A Genealogical Quest in the Triracial South "I never met a Johnson cousin until I was forty-seven, the year I met dozens." -- K. Paul Johnson What began as genealogical research into the author's ancestry soon grew into a fascinating tale with lessons for us all. Among his ancestors, Johnson uncovered: unpunished murderers, infidelities that produced stronger families than formal marriages, entire units of North Carolinians who fought and died to preserve the Union in the Civil War. The tale holds enough plot twists for a half-dozen novels. But most of all, it reveals in a personal way what molecular anthropologists have been trying to explain all along. The fact is that we are all of multiple ancestries. Inhabitants of the New World are a genetic mix of three great populations, Native Americans, European colonists, and African slaves. Nowhere is this more vivid than in "Pell Mellers," the story of one man's search for his tangled roots. "Johnson's quest to understand his father becomes a discerning and sensitive historical inquiry that roots the near-present organically in the remote past. Johnson's deeply personal search for his own roots illuminates surprising, forgotten ways of life in a fascinating part of the South." -- Melvin Patrick Ely, author of "Israel on the Appomattox" "This fascinating memoir about the Pell Meller community of northeastern North Carolina reads like a murder mystery. What has been murdered is the truth about their ancestry, and Paul Johnson sets out bravely to discover the corpse, the murderer, and the motives. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the many isolated southeastern groups with odd names, like the Redbones and theMelungeons, who descend from our nation's earliest settlers, in all their ethnic diversity." -- Lisa Alther, author of "Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree" "In Paul Johnson's engaging journey into his roots in Bertie County, North Carolina, he discovers an intriguing family of pocosin dwellers who personify the South's multiracial heritage and its political minorities, including Unionists and the original Buffalo Soldiers. "Pell Mellers" is a solid contribution to the history of the "other South" that complements the well-traveled mainstream, illustrating our rich and textured past." -- Lindley S. Butler, author of "Pirates, Privateers, and Rebel Raiders of the Carolina Coast"