02 Oct The Fiddler on Pantico Run
“The Fiddler on Pantico Run” is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read.
Written by LA Times journalist Joe Mozingo, this beautifully-penned chronicle take us through an incredible journey of self-discovery – a journey that begins in the year 1644, when a young African man lands in Jamestown, Virginia, USA.
Author Joe Mozingo, a “brown-haired, blue-eyed” white American, begins by recounting his curiosity towards his most unusual surname “Mozingo”, a curiosity which is piqued when, on the very first day of grad school, a professor named Mazingo says to him ”…we all descend from a man named Edward Mozingo who was living in Virginia in the 1600’s. He was black.”
Joe is so intrigued by this possibility that he soon travels to Africa to pursue this theory, his journeys taking him through Angola, Nigeria and Cameroon.
While in western Cameroon, in what was known centuries ago as the Kingdom of Kom, Joe finally comes face-to-face with the tribe from which his presumed African ancestor, Edward Mozingo, may have descended.
In time, through DNA testing, Joe is able to confirm his incredible hypothesis – that Edward Mozingo, a man quite possibly from Central Africa, is indeed the forefather of several present-day Mozingos, himself included!
Edward Mozingo lived and worked in Virginia until his death in 1712.
In his book, Joe narrates how Edward married a woman named Margaret sometime in the 1600’s, and from their union sprung several branches of the Mozingo family tree.
“I think he married a white or light-skinned woman, and their sons married white women, and pretty soon they looked white”, he tells a colleague at one point. “But I hear there are some black Mozingos still”.
According to one Internet source, “most of the Monzingo descendants were considered white by 1790; however, three descendants were still counted as mulattoes and negroes in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1801”.
Among Edward’s numerous descendants, eventually, were Mozingos of both black and white racial heritage.
In his book, Joe describes how he met several of Edward’s descendants in the course of research, and was fascinated by some of the legends that sprung up in the family, to explain their unusual surname.
But here is the most incredible part;
According to the science of DNA, all of Edward’s direct male descendants, from the 1600’s to date, still carry a key portion of the Y-Chromosome DNA that he did – Haplogroup e1b1b1a7, found in sub-Saharan African males.
So in essence, all of Edward’s male descendants, whether black or white, still carry the small but vital code that unlocks the enduring mystery of their fascinating ancestry.
Reading Joe’s story led me down a most fascinating path – one that I thought I left several years ago in my high school Biology class.
So intrigued was I, that I did a quick refresher study on DNA, just to understand how it works.
I was completely amazed by the fact that the DNA of one man living in present times could connect him to another, who lived close to 400 years ago.
How? Through what is known as Y-Chromosome DNA, as I soon came to discover.
All males trace their paternal ancestry through the Y-Chromosome, which is passed down unchanged from father to son, through hundreds of generations.
The same applies to women – the X-Chromosome passes unchanged from mother to daughter from generation to generation.
Studies in fact seem to indicate that X-Chromosome DNA of all females can be traced right back to what is known as “mitochondrial Eve” – the first woman who ever lived!
I am completely enthralled by the wonders of DNA and delighted to have come across this amazing book.
I literally couldn’t put it down, and read it in just a few days, sometimes late into the night.
It’s a wonderful book, and through Joe’s exciting discoveries, I can’t help but see a Divine hand in the mystery that is DNA, the genius of which scientists are still working to unravel today.
God is surely the master of all!
- “The Fiddler on Pantico Run: An African Warrior, His White Descendants, A Search for Family”, by Joe Mozingo, is available at Amazon.com, including a Kindle edition.
- Mozingo Family Tree on WikiTree.com – An online source quoted in the above article