UNDERSTANDING THOSE ONCE-REMOVED RELATIONSHIPS
by Brenda Kellow
July 4, 2010
The first thing on my ‘To Do List’ this morning was to write something for my column. Seldom do I feel there is no topic to interest readers because almost every week readers send me suggestions or ask questions about an interesting genealogical topic. The most recent question was from a reader who asked if she was the only researcher who could not understand the terminology regarding cousins who are ‘once’ or ‘twice removed.’ Of course, I had to explain that she might be in the majority when it comes to understanding these relationships. She is referring to finding the exact relationship between her ggg-grandfather and descendants of his brother. I am going to attempt to explain how these relationships are calculated relating to bloodline (lateral) and collateral, relationships through aunts, uncles and cousins.
Bloodline ancestors are birth parents and birth grandparents. Their siblings’ descendants, as related to you, fall within the ‘removed’ status. I am not going to cover adoptive parents or relationships by marriage because of column length restrictions. There is a longer article and chart on bloodline and collateral lines in the Genealogy Friends Newsletter, Relatively Speaking, p. 5-6, January 2009, http://www.genealogyfriends.org/newsletters/2009/january_2009.pdf.
Cousins share a common ancestor. The determining factor of the relationship is how far back the generations are to the common relative. My mother’s siblings’ children are my cousins—my first cousins—because we share the same grandparents.
The word “removed” relates to someone to whom you are related but from a different generation. My first cousins and I are from the same generation. Only our parents separate us from our common grandparents. Thus, we don’t use “once removed” in this case.
The once removed occurs when the generational differences to the common ancestor are not equal. My sister’s grandchildren and my grandchildren are second cousins once removed because they share the same grandparents.
Look at the chart in the article I wrote called Relatively Speaking mentioned above to understand how this sometimes-perplexing terminology is used. Print out a copy of it. In pencil in the top left square, lightly write in your maternal or paternal grandmother’s name. Along the top and to the left of Grandmother’s name, write in the name of your mother and then your name in the square left of hers. Down the left side in the square below Grandmother’s name, write your aunt’s name, followed by her child and that child’s offspring. From one of the offspring shown on the left margin, run your finger horizontally across the page until it falls beneath your name. That should show your relationship to that person.
For simplicity, I use “genealogical” cousin to distinguish my first and second cousins in my generation from generations of the past. It is not mandatory for you to memorize how relationships are termed, it is only important to know what it is and where to find a chart. That is why we have charts.
When it is time to write another column I never feel it is a chore because it is something I love to do. Moreover, thanks to the suggestions and questions I receive from all my readers, I always have a topic. Today’s topic was no exception. Thank you, Carol Warburton, for suggesting this topic.
TENNESSEE MICROFILMS NEWSPAPERS FROM 1836-1922: Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities the Tennessee State Library and Archives is microfilming old newspapers. Newspapers for filming will be selected an advisory group of genealogists, educators, researchers and citizens from across the state. They expect to finish in two years. Read more on this story at the Chronicling America site, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. Other information will be available on the University of Tennessee Library website, http://www.lib.utk.edu/databases/.
GEORGE WASHINGTON LETTERS UP FOR AUCTION: In some letters he urges readiness for one regiment and in another how to bargain with flour and Indian corn. For more see the University of Houston site, http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2010articles/June2010/6242010July4.php.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunions announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.