Legal Kidnapping? Author Uncovers Grandfather's True History
Margaret Dunbar Cutright will visit The Country Bookshop, Saturday, Aug. 18, at 2 p.m., to discuss and sign copies of her new book, “A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping that Haunted a Nation.”
The book, co-written with Tal McThenia, tells the story of Cutright’s grandfather, who in 1912 was mistaken for the missing son of Lessie and Percy Dunbar.
“Lessie’s son went missing in a swamp, and he was nationally searched for,” says Cutright. “Every lead was followed, a lot of money was spent, and Lessie was in a very fragile emotional state. She had had her hopes dashed so many times.”
Cutright’s grandfather was found in the custody of William Walters, who claimed that the child was Bruce Anderson, the son of single mother Julia Anderson, a North Carolina native. Anderson arrived to claim the child. A heated court battle ensued.
“So many people were just fascinated and interested, and everyone had an opinion,” says Cutright. “People wrote in that whether he was Bobby or Bruce, he was better off with the Dunbars, because they were a family, and she was a single mother. After several identification tests, the court awarded him to the Dunbars, and legally he became Bobby Dunbar.”
Anderson returned home without her child. She later became a Christian, married one of the trial lawyers, and had seven children. Walters spent two years in prison for kidnapping.
The story remained important to Dunbar’s family, and Bobby Dunbar was repeatedly interviewed on the subject, particularly after the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932.
After his death in 1966, his son, Bobby Dunbar Jr., moved with his family to North Carolina. Cutright, the younger of Bobby Dunbar’s daughters, grew up learning about the controversy, and became fascinated.
“Margaret tried to write the story when she was in school,” says Dunbar, a former Moore County resident who is also the father of Marie Cummings, who works for The Pilot. “Her teachers thought the story was just too confusing.”
In 2004, Cutright got her father to take a DNA test. The test proved that Dunbar was indeed an Anderson.
This sparked anger from many of his descendants, who were proud to be Dunbars. They questioned Cutright’s right to seek and publicize this information.
“Do I have a right to learn and tell all of this? I do,” she says. “Julia Anderson was harshly judged and criticized in that newspaper. William Walters was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he suffered in a hot, humid prison for two years and lived the rest of his life in shame. His family was grateful to know he didn’t really commit that crime.
“It’s not just a Dunbar story; there are three families that had a stake in learning the truth.”
Cutright’s father adds that the relatives are still Dunbars, regardless of their biological ancestry.
“I can’t in my mind say I’m a descendant of the Andersons,” he says. “What I know is who my father was, and what a good man he grew up to be.
“We choose to be who we are by how we live our lives.”
For more information, visit www.thecountrybookshop.biz, or call (910) 692-3211.
Contact Andrew Soboeiro at email@example.com.
More like this story