“I’m white, your family is black. We can’t be related!”

“I’m white, your family is black.  We can’t be related.”  In the words of President Obama….Oh yes we can!

It was bound to happen. I received an email this from a gentleman on the white side of the North Carolina Josey family who – politely, I have to add – enquired about my connection to the Josey family. “I couldn’t help but notice that your family is black. I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can be related”.

I could almost imagine his face when I kindly pointed out that not only were we related…but he was also related to the African-American Joseys who lived in his North Carolina town as well as the African-American Joseys who lived in at least three towns near to his own.

A subsequent flurry of emails passed back and forth and his denials became more entrenched. “It’s just not possible”. Airplanes weren’t possible – until they were. Sending rockets to other planets weren’t possible, until they were. Given the things we now take for granted which weren’t possible two to three generations previously, I think intimate relations between races the most probable of anything on the planet. Well, that’s the way I believe I phrased it in one of my later replies.

It all goes back to one John Stephen Josey. Me and mine, on my maternal great-grandmother’s side of the family, are descended from John Stephen Josey and a mulatto mistress. This gentleman was a descendant of John Stephen Josey and his wife Martha’s only surviving son.

It was only when I replied “Well, if my great-great-grandfather George Josey‘s existence didn’t bother Martha, why should it bother you? If anyone has or had a right to be aggrieved, it was her. He cheated on her, not you or yours.” And it is true. If certain accounts are to be believed, Martha Josey was kindly disposed to her husband’s mulatto children.

Yesterday, I received an email where this gentleman said “You’re absolutely right”.

Now he’s busy making plans to contact and meet his African-American cousins who live nearby. And we’ve inspired each other to trace the Josey/Jowsey/Jossie family lineage from 14th Century Scotland back to their Norman roots – a daunting prospect if ever there was one.

11 thoughts on ““I’m white, your family is black. We can’t be related!”

  1. What a great story! There has often been a tendency to “not see” those who were visible and to make them invisible. Your response about Martha was right on point and so glad that he finally got to see those who were always in his line of vision. May you and your “new” cousin have success as you travel this new journey together.

  2. Well done Brian.

    Genealogical proof does not always uncover expected results. In this case, he was probably baffled by your findings. Like many with preconceptions of who their ancestors are, you threw him off a bit – quite a bit.

    Hopefully he will keep an open mind to where the research takes him. Scoundrels and thieves are as interesting as doctors and lawyers, sometimes more so.


    1. Amen to that. I’ve been caught on the hop myself. Geneerations passing down tales of the family’s origins – only to find something that actually turned out to be far richer than anyone could have imagined.

  3. I’m pretty sure that I’m also related to you as well. I Live in Florida and traced my portion of the family back to the carolina’s and to Haddingtonshire, Scotland. I would love to get in contact with you.

  4. Hello, I am a Josey by birth, from Wilmington Delaware. We have traced the family’s entry to the US to the late 1700s from Scotland. I also know there are also many black Josey’s in South Carolina. I would like to get information on the connection and understand if my family was involved in slavery.

    1. Hi Alexandra. It sounds like the same family, which includes Jowsey and Jossie. Mine were in the Midlothian and greater Glasgow regions of Scotland from the 1300s to the 1700s. My line went from Scotland to Virginia to Northampton County, NC.

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