John Mellencamp

by madman on December 30, 2016

Birth Name: John J. Mellencamp

Place of Birth: Seymour, Indiana, U.S.

Date of Birth: October 7, 1951

Ethnicity: German, Scottish, English, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Irish, Welsh, French, remote Belgian/Flemish

John Mellencamp, also known as John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, painter, and actor.

John is the son of Marilyn Joyce (Lowe) and Richard Lee Mellencamp. He has a daughter with his former wife, Priscilla Esterline; two children with his former wife, Victoria Granucci; and two children with his former wife, model Elainre Irwin.

John has said (starting at 51:40 here) that his great-grandmother was black, married to one of his German immigrant ancestors. It is not clear if this is accurate. He may have been referring to his paternal great-great-grandmother Martha Felmet/Phemlot, who is listed as “white” on at least some records, but could have had black ancestry.

John’s paternal grandfather was Harry Perry Mellencamp (the son of Johann/John Herman/Henry Louis Mellencamp/Mollenkamp/Melloncamp and Caroline/Carolyn “Carrie” Mary Mackey). John’s great-grandfather Johann was born in Columbus, Indiana, to German parents, from Enger, Germany, Johann/John Herman Friedrich/Louis Mellencamp/Mollenkamp and Anna Maria Bramsche. Caroline was the daughter of John Henry Mackey, who was German, and of Anna Maria Angelica Munte, who was likely of German descent as well.

John’s paternal grandmother was Laura L. Noblitt (the daughter of John Franklin Noblitt and Martha Ella/Ellen Ehlers/Ellers/Ellerson/Ellis). John’s great-grandfather John Noblitt was the son of Joel Vandeveer Noblitt and Elizabeth Codey McCalister/McCallister, and had Irish, French, English, Scottish, and Belgian (Flemish) ancestry. Martha was the daughter of Frederick James Ehlers, who was German, from Prussia, and of Martha Felmet/Phemlot, who was from North Carolina or Kentucky.

John’s maternal grandfather was Joseph Harrell Lowe (the son of Joseph Heber Lowe and Mary Louisa Belnap). John’s great-grandfather Joseph was born in Franklin, Idaho, to Scottish parents, Thomas Lowe and Eliza Galloway. Mary Louisa was the daughter of Gilbert Rosel Belnap, who was Canadian, and of Adaline Knight, and had English, and some Scots-Irish (Northern Irish), ancestry.

John’s maternal grandmother was Bessie E. Lowry (the daughter of Charles Clinton Lowry and Cora Ethel Whitsett). Bessie had Scots-Irish (Northern Irish), Welsh, and English, ancestry. Charles was the son of John Alvin Lowry and Martha Ellen Whitsitt. Cora was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Whitsett and Hannah Margaret Morrison.

Sources: Genealogy of John Mellencamp –

Genealogy of John Mellencamp (focusing on his father’s side) –

John’s paternal grandmother, Laura L. Noblitt, on the 1910 U.S. Census –
Laura L. Noblitt on the 1920 U.S. Census –

John’s paternal great-grandmother, Martha Ella/Ellen Ehlers/Ellers/Ellerson/Ellis, on the 1870 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of John’s maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Heber Lowe –

Genealogies of John’s maternal great-grandmother, Mary Louisa Belnap –

Genealogy of John’s maternal great-grandfather, Charles Clinton Lowry –

Genealogy of John’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Whitsett (focusing on his own father’s side) –

Photo by Prphotos

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

ashash March 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

John Mellencamp claims his great-grandmother is black in this interview with Howard Stern. It is at 50:17.

bablah March 19, 2017 at 11:18 am

”John Mellencamp tries to sell records to black people in this interview with Howard Stern. It is at 50:17”

ashash March 19, 2017 at 12:02 pm

You don’t believe that one of his great-grandmothers was black?

bablah March 19, 2017 at 12:21 pm
follers March 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm

I think he may have been referring to his paternal great-great-grandmother, Martha Felmet/Phemlot, who married a German immigrant. She is listed as “White” on at least the records where she is married to Mellencamp’s great-great-grandfather. But it is possible that she had black ancestry.

I think this is her on the 1850 U.S. Census.

andrew March 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

On which basis do you think that specific ancestor of JM had African ancestry?

follers March 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm

She fits Mellencamp’s story about an American-born woman who married a German immigrant. She was also from a Southern family that moved up north (to Indiana), and light-skinned blacks who decided to “pass” as white often did so after moving from the South up north.

madman March 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Interesting, one of the few white celebrities who has claimed black ancestry rather than Native American (Channing Tatum and Tom Sizemore are the other ones I can think of). Yet many Americans likely has black ancestry, even if remote.

Add this as a link to the interview instead. It takes you directly to the relevant part.

follers March 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

I don’t think Channing Tatum has said he has black ancestry, unless you mean him likely confusing Creole for Cajun, when he appears to be neither.

He was listed as part Native American, though.

Sizemore’s maternal grandfather probably was black or of partially black descent, like Philip Baker Hall’s maternal grandfather.

madman March 19, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Sorry, I read now on his page that he didn’t say it himself, it was only fan websites who spread it around.

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