Picture of two people

From Slavery to the Twentieth Century

The McAlister Family 1989-1990

The McAlister Family Project was researched in the 1989-90 school year by students at Madera High School, Lorenzo Abeyta’s American Studies class.

Ben McAlister’s father was a white plantation owner, and his mother was a black slave. When he was 25 years old, Ben met Miranda Gregory, a house slave on the adjoining plantation. They were given permission to marry but could not live together. Miranda continued to serve in the “big house” of the Gregory plantation, while her husband maintained his place on McAlister’s slave row.

This intolerable condition was brought to an end with the Civil War. By 1864, President Lincoln sanctioned the recruitment of Blacks into the northern army, and Ben made his move. Under cover of darkness, he slipped away from his bondage, and took his wife and baby to a refugee camp at Fort Anderson, Paducah, Kentucky, where he joined the 8th Regiment of Heavy Artillery; Colored Volunteers.

The saga of Ben and Miranda’s progeny unfolded in the 20th century. Their children migrated to the Indian Territory, and their grandchildren moved on to California. With each move, the McAlisters improved their lot in life. Today they number in the hundreds, representing the full spectrum of professions. Their family history is a gripping tale of triumph over human bondage, blatant racism, and subtle prejudice.

picture of the McAllister Family book cover

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