African American Homesteaders marker dedicated in Sully County

ONIDA, S.D. (DRG News) – A historic marker recognizing the contributions of the first African American Homesteaders in Sully County– and the Great Plains– was unveiled at the county courthouse in Onida Tuesday.

Erection of the marker honoring the Norvel Blair and John McGruder families was instigated by the National Park Service and the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

McGruder family historian Jeanettee Parton now lives in Lonoke, Arkansas, but she grew up in Pierre.

Cecil Leo McGruder says the original family home still stands in western Sully County.

Parton says she comes back to the Onida area every two years or so.

The equality movement for Black people is currently a major topic of discussion in the United States. McGruder says when his ancestors moved to Sully County there wasn’t a big fuss.

Parton encourages everyone to be respectful of other people.

Parton says the McGruders weren’t part of the Blair Colony, but rather, in 1906, John McGruder purchased the land through the Blairs.