#186: 20 Q’s…the Black and the Red

186.1  …being the real-life adventures of average folks wresting with kinship questions at Yahoo! Answers…posts are in black italics…my comments in red. The abbreviation OP stands for Original Post or Original Poster…

186.2  Question: If her great uncle is my grandfather, what does that make us? Before anything else, let’s look at the terms “great” and “grand”…when applied to uncles and aunts, it’s one of the rare areas of kinship terminology where there is more than one way to do it. Most everything else has a distinct meaning…for example, 2nd cousins are one thing…the children of 1st cousins…and not anything else…which is not to say people don’t use the term incorrectly, but they’re wrong. With great/grand, there really is no absolutely correct way to use them.

186.3  Still, in a genealogical context, there is a preferred usage, and it is “grand uncle” for the brother of your grandfather. The important point is that each of these gentlemen is thus referred to by one “grand. In like fashion, the brother of your great grandfather is your great grand uncle…again, each is called the same thing, “great grand.” This is done to keep them straight…watch what happens with using “great uncle” for the brother of your grandfather. The brother of your great grandfather is then your great great uncle…one has one “great,” the other has 2 “greats”…but then your great great grandfather also has 2 “greats” even tho he is one generation earlier than that great great uncle. So the idea is that all the siblings of one generation will  have same number of greats…that’s all there is to it. At the same time, there are court cases where “grand uncle” and “great uncle” are deemed to be the same thing legally.

186.4  As to the question at hand…at some point, if you’re really interested in kinship and genealogy, you’ll discover you can do questions as simple as this in your head. If somebody is her grand uncle, he is the brother of one of her grandparents…in this case we’ll say the brother of her grandfather….and the brother of her grandfather is your grandfather. You and her are 2nd cousins. Taking it step by step…your father has a brother and that brother has a child…the child is your 1st cousin. Your grandfather has a brother and that brother has a grandchild…the grandchild is your 2nd cousin. Done and done. Keep at it, dear friends…it will all come in time!

chart 652

186.5  Answer #1…Assuming he is a great uncle by blood, I’ve said it a thousand times but I’ll say it again: if he isn’t an uncle by blood, he isn’t an uncle period…the man married to your father’s sister is an uncle by marriage only, an honorary uncle if you will, but not your uncle. You call him uncle out of courtesy…but consider this: if he divorces your aunt, do you still call him uncle? And since I brought it up, here’s my answer: if they have children, your 1st cousins, then divorce or no, he is still the father of your cousins, so I would still call him uncle…in my family I have several ex-aunts by marriage and I never stopped considering them as aunts. 

Generation 1: Your grandfather and her grandparent = siblings
Generation 2: Your parent and her parent = 1st cousins
Generation 3: You & She = 2nd cousins 

When (if) you both find that special someone and have children, they will be generation 4, and 3rd cousins to each other.  What can I say…correctamundo. You are OK to date and even marry, Relations between 2nd cousins are legal everywhere in the world and in all 50 states…even between 1st cousins, legal practically everywhere in the world and in about half the states, did you know that?  but go really slow and be super polite, or there will some distinct silences at family gatherings. Do you recognize this gag from last week? Yup, same poster…I want to say he’s got a million of them, altho it appears he does not…still, appearances can be deceiving, nez pah?

186.6  Answer #2…Cousin (a little far related ). Clumsily stated but true…in common parlance, a 2nd cousin (or beyond) is typically called a “distant cousin.” And while a 2nd cousin doesn’t sound that distant compared to say a 10th cousin, you share only about 3% of your genes with your 2nd cousin, the other 97% you don’t. 
186.7 Answer #3…well if the great uncle and granddad is in the same generation your dads will be in the same generation and so will you and as your related you will be cousins. See, there’s no “if” about it…grand unc and grand pop can’t be anything but the same generation…and since 2nd cousins are a type of cousin, it’s not wrong to say you’re cousins. p.s. i drew this on a piece of paper  No kidding? I usually draw my diagrams on the bathroom wall, but it takes all kinds, sez me…

186.8  Answer #4…just about nothing  Genealogically, no, not just about nothing…genetically, as we’ve seen, yes, just about nothing. 

186.9  Answer #5…Family  Which just goes to show you can be absolutely correct and still not helpful.

186.10  Answer #6…So your common blood ancestors are your Great Grandparents, which means you are 2nd cousins Yes…and notice here they say great grandparents plural…if the common ancestor were only one grandparent, and not 2 grandparents, you’d be half-2nd cousins. Astute.

186.11  Answer #7…or great cousins because i ave a great uncle and his granddaughter is my second cousin  A few blogs back, I cautioned about starting a sentence with “There is no such thing as — “…so I won’t say that now. I will say this: Genealogists do not use the terms “great cousin” or “grand cousin”…people in general do, but not very often…I Googled them and got about 13,000 and 9,000 hits respectively…minuscule by internet standards…and perusing the first 50 or so each time, only a couple hits referred to specific kinship…mostly they were saying that they had wonderful cousins. Consequently, there is no generally agreed on meaning for these terms…a future blog will investigate just what the few people who do use them mean by them. Here, I think you mean any cousin beyond 1st cousin…what is generally called a distant cousin. But your conclusion is right on. Good! Great! Grand!


186.12  Question…How Am I Related To This Person? She’s my grandmother’s cousin. Does that make her my great cousin, just my grandmother’s cousin, or something else? Thanks!  Speaking of which…! Here the use of the phrase “great cousin” goes beyond numbered cousins…that is, your cousins, or cousins of your generation…to cover removed cousins as well. The answer is nothing more than the definition of twice removed…belonging to your grandparents’ generation…so this person is your 1st cousin twice removed

chart 653


186.13  But here’s the point, and it’s a crucial one: there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply saying “my grandmother’s 1st cousin”…in fact, it is the single best way to say it!  Everybody will know precisely what you mean…there is not the slightest shred of ambiguity or confusion. Truth be told, “removed” is genealogical jargon…you use it in general conversation at the risk of not being understood. It’s shorthand, really…instead of saying Lucretia Borgia was my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandmother’s 3rd cousin….or even my 18G grandmother’s 3rd cousin…they’ll say my 3rd cousin 20 times removed. The 3 underlined expressions mean the same thing, no foolin’. And you’re welcome!

186.14  Answer #1…

Generation 1: Your Grandmother & her cousin = 1st cousins
Generation 2: Your parent and C’s children = 2nd cousins
Generation 3: You & C’s grandchildren = 3rd cousins 

You are two generations apart from “C”. That makes you 1st cousins twice removed. “Removed” means “generations apart” in cousins. Again with those lists…it’s that same jokester, the one who sometimes gives bonus answers, as he calls them. But he’s right, no two ways about it. 

186.15  Answer #2…1st cousins 2 times removed  I concur.

186.16  Answer #3…if she’s your grandmother’s first cousin then she is your first cousin twice removed. her children are your 2nd cousins once removed (they are your parent’s 2nd cousins) & her grandchildren are your third cousins. Wow…3 answers, 3 utterly accurate answers…I’m feeling light-headed…


186.17  Question…If my 3rd great grandfather is a first cousin 6 times removed from a cousin, what is my relationship to that cousin?  Permit me to call the cousin referred to by “6 times removed from a cousin” Bob…and the 3G grandfather I’ll call Gramps. If Bob has a 1st cousin 6 times removed, it would be the 1st cousin of Bob’s 4G grandfather…that’s 4 greats. Where does the 4 come from? To convert between times removed and the ancestor whose cousin is removed, you add up all the “greats” and count the “grand” and “father/mother” as 1 each, like this…

great (1) great (1) grand (1) father (1)… 1+1+1+1=4… 4 times removed
great (1) grand (1) father (1)…1+1+1=3… 3 times removed
grand (1) father (1)… 1+1=2… 2 times removed
father (1)… 1 time removed

Here, we work backwards…to get 6 times removed, you need 1 father, 1 grand, and 4 greats…1+1+4=6. So that means that your 3G grandfather has a 1st cousin, and that 1st cousin is Bob’s 4G grandfather…notice it’s 3G versus 4G…so it’s no surprise that you and Bob are something once removed. What that something is can be found by shinnying down the Cousin Ladder in Chart 654A. And we get…6th cousin once removed.

chart 654

But there’s a wrinkle…when 2 people are cousins removed, one is in an older generation, one is in a younger generation…and unless you append ascending or descending respectively, there’s no way for us to know which is which. I have assumed Bob is alive today and OP wants to know how they are related…understandable. So Bob is the 1C 6R descending, Gramps is the 1C 6R ascending. What if it were the other way around? We take Chart 654A…switch the positions of Bob (“cousin”) and Gramps (“3 greats”) to get Chart 654B…and we get 1st cousin 11 times removed. Taking a generation to be 25 years, Bob is now around 325 years old if he’s a day…whew.


186.18  Answer #1…There are genealogical relationship charts on line that can be downloaded and printed. That’s true…but with 6th cousins on the one hand and 11 times removed on the other, charts might not extend far enough to work in this case. I cannot imagine that your would know a first cousin 6x removed relationship of your 3rd G Grandfather, but not know your relationship with this person.  What a cockeyed thing to say! In my 63 years of living, I’ve found people who have no imagination whatsoever to be extremely rare…but we have one here, woo hoo!

186.19  Answer #2…

3rd GGF = 1C6R
2nd GGF = 1C5R
1st GGF = 1C4R
GP = 1C3R
Parent = 1C2R
You = 1C 1R 

It’s our old friend the list-maker…usually he’s pretty good, but with this first one, not so much. As a rule, I don’t simply say somebody’s wrong and leave it at that…I try to see where they went wrong and how they can be set right. This first list has the OP’s line of ancestors on the left, and what they should be to the cousin I’ve called Bob on the right…and the removeds are fine, but the numbered cousins should increase by one for each step…ending up with 6th cousin…6C…for you.

Maybe. there are a lot of ways to go with this one. No, actually there are only 2 ways to go with this, as I explained with the ascending and descending stuff.  Here’s another: 

3rd GGF = 1C6R
2nd GGF = 1C7R
1st GGF = 1C8R
GP = 1C9R
Parent = 1C10R
You = 1C11R 

And he gets this one right…which makes his first screwy list all the more mysterious, nez pah?

186.20  Answer #3…Friends at the very least.

186.21  Answer #4…That is insanely difficult to calculate,  Please don’t speak for everyone…insanely difficult for you, I can believe…but not insanely difficult for me, just the opposite…which is to say, if I found I couldn’t do it, I’d conclude that I’d lost my mind. and it wouldn’t be that important, genetically speaking you probably would only be trace genetically related  Well, give the devil his due…..on this point you are 100% correct…in fact, calling it a trace would be overly generous…6C 1R are 99.994% unrelated…as are 1C 11R…which means if you have 25,000 genes, you share 2…actually 1½, so it looks like you caught me in a generous mood after all.

186.22  Answer #5…No  Meaningless answer, you old rascal you. I’m trying to remember the last time I was instructed to “answer yes or no, even if it doesn’t make any sense”…but I’m coming up blank, sorry.

186.23  We’ll wrap up our 20 Q’s series next week…I wonder, will it really end up as 20?…I meant it originally only as a figure of speech…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#185: 20 Q’s…Tangles Untangled, While U Wait

185.1   And do people ever get tangled with genealogy and kinship! Trust me, even I make an occasional mistake if I’m not careful, so I understand. Here are some more queries and attempted answers from Yahoo! Posts are in black italics…my comments in red. BTW, if you’ve never seen it before, the abbreviation OP stands for Original Post or Original Poster…

185.2  Question: What is the title of how I am related to my mom’s 2nd cousin’s niece? what would you call my relation to my mom’s second cousin’s niece (on his wife’s side if it matters) would that be my 3rd cousin?  I hate to get picky…but people in general, not to mention genealogists, don’t call it a “title”…better so say “relationship” or “name of the relationship.” 

185.3  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…You are not related at all  Completely and utterly correct…doesn’t explain anything, but if you want to get a quick answer and then move on, this is it. Before I give my answer, we should look at the next answer, which illustrates the importance of reading a question carefully

185.4  Answer #2…You are probably not related. We can’t tell from the way you worded your question. On the contrary, the OP gave us everything we need to know…the key is when they said “on his wife’s side if it matters.” Well, it matters very much…and here the OP has told us 2 important things: first, the mother’s 2nd cousin is a man (“his”)…and second, the niece is not his biological niece but his wife’s…he may be called “uncle,” but that’s because he is married to the niece’s biological aunt, nez pah?

Your mom’s 2nd cousin’s child is your 3rd cousin. The niece would be your 3rd cousin, if she is a child of your mom’s 2nd cousin’s brother or sister, This is exactly how it works, no denying it. but if that was true you would have phrased your question differently, I suspect.  And what do you know? OP did phrase the question differently than how you read it…you just didn’t catch it, I’m afraid. 

You are good to go if you want to date her. That is behind about half of the cousin relationships we get here.  Historically, one of the main uses of kinship was just that…reckoning whom you can and can’t marry. Just take it slow. If you try to set a county speed record for getting a bra off on a first date, there will be some distinct silences at family gatherings. A game attempt at humor, but it fails for one simple reason: family gatherings tend to be limited to family…and your family doesn’t include this niece. Say for example your mother staged a family gathering…she might invite her siblings, 1st cousins, even 2nd cousins…and they all might bring their spouses…but would those spouses bring their siblings?…and those siblings, their children? It’s possible…if you lived out in the hinterlands and things get lonely…but it doesn’t sound like a typical family gathering to me.

chart 648

185.5  My Answer: OP, you did not mention if your mother’s 2nd cousin has any children…in Chart 648 I put one in as a point of reference…and that child would indeed be your 3rd cousin. “Wife’s niece” would be this 3rd cousin’s 1st cousin, but not on your side of the family, hence no relation to you. But you did have the generations sorted out right, as far as that goes…in Chart 649, if the niece had been the 2nd cousin’s biological niece, thru his sibling, this niece would then be your 3rd cousin…but you said it was by marriage, so she’s not your 3rd cousin, or anything to you. 

chart 649
185.6 Answer #3…Your mom is related to her 2nd cousin, not even to his wife…much less the wife’s niece. YOU have NO relationship at all to this niece.. unless you have an ancestor in common (meaning, the same ancestor, somewhere back). Your mom’s 2nd cousin IS related to you.. he is your 2nd cousin once removed. It stops right there. Awkwardly put at the beginning…”not even to his wife” should read “but not to his wife”…other than that, when you’re right you’re right, and you’re right. 

185.8  Answer #4…Unrelated. In-laws never enter into the equation for anyone who isn’t married into the family.  Most people don’t refer to everyone who marries into their family as an “in-law”…but instead say “by marriage.” Traditionally in-laws are the closest…mother/father-in-law, son/daughter-in-law, siblings-in-law…speaking of which…For instance, your brother’s brother-in-law means nothing to you (well unless this means the guy your brother married, rather than the woman he married’s brother. Except you got tangled up and said that wrong…if your brother married another man, that man wouldn’t be your brother’s brother-in-law…he’d be your brother’s spouse, partner, husband, wife, whatever…if that, since opinions vary on same-sex unions, and in the interest of us all living together and getting along, we’ll leave it at that. If he were anybody’s brother-in-law, he would be yours, not your brother’s, follow that?


185.9  Question…If my Great Grandmothers sister married her Grandfather what does that make us? So me and my girlfriend have been dating for a few weeks and I just found out were the same ethnicity and have the same cousin. So I done some digging and found out that my great grandmothers sister married my girlfriends grandfather. I underlined the word “her” for good reason…it sure sounds like “her” refers to your great grandmother’s sister, giving you CHart 650A, strictly illegal, I don’t care who you are. But reading further, it turns out “her” refers to your girlfriend, giving us something distinctly different, Chart 650B

chart 650


185.10  My Answer…What we have here in Chart 650B is nothing more than a straightforward “Cousin Ladder”…you and your girlfriend are 2nd cousins once removed…she is your parent’s 2nd cousin. Thru practice, this type of up and down reckoning will come as second nature…you just have to work at it. 

185.11  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…2nd cousins 1 time removed  Short, sweet, and to the point. Sweet!

185.12  Answer #2…
Generation 1: Your GGM & her sister = sisters
Generation 2: Your grandparent & her parent = 1st cousins
Generation 3: Your parent & your girlfriend = 2nd cousins
Generation 4: You & GF’s future child = 3rd cousins 

I threw your GF’s child in as a bonus. If you two do marry and have children, your children will be your 3rd cousins as well.  You might recall last week, one of the answerers threw in a “bonus…yup, altho I am leaving out screen names, this is the same individual…and generous to a fault. “Removed” means “Generations apart” in cousins. As you see, you and your GF are one generation apart. That makes you second cousins once removed.  Right answer…bravo.

185.13  Answer #3…So your great grandmother’s sister is her grandmother. Because if she isn’t, you’re not related by blood at all. I mention this because you oddly mention that she married her grandfather, rather than just saying is her grandmother. Otherwise, you’re second cousins once removed.  Another right answer…and it brings up an interesting point…what I call a Conan Relation…one that seems redundant because there is a simpler, more natural way to express it…like saying “my sister’s uncle” instead of “my uncle.” And as with other Conan Relations, what we have here does suggest the possibility that the grandmother’s sister is not the girlfriend’s grandmother…just someone who married the girlfriend’s grandfather after that grandfather had a child with somebody else, that child being the parent of the girlfriend. In that case, yes, OP and his girlfriend would be related by marriage only, not by blood. HOWEVER, the fact that he says “we have the same cousin”…even without saying what kind of cousin, numbered and/or removed…confirms that the 2 lovebirds are related, and that’s good enough for the likes of me.


185.14  Question…What is my 2nd cousin’s 1st cousin to me? Remember this rule: to you, your Xth cousin’s Yth cousin is whichever is larger, X or Y. So here, the your 2nd cousin’s 1st cousin is your 2nd cousin. In this context, your sibling is considered your “0th cousin.” If X and Y are equal, the answer could be you, your sibling, or anything up to and including your Xth cousin. 

chart 651

185.15  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Probably nothing. “Cousin’s cousin” is fun to say but not a real relation. If you have a common ancestor, you are elated; otherwise you are not. OK, if you insist…the complete answer, as airtight as it is foolproof, needs “if you are related” tacked onto the end. Since in this case there is nothing to indicate they are not related, I take OP at his literal word. And “probably” is not accurate…knowing nothing else, it’s 50/50, related or not related…and 50% is not probably. Also, notice that a slip of the typing finger results in a humorous typo…sadly, having a common ancestor does not always lead to elation. 

185.16  Answer #2…What common blood ancestor do you share with your 2nd cousins, 1st cousin, I would suggest you don’t and that they are related from the other side of the family, in which case you are not related at all   This person is only coherent enough to come off as an obnoxious nudnik…pay no attention to them. 

185.17  Answer #3…It is according to whether you share a common ancestor. There are different sides to any one family. Your cousin’s cousins are not necessarily related to you at all. Well yes, as I’ve said…still, you’ve absentmindedly forgotten to give an actual answer, just in case, right? Tsk-tsk.

185.18  Answer #4…Just a friend  More tsk.

185.19  Answer #5…depends, may be your wife  An odd answer, yet not impossible…people still do marry their 2nd cousins, altho not as often as was done in previous generations.  

185.20  Answer #6…I saw an article the other day about this, let me check my history real fast and I will get back with the link  This  reminds me of Facebook postings like “I just took a shower”…and we should care why, this shower? This person never did get back with the promised link…not when I was there anyway…perhaps they have since and good for them if they did. 

185.21  Answer #7…your second cousin  That’s what I would say, which is why I did. 

185.22  Couple more weeks of 20 Q’s coming up…because I’m having a ball, and it’s whose blog again?


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#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 from 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 closely.

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