#15: More Kinship in Action!

15.1  I want to sketch out another interesting Family Tree, but before I do that, a few words on relationships that often don’t appear in your typical genealogy, because they’re neither by blood or marriage. Like foster parents,  foster children, foster siblings…when a person is raised by someone who is not their biological parent. I almost said “who is not related to them” but of course a grandparent could be a foster parent. And if there is no true kinship tie, does foster extend to cousins, uncles, grandparents? There are probably as many different ways of looking at it as their are families.

15.2   The foster relationship can be codified as a legal adoption…or the guardian/ward relationship…the big difference being that in general you can legally marry your ward, but not your adopted child. In the Middle Ages, there was something called a “charge”…this was a child who became the legal responsibility of a nobleman, an obvious honor for and benefit to the parents. Interestingly enough, the charge was sometimes, while treated as the nobleman’s child, also considered a hostage, to ensure the loyalty of the parents. And you may have heard The Cow called the “Foster Mother of the Human Race”…recalling the Spanish for foster mother…Madre de Leche…Milk Mother.

15.3  There are also religious institutions, such as Godparents…sometimes actual relatives, other times not. And in some churches, marriage between Godparents and Godchildren is not allowed even if they are unrelated. Adding a social aspect to the purely religious one, I seem to recall a novel by Mario Puzo…

15.4  Then there are “honorary” or “titular” relations…from the word “title”…typically a close friend of the family who is known as a cousin or uncle. Not all families do this…in some, only real uncles are called “Uncle.” But 2 good examples come from The Andy Griffith Show When Aunt Bee misplaces her Aunt Martha’s ring, she explains that Martha is just an old dear friend of her mother’s, not anybody’s actual aunt. This episode is also interesting in that Jack Dodson makes his 1st appearance on the show, not as county clerk Howard Sprague, but as the Taylor’s insurance man Ed Jenkins. I call this the “Barney Miller Effect,” since several of the actors who went on to become regular or semi-regular characters on that show made their first appearance in a completely different role…before he was Sgt. Dietrich for example, Steve Landesberg played a priest!

15.5  Also on Andy,  there’s an episode where Cousin Gloria breaks up with her fiancee then comes to visit the Taylors and presumably clear her head…and she’s not an actual relative either. Of course Aunt Bee herself is an instructive case, for a number of reasons, not the least of which being she isn’t really Andy’s Aunt…not his father’s brother…but Andy’s 1st cousin once removed, his father’s 1st cousin (but that’s a tale for another day!) But she is what you might call a “Practical Aunt”…an Aunt in practice. This can also happen when a nephew is old enough to be included in the parents’ generation, and is thus called an Uncle by his much younger cousins. Or an uncle is young enough to be considered a cousin. In fact, I’m hearing more frequently from Baby Boomers who are investigating their family history, and have discovered so-and-so isn’t really the relation they always thought they were!

15.6  But in the case of Mayberry, both Opie and Andy call her “Aunt Bee,” and indeed she calls both of them…father and son…her nephews. In this sense she is sort of a “Family Aunt” and we had one of those in my family.  Ciotka Gesek (pronounced “chutka”…the Polish word for aunt) was actually my maternal grandmother’s maternal aunt.  Her first name was Antonina or Annie…but the whole family called her simply Ciotka. Not for nothing, there was also an Uncle Voi…pronounced “voo-ee,” an Americanization of the Polish word for Uncle…Wuj…yes, Uncle Uncle!

15.7  But getting back to Aunt Bee, since everyone in town called her that, she was sort of a “Community Aunt,” besides being a “Family Aunt.” These are all nuances to keep in mind when researching your family…you can’t necessarily take everything you find at face value, with respect to who’s what to whom. But lets get to the case of Louba…

15.8  And that would be Anna Louba Rubens née Klionsky, an accomplished English lady of Russian origins who died in 2004 at the age of 105. In her mid-90s (yes!!) she began a modeling career, and appeared on the cover of the British version of Vogue magazine at age 100. And she is also the linchpin that connects one Matthew Klionsky in 2 separate ways to the late playwright Arthur Miller. “MK” as we’ll call him wrote about it here  ,  after Miller’s death February 10, 2005.

chart 45

15.9  As you can see in Chart 45, Zalman Mordecai Klionsky had 3 sons, of whom Shiman was MK’s great grandfather. Shiman was Louba’s uncle, making MK’s grandfather Louba’s 1st cousin…and MK and Louba 1st cousins twice removed. In this chart the squares left blank are individuals MK doesn’t specifically mention. Thus MK is 3rd cousin to Louba’s grandson Paul Goodman, as well as Barnet Klionsky Jr.’s granddaughter Cathy Klion. So where’s Mr. Marilyn Monroe? He’s coming, hang on…

46 re.jpg

15.10  In Chart 46 as in Chart 45, the blood relatives of MK are enclosed in green boxes, to distinguish them from relatives by marriage, without whom…as the old saying goes…we ain’t got no story. Louba’s husband Joseph Rubens was a 1st cousin of Michael Balcon, whose grandson actor Daniel Day-Lewis married Arthur Miller’s daughter Rebecca. Not the closest of relations I’ll grant you, but this is MK’s story, not mine. And it gets better, because…

47 re.jpg

15.11  MK’s 3rd cousin Cathy Klion married Tom Potz, who’s grandfather Isaac was the doctor who delivered Arthur Miller. As you can see in Chart 47, I improvised the symbolism somewhat, and very glad to do it. Now MK describes his 2 relationships to Arthur Miller in 2 different ways…and I believe if you check them against Chart 47, he’s right on the nose, as far as that goes. But I must tell you, working on this Family Tree, I was as happy as a clam at high tide, altho it felt a little like science fiction.

“So, Arthur Miller was delivered by the grandfather of one third cousin’s husband, and his daughter married another third cousin’s third cousin. This can also be re-stated as follows: Louba had a first cousin whose granddaughter married a man whose grandfather was the doctor who delivered Arthur Miller. And, Louba’s cousin-by marriage (through her husband) had a grandson who married Arthur Miller’s daughter.”

15.12  Notice that when MK writes “married another third cousin’s third cousin”…the first he’s referring to is Paul Goodman, who is his 3rd cousin on the Klionsky side. (“Another” means besides Cathy Klion, also MK’s 3rd cousin.) The second is Daniel Day-Lewis, who is Paul Goodman’s 3rd cousin on the Rubens side (Louba’s husband)…but MK and Day-Lewis are not 3rd Cousins, nor to his credit does MK suggest they are. Now I’m ready to poke around in the mailbag…


15.13  Dear Stolf: How is my great grandfather’s niece related to my niece?…from Ace in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ…

15.14   Dear Ace: How about a nice game of Who’s Zoomin Who? I’m up for it, and I’ll do this completely in my head (no charts), to demonstrate the typical steps you might take…and I say “typical” because there’s no right or wrong way to figure it, only a right or wrong answer at the end.

15.15   {Step 1}  Your great grandfather’s niece is the daughter of your great grandfather’s brother…and as such is your grandfather’s 1st cousin. And we’re practically done already!

15.16  Because your grandfather’s 1C is…{Step 2} your father’s 1C 1R…and {Step 3} your 1C 2R…and {Step 4} your niece’s 1C 3R. That last step deserves some elaboration, because it demonstrates the very important principle of interchangeability. As far as the folks going up your direct line are concerned, your daughter and your niece are interchangeable. What’s true of one is true of the other…both are grandchildren to your father, great grandchildren to your grandfather, and 2G grandchildren to your great grandfather. Thus, the relationship of 3 times removed that would apply between your daughter and your 1C 2R extends interchangeably to your niece as well. And it goes without saying that that’s because to those direct ancestors, you and your brother (your niece’s father) are also interchangeable.

15.17  As an exercise, you might try it again, but substitute “my great grand niece” for “my niece”… and good luck, my friend.

15.18  Dear Stolf:  I am teaching my high school English Class about euphemisms…how and why they evolve over time, like the progression: Colored, Negro, Black, African-American, People of Color. I gave them this assignment: Imagine a future where people are routinely cloned, but the word “clone” itself is considered offensive. Come up with possible words or phrases they might use for (1) the clone itself…(2) the person he was cloned from…and (3) what clones of the same person would call each other. What do think?…from Sparky in Anchorage…


clones15.19  You guys come up with some interesting questions, boy, and I think I couldn’t do better if I were making them up myself.  I considered several possibilities, like sage and mage…gen, progen and cogen…dire (dam + sire), but here’s my final submission, and I expect at least an A- on this: The “donor” is the sire…the clone is the scion…and to each other the clones are horts (from cohorts.)  And since this is in the future, they’ll pronounce the second one SKY-on, not the currently correct SY-on. Next week, in honor of that Royal Wedding that’s generating so much commemorative merchandise, I’ll take Kinship in Action to the next level..Royal Action!plus letters, too, OK?

15.20  BTW…you’ll notice I used the word “cohort” in the sense of a single companion…one individual…bucking the current trend of using it in it’s original meaning, that of a group…I’ll be 60 years old in June, and I’ll do what I want, gabeesh?

wicked ballsy 

Last week in 14.8, I mentioned that an ancient Hindu riddle used the idea behind “I’m My Own Grandpa”…that of a man’s wife’s daughter from a previous marriage marrying his father. As in the song, the riddle supposed each of these 2 unions resulted in a son, and asks how these 2 boys would be related to each other. No, I didn’t neglect to give you the answer…just thought I’d let it rattle around in your coconut for a week, and see if anything happened.

chart 48

Did it? Well, the traditional answer is that the 2 lads are both each other’s uncles, and each other’s nephews. That’s an an acceptable answer, altho if you make it HALF, you’re dead on. In Chart 48, I’ve marked up Chart 42b from last week with the patented Stolfistrator…and the sons in questions are the obligatory Abner and Zeke. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll assume that I am the song’s narrator, indicated by ME.

I’ve marked the red circle that is my wife’s daughter with a green star, call her Star. As you can see, Star is Abner’s half-sibling, since they have the same mother but different fathers. The son of Abner’s sibling would be his nephew…half-sibling, half-nephew…so this way, Abner is the half-uncle, Zeke the half-nephew.

But with the Stolfistrator I’ve re-drawn Zeke and his mother Star up closer to his father, who is also my father. Now you can see that Zeke and I are also half-brothers…same father, different mothers. To Zeke, my son Abner is the son of his half-brother…this way, Zeke is the half-uncle and Abner is the half-nephew. Done and done.


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved



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