Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Needs DNA When You Have Voyeurism?

Steven Schein believes that a photograph he bought on eBay depicts blues guitarist Robert Johnson. A Vanity Fair article about the discovery includes an account of the unusual method Johnson's heir used to establish his claim to the estate.

[T]he Chancery Court ruled on October 15, 1998, that a truckdriver named Claud Johnson, who, according to his lawyer, had long heard that the blues legend was his father, was “the biological son and sole heir” of Robert Johnson; he was thus entitled to an initial inheritance of more than $1.3 million with future revenues. The court’s decision, which is irreversible because it was appealed and reaffirmed, was based not on DNA evidence but on an unusual bit of sworn testimony by the elderly Eula Mae Williams, a childhood friend of Claud Johnson’s mother, Virgie Jane Smith Cain. In what sounds more like a scene from Boston Legal than an actual court case, Williams testified that she had watched Cain and Robert Johnson having sex in a wooded area in the spring of 1931, which, nine months later, led to the birth of Claud.

Andy E. Wold

1. Would this be considered a Primary Source or a Secondary Source?!

2. Exactly how should the family genealogist cite this source?!


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