Beginning my Melungeon research

Well, I’m going to try my hand at this challenge.

My first direction of research is to address the concerns of folks who have messaged me.

I received this message from Dawnie in May; Hi, on my fathers’ side I have Davis, Spillman, and Ramey as well as Berry all from southeastern Kentucky. My grandmother Margaret Davis is dark and had coarse hair. Always claimed to be Cherokee but nothing in my research shows it. My dad and all his siblings are dark skinned with dark hair with some having blue eyes. 3 great grandmother Ramey who wasn’t related to my grandmother Davis was also said to be black dutch. I am stuck on finding any census records or ethnic listings for these women. My grandmother Davis’s mothers was Kitts Melungeon Surname and I have that line complete. However, I hit a dead end on her father, Thomas Davis and his parents. Any suggestions?


All this talk about Nebraska but did we know?

Did we know Nebraska Sand Hills is due to the Ice Age receeding? I googled this and here’s a bit of what I found.

The Western Interior Seaway (also called the Cretaceous Seaway, the Niobraran Sea, the North American Inland Sea, and the Western Interior Sea) was a large inland sea that existed during the mid- to late Cretaceous period as well as the very early Paleogene, splitting the continent of North America into two landmasses, Laramidia to the west and Appalachia to the east. The ancient sea stretched from the Gulf of Mexico and through the middle of the modern-day countries of the United States and Canada, meeting with the Arctic Ocean to the north.  that completely separated the North American continent?

So when we speak of the Sand Hills of Nebraska, we now know why there’s big sand in the middle of a land-locked state.

Stuhr Museum and the Literacy Council of Grand Island

They’ve partnered to provide a free holiday program featuring the Descendants of DeWitty both in person at their building (located at 115 W. Charles in GI) and streamed live on Stuhr Museum Facebook page!

KARI STOFER Curator of invited the Decendants of DeWitty Inc. to participate in a question and answer discussion of all things about DeWitty, the longest lasting African American Homesteading community in all of Nebraska. Artes Johnson hosted the event with special guest yours truly; Historian and Author Joyceann Gray, great granddaughter of one of the first settlers of DeWitty; William P. Walker.

Click the link to view this informative hour;

My Books

and more to come……


Yes We Remember 2nd Edition Revised

Joyceann Gray
Historical records, and family stories of our ancestors

Our DeWitty

Joyceann Gray

The Women of DeWitty, pioneers from 1785 to the early 1900’s, their struggles, dreams, successes, and legacies.
We are direct descendants of
The WhitetopTribe was established in 1896.

Whitetop Tribe of Band of Native Indians

Joyceann’s Corner Episode 2 (Alexander)

This episode is about honoring

Leslie M. Alexander (1948-  ) Leslie M. Alexander is a Career Foreign Service Officer. He was appointed by President William J. Clinton to serve as U.S. Ambassador to three nations: Mauritius and the Comoros where he served from 1993 to 1996, Ecuador where he served from 1996 to 1999, and Haiti where he served from 1999 to 2000.

Ambassador Alexander was born in Frankfurt, Germany on November 9, 1948 to an African American father from Houston, Texas who at that point was part of the U.S. Army of occupation. His mother was born in France.  They married in Germany and Alexander grew up in both France and Germany.  His primary and secondary educations were in France and he only briefly lived in the United States at the time, in New York City as a child.

Alexander attended the University of Maryland (Munich branch), receiving a BA from the institution in 1970.  He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1971. Through the State Department Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Maryland he studied Economics earning a certificate in 1980, and the Portuguese language where he earned a certificate in 1983. He attended the U.S.  U.S. Naval War College between 1985 and 1986 where he received an M.A. degreed.

Alexander began his overseas assignments as Vice Consul in Georgetown, Guyana from 1970 to 1973. He then served as an Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Norway from 1973 to 1975. Alexander was next assigned to be Consul in Krakow, Poland but he claimed the office had a hostile working environment and left this post nine months before his normal tenure would have ended.

While waiting for another assignment, Alexander worked in the State Department’s Visa office. In 1978, Alexander finally landed another overseas assignment, this time as the Program Officer for Mexico in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics Matters.  He held that post until 1980. His next assignments were as the Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy at Madrid, Spain, 1981-1983, and Principal Officer at Porto Alegre, Brazil from 1983 to 1985.

From 1986 to 1989 Alexander was Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy. He served as Deputy Director for Caribbean Affairs at the Department of State for the next two years (1989-1991).  He was then assigned by the State Department to be Deputy Chief of Mission and then Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti from 1991 to 1993.

Leslie Alexander has received State Department’s Meritorious, Superior and Senior Performance Awards.  His languages are Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, and Norwegian. Ambassador Alexander is now retired in Florida and married to Deborah McCarthy, a career Foreign Service Officer. The couple have two daughters, Margaret and Natalia.

Again thank you for listening and please look forward to my next episode of honoring our own.

Up next,, Sylvia Stanfield, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, and U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America

Till then be blessed and safe

Joyceann’s Corner Episode 3 (Stanfield)

This is a series of profoundly gifted members of our community that have contributed much with no or little public recognition. We honor our own Today we share, Sylvia Stanfield.

Sylvia Stanfield, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, took up her post as U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America  to Brunei in November 1999. She was appointed by President William J. Clinton,  July 1, 1999.  

Brunei, officially the State of Brunei Darussalam, is a sultanate (pop. 295,000), in northwest Borneo, in two coastal enclaves surrounded by Malaysia. A British protectorate after 1888, Brunei was granted self-government in 1971 and became independent in 1984. 

Ambassador Stanfield was born October 28, 1943, in Harris, Texas. She earned a B.A. degree from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio 1965. As an East-West Center grantee, she received an M.A. degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii and continued her studies at the University of Hong Kong School of Oriental Studies and Linguistics in Chinese.   

Her primary area of specialization has been Asian Affairs. She began her career with the Department of State in 1968. Her first overseas assignment was Vice Consul with the then American Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan. 

 Her assignments have included tours as a political officer with the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Ambassador Stanfield has served as a Watch Officer in the Department of State Operations Center, as a political and economic/commercial officer in the Office of the Peoples Republic of China and Mongolian Affairs. She is a Chinese Language officer. 

Ambassador Stanfield has also been an Inspector with the Office of the Inspector General and served as an Examiner with the Board of Examiners of the Foreign Service. From 1990-1993, she was Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand of Australia and Charge d’Affaires a.i.for New Zealand Affairs. From 1997-1998 she headed the Taiwan Coordination Affairs Office.  

Selected to attend the Department of State’s Senior Seminar, Ambassador Stanfield is a member of the forty-first class of 1998-1999. 

After her ambassadorship ended, Ambassador Stanfield became a Diplomat in Residence at Florida A&M University and at Spelman College. She is on the executive committee of  the Association of Black American Ambassadors (ABAA).  In August 2014  she was nominated to be  the interim President of Black Professionals in International Affairs (BPIA). We look forward to seeing what she creates next for herself.

Thank you for listening and next episode will be honoring Gayleatha Brown, the United States ambassador to Burkina Faso.

Be Blessed and safe

“Finding the land”

I got together a list of realtors and the only one who took me serious or wanted to be bothered with out of towners with a long-range plan was Sharon Rodgers,  Talk about a wonderful person, she was so patient, helpful and attentive. Each and every time we came down she was ready with a fist full of properties for us to see. Sharon was always prepared with answers to all our questions. We made three trips in 2017 and finally closed on a sweet piece of property in October of that year.  Sharon has become a dear friend of ours.

Sharon Rodgers

I took pictures of us walking our property.

I took pictures of us walking our property.

Finding a Contractor

Finding a partner in our contractor that would take on our dreams and visions and make them their mission is rare and profoundly emotional. I still get glassy eyed thinking about those first meetings and feeling so blessed.

The same day we closed we met Brad Murray from CB Murray Construction Company, another special individual. Trust me, I exhausted the list of contractors recommended by the bank who were approved to work with Veterans, again it was the same thing as with Sharon. Brad was the only one who showed any interest in dealing with out of towners, Veterans and the VA loan process. Brad was a good fit and left us feeling like we were on the right track from the moment we met him. Same good feeling like we had with Sharon. Sharon worked closely with us for over 8 months until we found what we were looking for. Brad did the same thing in working closely with us for over the next year and three months until we finally were able to cut the ribbon and break ground.

More to come…..