Johnny Cash

Cash in the White House in 1972, photo by Richard Nixon’s official photographer, Ollie Atkins

Birth Name: J. R. Cash

Date of Birth: February 26, 1932

Place of Birth: Kingsland, Arkansas, U.S.

Date of Death: September 12, 2003

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, smaller amounts of Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, Irish, and German

Johnny Cash was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He was the son of Carrie Cloveree (Rivers) and Raymond Cash.

Johnny was married to dancer, actress, musician, and comedian June Carter Cash, until her death. June was a member of the Carter Family folk music group. He had four children, including singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash, with his former wife Vivian Liberto; and a son with June.

Johnny’s paternal grandfather was The Rev. William Henry Cash (the son of Moses Reuben/Ruben Cash and Pheletia/Philisia/Phelitia White Taylor). The Rev. William was born in Georgia. Moses Reuben was the son of Moses Cash and Nancy Hudson. Pheletia was the daughter of John Taylor and Elizabeth White.

Johnny’s paternal grandmother was Rebecca Sara/Sarah Jane Overton (the daughter of John Hubbard Woodson Overton and Susan Wilkinson Whorton). Rebecca was born in Arkansas. John was the son of James Overton and Rebecca Hagler. Susan was the daughter of James Campbell Whorton and Sarah A. Fuller.

Johnny’s maternal grandfather was John Lewis Rivers (the son of William Jasper Rivers and Lydia Jane Massey). Johnny’s grandfather John was born in South Carolina. William was the son of Frederick C. William Rivers and Sarah Ann Hurst. Lydia was the daughter of William Laurence/Lawrence Massey and Huldah/Hulda Meadows.

Johnny’s maternal grandmother was Rosanna Lee Hurst (the daughter of Philip James Hurst and Mary Ann Gainey). Rosanna was born in South Carolina. Philip was the son of David Isaac Hurst and Cynthia Johnson.

While Johnny once believed that he had Cherokee Native American roots, he later discovered that he had no documented Native American ancestry.

A DNA test of Johnny’s daughter Rosanne whose results were displayed on the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2021) stated that Rosanne’s genetic ancestry is:

*92.3% European
*3.8% Western Asian
*3.3% Sub-Saharan African
*0.6% Unassigned

During their marriage, Johnny and his wife, Rosanne’s mother Vivian, were often the subject of racist attacks by people who believed that Vivian was a black woman. Genealogical researchers for the show discovered that Vivian was of approximately 1/32 African descent, unbeknownst to the family, with DNA research indicating that Johnny likely had a similar percentage of African ancestry.

Johnny was a fourth cousin, once removed, of actor and musician Gaelan Connell. Johnny’s paternal great-great-great-grandparents, John Cash and Lucy Nancy Campbell, were also Gaelan’s maternal great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Sourcess: Genealogies of Johnny Cash –


Curious about ethnicity

12 Responses

  1. ethnogenesis says:

    At first, Cash heard of Cherokee or “Mohawk” ancestry, but within a short time he admitted to be false. However, he has relatives being American Indian but not by direct lineage (the ancestral step-mothers of Ward Churchill known to fabricated “Cherokee”, “Creek” or “Metis” ancestry, and Elizabeth Warren’s Bilberry family, but not her Boraker relatives). They said his genetic matches with Roma people could be a clue the presence of Romani (pejoratively called Gypsies) in US history.

  2. JayD271 says:

    A lot of White southerners probably have Black down the line but will they ever admit it? Hell no.., unless of course your ancestors came from the outside recently.

    • jackson9 says:

      A lot of white southerners are probably unaware of distant African ancestry but I doubt many would deny or be ashamed of it if they were to find this out.

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