I’m honoured to invite author J.R. Rothstein to share the incredible book he has worked on with co-authors and Professors, Susan Tichy and Kevin McGruder.
The Alabama Black McGruders is about a carpenter called Charles, who was sexually exploited and forced to sire a hundred children during his enslavement in the 1800s.
“J.R. Rothstein said that his great-great-great grandfather may have had up to 100 children, but that the records confirm he had at least 40. Of those children, he said each of them had about a dozen of their own children, who then went on to have a dozen more.”
The historical account takes place over two generations and begins with two branches of a family sired by Ninian Offutt Magruder, a revolutionary war patriot. One branch is black and enslaved, and the other branch is free and white. Ninian’s white daughter, Eleanor Magruder (1785 – 1849), inherited her half-black brother, Ned McGruder (1795 – 1853). Ned becomes the father to Charles McGruder (1829 – 1900-c) and Eleanor becomes the mother to Osmun Wynne (1803 – 1877), a future leader of the Confederate States of America. The biography, however, focuses on the story of Charles McGruder, his coming of age in the house of his wealthy white enslaver and aunt, Eleanor McGruder Wynne, his being wielded as a ‘slave breeder’ to father a hundred children, to his emergence from the chains of slavery to lay the foundation of a dynamic African-American family during the Reconstruction era (1865 – 1877).
Through a series of events, elaborated upon in the book, Charles comes to be exploited as a stud used to breed enslaved people. Over time, Charles has over a hundred children, including 52 sons with numerous women with whom he is forced to breed. After the civil war, through a series of events, Charles and Osmun, prior to the latter’s death, heal based upon biblical ideas of forgiveness. Osmun gives Charles land reparations and assists him in becoming financially established.
‘Lucille Burden Osborne, known by some as Miss Lucille, refuses to give cruelty the last word in her story.
At 95 years old, she grew up in the same house as family members who’d survived slavery, including her great-grandmother Rachel McGruder. Her great-grandfather, Charles McGruder, had also been enslaved.
As she grew up, Osborne had heard people speak about her great-grandfather, but people rarely spoke about the fact that he is the patriarch to most Black people from Alabama with the surname McGruder.’
Now centuries later, white and black descendants of both the white and black branches of the McGruder family are telling Charles’ story. This book contains one of the few examples in all of American history of a story being told of an African-American family during the entirety of the history of the United States to the present. The last person to do this was Alex Haley a half-century ago.
“What I am most proud of, however, is the part of the history book where faith has been used to start a respectful dialogue between white and black members of this family. At the end of the book, the two groups exchange letters with one another expressing their common humanity rooted in biblical and American values.” J.R. Rothstein.
The Alabama Black McGruders tells the story of Charles McGruder Sr. (1829 – 1900-c), his father Ned (1795 – 1853-c) and mother Mariah Magruder (1800 – 1880-c). Charles, the enslaved black grandson of a white slave owner, Ninian O. Magruder (1744 – 1803) was born in Alabama on the plantation of his white aunt, Eleanor Magruder Wynne (1785 – 1849) in 1829. Through a series of events, Charles, a carpenter, came to be sexually exploited and forced to sire a hundred children, including fifty-two sons, with numerous women. During the Reconstruction era, Charles, his last wife Rachel Hill (1845-1933), and their children, received reparations from his white relative and enslaver, Osmun A. Wynne (1804 -1877). Charles’ children established communal and business networks and institutions to support their families and communities. Today, the Alabama Black McGruders continue to impact the story of the United States in areas of culture, government, law, science, medicine, academia, and business. This is the story of their origins.
About the Author:
J.R. Rothstein is a real estate attorney, investor, and a Fulbright Scholar. He enjoys history, nature, good stories, and community work. He lives in New York City.