 Nov 2011).

1850 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County, Maryland, population schedule, Marlborough District, page 76, dwelling 554, family 554, Roderick McGregor [elder], digital image, Ancestry.com (accessed 18 Nov 2011).

1850 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County, slave schedule, Maryland, Marlborough district, pages not numbered, household of Roderick McGregor [elder], digital image, Ancestry.com (accessed 21 Nov 2011).

1860 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County, Maryland, slave schedule, Marlborough district, p75-76, household of Roderick McGregor [younger], digital image, Ancestry.com (accessed 21 Nov 2011).

1870 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County,  Maryland, population schedule, Marlboro district, pp35-37, households of T.S. Bowie (married to Agnes McGregor), Pinkney Belt, Ann McGregor, Roderick McGregor (younger), T.S. Dorsett (married to Isabella McGregor), digital images, Ancestry.com (accessed 27 Mar 2021).

1880 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Spauldings district, p11, dw 68, fam 75,  household of Pinkney Belt, digital image, Ancestry.com (accessed 2 Apr 2021).

1880 U.S. Census, Prince George’s County, Maryland, 3rd District, Upper Marlborough, p6-7, dwelling 45, family 45, family of Roderick M. McGregor [younger], digital image, Ancestry.com (accessed 18 Nov 2011).

Other sources:

Michael Hait, transcriber, “Prince George’s County, Maryland, Military Service Records,” name list from “The Draft in Maryland,” The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore MD, 26 Sept 1864, p1, Genealogy Trails (accessed 2 Dec 2011).

McGregor Family Correspondence, 1857-1984 (bulk 1860-1862). Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California. (https://hdl.huntington.org/digital/collection/p15150coll7/search/searchterm/mcgregor : accessed 14 March 2021). More info here in blog post of 10 Jan 2021.

Sources of runaway ads listed on Runaways from R. McGregor page.

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