Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Search of the Mozingo Family - Part 2 of 3

An old diary throws him a curve

He could grasp having a black ancestor way back in the 1600s. But in the 1800s? A slave? It had to be a mistake. What would his family think?

By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times
Part two of three
May 16, 2010

On the 19th page of the diary, I saw it.

"Spence Mozingo came to . . . get boards for covering the Tob[acco] house."

I clasped the back of my head in disbelief.

Francis Taylor, a close cousin of James Madison, had kept a journal of their family's daily life in Virginia. And there was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, picking up lumber on a June day in 1786.

Just seeing the word "Mozingo" in the sphere of the Madisons had the feel of a fantastic anachronism — like seeing my own face among the Founding Fathers on the $2 bill.

I was in Virginia, picking away at the enigma of my family name — thought to be central African and now possessed largely by whites in the South and lower Midwest. I had holed up in old courthouses and libraries, straining to read handwriting so impenetrably florid I found myself cursing town clerks who died two centuries ago. I had met and spoken on the phone with Mozingos whose lack of interest in our origins verged on hostility.

What I knew was this: Every Mozingo in America probably descended from Edward Mozingo, a "Negro man" who lived in the Tidewater region of Virginia in 1644. I could trace myself only as far back as Spencer, who first showed up as a white adult in a 1782 census in the Piedmont, about 80 miles west. Who his parents were, whom he married, where he came from were mysteries

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: This three-part series recounts a fascinating genealogical odyssey. Some authors have linked the name Mozingo to the Melungeons. There is no basis for this in fact, so far as I can determine; however, the parallels with Melungeon origins -- the difficulty of the search for them, the abundance of fanciful origin myths tenaciously clung to by many, and the resistance to the truth -- abound.

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