#184: 20 Q’s…Help Is On the Way

184.1   It is fascinating…even priceless…the way Yahoo! Answers demonstrates how confused people today are with kinship and genealogy. Based on the grammar and spelling of the questions and answers, I would guess most of these contributors are younger. I think Baby Boomers have a better handle on it, but not all do…and we may be the last generation who actually cares…but again, maybe not. Posts are in black italics…my comments in red. In case I use it, and it’s new to you, the abbreviation OP means Original Post or Original Poster.

184.2  Question: I have a half sister named Kelsey, but we are closer than most full siblings. We have the same mom but different dads. Neither one of us speak to our fathers anymore (long story). Kelsey is married to a man named Brent, and they have a son named Dustin. I am married to Brent’s full sister, her name is Corrie. Now Corrie and I are expecting our first child, a girl we are naming Mae. What would the official term be for them? We are just curious because they will not technically be double cousins but they will not be regular cousins either. Does anyone know? 

184.3  My Answer: I know! I know! You’re right in saying that Mae and Dustin won’t be double 1st cousins because while they are 1st cousins thru Brent and Corrie, they are only half-1st cousins thru you and Kelsey. They are “double cousins” in the sense that they are related 2 ways. “Regular double cousins” would fit if the 2 ways are the same…but since the 2 ways are different, they are “irregular double cousins.” Do this: total up their degree of relationship and see how it compares with more common relations…for them, it’s 1/8 + 1/16 = 3/16….which is halfway between 1st cousins at 2/16 and half-siblings at 4/16. So you can say they’re closer than 1st cousins but not as close as half-siblings.

chart 645

184.4  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Brent and Corrie are siblings…their children are first cousins, via that relationship. They are 1/2 1st cousins through you and Kelsey. So true…good for you. Most persons just leave off the 1/2 portion. They are cousins through both parents sides. Normally, one would go with the “closest” relationship which is full 1st cousins. Well, except if you leave off  the “1/2 portion” then their relationship on both sides is simply 1st cousin, and neither side is closer than the other, right? Now when folks are related in more than one way, they do find it convenient to use the closest relationship to describe themselves, at least in casual conversation. But I suspect when you say “normally,” you don’t actually know of any “abnormal” situations, where a more distant relationship is the one they prefer…”normally” is just a filler word, like “um” or “you know.”

chart 50 re

184.5  But as it turns out…ha!…I do know of such an abnormal case: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. They are in fact related to each other in many ways…2nd cousins once removed…3rd cousins…4th cousins…4th cousins once removed…5th cousins…probably more. Now 2C 1R is 1/64, which is closer than 3rd cousin at 1/128…but when it’s simplified to only one relationship, the one I see used most often is  3rd cousins. I believe the reason is this: they are 3rd cousins because they are both the great great grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Crown Prince Albert…thus this relationship is both Royal and British, because Victoria was British, altho Albert was German. Phillip is a 2nd cousin to Elizabeth’s father King George VI since the two men are the great grandchildren of King Christian IX of Denmark…Royal but not British, you see? It makes a difference, apparently…even so, Victoria’s mother, 3 of her 4 grandparents, and all 8 of her great grandparents were from Germany. Then again, maybe 3rd cousin simply “sounds” closer than 2C 1R…

184.6  Answer #2…your spouses are siblings. your children are half cousins. good luck.  And with answers like this, you’ll need some luck. Yes, your children are half-1st cousins, but not because your spouses are siblings, but because you and Kelsey are half-siblings. Your spouses being siblings makes the children full 1st cousins.

184.7  Answer #3…When the kids are old enough to enjoy silliness they can honesty say they are one and a half cousins. I’m not against silliness, heaven knows, but honestly they cannot. The trouble is that the larger the “number” of the cousins, the more distant the relationship…2nd cousins are more distant than 1st, 3rd are more distant than 2nd, etc. So 1½ cousins would be more distant than 1st…but as we saw in 184.3, Mae and Dustin are closer than 1st, not more distant. D’oh! If “1½ cousins” has any meaning at all, it can only mean half-1st cousins…more distant than 1st, less distant than 2nd.

184.8  Answer #4…I have 10 years on Observer, since I’ve been a genealogical researcher for 50+ years, and I use “half cousin” ALL the time. I know a family whose children are half first cousins, 7 times removed, to president John Adams. We don’t use it a lot, but we use it. How special for you….or them…or somebody.

Your children will have two relationships; full first cousin and half first cousin, Many people have two, but not so close. My brothers and sisters are also my 4th, 5th and 7th once removed cousins, for example. Most genealogists can say the same thing about their siblings. (Probably not that exactly, but “also” followed by a number of cousinhoods.) Most normal people could too, if someone would research their family tree. Ok, here’s the deal…siblings are also cousins to each other if their parents are cousins to each other. Based on complex mathematical and demographic analysis, it’s been estimated that everybody alive today is at most a 50th cousin to everybody else. So technically, you’re right…for example, my parents could be 20th cousins to each other…unfortunately, discovering kinship that remote is all but impossible, unless you’re related to royalty. Official and familial record-keeping simply wasn’t that good.

We usually drop the “half” for anyone to whom we are related save brother and sister, and usually drop it for them if we get along; and we usually drop all but the closest relationship; when I introduce my brother I say he’s that, dropping the cousins part. If, however, I’m at the genealogy clubhouse, cursing the way they spelled “Pack” in Arkansas in 1850, and it is 2 for 1 night in the tap room, I will introduce my brother as that plus all three cousin titles.  And that’s fine according to your clubhouse rules, I’m assuming…

184.9  Answer #5…There is a half sibling relationship between you and Corrie. Your Spouses are siblings. Your children would would half cousins on your side (this is not a term that is used in Genealogy)  and first cousins on their fathers side. Source(s): Genealogical researcher 40+ years  This basic answer is correct, altho there’s no “fathers’ side” since both couples are of mixed gender family-wise, if you catch my drift…better to say “on the other side.” And half-cousin most definitely is a term used in genealogy…and the fact that a researcher of 40+ years uses it…shows the good of it.


184.10  Question…Ana has 2 aunts,Gertie&Samntha& 1 uncle,Jimbo.Jimbo has nephew on Anna’s side of family,Timothy. what is relation b/w timonthy’s child & ana?  

184.11  My Answer…When answering kinship questions, I assume that people are related by blood, not by marriage, and go from there. Here, Jimbo’s nephew TImothy could be Gertie’s son, Samantha’s son, the son of another of Jimbo’s siblings…or even Anna’s brother! But assuming brother is out, Timothy is Anna’s 1st cousin…thus Timothy’s child is Anna’s 1st cousin once removed.

chart 646

184.12  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Well none of us can tell unless we knew how the aunts and uncles are related.  Speak for yourself, bucko! There are aunts and uncles that are siblings to your parents. Then there are aunts and uncles only because they married siblings to your parents. Except…that here  Timothy is described as Jimbo’s “nephew on Anna’s side of the family.” Thus even if Jimbo were Anna’s uncle by marriage, married to Anna’s blood aunt, Timothy is still Anna’s blood 1st cousin thru that aunt. If Jimbo were an uncle by marriage, and Timothy were his nephew by one of his siblings, TImothy wouldn’t be on Anna’s side of the family…but he is!  You missed that. The only family of your aunts and uncles by marriage that are related to you are the children,. grandchildren etc they produce by your aunts and uncles who are siblings to your parents. Their nieces and nephews by their siblings aren’t related to you at all unless some place back down the line you share a common ancestor. Again, true enough, but irrelevant in this case.

Too many young people think their cousins’ cousins are related and they aren’t unless some place back down the line they shared a common ancestry.  Your questions is very convoluted as you don’t explain how the aunts and uncles are related. Your cousins on your mother’s side of the family are not related to the cousins on your father’s side unless some place along the line they share a common ancestor. I was taught this when I was about 5 of 6 years old. It appears today no one explains relationships to kids. Don’t feel bad a lot of the questions we get from young people trying to determine relationships are convoluted.  All I can say is: Ask a convoluted question, get a convoluted answer…except to me the question was crystal clear.
184.13  Answer #2…Find the common blood ancestor of timonthy’s child & ana and you will then be able to work out if their is any relationship or if there is no common blood ancestor there is no relationship  Well, sure…but something tells me this is a skill the OP lacks..at least for now…


184.14  Question…How is my great grandfather’s half brother’s granddaughter related to me? I know she’s my cousin but what degree is she 1st? 2nd? 3rd? and then there’s all this once/twice/thrice removed stuff…it’s confusing.

184.15 My Answer…As per Chart 647, the granddaughter is your parent’s half-2nd cousin…your parent is one generation removed form you, so the granddaughter is your half-2nd cousin once removed. BTW, nobody says “thrice” anymore…not needed in this case anyway.

chartt 647
184.16  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Half brothers don’t matter when you’re calculating how close you are related.  Wrong! Fail! Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no such thing as a half cousin.  A quick google…and in this case quick means 0.27 seconds…says otherwise. Your grandfather and her father were cousins. Your father and her are second cousins. This makes you a second cousin, once removed. Put a “half-” in front of that and we’re good to go.

184.17  Answer #2  It’s early. I hope my abbreviations don’t confuse you. It gets less confusing if you draw a picture: 

Generation 1: GGF & HB = half brothers
Generation 2: Your grandparent & HB’s child = half 1st cousins
Generation 3: Your parent & HB’s GD = half second cousins
Generation 4: You & HB’s GD’s child = 3rd cousins 

I threw in GD’s child as a bonus, and to show you GD isn’t your 3rd cousin.  I won’t deny that your heart’s in the right place…but you risk further confusing a confused person…better to say what the correct relationship is, not what it isn’t. That being said, you have correctly identified each rung of the “Cousin Ladder.” Gold star for you.You and GD are in different generations; even if you are close to the same age, you are in different generations. That’s where removed comes in. Removed means “generations apart”. If you were to draw a line from you to GD, it would not be perfectly horizontal. It would tilt up a bit. Careful now! It might also tilt up a lot…or not at all if you put people who are the same general age at the same horizontal level, which you’re perfectly free to do. It doesn’t change their relationship…it’s just a different way to draw the diagram.

You two are half second cousins once removed through one of your parents. Most people would drop the “half”. In fact, unless you are bragging in the genealogy clubhouse, “distant cousin” would be enough, in casual conversation, or just “cousin”, as in “My cousin is a dynamite tennis player.”  Except that in a genealogical context, you wouldn’t be bragging, just being accurate. Saying “distant cousin” would suggest to a genealogist that you didn’t know.

Added later:  Some of us use “half” and some don’t. If, God forbid, you needed a bone marrow transplant, they’d test your first cousins before your half first cousins.  90% of the obituaries I read – and I’ve read thousands – don’t distinguish between half siblings and siblings. A careful genealogist uses “half” if he/she wants to be precise. It’s too clumsy for normal people.  What, normal people can’t be clumsy?

184.18  Answer #3…2nd cousin, once-removed. We don’t use the ‘half’ title here. Your GrGrFather has a (half) brother. Those old guys each have children who are 1st cousins. The next generation down (your parent and the woman you speak about) are 2nd cousins. We go down another generation to get to you, but we don’t go down a generation for the woman. There is a one generation difference. That is where the ‘once-removed’ applies. If this woman has kids, they will be your 3rd cousins. Same deal as before….add “half-“.

Same generation is siblings (Brothers & sisters).
One generation down (kids) are 1st cousins.
Two generations down are 2nd cousins.
Three generations down are 3rd cousins.
‘Removed’ means a generation difference. (once, twice). 

184.19  Answer #4…As long as she is blood related through your great grandfather’s half brother, ie you share at least one Great Great Grandparent, then she is a half 2nd cousin once removed to you…if on the other hand you do not share a common blood ancestor then you are not related at all  I’d be interested to know how you think your great grandfather’s half-grand niece and you could conceivably not be blood relatives. The only way that could happen is if your great grandfather and his half-brother weren’t related…but they are, since they’re half-brothers. 

184.20  Are you learning from the mistakes of others, dear friends? We will continue in half a fortnight…  


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#183: 20 Q’s…Con-Foo-Shush

183.1   From the Yahoo! Answers genealogy section…a couple of confuzzling multiflations of contentious mishegoss, de-tweezed by webniks with varying degrees of verisimilitude and adroitage…posts are in black italics…my comments in red. The abbreviation OP stands for Original Post or Original Poster…

183.2   Question: I’m confused, help? Events are in chronological order. Jim gets with Elizabeth and they have a kid named Sophia. Jim and Elizabeth completely end their relationship. Elizabeth and Sophia later move away to another country. Elizabeth remarries. Jim gets with Tammy and they have a kid named John. Jim and Tammy completely end their relationship. Tammy and John later move away to another country. Tammy remarries. Jim gets with Angela and they have three kids, Jack, Jill, and Jimmy. Jim is married to Angela.

Please answer all of my questions.
(1)  What is the real definition of a step parent?
(2)  Is Angela a stepmom to Jim’s other kids, Sophia and John? Even if she hasn’t met them and they live in different countries?
(3)  Would Sophia then have two stepmoms in total, first Elizabeth, and then Angela?
(4)  Would John then have one stepmom, Angela?
(5)  Jack, Jill, and Jimmy would all be full siblings, but they would have two half siblings, John and Sophia. Would John have 4 half siblings, and would Sophia have 4 half siblings?

183.3  My Answer:

(1)  A little historical context: our prefix “step-” comes from the Old English word “astieped” which meant “bereaved.” When one of your parents died, and your remaining parent remarried, it referred to your “new” parent. Back when marriage was forever, this was the only way you could get a “new” parent…somebody had to die. You couldn’t have 2 step-parents…one married to each of your biological parents, as happens today, because one parent had to be dead. Sorry…that’s just the way it was. Eventually, “step-” lost its connotation with bereavement and death, and that’s where we stand today…a woman who is now married to your biological father…and who is not your biological mother…is your “step-mother.”

(2)  In common usage, “step-mother” refers a woman who raised you, as your mother, but wasn’t your biological mother. She functioned as your mother, perhaps was the only mother you ever knew, and you probably call her “Mom.” But as this question demonstrates, it’s possible your biological father was or now is married to a woman who didn’t raise you, who never functioned as your mother in a family setting. Usage varies…some people would simply say “my father’s wife”…others would say “my step-mother,” even in the case where you and her have never met. 

(3)  Now we come to the “married” part of it. Jim has had only one wife, Angela. Jim was never married to Tammy, so Tammy was neither Sophia’s father’s wife, nor Sophia’s step-mother. True, Sophia and John are half-siblings…but there is no universally accepted way to refer to your step-sibling’s “other” parent. So again, strictly speaking, Angela is the only one who could be called Sophia’s step-mother…in these circumstances, Sophia might well call Angela her father’s wife….or more realistically, “current” wife. Looked at this way, the answer to (4) is yes.

(5)  Yes…all the children have the same father…ones that share a mother are full siblings…ones that don’t are half-siblings…so Sophia and John would each have 4 half-siblings…Jack, Jill, and Jimmy would each have 2 full siblings and 2 half-siblings. But who is a step-sibling to whom again depends on how you look at it…step-siblings if Angela is considered a step-mother, not if she’s not.

chart 643

183.4  Best Answer:  

(1) Someone who is married to your biological parent. Married. I agree, but it is tricky…because even if your biological parents raised you, they might not have been married, nez pah? See today’s wicked ballsy.  To take an extreme example, if Jim, who seems to be quite the male slut, brought home a tramp for a one-night stand, she would not be stem-mom for a day. I would replace “seems to be” with “is”…but we have to admit that in this day and age, that’s considered old-fashioned thinking…nothing wrong with it, I’m just sayin’…

(2)  Here you get into use. “Step-mom” is, ideally, one who raises you and loves you as she would her own children. I know several people who are adults, living on their own, whose parents divorced and remarried. Some refer to the second wife as “my step-mom” and some as “my father’s wife”. It depends on how much they like the lady, and how much time they spent with her. Most of the ones who were out on their own when the divorce happened use “My father’s wife”.  Exactly…common usage varies.

(3)  No. Jim can be married to just one person at a time. I purely don’t know what Muslim children whose father has four wives call the other mommys. If Jim commits bigamy, the second marriage isn’t legal. This is certainly true…for now anyway. Because as the legal meaning of marriage continues to be redefined, many more combinations and permutations will become acceptable, like it or not. Heads-up for future reference: while today you are allowed to call certain connubial scenarios “icky,” doing so in the future may well qualify as “hate speech.” For example, check this article on identical twin sisters…traditional Mormons…married to the same man.

(4) Maybe. See your second Q, which discusses “step-mom” vs. “My father’s wife”.  Correct.

(5)  Yes. Also correct. This poster hews to traditional usage, but as I said, the times they are a-changin’.

183.5  Answer #2:

(1)  A step parent is a person (husband or wife) who is married to the parent of a child but is not the child’s parent. Step parents ONLY HAPPEN if there is a marriage. Sure, that’s how I would call it. When I hear “parent,” I think of a biological parent. But a parent could also be somebody who raised you, or is married to your biological parent, or both. But if they’re neither, I wouldn’t call them a parent…still, many people would. It’s like who qualifies as an in-law. You might consider your husband’s cousins to be your cousins…but perhaps he doesn’t…and/or they don’t.

(2) If Angela marries Jim, she is step mother to any child he has, with any other woman, if he was married to the other woman or not. As has been said, it can be that way…or Angela can just be “my father’s wife” and not any kind of mother.

 (3) (4)  Sophia’s only stepmother is a woman who is married to her father. Where anyone lives, does not matter. John’s stepmother is anyone who legally married his father. (your message is too round about and “gets with” is meaningless) I would agree that if  Sophia and John have a step-mother, it would be Angela. The “gets with” implies they weren’t married, and the living in other countries reinforces the point that Angela didn’t function as a mother to either Sophia or John.

(5)  Full siblings are any child who has the SAME MOTHER AND FATHER. Half siblings have ONE same parent, mother or father. The parents don’t need to be married in either situation. The kids are still either full or half siblings. Quite so…reproduction is blithely independent of marriage…or even cohabitation for that matter.

183.6  Answer #3: Depends. Does “gets with” mean married or just dating?  I was wondering the same thing. I think we all got the impression Jim didn’t marry Elizabeth or Tammy…altho you can’t technically remarry until you’ve been married first…then again, they didn’t get divorced from Jim but “ended the relationship.”  A  bit ambiguous…if the OP meant that everybody here was married, then we’d be talking about “current step-mother” and “former step-mothers,” but you can’t read a person’s mind…


183.7  Question:  What is my grandfather’s half cousin to me? I am visiting a distant relative in the UK and am not sure what she is relative to me (Cousin, half cousin, etc.). She is my grandfather’s half cousin. My great grandfather had a half brother who had a child. What is that to me? When addressing such a question, I make 2 assumptions: first, that “cousin” means “1st cousin”…and second, that this person is related to you at all…if she were your grandfather’s half-uncle’s wife’s niece, your grandfather might call her a cousin even tho she wouldn’t be related to either your grandfather or to you.

Now the answer here is simple…it’s the very definition of “removed”…”once removed” is your father’s generation…”twice removed” is your grandfather’s generation. So to you she’s be the same thing she is to your grandfather, only twice removed…half-1st cousin twice removed. Let’s see if anybody gets it right…

chart 644

183.8  Best Answer:  She is your grandfather’s half first cousin. That makes her Your father (Mother)’s half cousin once removed. Your half first cousin twice removed. Yup, somebody did get it right, altho…Your child’s half first cousin three times removed. You add a “removed” for every generation. If the half-cousin has a child. he/she will be your father’s half second cousin. If the half-cousin has a grandchild, he/she will be your half third cousin.  while all of this extra stuff is true, it could be confusing to the OP and I would have bit my tongue and left it out. No one but a genealogist showing off uses the term “half-cousin” in casual conversation. How snarky. You are what you are…don’t blame the genealogist. When you converse, call her “cousin” and ask if she’d like the tea (or the warm beer); that is close enough. OK, a congenial host in the end, despite the snarkiness.

183.9  Answer #2, “Highest Rated” by others:  That person would be your half first cousin twice removed.  Another right answer…are we on a roll or what? Your grandfather (Ben) has a half first cousin (Emily). Ben has a son named Steve. Steve and Emily are half 1st cousins, once removed (1 generation removed from each other).Steve has a son (You). You and Emily are half 1st cousins, twice removed (because you are two generations apart). Hope that helps. It would obviously help more if you happened to guess their names correctly…still, you’re right on in your explanation…good 4U.

183.9  Answer #3:  your “kith and kin”. or just “kin” if you are more modern. True, but it doesn’t help…it does however give me the chance to mention what “kith” is, if anybody ever wondered about it. Kith refers to your friends or acquaintances…together with kin, your relatives, which are defined differently for different societies, they constitute the people you know.

183.10  Answer #4: 3rd cousin  Wrong. The reader might find to fun to figure out how many separate mistakes they have to make to get to this conclusion…today anyway, I’m not in the mood to.

183.11  Answer #5:  She can be either your third half cousin or your half cousin twice removed. A relationship is what it is…it can be described in many ways, but it is only one “thing”…so if you think your 2 alternatives describe the same thing, you are wrong…even tho your second choice happens to be right.

ADDED: I know there are a lot of answers here. Let me explain mine more. Yes, that would be enlightening. Most people refer to cousins as first, third, second. First cousin are the children of your parent’ brothers and sisters. Yes, I’m with you so far. Every new generation adds out a layer so their kids would be your second and so on. No…very common mistake but still wrong.

The “____ Removed” title also has to do with generations. You take the relationship between this person and your family tree down to it’s barest form (in this case half cousin) and then each generation after that becomes a once, twice or three times removed.  Now you’re right again. This helps clarify how closely a person is really related to a person. We all know someone who says, “I am the cousin of Henry IIX” but that covers a lot of possibilities where as someone who says, “I am his cousin 10 times removed” means your great (x9) ancestor was an actual cousin (their parents were siblings). This raises a valuable point…ancestors from long ago will always be removed by a high number of steps…while the actual type of cousin…1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc….could be anything, depending on how they are related to your ancestor of that generation this is what I believe you meant when you said “barest form.” Problem is, your math is off…if a cousin is X times removed, they are a cousin of your ancestor with X-2 greats…as for example, your great grandfather’s 1st cousin is your 1st cousin 3 times removed…3 removeds – 2 = 1 great…so 10 times removed is the cousin of your 8G grandfather. Source(s): I learned most of this in an article in Biography magazine On the whole, I’d recommend canceling your subscription…either that or reading more carefully.

183.12  Answer #6:  She would be your 2nd cousin, once removed. and her children would be your 3rd cousin. Another cockeyed answer. For starters, “cousin” should be “half-cousin.” After that, she is not your 2nd cousin once removed…her children are your 2nd cousins once removed, since they are your father’s 2nd cousins. And her grandchildren, not her children, are your 3rd cousins. Trust me on this, I have no reason to lie.

183.13  Answer #7:  your inlalaw  Who says spelling doesn’t matter?

183.14  Answer #8:  she is a half ***.  Testy…very testy…

183.15 Update from Original Poster : WOW! Everyone seems to have a different answer.  Well, here’s an interesting distinction between genealogy and knowledge in general. In genealogy, a half-cousin is different from a cousin. But with knowledge in general, being half-wrong is no different than being wrong, you see? Genealogy is a difficult science.  My initial reaction is to say no, it’s not that difficult at all…but that would be unfair of me, because many people do find it confusing. What I will say is that if you study it, and think about it, it should make sense, for the simple reason that it’s merely the same basic patterns and connections repeated over and over…up, down, and across your family tree. Still more, next week…aloha…


wicked ballsy

Myron Cohen was a wonderful comedian who appeared many TV shows in the 1950s and 60s…34 times on Ed Sullivan alone!  And he was old-school…instead of one-liners, he would tell stories…jokes, basically…and this one here is not verbatim as he would tell it,  just my rendering of it. But the punch-line is his, and notice how he tells an “adult” story without using any “bad” words…


It seems Saul and his wife were celebrating 50 years together, and invited their 3 children to dinner. His son the lawyer arrived last minute and said: “Sorry, Pop, I got held up in court, and rushed over here…I didn’t have a chance to buy you something.” “That’s alright,” said Saul, “you’re here with us for this special occasion and that’s what counts.”

Then his son the doctor shows up…”Pop, I was going to get you a nice gift, but I had an emergency call, then came over as quick as I could.” “Don’t worry about it,” said  Saul,” you’re here now and that’s all that matters.”

Then came his daughter…”I’ve been running around all day doing errands and it just hit me, I forgot to get you a present.” Saul assured her “Your being here is the only present we need.”

After the meal, Saul stood up and addressed his brood: “It’s wonderful that we could all be together tonight, but something’s been eating at me and I have to come clean. You’ve been living a lie…your mother and I were never married.”

His son the lawyer said: “You mean we’re all… ?”

“That’s right,” said Saul, “and the cheapest!”


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#182: 20 Q’s…Half a What Again?

182.1  They say the wise man learns from the mistakes of others…the fool, not even from his own. Let’s see what we can learn from Yahoo! Answers as they tackle the mystifying concept of “half-cousins.” Do they really exist, or are they just an urban myth? Come closer, we’ll find out together…and as last week,  posts are in black italics…my comments in red. OP stands for Original Poster, the question-asker…

182.2  Question: What is a half cousin? Excellent question…ask and you learn…but be careful who you ask! And as the word “cousin” commonly means “1st cousin,” we will take “half-cousin” to mean “half-1st cousin.”

182.3  Best Answer: the cousin of one of your half siblings. Wrong! Fail! But admirably demonstrating the poverty of the whole Yahoo! Answers approach…that is, the one who doesn’t know the right answer gets to decide which answer is right…d’oh!  Still, an interesting idea, one worth exploring a bit further…but first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page… So, if your mom remarries and has a kid. That kid might have some cousins from his dad. Those cousins could be considered your half cousins. And it’s just as I suspected…we’re on different pages…they are confusing half- with step-. This kid your mom has is your half-brother…but his relations on his father’s side are all step-‘s to you, in the same way as his father is your step-father, and he and his siblings are your step-siblings. Just call them cousins. Why does it matter?  Well, in the first place, the confusion between half- and step- matters when biology matters, since a half- is a blood relative and a step- isn’t (at least not usually…it could be…for example, if your mother’s new husband is also her 4th cousin…this does happen.)

182.4  In the second place, introducing your half-cousin (or 2nd cousin, or half-2nd cousin, or any collateral relative in your generation) as “my cousin” is a completely acceptable everyday simplification…true, they might think you meant “first cousin” but that might not matter, as you say. The trouble begins when such a colloquialism spills over into genealogy…assembling a family tree and considering half-cousin Bob as as full cousin gives Bob one grandparent that he doesn’t actually have…and leaves out one of his actual grandparents. Family trees aren’t of much use if they aren’t accurate. 

chart 639

182.5  But looking at a half-sibling’s 1st cousins…he has 2 sets…those on his father’s (your step-father’s) are not related to you. Those on his mother’s side are the children of his mother’s siblings…and since they are also the children of your  mother’s siblings, they are as much your 1st cousins as they are his. Half or full cousins do not depend on the relationship between the cousins, but the parents…if the parents are full siblings, full cousins…if the parents are half-siblings, half-cousins. 

182.6  Answer #2, “Highest Rated” by others…lol okay i’ve got 2 half sisters and 2 stepsisters. now you obviously know what “steps” are. halfs just means there is blood connection. for e.g.: mother + new man = half whatever. simple as that (-:   This is correct as far as it goes…altho perhaps it goes too far in assuming the OP knows what step-‘s are. I do not fault this person’s lack of capital letters…I don’t blog that way, but I do post on Facebook and generally email in such a casual fashion. I also like that half-relations in the plural is called “hafts” not “halves”…like the Toronto Maple Leafs, not Leaves…LOL me too…

182.7  Answer #3…Half-cousins are more common than most people realize. Sure, and for people who don’t think they exist at all, merely one would come as quite a revelation, nez pah? Here’s one example: ‘My’ brother had a child with a woman, and then he took off. I fell in love with her, we married, and I was raising my nephew as my own. We then had another son. The two boys are half-brother and half-cousin. Sounds like a happy family…God bless and good luck to you…still, if we examine your situation…

chart 640

182.8   …we find that Moe and Joe, while indeed half-brothers, are actually full 1st cousins…assuming your brother is your full brother…if he were your half-brother, then they’d be half-cousins. Notice, you correctly call Joe your “nephew,” not your half-nephew, which is what he would be if his father were your half-brother. Again, it doesn’t depend on them, but on their parents. Altho upon further reflection, perhaps you were talking figuratively…meaning the boys can be thought of as both brothers and cousins, or partly brothers and partly cousins…as for example someone whose mother died when they were very young might consider his much older sister who raised him as “half-sister, half-mother.” Still, genealogically and genetically, Moe and Joe are half-brothers…and full 1st cousins, because their fathers are full brothers, not half-brothers. 

182.9  Answer #4…Half cousins are the children of two half siblings. Direct, to the point, and correct. Sadly, in today’s dumbed-down world, some take this to mean the half-siblings are married to each other…but think about your own 1st cousins…you and they have parents who are siblings…did those siblings marry each other? I rest my case. 

182.10  Answer #5…I think it could also be if, let’s say your Aunt (who is blood related to you), who is married and has children (your cousins)divorces your Uncle. Then remarries and has children with a different man, and those would be your half-cousins?  Nope…if your aunt is your parent’s full sibling, than any children she has with anybody are your full 1st cousins…honest…I wouldn’t kid you about something like that.

182.11  Answer #6… Sorry I honestly am not sure. I know you can have half-siblings (I have them), but I haven’t ever heard of half-cousins…With all due respect, it’s beyond me how your honestly not being sure helps answer the question…at least you’re sorry.

182.12  Answer #7…i dont think there is a such thing  Me, I would be very careful in going around saying things don’t exist. Well, OK…apps don’t exist…they’re actually programs, not apps.  ;) ;)  But my point is that taking the world to consist only of those things that you yourself have heard of is a pretty myopic way to look at it…commonplace these days, true, but so limiting. And you’ve got to learn to trust people…so trust me when I say there are half-cousins. i know there is step cousins but if there is two sisters that have diffrent moms or maybe difrent dads but the same of one parent they’re half sisters. You have inadvertently hit upon the “building block” nature of genealogy…say these half-sisters you mention each have a child…those children are half-1st cousins…then they each have a child, the original half-sisters’ grandchildren…those are half-2nd cousins, and on down the line…

182.13  Answer #8…if your mom or dad re marrys, their neices and nephews become your half cousins  Again, step- not half-.

182.14 Answer #9…a half cousin is a person whose related to ur cousin, but ur half cousin isn’t really related to u. Did u get that? Sadly, I did get that…and you’re off your rocker, dear friend… don’t be surprised if nobody listens to you. But to sum up: 1st cousins are the children of siblings…half-1st cousins are the children of half-siblings…2nd cousins are the children of 1st cousins…half-2nd cousins are the children of half-1st cousins…3rd cousins are the children of 2nd cousins…and on and on, like that…


182.15  Question: How much DNA do I share with my “half first cousin”? My mother only has half brothers and sisters. I was wondering how much DNA do I share with my mom’s half sisters’ offspring. Are they genetically more like my second cousins than first cousins since our moms are only half siblings (they share the same mother only)?  In a nutshell, your half-1st cousins (1/16) are exactly half-way between your 1st cousins (1/8) and your 2nd cousins (1/32). All half-relations fill in the missing powers of 2 along the horizontal line of your generational collateral relatives….starting with half-siblings (1/4) being half-way between full siblings (1/2) and 1st-cousins (1/8). But let’s see what others think…

182.16  Best Answer: Dr J is the real expert. It isn’t that simple. You have 46 chromosomes and 44 of them are Autosomes. It is what most of your DNA is. You get it 50-50 from both parents but not necessarily 25% from each of your 4 grandparent. The reason why when your parents passed on the Autosomal they received from their parents to you it went through a process where it was randomly jumbled and recombined. So while you got 50% from your father’s side and 50% from your mother’s there can be a bias in what you inherited from grandmother and grandfather on both sides of the family. How you inherited any bias will not be how your siblings inherited it unless you have an identical twin. So no one can say exactly how much DNA you share with your full siblings if you have some. Autosomal is what determines your “looks” genetically as well as other things. Here is a great link. If you scroll down it discusses the recombining toward the end of the page.  .http://www.dnainheritance.kahikatea.net/…  

182.17  The website cited is fine…and this comment is correct as well. You have 2 complete sets of genes…one comes from your mother’s ovum, the other from your father’s spermatozoa that fertilized it…so yes, exactly 50% of your genetic make-up comes from each parent. But the 1/2 that you share with a sibling…or the 1/4 you share with a grandparent…is indeed an approximation…it could be a little more or a little less. To take a super-simplified example: if one complete set consisted of only 2 genes, there are 4 different ways your father could pass along to you half the genes he got from his parents.

chrat 641

182.18  If we then compare brother to brother, we see there are 16 possible combinations. In 8 of them, you and your brother share half your genes…in 4 of them you share both, in 4 others you share neither. What each of you gets from your father is like flipping a coin…heads you get a blue from your grandfather, tails you get a red from your grandmother…so between brothers, in this scenario, 100%, 50%, and 0% are all possible. But we have around 25,000 genes, not 2. Could 2 brothers actually share all  their genes? It’s possible, but only as possible as each of you flipping a coin 25,000 times…and getting a match every time! In reality, between brothers it averages out to 50%.

chart 642
182.19  Answer #2  “Highest Rated” by others It’s not so simple. It definitely is NOT 1/2. See: http://www.genetic-genealogy.co.uk/Toc11… and look especially at Table 2. This is also a good reference…it’s my favorite site, Prof. Lancaster’s “Genetic and Quantitative Aspects of Genealogy.”  And you’re right, it’s definitely not 1/2…it’s 1/16…but I don’t see where the OP thought it might be 1/2…just that it might be half of something else, which is it…your relationship to a half-1st cousin is half your relationship to a full 1st cousin.

182.20  Answer #3  You share 1/2 of your parents DNA and your first cousin share 1/2 of their parents DNA. The parents who are siblings share 1/2 of their parents  So far this first part is true…AND you and your cousin may not share the same Genealogical DNA, which is compared and correlated differently than Genetic DNA – like paternity testing.  I haven’t a clue what this second part is supposed to mean…I do know that Genealogical refers to where you got it and Genetic refers to what it is you got, so the 2 concepts are different, but they will not give you different numbers in terms of percentage of genes shared.  Source(s): Genealogical researcher 40+ years, Anthropologist & retired Instructor  Maybe in retirement your thinking has gotten a little sloppy? It can happen…no harm done…I caught it for you!

182.21  Answer #4 You and your mother share 50% of your genes. Your mother shares half of that with her mother, so you share 25% with your grandmother. Half of that is shared with her children (your mother’s half siblings), so you share 12.5% with them. And they share half of that with their kids, so you share 6.25% of your genes with them.  This is correct…1/16 is 6.25% because when I went to school, 100 ÷ 16 = 6.25. They are your fourth degree relatives. The term “degree” has several different meanings when applied to kinship, so using it is ambiguous, and I would not.  For most people, first cousins would be third degree relatives and share 12.5% of genes. Because 1/8 is 12.5%…and “for most people” is technically correct. If 2 people are 1st cousins, they are related by 1/8…they may also be related in other ways, say half-siblings or 2nd cousins, in which case they’re closer than 1/8…but what they got solely from that 1st cousin relationship is 1/8. The only exception  is if the parents who are siblings are identical twins, in which case the 1st cousins would be as closely related as half-siblings or 1/4.

182.22  Answer #5  Dr. J is the expert. It’s clear to see that Dr. J holds a lot of sway in this neck of the woods, boy! For swapping stories around the dinner table, without using big words, and knowing it is not really accurate, assume full siblings share 100%. Except…they don’t, they share 50%…why assume what isn’t true? I’ll append the correct percentages in red…

Full siblings = 100%  50%
Their children, 1st cousins, share 50%   25%
Their children, 2nd cousins, share 25%  12.5%
Half siblings = 50%  25%
Their children, half 1st cousins, share 25%  12.5% 
Their children, half 2nd cousins, share 12.5%   6.25%

Trouble is, the numbers for the children are still wrong…when siblings (related by 1/2) have children, those children are 1st cousins, related by 1/8 (dividing by 4) not 1/4 (dividing by 2). This is easy to see using the “If it were 100%” approach. Your uncle is related by 50% to his son, your 1st cousin. If your uncle and your father shared 100% of their genes, your father too would be related to his nephew by 50%. But your father and your uncle aren’t related by 100%, but by only half that. So your father’s relation to his nephew, your 1st cousin, is half of 50%, or 25%.

Now if you had 100% of your father’s genes…then you would related to your 1st cousin by the same amount as your father is, 25%.  But you only have half your father’s genes, so your relation to your 1st cousin is half of 25%, or 12.5% ..which is where the 1/8 between 1st cousins comes from. 

So, again just gross approximations, yes, half first cousins share about the same DNA as full second cousins.  Nope, it’s not the same amount, but half as much, 1/16 as opposed to 1/32. The approximations aren’t that gross! You share exactly half DNA, but the first set of each DNA is the same This statement makes absolutely no sense…seriously, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Source(s): Biology expert 12 years  Unfortunately, those 12 years were 1965-1968, 1974, 1982-1986, 1993, and 2002.

182.23  Next week, more “experts” whither under our scrutinizing truth-o-scope…be seeing you…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#181: 20 Q’s…Dos y Dos

181.1  In the past I’ve been hard on Uncle Wiki…and Uncle Wiki deserves it. The game-plan of Wikipedia is a paradigm for digital-age wrong-headedness: the idea that any one can edit the contents…which is only in theory, since gatekeepers and key-masters will more than likely change it back. There’s an old saying: That which is guarded by all is the first to be stolen. What’s more, their notion of what is true and what isn’t is extremely wobbly…it has to be “verifiable,” by which they mean sourced from a published book or printed article…magazine, newspaper, academic journal. They will come right out and say, astonishingly, “We don’t want truth, only verifiability.” If you’re an expert in some subject, you can surely point to books and published articles that contain errors…and in this dumbed-down day and age, such bloopers are more prevalent than ever before.

181.2  Trouble is, who or what verifies these so-called verifications? Why, for example, would you doubt the authenticity of some collectable doo-dad, but not doubt the accompanying “certificate of authenticity”? Wouldn’t that certificate need it’s own certificate? Leading to what in logic is called an infinite regress…a never-ending chain of verifications of the verifications of the verifications, etc. Not that I’ve heard of anybody doing it, but  there must be a killing to be made in the manufacture of counterfeit certificates of authenticity, nez pah? But then, Wikipedia has trouble following its own guidelines, as many sources of “verification” turn out to be merely web-pages…and you know what they say: Reading it on the web is like hearing it on the telephone…so it goes.

181.3  But……….my point today is that there are even sillier digital enterprises out there, like Yahoo! Answers. Here’s how that works: a question is posed…anyone can answer…these answers are voted on, by anyone, as to which is the most “correct.” Then, to top it off, the original questioner gets to pick which they judge to be the “best answer.” And if that sounds like the student correcting his own test-paper, well duh.

181.4  Still, I thought it would be fun for the next few weeks to look at some kinship queries as fielded by Yahoo! Answers…I’ll provide the correct answers, and also critique the posted answers, bearing in mind that the difference between wisdom and ignorance is that wisdom has its limits  ;) ;)  Postings will be in black italics…my comments in red. And if I happen to use it, the abbreviation OP stands for Original Post or Original Poster…the one that asks the question that gets the ball rolling…


181.5  Question: What is my second uncle’s second cousin to me? Is it even considered family? Im really curious and i have absolutely no idea. Thanks.

181.6   Best Answer: I’ve never heard of a second uncle. Then what you need to do is find out what the heck it means. Old way: dictionary. New way: google it. But do it! But if he is the brother of one of your parents, then his second cousin is also your parent’s second cousin. That would make you and the second cousin: second cousins once removed. This is right as far as it goes…if  he were the brother of one of your parents, then what follows is correct. But he isn’t such a brother, so in the end it’s wrong.

181.7  If this uncle is an uncle by marriage (married to your parent’s sister), then you are not related to him except by marriage, and you are not related to his second cousin, either.  In questions of kinship, this goes without saying…I assume they are asking about blood relatives, unless they indicate otherwise. “Is it even considered family?” hints that maybe this is only by marriage, but there’s no way to tell. Comes to that, there’s no way to tell if the questioner is using the terms “second uncle” and “second cousin” correctly, but we can only assume so and proceed from there. But you don’t have to be related to someone in order to consider them “family.” If he feels like a family member, then he is one, whether you have a common ancestor or not. This is a very generous and cheerful note to end on, except we are talking about family here, biological, genealogical, connected by blood ties…otherwise everybody is everything to everybody else…what fun is that?

181.8  Answer #2: Work out if and who you have as a common blood ancestor, then you can work out if you have any relationship or not……….. I have no problems with “infinite ellipses”…use ‘em myself………..sparingly, but I use ‘em. But this isn’t very helpful, is it? The questioner obviously hasn’t the first idea of how to “work it out.” “second uncle” is not a relationship I have ever heard of…………..  It didn’t happen this time, but I’ve even seen where an answerer will flat out declare there is no such thing as a second uncle, simply because they’ve never heard of it. Pretty ignorant, but in keeping with the ego-driven tenor of the times. Even more “helpful” is when an answerer says: I don’t know, as if anybody cares…

181.9  Answer #3: Second uncle is a confusing term. Only if you let it be, my friend…you have the power! Do you mean a sibling of a parent that was second in birth order? That wouldn’t change anything or be any different than your parent or their other siblings. Well, to state the obvious, how likely is it that the questioner has 3 uncles, and knows how he is related to the 2nd cousin of his first uncle, and to the 2nd cousin of his third uncle, but not to the 2nd cousin of his second uncle? Sheesh. Or do you mean the brother of a grandparent? That’s called a great uncle (or grand uncle by some). Being a sibling of your grandparent, they would have the same cousin relationships as your grandparent.  Again, this is correct as far as it goes, but guessing what “second uncle” means is just that, a guess. And in this case, a wrong one. If you mean the second husband of a parent’s sibling, then their cousins are not related to you. You don’t share a common ancestor. Ditto.

181.10  Answer #4: Your grandfather’s second cousin is Your mom’s/dad’s second cousin once removed. Your second cousin twice removed. Yet again, correct but irrelevant, since that’s not what a second uncle is. If the cousin in question isn’t related to your grandparent, he/she isn’t related to you. You are probably wrong about “second cousin”, too. Completely wrong, since grandparents don’t enter into it…and rather discourteous as well…play nice, sez me.

181.11  My Answer: The term “second uncle” is rarely seen in English but it does exist…taken from the Spanish term “tio segundo” referring to your parent’s first cousin, what genealogists in English call your “1st cousin once removed ascending.”

To then figure somebody’s “Xth cousin’s Yth cousin,” you take whichever number X or Y is larger. So your parent’s 1st cousin’s 2nd cousin would also be your parent’s 2nd cousin. In English, you call that your “2nd cousin once removed ascending” or more simply, again from Spanish, your “third uncle.”

181.12  The second part of my answer addresses what was the ultimate question: how to determine how your cousin’s cousin is related to you. The first part confirms that there is indeed such a thing as a “second uncle,” and it’s now up to the original questioner to see if that’s what they meant. If you’re interested, this topic is covered here and here, with real-life examples of the “second uncle” usage in English. Chart 638  compares English (black) and Spanish (green) terminology…then translates the Spanish into English (red), a goal to shoot for IMHO…

chart 638jpg

181.13  Really, the Spanish terminology has a lot going for it…it recognizes that what I call your “numbered” or “straight” cousins…that is, your 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, etc. …are of your generation, descended from common ancestors by the same number of steps as you are. They are in fact the only cousins you have…removed cousins are somebody else’s cousins…and the Spanish logic is to not call them yours if they aren’t yours…sure, language isn’t always logical, but it’s nice when it is! As you can see in Chart 638, this simplifies kinship immensely…and also reflects everyday practice, where your parent’s 1st cousin is sort of an uncle to you, in the same way your parent’s sibling is. Can English change? It does all the time…like the recent “issues” replacing “problems”…but only if enough people care about streamlining English kinship terminology and start using the “new” terms. More next week…

wicked ballsy


“Cups and Saucers” is a one-act musical satire dating back to the Gilbert & Sullivan era, altho not written by them. The fashion in those days was to give the patron a long night at the theater, so the main performance would come after one or more shorter “curtain-raisers”…the way movies used to be preceded by cartoons and newsreels. This sketch poked fun at the Victorian fad for collecting china sets, and the lyrics are from a song paradoxically called “Foo Choo Chan was a Merchant of Japan.”

What to make of the “Conan relation” mentioned in the final 2 lines? This term comes from the 1984 movie “Conan the Destroyer,” where the character Malek refers at one point to his “brother’s sister’s cousin”…an odd way to put it since his brother’s sister is also his sister, and his sister’s cousin is also his cousin. Here we also have double Conans…your brother’s 2nd aunt (i.e., the 1st cousin of one of your parents) would also be your 2nd aunt…and her sister would also be a 2nd aunt to you and your brother. So “sister of my brother’s 2nd aunt” just means “my 2nd aunt.”

“On my grandmother’s side” means this 2nd aunt is the niece of one of your grandmothers…but “by an uncle” doesn’t make much sense…an uncle would be a parent’s brother, and any 1st cousin of your uncle would thus also be 1st cousin to your parent. It could distinguish which of your grandmothers is involved, if only one of them had a son who could be your uncle…but there are simpler ways to say that. My guess is these lines weren’t thought out logically…it’s just relationships strung together to make it sound comically complicated…and keep the meter of the song!


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#180: Why…Because…I Don’t Care…

180.1  The left-fielder, center-fielder, and shortstop…all traded away for players to be “named” later…ha ha. The shortstop was sometimes called I Don’t Give a Darn or I Don’t Give a Damn, depending on the sophistication of the crowd A&C were performing the skit for. No right-fielder is mentioned….in a board game that came out in 1978, he is called Nobody. At any rate, today we wrap up our summer salute to baseball with a couple of hits, misses, and interesting bits.

180.2  Last week I mentioned Phil Roof and his extended family…brothers, cousins, sons, and nephews…12 in all in pro baseball…as far as baseball dynasties go, I know of none larger. I thought it only fitting to try to sketch the clan out, and met with some success.

chart 635

180.3  And while it might be a macabre, or even morbid, thing to say…it is still true that an on-line genealogist’s best friend is the published obituary. I found 2 that tied all the census data neatly together. Not that there weren’t a few tantalizing puzzles…the obituary of Phil’s cousin the nun, Sister Mary Jeanette for example. Those were her first and middle names at birth, altho the obit said she was formerly known as Sr. Mary Odelia, which as you can see from Chart 635  was her aunt’s name. The names of all her siblings were listed, except there was no “Rose E.” but instead a “Mariette.” Then again, given names can mutate thru a person’s lifetime in ways inexplicable to outsiders, a lesson to remember.

inset 1

180.4  This next one involves 3 Hall of Famers from the turn of the century, and it’s a toughie. Several of my investigations began at this interesting site: Largest Baseball Families…and here’s what they had to say:

inset 2

On the contrary, it is not  “likely” that Keefe and Kelley, cousins of the Hacketts, were also cousins to the Hacketts’ cousins the Clarksons…knowing nothing else, the odds are only 50/50, which is hardly “likely.” This injudicious assumption is forgetting that, unless one or both of our parents were an only child, we all have 2 sets of unrelated 1st cousins. From census records and other sources, we find the fathers’ names (Chart 636, top row) and the mothers’ maiden names (middle row)…and it doesn’t look very promising…

chart 636

180.5  The Clarksons’ mother and the Hacketts’ father both being Hacketts is solid enough…but add in Keefe’s and Kelley’s parents, and we find no apparent siblings, at least not based on surnames. Previous marriages? Possible, but no mention of any that I can find. Thus some of the parents must be either half-siblings to each other…and hence the ball-players are half-1st cousins…or else 1st cousins or more distant…making the ball-players 2nd cousins or further. But even that “solid” Clarkson-Hackett cousin connection is not all that it seems.

inset 2A

180.6  Here is data gleaned from census records…1850 in yellow, 1860 in green, 1870 in pink. Now look at 1870…for John and Dad Clarkson (Walter wasn’t born yet) to be 1st cousins to Walter and Mortimer (spelled here “Murtagh”), their parents Ellen Hackett Clarkson and Walter Clarkson Sr. would have to be siblings…trouble is, there is a 34 year difference in ages. True, if you trace Walter Clarkson Sr. back, his ages are given as 60-40-35 when you’d expect them to be 60-50-40…but numerous other sources give his year of birth as 1810, so we can take 60 in 1870 to be correct. 34 year age difference? You have a child at age 14, another at age 48? Not impossible by human standards, but not likely either.

180.7  What’s more, looking at 1850, for Walter Sr. age 40 to be Ellen’s brother, he’d have to be the son of Ellen’s father, John Hackett age 45…d’oh! What is more likely is that John and Walter Sr. were brothers, and Ellen is Walter Sr.’s niece. This would make Walter Jr. and Mert Hackett 1st cousins to Ellen, and 1st cousins once removed to her sons, the 3 Clarkson brothers.

180.8  I might also mention that one source gives Ellen Hackett as the daughter of Walter Sr., which would make Walter Jr. and Mert Hackett the uncles, not “cousins” of the Clarkson brothers…for what that’s worth.

180.9   Moving along…I have found that the more contemporary the family, the harder they are to trace on-line…after all, federal census data released to date only goes up to 1940. But two I remember from a couple decades back seemed worth investigating…first, that Dwight Gooden was Gary Sheffield’s uncle, despite being only 4 years older. And that turned out to be 100% correct…

chart 637

180.10  …which is not to say it isn’t complicated. Dwight’s father Dan Gooden had 3 sons by his first marriage…he then met Ella Mae Jones, who was married with a daughter Mercedes. Ella divorced her husband and married Dan…they had daughter Betty…then quite a long time later Dwight came along. In his biography he said he felt like an only child, his sisters (actually sister and half-sister) being so much older. In this biography he calls his mother “Ella Mae Jones” but gives no name for her first husband, nor last name for her daughter Mercedes. He mentions Mercedes’ son only as Derrick and  her husband only as the mysterious “Uncle G.W.” Notice that while G.W. is Dwight’s half-sister’s husband, he’s presumably old enough to be called “uncle.”

180.11  We know Derrick’s last name is Pedro since he played a couple of seasons of Minor League ball…his mother is called “Mercedes Pedro” when she is quoted in a 1987 article about Dwight’s drug use. It would suggest G.W. was also a Pedro, except that in a 1989 article about Dwight’s 4-year-old adopted brother Derrick Lavorn Gooden being struck by a car, Dwight’s grandmother is identified as “Mercedes Pedro.” This happened in Tampa, and the entire clan…Goodens (including a grandmother), Sheffields, and Pedros were living in 3 adjacent houses, So the surnames don’t fit together that well…but for now I’m simply reporting, not trying to guess the family dynamics of it all.

180.12  And none of this effects Dwight Gooden being Gary Sheffield’s uncle…they lived together as children, until Dwight’s sister married Harold Jones, whom Gary considers his father. His biological father Mr. Sheffield, who was said to have worked in a pool hall, was not married to Betty…he invited her to live with him, but the teenager declined, instead living with her parents, brother Dwight, and half-sister Mercedes.

180.13  Much of these facts are in the public record because both Dwight and Gary were Major Leaguers, and stars to boot. Not so with our other uncle/nephew pair, Orsino Fiorello Hill and Darryl Eugene Strawberry. Notice in passing that both Gooden and Strawberry have the same middle name, and had their best years as teammates with the Mets…in fact, you will sometimes find it suggested that they were related, but they were not.

inset 33180.14  Orsino Hill was an outfielder and had a 12-year career in the Minors, 1982-1993…reaching high as Triple-A but never got the call. Thus there isn’t that much about his family out there…except that he was Darryl’s uncle. His son Derek Hill was chosen by the Tigers 23rd overall in the 2014 amateur draft…and he’s called Darryl’s “cousin,” so that checks. Orsino was born February 2, 1962 in Inglewood CA…Darryl Strawberry March 12, 1962 in Los Angeles…an uncle only 38 days older than his nephew. Darryl’s father was named Henry Strawberry, and his mother Ruby…presumably she was Ruby Hill…it would have been Orsino Strawberry if he had been an uncle on Darryl’s father’s side. Unless, again, we’re dealing with half-siblings rather than full siblings…but I have nothing on Orsino’s parents, so that’s where it rests for now.

180.15  Except to mention that Darryl’s older brother Michael H. Strawberry, born in 1960, played 67 games over 2 seasons in the early 1980s, reaching only as high as A-ball. Plus there’s another family of baseball Sheffields, but not related to Gary. They’re from Tullahoma, Tennessee, two highly coveted pitchers, the sons of Travis and Misty Sheffield, who were both ballplayers in school. Jordan Sheffield was picked last summer by the Red Sox but opted to go to college at Vanderbilt…younger brother Justus was drafted this June, antagonized about joining Jordan at college, but decided to sign with Cleveland. They say they’re asked if they’re related to Garry Sheffield “at least once a day,” and insist they are not…but you know genealogy…”not related” could mean 5th cousins, and they simply don’t know it. And their father’s 1st cousin Tony Sheffield spent 5 years in the Red Sox farm system in the 1990s, plus 3 more years with independent teams.

180.16  Speaking of the Red Sox…as I’ve said many times, the use of Sr./Jr. and II/II/IV after names varies with families. Usually Jr. is reserved for a son…II used when the namesake is something else…a nephew, a younger cousin. Case in point is Richie Conigliaro…younger brother of Major Leaguers Tony and Billy. He named his 2 sons Anthony and William, known as Tony C. II and Billy C. II after their uncles. Both are now in their early teens, love playing ball, and are well aware of the heritage their names represent.

inset 4180.17  But here’s something that might strike you as odd: if you go to this website: The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame  you will find, along with Rod Carew, Tony Perez, Manny Mota, Juan Marichal, and many others…the name of Ted Williams.That’s because while Teddy’s father was of Irish and Welsh extraction, his mother was Mexican…or at least Mexican enough to satisfy this particular organization. While he was alive, Ted kept his heritage under wraps…in his autobiography, he devoted only a few sentences to it, opining that if he had had a Hispanic surname, pro ball would have been much harder for him.

180.18  This much we know: Ted Williams’ mother was named Micaela “May” Venzor, born in 1891, second of 8 children to Pablo Venzor and the former Natalia Hernandez. On Ted’s birth certificate it said May was born in El Paso but it appears more likely it was Chihuahua, Mexico…the family moved from there to Santa Barbara CA in 1907…Ted was born in San Diego in 1910. Some members of Ted’s mother’s family considered themselves Mexicans, but others did not, calling themselves, as did Ted himself, “Basco”…originating in the Basque region of Spain…a culture and ethnicity distinct from Spanish and also from French, as the Basque region stretches into southern France…one uncle preferred to call himself French Canadian. Ironically, it was another uncle, Saul Venzor, who taught Ted to play. But as to Mexico, some Venzors claimed that the family was “just passing thru” and considered being labelled Mexican a slur. Interesting….read more here.


180.19  And finally…yes, in 1952 at age 20 former NY governor Mario Cuomo played one season of Minor League ball with the Brunswick Pirates, Class-D Georgia-Florida League. He appeared in 81 games, hit one homer, batted .244…and decided to stick with law school. Upper Deck was hip to this and devoted a card to it in their 1994 American Epic series…it showed a team photo and I for one couldn’t pick him out…so this picture is from when he was at St. John’s University.



wicked ballsy


Newspapers used to love to run pictures of nuns and baseball…either cheering in the stands, or meeting  players, or even trying to take a swing in their flowing habits…here with Rocky Colavito.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#179: Tomorrow Pitching to Today

179.1  …yeah, we got a couple of “days” on the team…if it makes sense to Abbott & Costello, who am I to argue? But today we look at some bands of brothers…and if we start by limiting it to the Major Leagues, the kings of the hill are the Delahanty brothers.

179.2  5 of them, all played in the Bigs, and that’s a record…well, today everything is a “record,” but there you go. Big brother was Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty, born in 1867…16 seasons, 1888-1903. He was a true superstar of his era, batting over .400 3 times and finishing with a career average of .346. He lead his league in slugging percentage 5 times and hit 101 career home runs…to put that in perspective, when Babe Ruth became the career HR leader in 1921, he did so by passing Roger Connors’ total of 138. Ed was an outfielder with a rifle arm and fleet on the base paths as well…and by all accounts, something of a hothead….leading to his mysterious demise during the 1903 season.

inset 1

179.3  That he fell to his death on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls on July 2, 1903 is beyond dispute. Question is, did he stumble, did he jump, or was he pushed? We do know he was put off a train on the bridge that night for drunken and rowdy behavior…and there was a scuffle with an elderly watchman who, according to court testimony, took him for a smuggler. There’s even been a book written investigating the incident, but we’ll probability never know for certain. He did ruffle some serious feathers by jumping from the established National League to the upstart American League, and encouraging his fellows to do the same. Curiously, the body of a local farmer was also found under the falls shortly thereafter…minus the $1500 relatives said he had left home with.

179.4  But as to the brothers, here are their years of birth and number of games played in the Majors…Tom (1872, 19)…Joe (1875, 270)…Jim (1879, 1186, 13 seasons)…and Frank (1882, 287). Runners-up are the 4 O’Neill brothers, whose cumulative Big League careers spanned 1901-1928. Steve O’Neill was a catcher for 17 seasons, mostly with the Cleveland Indians…his 3 brothers had much shorter careers…Jack and Jim were also catchers, and Mike was a pitcher, appearing in just 32 games.

179.5  Next, we drop down to trios of brothers…still a rare occurrence…I count just 18 examples. And besides the Alous (see Related How Again? #176), only the Wright brothers…George, Harry, and Sam…were teammates, albeit briefly, with the Boston Red Caps in 1876, the first year of the National League. George was their star shortstop…manager Harry appeared in just one game as an outfielder, brother Sam in just 2 games at shortstop. Now no trio of brothers played in more games than the Alous, 5129…compared to 4245 for the DiMaggios…all 6 had careers of at least 10 years.

179.6  Still, the DiMaggios were the most successful brother trio, voted to a total of 22 All-Star Games, to the Alous’ 5…for the record: Joe 13, Dom 7, Vince 2…versus…Felipe 3, Matty 2, Jesus 0. Interestingly, the DiMaggios, all of whose middle names were Paul, did not appear together in an All-Star game. Vince’s only 2 appearances were 1943-44 when Joe was away in the military.

inset 2

179.7  Also interesting to note that the 3 baseball DiMaggios were the youngest of 9 siblings…their 2 older brothers followed in their father’s footsteps as fishermen plying their trade off the coast of San Francisco. Vince disappointed Papa by running off to join the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, with Joe soon to follow. They were reunited in a Los Angeles Angels/S.F. Seals Old-Timers game in August of 1956…Joe and Vince were Seal teammates for 2 years, brother Dom “The Little Professor” was a Seal 4 seasons later. 2 bits of DiMaggio trivia..Joe’s famous 1941 hitting streak of 56 games was actually 57…he doubled in the All-Star Game, going 1/4 and scoring 3 runs…TBT, he was an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons, the only player to never not be an All-Star pick. And do you remember the Major League team he coached for 1968-69? Actually, hitting instructor…answer in today’s wicked ballsy.

179.8  Other brother trios likely remembered by Baby Boomer fans, including combined years active…and again with year of birth and number of Big League games…

Sadowski 1960-66   Ed, C (1931, 217)…Ted, P (1936, 43)…Bob, P (1938,115)

Paciorek 1963-87  John (1945, 1)…Tom (1946, 1392)…Jim (1960, 48)

Allen 1963-77   Hank (1940, 389)…Dick/Richie (1942, 1749)…Ron (1943, 7)

Cruz 1970-88   Jose Sr. (1947, 2353)…Tommy (1951, 7)…Hector/”Heity” (1953, 624)

Edwards 1977-83   twins (1952)  Marshall (160)…Mike (317)…Dave (1954, 321)

Perez all P 1980-2000   Pascal (1957, 207)…Melido (1966, 243)…Carlos (1971, 142)

Molina 1998-2014   Bengie (1974, 1362)…Jose (1975, 13th season)…Yadier (1982, 11th season)

179.9  I should mention that the Perez brothers from the Dominican Republic played under their mother’s name, their father being Juan Pablo Gross. Then we have the Boyers…first up was Cloyd born in 1927, a pitcher from 1949-55 and teammate with brother Kenton his final season with the Cardinals…Ken was born in 1931 and played 15 seasons at third base. Cletis/”Clete,” born in 1937, also patrolled the hot corner, for 16 seasons.  And dig those cool 1955 Bowman Color TV cards…the blonde wood was especially prized as I recall…and those umpire cards? On the trading block you couldn’t give them away! But remember, we’re only considering Major Leaguers here…if we expand that to include Minor Leaguers…

inset 3

179.10  …we add 4 more Boyer boys, for a total of 7 pro ballplayers, which I would say is pushing the limit of how much athletic talent one family can produce. That’s 7 sons and 7 daughters…one daughter died in infancy…of Vern and Mabel Boyer, Alba, Missouri…and yes, some of the girls played ball with their brothers. They are, with year of birth, games in the Minors, and position… Wayne (1930, 55, P)…Lynn (1935, 138, 1B)…Ron (1944, 627, 3B)…and Len (1946, 580, Inf/Of). They were Cardinal farm-hands except NY Yankee Ron, also the only one to briefly reach Triple A…Wayne and Lynn never got out of D-ball, back when there was such a thing…Len peaked at Double A. Then the second generation too, as Ken’s son Dave and Clete’s son MIckey had short Minor League careers…Dave 5 seasons, Mickey just 1.

179.11  Other 5-brother pro baseball families include the Roofs from Paducah…Phil and Gene played in the Majors…David, Adrian, and Paul in the Minors. Notable spread in ages…Adrian born in 1936, Gene in 1958. Their cousin Eddie Haas also made it to the Show…his brother Lou played in the Minors, as did an assortment of sons and nephews for a total extended family dynasty of an even dozen. And Hall of Famer Eddie Murray was the 8th of 12 siblings…and all 5 boys played pro ball…Rich for 2 years with Giants, batting .216 in 56 games…oldest brother Charles hit 121 homers in 7 minor league season, reaching Triple A but no further…Venice and Leon had briefer Minor League stints.

inset 4

179.12  And a salute to the 5 Bankhead brothers who played Negro League ball. Only Dan Bankhead made it to the Majors…becoming the first black pitcher in August of 1947 with the Dodgers, and hitting a home run in his first at bat. Brother Sam was the first black manager in the Minors, as player-manager with the Farnham Pirates of the Class-C Provincial League in Quebec in 1951. Fred spent 13 years in the Negro Leagues, appearing in one all-star contest…Garnett and Joe had brief pro baseball careers.

179.13  Finally, 2 other interesting cases of brothers. An article written in 2012 said of the some 18,000 Major Leaguers down thru history, 974 had careers that lasted a single game. That sounds like a high figure to me…but of those, the strangest stats line must belong to Robin Young’s older brother Larry. He’s credited with one game pitched, and no other stats…a big fat 0 in every other category. What’s odd about that is by rule a pitcher introduced into a game has to face at least one batter…and that batter would show up in the pitcher’s stats somewhere, as a hit, a walk, something…only exception would be if he reached on an error and the pitcher was immediately yanked…or maybe 2 batters, 2 connective errors? Still, there is a little used stat called batters faced, and Larry Yount has a 0 there too.

179.14  That’s because there is an exception to the one-batter rule in the case of an injury, and that’s precisely what happened to hapless Larry. With the Houston Astros trailing Atlanta 4-1 on September 15, 1971 in the Astrodome, he was called in to pitch the top of the 9th. Warming up on the mound, he felt his elbow stiffen and was replaced without facing a batter. Of course one might argue that this shouldn’t count as a game appearance, but baseball has ruled that it does…mind you, they can always change this at some point in the future, like when they redefined no-hitters and perfect games several years ago…in which case Larry Yount really would be O-U-T-out. Robin made his debut with the Brewers 3 years later in 1974.

179.15  And while I’m thinking of it, Earned Run Average is computed by dividing earned runs by innings, then multiplying by 9 to get average runs per game. An out is considered a fraction of an inning…if a pitcher leaves with one out, he gets 1/3 of an inning…2 outs, 2/3 of an inning. No outs means no innings pitched, and if you were to give up say 5 runs, your ERA would be figured with 5/0…except that division by 0 is mathematically impossible. Some publications and websites call this an “infinite” ERA, but that’s unofficial…baseball officially says you simply don’t have an ERA at all.

179.16  My humble suggestion would be to consider that 3 outs, if taken as strike outs, amount to 9 strikes…so in this sense a strike is the smallest “fraction” of an inning. So give the pitcher with no outs credit for 1/9 of an inning pitched…implying that he threw at least one strike, which obviously isn’t true in Larry Yount’s case! But doing it that way, Doc Hamann becomes the all-time ERA leader at 486.00….6 runs, 7 batters faced, no outs…taking Joe Cleary off the hook, whose 7 runs in 1/3 inning gave him an ERA of 189.00

inset 5

179.17  And as for Mookie Wilson, it just goes to show you how stultifyingly ignorant some people are, about kinship or just in general. The fact that Preston Wilson is both Mookie’s step-son and nephew leads people to ask: Did he marry his own sister? Wha–? No, he married Preston’s mother Rosa Gilbert…Preston James Richard Wilson’s father was Mookie’s brother Richard. The exact details are elusive on the internet, but it was hardly a secret…the marriage ceremony took place at home plate of Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi before 1200 fans…this was in 1978, 2 years before his debut with the Mets.

179.18  For the record, Mookie is actually William Heyward Wilson…the story goes that as an infant he called milk “mookie,” altho at least one article claims he himself doesn’t know the origin of the nickname. He had 5 brothers besides Richard: Stebia, Collis, Daniel, John, and Philip…the last 2 played in the Minors…plus 5 sisters. In the dedication to his autobiography, Richard is mentioned as “the late.” Preston was named after his maternal grandfather Preston Hicks…and they were apparently III and IV respectively…Preston’s son died in 2001 at age 10 days, and was named Preston Wilson V. Yes, I noticed that all of Mookie’s in-laws are named Hicks except his wife…I could guess why but it would only be a guess…ain’t genealogy fun, sez me.

179.19  …not to be confused with Travis Sentell “Gookie” Dawkins, whose 15-year Minor League career was highlighted by several “cups of coffee” in the Bigs. Or Nehames “Pookie” Bernstine, who went coffee-less, and whose claim to fame, other than being the older brother of NFL running back Rod Bernstine, is that he isn’t Jewish. Seriously…years ago an article ran in The Sporting News about a father and son who collected the autographs of Jewish ballplayers, and were disappointed with Pookie, but accepted his John Hancock none the less. Or Tookie Gilbert, first baseman for the NY Giants in the early 1950s. Should we include the various Cookies, from Lavagetto to Rojas? Probably not, as the “oo” is pronounced differently…consider the 2 ways you say “oo” in “good food.” And seems to me there was once a Nookie or Nukie but the net can’t find him…I must have imagined it.

170.20   But then this story broke just the other day: Red Sox rookie outfielder Mookie Betts… born Markus Lynn Betts in 1992, the year after Mookie Wilson’s final season…says his parents nicknamed him after NBA guard Daron Oshay “Mookie” Blaylock…yeah, but — oh, never mind. Next week, we wrap up our salute to baseball with a few more genealogical pop-ups and line-drives…see yez…


wicked ballsy


Yup, the newly transplanted Oakland A’s…and there he is, schmoozing with Mr. You-Know-What-Month…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved



#178: I Don’t Know’s on Third

178.1  Our third baseman’s name is monumentally appropriate since of the 3 baseball family trees I tackled this week, I was able to come up with a definite finding on none of them…so yeah, I don’t know. I’d like to think maybe somebody will read this and clue me in. You might wonder why I simply don’t try asking those relevant relatives who are still living. 3 reasons: first, everybody is privacy crazy these days, so I’d just as soon not intrude. Second, even family members sometimes don’t know what’s what in their own family. And third, one’s mother’s maiden name is often used as a password or similar internet security check…so I try to do it all with “independent sources.”

178.2  This website Baseball’s Largest Families proved a useful starting point…especially since they don’t limit it to just major leaguers, but include all pro ballplayers, majors and minors. They list 8 in the Aaron/Lucas family dynasty…it should be 9, and the one they miss is one I knew about even before the internet, since I was following baseball quite closely at the time, the early 1980s.

chart 627

178.3  As you can see in Chart 627, only Hank Aaron and his brother Tommie played major league ball…I couldn’t put my finger on years of birth for the youngest 3 siblings. 2 of Hank’s brothers-in-law (by his first wife) are cited for their contributions to baseball off the playing field…Bill Lucas is noted as the first black General Manager…with the Atlanta Braves from 1976 until his untimely death in 1979. But both he and his brother Robert played as well…Bill was in the Braves farm system for 6 seasons…Robert for 9 seasons, mostly with the Angels, reaching AAA in 1963 but batting just .048 in 9 games. Son Bill Jr. is the one they leave out…he and his 1st cousin, Hank’s son Lary, were teammates in the low minors in 1981-82…and yes, that’s Lary with one L, presumably to go along with Gary, his twin brother who died soon after birth.

chart 628

178.4  So that’s 6 of the 9…the other 3 pose something of a dilemma. Wilmer Aaron, his brother Melvin, and Melvin’s son “Ging” all had undistinguished careers in the minors. They are universally said to be related to Hank, and I have no doubt of that…how is the question. (A) and (B) below are from baseball-reference.com…and together they say that Wilmer and Melvin were Hank’s “cousins” and Melvin’s son Oginga was Hank’s 3rd cousin. Press coverage when Ging made is minor league debut in 1999 also said 3rd cousin…but as the genealogically savvy among you understand, the father of your 3rd cousin is your father’s 2nd cousin…so he’s your father’s “cousin,” not your “cousin.”

inset 1

178.5  Still, further digging shows that when Wilmer was drafted in 1971 he was called Hank’s 2nd cousin…and today as a successful high school baseball coach the media routinely calls him 2nd cousin.Taken all together, it’s obvious not everybody is using their kinship terminology collectedly…perhaps nobody is! Hooking up Wilmer and Melvin’s branch of the family with Hank’s would have solved it, but I was unable to do so. My best guess as to what’s happening is shown in Chart 629

chart 629

178.6 …which is to say, I’m assuming they’re right about 2nd cousins and wrong about 3rd cousins. There are other scenarios…unfortunately, the relative ages don’t make any of them more likely than the others. To me, putting Melvin and Wilbur in the same generation as Hank just seems the most sensible thing to do…but not by much. And without question it is totally inconsistent to correctly say your father’s 1st cousin’s son is your 2nd cousin, then incorrectly say your 2nd cousin’s son is your 3rd cousin, when in reality it’s your father’s 2nd cousin’s son who is your 3rd cousin…that’s why I call it a “hybrid”…half right, half wrong, as per Chart 630.

chart 630

178.7  But then that’s typical…there are a hundred ways to be wrong and only one way to be right. At any event, we know Hank Aaron was named after his grandfather “Papa Henry”…who was actually a Jr., his father being Henry Sr. Thus Chart 631 ties it together as best I can for now…I can find no evidence of any siblings in Gerald and Henry Jr.’s generation…but it would have to look like this for Henry to be 2nd cousins with Melvin and Wilmer.

chart 631

178.8  OK, one more thing…humor me…I thought it would be fun to sketch out one of those other scenarios, that of Melvin being Hank’s 2nd cousin, while Melvin’s son is literally Hank’s 3rd cousin. As you can see in Chart 632, all it would take is for Melvin to marry his father’s 2nd cousin…and yes, that would also make Melvin a 3rd cousin to his own son, but when you marry your 2nd cousin once removed ascending, you have to expect things like that…see why it’s important to get this stuff right in the first place?

chart 632

178.9  Research topic #2 was the Reggie Jackson/Barry Bonds connection and I ultimately got stuck on that one too. People on the web say they are “distant cousins”…you have to chuckle when they add “I think maybe twice removed”…duh…WHAT twice removed? Since they never say Reggie is related to Barry’s father Bobby Bonds, it must be thru Barry’s mother’s side. That’s something pretty basic that sometimes catches people…assuming that if you’re related to the son, you must be related to the father…forgetting the mother!

chart 633

178.10  Now both Reggie’s father and grandfather married Puerto Rican women, which is where the “Martinez” comes from…there is no mention of Hispanic blood in Barry’s family so the connection is likely thru the Jacksons. But as you can see in Chart 633, Jacksons aren’t showing up in Barry’s mother’s family. It’s frustrating…his grandmother Floydia’s maiden name remains elusive, as does Reggie’s grandfather’s first name. Now you’d think an unusual name like that would be easy to trace…I found a handful of Floydias that were possible geographical and chronological matches, but couldn’t nail any down. Were she the sister of Reggie’s grandfather, Reggie and Barry would be 2nd cousins…hence the “twice removed”?…or if Barry’s 2G grandmother Louisella were a Jackson, something like 4th cousins, but at this point I simply don’t know. The connection could even be thru Reggie’s grandfather’s mother’s side…help?

178.11 Finally, we have the Mo Vaughn/Greg Vaughn connection…Uncle Wiki and many inset 2others say simply “cousins”…some say “2nd cousins” or “distant cousins.” This stands as a good exercise in net-trolling…and an initial google came up with Mo’s parents’ first names and Greg’s mother’s maiden name. So far, so good. A connection came from a third party, who said that Mo’s uncle is Greg’s grandfather. We’ll call this relative “Unc”…and he’s either a Vaughn or a Reynolds…

178.12  …making Greg and Mo 1st cousins once removed…Mo is Greg’s father’s…or mother’s…1st cousin.

chart 634

What’s interesting is this connection came from an interview with Leon Brown, who played one season with the NY Mets in 1976…his older brother Curtis Brown Jr. played one game with the Montreal Expos in 1973. The reason it came up at all is that Leon says Unc is also his uncle…trouble is, Leon’s parents are Curtis Brown Sr. and Ruby Banks. This raises the possibility of halfs instead of fulls. For example, did you notice anything strange about Chart 627? Hank Aaron’s mother’s maiden name is definitely Pritchett…in fact, he played with an amateur team in Mobile AL called Pritchett Athletics…while her brother, his uncle, is Bubba Underwood, who taught Hank the game, and was himself a ballplayer with a Negro League semi-pro team in Mobile. The different last names could mean step-siblings, but I’m guessing half-siblings, sharing a mother and with different fathers.

178.13  So…Unc could be the half-brother of either Curtis Brown Sr. or Ruby Banks…inset 3making him Leon’s half-uncle. He could also just be married to a sister of either of Leon’s parents, making him an uncle in that sense. Or he could be an approximate uncle, being the 1st cousin instead of the sibling of one of the parents.  Then of course, Unc could be a Brown or a Banks, and still related to the 2 Vaughns. For the record, Brown also says he is the cousin of James Mouton, an outfielder with several teams from 1994-2001…Brown was born in 1948 and is from Sacramento, as is Greg Vaughn…Mouton was born in Denver in 1968 but went to high school in Sacramento.

178.14  But pending  the exact identity of Unc, we do have another key piece of evidence: numerous sources say Greg Vaughn and former baseball star Jeron Kennis “Jerry” Royster are “cousins”…Royster is also a “cousin” to former NFL defensive back Derrick Scott “Ricky” Reynolds…and Reynolds is a “cousin” to Greg Vaughn. Royster was born in 1952, Reynolds in 1965, both in Sacramento…notice we’re getting a grouping of relatives in Sacramento, with Mo Vaughn the odd man out in Connecticut. And tantalizingly, another Leroy Vaughn married a Deborah Ann Reynolds in Sacramento in 1965…Greg’s parents?…just dunno.

178.15  But let’s try working it out and see where it leaves us…we have 3 cousin relationships which we will assume are 1st cousins, full not half…Greg to Jerry…Jerry to Ricky…and Ricky to Greg. Good mental exercise, to limber up the gray cells, sez me. And of these 3, we only know one mother’s maiden name…Greg’s mother is a Reynolds.

178.16  So one of the cousin relationships is set…Ricky’s father and Greg’s mother are siblings. That leaves Jerry, who, to be a 1st cousin of Greg, has a mother who is either a Vaughn or a Reynolds. If it’s a Vaughn, Ricky’s mother would have to be a Royster, right? So while the 3 would be cousins, they wouldn’t be all cousins together as a group…2 would attend the Vaughn Christmas party (Greg and Jerry)…2 the Royster party (Jerry and Ricky)…and 2 the Reynolds party (Greg and Ricky)…in a sort of tag-team fashion.

178.17  On the other hand, if Jerry’s mother is a Reynolds, then Ricky’s mother could be a Smith or anything…the 3 cousins would be related thru one family, the Reynolds…2 sisters and a brother. And how does this help us with Greg and Mo’s relationship? Well, the fact they Greg is always mentioned as a “cousin” of Jerry Royster, but Mo isn’t, suggests 3 things: Jerry’s mother isn’t a Vaughn…hence Jerry, Ricky, and Greg are related thru the Reynolds…hence Mo isn’t related to Greg thru the Reynolds, but thru the Vaughns,  the left side of Chart 634.

178.18  And when you think about it, for Mo and Greg to be related thru the Reynolds (the right side of Chart 634), it would mean a woman (Mo’s mother)  and her niece (Greg’s mother) married unrelated men named Vaughn…possible in theory, but seemingly ruled out by the Greg/Jerry/Ricky cousin connection.

178.19  At any rate, that’s as much as the net is telling us so far…their real family tree could be completely different…and nothing would give me more pleasure than to revise this whole scenario and get it right! Next week, less wear and tear on the old cerebrum with bunches of baseball brothers…see yez in 7…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved