Ancestry of James Brown

The man often referred to as the "Godfather of Soul" was born James Joseph Brown in a small shack in rural Barnwell County, South Carolina. His father, Joe Gardner Brown, was of mixed African American and Native American descent, and his mother, Susie Behlings was of mixed African American and Asian descent.

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First Generation:

1. James Joseph BROWN was born on 3 May 1933 in a small shack outside of Barnwell, Barnwell County, South Carolina to Joseph Gardner BROWN and Susie BEHLING.

When he was four his mother left him in the care of his father. Two years later his father took him to Augusta, Georgia where he lived with his paternal great-aunt Hansom (Scott) Washington. His aunt Minnie Walker also helped with his upbringing.

James Brown married four times. He wed his first wife, Velma Warren on 19 June 1953 in Toccoa, Augusta County, Georgia and had three children with her: Terry, Teddy (1954 - June 14, 1973) and Larry. That marriage ended in divorce in 1969.

James Brown next married Deidre Jenkins with whom he had children Deanna Crisp, Yamma Noyola, Venisha and Daryl. According to his autobiography, they were married on the front porch of a probate judge in Barnwell on October 22, 1970 and divorced on January 10, 1981.

In 1984, James Brown married Adrienne Lois Rodriguez. They separated in April 1994 and had no children. The marriage ended when Adrienne died on 6 January 1996 in California from complications following plastic surgery.

In December 2001, James Brown married his fourth wife Tomi Rae Hynie at his home on Beech Island, South Carolina. Their son, James Joseph Brown II was born on June 11, 2001, although James Brown questioned his paternity.

More: The Marriages & Children of James Brown

Second Generation (Parents):

2. Joseph Gardner BROWN, known affectionately as "Pops," was born on 29 March 1911 in Barnwell County, South Carolina, and died 10 July 1993 in Augusta, Georgia.

According to family history, his father was a married man and his mother worked as a housekeeper in the home. The story says he was born Joe GARDNER and took the name BROWN from the woman who raised him after his mother left him - Mattie Brown.

3. Susie BEHLING was born 8 Aug 1916 in Colleton County, South Carolina and died 26 Feb 2004 in Augusta, Georgia.

Joe BROWN and Susie BEHLING were married and their only child was James Brown:

  • 1 i. James Joseph BROWN

Third Generation (Grandparents):

4 & 5. The parents of Joseph Gardner BROWN are uncertain, but his siblings (or half-siblings) were the children of Edward (Eddie) EVANS and wife, Lilla (surname possibly WILLIAMS). Edward and Lilla EVANS appear in the 1900 US Census in Barnwell County, South Carolina, and in the 1910 US Census in Buford Bridge, Bamberg County, South Carolina. By 1920 it appears that Edward & Lilla EVANS have died, and their children are listed as the children of their aunt and uncle, Melvin & Josephine SCOTT in Richland, Barnwell County, South Carolina. This means that either Edward EVANS or Lilla WILLIAMS? is a parent of Joe BROWN.

6. Monnie BEHLING was born about March 1889 in South Carolina and died between 1924 and 1930 in probably South Carolina.

His parents were Stephen BEHLING b. abt. May 1857 and Sarah b. abt. Dec 1862 - both in South Carolina.

7. Rebecca BRYANT was born about 1892 in South Carolina. Her parents were Perry BRYANT b. abt. 1859 and Susan b. abt. 1861 in South Carolina.

Monnie BEHLING and Rebecca BRYANT were married and had the following children:

  • i. Docia BEHLING b. abt. 1908

    ii. Arris BEHLING b. abt. 1910

    iii. Jettie BEHLING b. abt. 1912

    3. iv. Susie BEHLING

    v. Monroe BEHLING b. abt. 1919 in Fish Pond, Bamberg County, South Carolina and died 4 May 1925 in Bamberg County, South Carolina

    vi. Woodrow BEHLING b. 24 May 1921 in Fish Pond, Bamberg County, South Carolina and died 25 May 1921 in Fish Pond, Bamberg County, South Carolina

    vii. James Earl BEHLING b. 5 Feb 1924 in Fish Pond, Bamberg County, South Carolina and died 3 July 2005 in Bamberg County, South Carolina

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    Your Citation
    Powell, Kimberly. "Ancestry of James Brown." ThoughtCo, Jun. 30, 2014, Powell, Kimberly. (2014, June 30). Ancestry of James Brown. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Ancestry of James Brown." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 20, 2018).