#37: Mailbag City

37.1  Dear StolfBack in #34 “Tails or Me?” I noticed that in the Washington family Bible, George’s birthday is given as Feb. 11th…I always thought it was the 22nd. Does this have anything to do with that “double dating” thing?    …from Chunky in Surf City

37.2  Dear Chunky: Kowabunga, dude…you are correctamundo! Here’s the skinny: First, you must remember, in cultures all across the globe at the time, different calendars were in use. Some of them got pretty complicated and convoluted, but then, the pace of life was slower in those days. People had the time to sit around and ponder: I wonder what year this is REALLY? But what we’re talking about is the calendar used in Europe, which naturally carried over into the New World.

37.3  Now the “double” in “double dating refers to the Julian Calendar, which goes back to ancient Roman times…and the Gregorian Calendar, instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Some think that Gregory invented leap years to straighten things out, but that wasn’t the case. An extra day every 4 years was the innovation of the Julian Calendar, since the “year” is technically 365 1/4 days long, and this kept the Lunar Cycle and the Equinoxes in order. It worked pretty well, except that the year is actually 11 minutes shorter than that, and that slight discrepancy, over centuries, did shift things out of whack.

37.4  Well, Gregorian reform did a little more than realign the Lunar Cycles and the Equinoxes…the method of determining when Easter occurred each year was also getting out of sync with what was happening in the sky, and that was addressed too, but it’s too complicated to get into here…yeah, people also had the time to sit around and ponder: What DAY is this exactly? I wonder if it’s REALY Easter? For our purposes, the Gregorian Calendar reform did 2 things: first, it made a slight adjustment to the leap years…as it stood, a year divisible by 4 was a leap year…but now…that was except if the year was divisible by 100 and not by 400. Thus, 3 of 4 centennial years (ending in –00) would not be leap years, whereas before all 4 were.

37.5  But the other thing the Gregorian reform did was change the day on which the name of the year changed…again, for complicated historical reasons, the Julian would progress as follows: Dec. 31, 1600 would be followed by Jan. 1, 1600…then, 3 months later, March 24, 1600 would be followed by March 25, 1601. Odd, but that’s just the way it was done…nobody insisted that it make sense.

37.6  Now if all of Europe had been Catholic in 1582, no problem. Unfortunately it wasn’t…Henry VIII, Martin Luther, etc. So various countries switched from Julian to Gregorian at various times…and England (and hence its colonies) was one of the last, in 1752. But since countries did have intercourse with one another (in the old sense of the word, geez, grow up!), and they might be using different calendars, it became common to refer to dates between Jan. 1 and March 24 as OS (old style) or NS (new style), whichever you were using…or alternately, you could give both years for those dates, written as say “1600/1,” or once a decade, “1629/30″…which was called “double dating.”

37.7  So here we see the calendar for 1752, and if you were in England, British North America, various parts of Africa, Australia, or wherever, it was a mixed up year for sure. For one thing, the new year  (i.e. 1752) arrived 84 days earlier than it would have before…altho, to further muddy the water, they always did celebrate “New Years Day” on January 1…go figure. But there was another problem: since the Julian Calendar had more leap days in it than the Gregorian…and mind you, this double-dating deal had been going on for almost 200 years, those on the Julian were 11 days behind those on the Gregorian in terms of what day of the month, or year, it was.

37.9  Thus, besides the name of the year changing earlier, 1752 was also a weird year because 11 days were dropped entirely…yup, Sept. 2 was followed by Sept. 14…in other words, there was no Sept, 3-13 that year. OK, they got used to it, obviously. But for many years later, past dates were still referred to with double-dating, just to make it crystal clear. What’s more, dates before 1752 were retroactively jumped ahead 11 days. Bottom line: when GW was born, it was Feb. 11, 1731. When he was president, his birth-date was what we would call, Feb. 22, 1732, but what they called Feb. 22, 1731/2, Gabeesh? No? I don’t blame you…but you asked, I answered.

37.10  Dear Stolf: I am a big fan of the comic strip “Pickles,” don’t get me wrong…but this one that ran a little while ago seemed wrong to me…care to comment?  …from Pogo, in American Samoa

37.11  Why thank you, Pogo…you remind me of that line from the movie Dr. Strangelove…where Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) is saying to Brig. Gen. Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden): “You with the old gun, and me with the belt and ammo, feeding you, Jack. Feed me, you said, and I was feeding you.” So yeah, thanks for the feed, bro.

37.12  I’ve mentioned this before, what I call “phantom relatives.” The case I used before I believe was “my uncle’s cousin.” How is this not your father’s cousin? Well, there could be several ways, which I’ll get to in a moment. But in general, “my uncle’s cousin” does sound strange, and it’s as ambiguous as all get-out…it could mean your father’s cousin, in which case you should have said that…but then, it could mean something else…and you’d be better off spelling that something else out. “Better” in the sense that folks would then understand who you’re talking about. Yeah, that’s a novel approach, huh?

37.13  But to take the case at hand, the gent reading the paper is Earl Pickles and that’s his wife standing above him, Opal. Now the punch line in panel 4 is OK, and the first 3 panels set it up. Trouble is, they set it up with 2 phantom relatives, and there certainly could have been a more natural way to do it. Chart 132 diagrams it out…

37.14  In a nutshell, Earl’s brother Leon’s nephew Al is also Earl’s nephew Al. And Earl’s nephew Al’s sister Lucinda is also Earl’s niece Lucinda. But then, in panel 2, if Opal had said “You remember Lucinda. She’s your niece”…well, as they said about the movie King Kong…if the door in the wall had been built human-size, too small for Kong to fit thru…”Then we got no story.”  I mean, what could Earl say? “My niece? Who am I?”

37.15  But think of this: what if you referred to someone as “my mother’s son.” OK, technically that could be your brother, or even you, but when it’s put that way,  it sounds more likely to either your half-brother or your step-brother. So what I call a “phantom relative” could be one that’s either a half-relation, or a relation thru marriage, of which there are 2 kinds: thru your marriage or thru somebody else’s marriage (say a parent’s or a child’s marriage.) So in the strip, Al could be Leon’s nephew by marriage…that is, his wife’s nephew…but not Earl’s nephew, since Earl obviously isn’t married to Leon’s wife.  That still doesn’t explain Lucinda…who would still be better described as Al’s niece, not Al’s nephew’s sister…but then I’m not a miracle-worker, am I?

37.16  Dear Stolf: I know this isn’t a genealogy question, but I liked #31: Kate ‘n’ Pearl about the Clampetts and the Bradleys…could you please disabuse your readers of the oft-told fib that the Bradley girls take baths in the town’s water supply?  …from Newt, in Bug Tussle

37.17  Be glad to…and BTW, good old-fashioned word, “disabuse”…meaning to persuade someone that they are in error…probably on the way out today, since it sounds like “abuse,” to which of course it has no connection, but that’s the way it works. But you’re dead on…take a look…

37.18  On the left is a typical municipal water supply. On the right is the type of structure the girls swim in, and that’s water for a steam-engine train (this picture isn’t Hootersville, tho.) It’s much smaller, and in the middle of the picture, you can see the spout that supplies the train when it stops for a refill…done and done. See you in 7…

Wicked Ballsy

Dunno if this happens to you, but when I get really involved in something, I tend to have dreams about it at night. Go figure. Few months back I woke up in the morning with this image in my mind…I don’t recall the exact colors, but these are the exact shapes, or nearly so, and each was a different color. Calgon, take me away…


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#36: The Cousiners

36.1  The Cousiners? You mean like birthers and truthers? Yeah, people who are wrong about who their Second Cousin is…mostly, they think their 1st cousin’s child is their 2nd cousin. Altho I did just today find a posting on the web from someone who thought her grandchildren were 2nd cousins to her 1st cousins. You wonder what she thinks her children are to her 1st cousins? 1½ cousins? (BTW, I’m not saying birthers and truthers are right or wrong, just picking up on the word formation, OK?)

36.2  But that’s the point, and it’s also the answer to the question: Who cares? It’s like Mark Twain said about telling the truth…it’s easier to remember. Because there are 100 wrong ways and only one right way. That’s how we can communicate successfully with one another…we must all know exactly what we’re talking about. And it turns out, cousiners are wrong simply because they don’t know what they’re talking about, and let me explain what I mean…

36.3  When someone mentions their 2nd cousin, you can often tell who that is from the context…My 2nd cousin wet his pants on the bus coming home from school. OK, very likely, but not absolutely certainly, they’re talking about their 1st cousin’s kid…who must have had a hard day at football practice, ha ha. The age of the speaker can also be a clue. If you really need to know, you can prod a little…I don’t correct people when what they really mean is 1st cousin once removed, because it doesn’t do any good…and it’s seen as rude. But those times when the conversation then drifted along to relatives in general, I’ve never been able to resist the temptation to ask them who they think a “cousin removed” is. And without an exception, none had a clue…only a few could even venture a guess.

36.4  And indeed, as common as this mistake is, cousiners will find virtually no formal support. You can say anything on the internet, of course…it was once pointed out that “reading it on the internet” is pretty much the same as “hearing it on the telephone.” About the best they can do is a dictionary that acknowledges that both usages for “2nd cousin” exist: child of your 1st cousin…and…2 people whose parents are 1st cousins. I suppose you can’t fault a dictionary for wanting to report how words are used in real life, rightly or wrongly. I might mention that I still have the dictionary from the 1960s I used in high school…and their definitions on this are exactly right, with no incorrect alternatives to muddy the waters…which I think is the more useful approach.

36.5  But I am unable to find a website with the even the least bit of proffered authority that gives the wrong definition…let alone a chart or further elaboration, carrying it to its logical extreme, as a complete system of kinship. In fact, I’ve often wondered if such a thing were possible…and I decided to try and see.

36.6  My point is, would it be a consistent system…one able to unambiguously pinpoint each person on your family tree? Turns out it indeed would be, altho I think the one we have now is better…but surprisingly, not by as much as you might think. There is an internal logic to this cousiner system…mathematically, if you will. But there are a few key features that make it seem less rational than our current system…which of course baffles many people as it is.

36.7  The basis of the cousiner system of reckoning kinship would be exactly the opposite of our current system, which is seen in Chart 127. Here, “numbered” cousins (not removed) go across the tree horizontally…they are of your generation. Removed cousins are of other generations, both forward and backward in time, or vertically up and down the tree.

36.9  Chart 128 shows the cousiner way. Here we see that numbered cousins are the ones that go up or down…while the removed cousins are of the same generation…well, sort of…all cousins of your generation are 1st cousins, just removed a number of times depending on which of your direct ancestors (thru that ancestor’s sibling) they are descended from. It may look strange if you’re used to the right way, but believe it or not, it all hangs together, and the rules for extending it further, horizontally or vertically, are straightforward…as indeed they are with the correct system, altho completely different.

36.10  But notice the difference in what I call the Cousin Line…shown for your 5th cousin in Chart 129, for both the correct system and the cousiner. The Cousin Line tells how each person is related to you. In the correct system on the far left, you can see that the descending generations…those younger than you…are all called “5th cousin,” since they are descended from your 5th cousin…the removed tells how far descended…3 times means your 5th cousins’ great grandson…2 times means your 5th cousins’s grandson…once means your 5th cousin’s son.

36.11 Then comes your 5th cousin, your generation. After that…the ascending generations, his father, grandfather, etc…for which you follow, in this case, a rule of 5…4+1, 3+2, 2+3, 1+4, then uncle in 5 words (great great great grand uncle) and finally grandfather in 5 words (great great great great grandfather.) Complicated? Sure, but notice that the “5” in 5th cousin is the key to it all…top to bottom, it keeps the Cousin Line in order.

36.12  Compare that cousiner Cousin Line on the right…part of it works with a “5,” altho your 5th cousin is now near the top, no longer even with you in your generation. But once you get below your generation, the 5 no longer works…instead, you retain the “4” from your “1C4” and count up numbered cousins, each 4 times removed…mind you, after you just counted down cousins removed, 5 to 1. Not as logical or easy to remember to my way of thinking…altho again, it wouldn’t be impossible to get used to.

36.13  But here’s the kicker, and it applies to every level: In the correct Cousin Line, why is that person older than you called your “1st cousin 4 times removed”? Because he is your 2G grandfather’s 1st cousin, and your 2G grandfather is 4 generations up from you. the “4” and the “1” correspond exactly. We lose this easy association with the cousiner system. In that Cousin Line, that person is called your 5th cousin…and that translates into your 4G grandfather’s 1st cousin how exactly? Well, 4+1=5, I suppose…but I think you see where this is going. You need to do a little mental juggling.

36.14  Still, the cousiner system isn’t the complete mess that I supposed it would be. Just to compare, Chart 130 colors everyone who is your 1st cousin blue (regardless of how many times removed, or even not removed at all)…2nd cousin green…3rd cousin yellow…4th cousin orange…and 5th cousin red. 2 different patterns emerge…the RIGHT one makes more sense to me, that’s all…and happens to be the one we use.

36.15  And interestingly enough…and you can verify this on Charts 127 and 128…the same exact relatives in both systems are identified by 2C1R, 3C2R, 4C3R, and presumably etc. Sort of like Fahrenheit and Celsius being “equal” at -40.

 36.16  But the bottom line is this: cousiners have nothing like Chart 128 in mind…their mistake is in not knowing the basics of our kinship system from the outset. And that’s because it’s not something a lot of people care about or deal intimately with anymore, and I understand that…doesn’t excuse, it, but I’m just sayin’…

36.17  One final thought…what if you did get it into your head to try to re-educate a cousiner? Like I said, people generally consider it rude…no one (me included) likes to be wrong about something so “obvious.” If you must, I’d suggest you summon up as much cheerfulness as you can, and say something along the lines of: “I’m tellin’ ya…that’s just the way it works. Look it up if you don’t believe me. And if I’m wrong, I’ll give you $20…no, $50!”  Money usually gets people’s attention, I’ve found.

36.18  But if you must, one approach that might work can be taken from last week’s discussion of the Roosevelts and how Teddy and FDR were 5th cousins, thus FDR and his wife Eleanor were 5th cousins once removed, she being Teddy’s niece. Suppose a pair of 5th cousins were to marry. You could sketch out…on a cocktail napkin or whatever, I dunno…something like Chart 131, showing 2 “candidates” for what that means. Correct at left, cousiner at right. Now granted what I call “generational shifting” can occur, resulting in members of different generations nevertheless being approximately the same age…but consider what would have to happen for the cousiner to be correct…assuming a generation is 20 years, the bride would be around 100 years younger than the groom. For this to work out, you’d need a hell of a lot of “shifting,” am I right? Not impossible, but still…Next week….haven’t decided yet…maybe we’ll strap on the ole mailbag, haven’t done that in a while…TTYT…

Wicked Ballsy?

This was in a recent Dear Abby column. Now if you’re an old geezer like me, it seemed as tho this sort of situation never happened back in the day, or if it did, it wasn’t talked about freely and causally in the newspaper. Times have changed. Here Dear Flabby Jr. does her best to give sensible and upbeat advice, and I guess she succeeds, as far as that goes. But doesn’t his whole deal seem just a little sad…given that family really is important? But maybe that’s just me…


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#35: 5ifth Cousins

35.1  For starters, is that really how you spell “fifth”…with a “5”? Sure…you better stop, the love you save may be your own….darling, take it slow, or someday you’ll be all alone…

35.2  But down to business. The first genealogical research I ever mounted was many years ago…pre-computer days, of course…when I was finding disagreement about the familial relationship of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to his wife Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. Ever since I was a kid, I thought it was pretty cool, same last name…you don’t have to change your monograms, your driver’s license, your return address stickers with the smiley faces. But related how? Opinions centered around, but were not limited to, some variation on 5th cousins.

35.3  So I dug around, and the definitive answer, backed by a family tree xeroxed from a book, was 5th Cousins Once Removed…specifically, she was the daughter of his 5th cousin Elliott, younger brother of Theodore Roosevelt. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway for those of you just coming out of a coma: that made FDR 5th cousin to Teddy and Elliott…and TR was Eleanor’s uncle. Actually, Elliott died when Eleanor was 10, so Uncle Ted became something of a father figure, and indeed gave her away at her wedding.

35.4  Every few years or so, I’d revisit the thing, and usually came up with a couple “new” tidbits of information. In 1994, Peter Collins and David Horowitz wrote The Roosevelts: An American Saga…and I saved a particularly relevant excerpt from a review in the New Yorker magazine…

35.5  Now as much as 5th cousins…not to mention 10th cousins…are authentic, irrevocable relatives of yours, this view is basically correct: the kinship is slight, from both a social and genetic standpoint. As you can see in Chart 122, you and your 5th cousin (the 2 lone figures at the bottom) each have 64 4G grandparents, of which you share just one pair. In each succeeding generation, you also share just 2 relatives…3G grandparents that are siblings, 2G grandparents that are 1st cousins, great grandparents that are 2nd cousins, grandparents that are 3rd cousins, and parents that are 4th cousins…and hence, you are 5th. Of a total of 252 direct ancestors, you are both related to just 12. Which is why family reunions this large tend to sort themselves rather quickly into different camps, so you’ll want to rent several tents.

35.6  That’s the social end of it. Chart 123 looks at this another way, and assumes that everyone in your family has 3 children, no more, no less. You will have 12 1st cousins, 3 each from your father’s 2 siblings, same from your mother’s. Following the 3-child rule, your father will also have 12 1st cousins, each of which has 3 children, giving you 36 2nd cousins there…ditto on the distaff side…for a total of 72…and on down the line. 5th cousins? Over 15 thousand, and good luck remembering the names. Mind you, the further back you go, the more common are bigger families…10 or 12 kids, all marrying and producing offspring was not unheard of. (Altho there certainly were childless couples too, witness the Washingtons…)

35.7  Genetically, the thread is equally thin. 5th cousins are likely to share 1/2048th of their genes, compared to half for full siblings. 5th cousins are 256 times as “distant” as 1st cousins, 64 times as far as 2nd cousins. Thus, “not related,” while incorrect strictly speaking, is a practical assessment. I remember growing up, my grandfather lived in the town next to ours, and there were lots of people with his last name, some his siblings and 1st cousins, but most were “not related to us.” Come to find out, all these years later, that one clan of brothers were his 5th cousins, and I’m sure all the others were related to him as well. How you feel about family is a personal thing, obviously. Do not be surprised if, as you get older, you find those feelings are changing.

35.8  So what are we saying, FDR and ER were as good as unrelated? For all intents and purposes, public and private, you might say…but while the Long Island (Oyster Bay) and Duchess County (Hyde Park) branches of the family were at times political rivals, that wasn’t the end of the connubial intermingling. Notice from that quote above…before marrying his second wife, FDR’s father James proposed unsuccessfully to a sister of Teddy, i.e. his own 5th cousin. TR had 2 sisters, and I assumed it was the younger one Corrine, the vivacious, society girl.

35.9  Instead, it was the older one, Anna, nicknamed by the family Bamie (for Bambina) and Bye (because she was always going somewhere.) Altho hobbled with curvature of the spine, she was the wise one, well-connected beyond the merely social circles of her younger sister, and it is said that TR made nary a political or even personal decision without consulting her. BTW, Elliott was also FDR’s godfather, as Teddy was Eleanor’s, besides being her uncle.

35.10  Now according to historians, FDR appears to have had little to do with his half-brother James from his father’s 1st marriage…James Jr. served much time overseas as a diplomat…and there was an age difference too, which we’ll get to in a moment. But overshadowed by the Presidents Roosevelt being 5th cousins is the fact that FDR’s father James’ 1st wife was also his — here again, accounts differ.

35.11  But I took the time to suss it out, and she was his mother’s 1st cousin, daughter of his mother Mary Aspinwall’s maternal uncle G. G. Howland, as shown on Chart 125…and thus James’ 1st Cousin Once Removed. And if your wife is your 1C 1R, your son is your 2nd cousin, since both you and he are the sons of 1st cousins. Does that mean that James Jr. was not only FDR’s half-brother, but also his 2nd Cousin Once Removed? A-fir-ma-tive. Chart 126 spells it out, for which the Parental Tree format is admirably suited…

35.12  Thus we have at least 2 cross-generational unions, James Roosevelt Sr. & Rebecca Howland, and FDR & ER…in each case, the partners are of the same general age, altho of adjacent generations in their respective lines. You might think that this “generational drift” would come about gradually, small age differences adding up over many generations, and that can happen. In both cases here, however, it was in one sudden jump…Rebecca Howland’s father G. G. was 49 when she was born.

35.13  And likewise, James Sr. was 54 when Franklin was born…you may have noticed from Chart 124 that James Sr.’s 2nd wife Sara Delano was the same age as his 1st son James Jr. But till next time, Eleanor Start Packing…

Wicked Ballsy

And along these lines, Stolf’s Blog for 11/18/2010 touched on a strange coincidence…I’ve reproduced the relevant part here…


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#34: Tails or Me?

34.1  Today, we spotlight George Washington. At left is his death mask…this practice was eventually replaced by photography, altho chronologically there was quite an overlap…there is a mask of Lincoln, and the last president I’m aware of who had one is McKinley, who died in 1901. And of course, the title refers to what old GW used to say when he flipped 2-bits…ha ha.

34.2  What got me going on this was the news that a young friend is expecting her second child, and she solicited name suggestions. You know how Rush Limbaugh has his “stacks-o-stuff”? Well, mine are in manila folders, and I must have hundreds. So I was flipping thru my “names” file, and came across an article about the surname Washington, and how 90% of those in the US who have it are black.

34.3  The interesting thing is, nobody is directly descended from GW, since he and Martha had no children. But he had plenty of siblings and half-siblings…as did his parents, grandparents, etc. Therefore, he has many living relatives, altho they are related to him collaterally, not directly…which is to say, they share genes with GW, but did not receive them from him.

34.4  Of course, everybody alive today is related to everybody else…the experts say no more distant that 50th cousins. It’s easy to see why that is…suppose Anne and Hope make lists of their direct ancestors only…their parents, grandparents, etc., no siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles. Compare their lists as they go along. Eventually, a name will appear on both lists…that is their nearest common ancestor, and Anne and Hope are thus related by blood thru that individual.

34.5  But couldn’t it happen that there are no overlaps between the 2 lists? Not possible…in that case, each list would eventually have a trillion names, all having been alive at the same point in the past…and that’s more people than have lived on earth since we arrived. So every 2 people alive today have a nearest common ancestor…hey, cuz! And more on that when we tackle the nifty concepts of Most Recent Common Ancestor and Identical Ancestors Point…add that to the Coming Attractions list.

34.6   So I’m surfing the net, and I come across the above claim on a genealogy blog at Geni.com. Wow! All the presidents related to GW…it’s the mother lode! Now there have been 44 presidents..not counting GW himself, Grover Cleveland who served 2 nonconsecutive terms, and the present POTUS (I’ll get to why in 34.16)…that leaves 41 links to GW. Looking down the list…oops, 4 are by marriage only…plus Ford, they don’t know yet.

“…and all the presidents”? Well, that’s par for the course in this hype-soaked world of ours. I suppose you could even get away with: How Every President is Related to GW: None Are. Like when you ask, you got money on you?…they say, yeah…you ask, how much?…they say $0. OK, fine…hopefully that doesn’t happen very often, or you need new friends.

34.7  So supposedly, GW is related to 36 presidents. Thing is, if you click on each of these relationships, you go to another page which actually tells you the relatives involved. Ballsy! Well, not quite. Despite what it says on the original page, 5 are now not related, and 6 more are only by marriage. Plus John Quincy Adams is a special case…they say he is, but you have to pay money to find out how. [!!]  Anyway, I reviewed the remaining 24, and they all checked out fine as blood relatives of GW.

34.8  Problem is, 12 of those 24 were by relationships, as stated on the 2nd page, that were different from the relationship stated on the 1st page! Now admittedly, this could be because President X and GW are related in more that one way, but still, WTF? At any event, Chart 117  spells it all out…sorry the writing is so small…left-click and it should get bigger. The number to the left of each name is times removed, = indicates straight numbered cousins.

34.9  Tale of the tape: of 41 presidents, 24 are blood relatives of GW…10 related by marriage, 5 not related, 1 they don’t know, and 1 they’re not saying. My confidence in the accuracy of Geni.com’s “big tree” just slid down a couple of notches, I can tell you that. In fact if you want the straight dope, I’d try this book…Ancestors of American Presidents  by Gary Boyd Roberts…no, I haven’t seen it yet, but compared to this, how bad could it be?

34.10  A couple of interesting points…you’ll notice that some Presidents are related to GW in the same exact way, both cousin # and removed #. Does this mean they are descended from the same person? Sometimes yes, other times no. For example, both Wilson and Truman are 11C 5R to GW…and sure enough, both are 14G grandsons of GW’s 9G grand aunt Margaret Holland. On the other hand, both Jefferson and Buchanan are 11th cousins of GW…but they are descended from different individuals…altho in Buchanan’s case, it’s that same Margaret Holland.

34.11 Also consider Presidents whom we already know are related to each other…why is Teddy Roosevelt related to GW, while his 5th cousin FDR is not? Likewise, Benjamin Harrison is, but his grandfather William Henry Harrison is not? While I haven’t bothered to check these specifically, it’s no doubt due to other families marrying into the line…remember, your son is related by blood to people that you are not, namely his mother’s side…ditto your grandson, your cousins, etc.

34.12 And just for the fun of it, I thought I’d sketch out 3 of GW’s closest…again, assuming all this data is bona fide …and this might be a good time to review how to verify these relationships. I’ll fire up the patented Stolf-o-strator, and sepia-ize Chart 118 for ease of viewing…

34.13  It’s a 3-step process: (1) Coordinate(2) Cousins(3) Removeds. As shown in Chart 119, (1) Coordinate means to find the older relative’s generation horizontally, the younger relative’s direct line vertically, and see where they intersect…

34.14  Next, (2) Cousins means to determine how that ancestor is related to the older relative, in this case GW…and of course it will be a straight numbered cousin, since we purposely stayed in the generation of the older relative.

34.15  Finally, (3) Removeds means to count down from that ancestor to the younger relative…and if we do that, all 3 check. Bravo.

34.16  Lastly, a word on Obama. I left him out of the calculations because of that discrepancy I mentioned. All of the 24 presidents related to GW have the connecting ancestors specified on the second page of the Geni.com blog (the one you click to)… but for half of them, that’s a different relationship than is stated on the 1st page (the one you clicked from.) Obama falls into this discrepancy category, but he is the only one where the lineages for both stated relationships are spelled out. And indeed, they both check (9C 6R and 2C 9R)…suggesting that these “mistakes” really are multiple relationships…and for each president there are probably others besides. I just don’t know what to make of it all, so I arbitrarily left BHO out of the tally…sue me. Till next time, flowers and beads…(like Chart 117?…)

Wicked Ballsy

So what was George Washington’s middle name? He didn’t have one, altho many middle schools are named after him. But neither did many of our other most prominent leaders, including Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. Nevertheless, I did find the above in a 1956 newspaper….

Dunno what family bible they were looking at, because here’s the exact entry…”George Washington,” nothing else. BTW, if you find it odd they would use the Old Style/New Style notation…”1731/2″…referring to the Julian and Gregorian calendars…some 20 years before the switch took place in Britain and its colonies in 1752…it’s because both calendars had been in simultaneous use since the late 1500’s, that’s why. They called it “double dating”…seriously. Nice near catch, tho…


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