#198: Embracing Enhancement

198.1  The word “enhanced” is a relatively new one in genealogical circles, but an exceedingly useful one. It refers to people who are related to each other in more than one way. Now there are some people…altho I daresay virtually none who are seriously interested in kinship and genealogy…who deny that you can actually be related in more than one way. Suppose you and Sheena are both 1st cousins and 2nd cousins…well, just pick one, and that’s it…say, 1st cousins.  And for casual conversation, that’s fine…but you are still more closely related, genetically as well as genealogically, than “just” 1st cousins.

198.2  For example, I have a friend whose father and his brother married sisters. He always suspected he was more closely related to those 1st cousins than to “normal” cousins, but never really thought about it. In fact, he and his cousins are “double 1st cousins”…1st cousins on their fathers’ side and on their mothers’ side…as closely related as half-siblings…1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4. And in his particular case, those sisters were identical twins…which genetically count as the same person…so while 1st cousins thru their fathers, the cousins are genetically half-siblings thru their mothers…while genealogically still 1st cousins thru their mothers of course, since their mothers are 2 different people. So they are the equivalent of “3/4 siblings”…related by 3/8, which you’ll notice is slightly more than 1/4 or 2/8.

198.3  If the fractions are confusing, you can compare their degree of relationship to common ones…here, they are half-way between half-siblings and full-siblings…so they are as closely related as half-siblings plus something more…they are “enhanced”! And BTW, he finds this information fascinating…for him, his relatives are what they are, and it’s very cool.

198.4  I was introduced to the concept of “enhanced” relatives at a very eye-opening website, one that really kicked my interest in kinship to the next level…GENETIC AND QUANTITATIVE ASPECTS OF GENEALOGY, by F. M. Lancaster, a British professor. Whether or not he invented the term I cannot say, but he surely knows a good thing when he sees it, as do I.

198.5  My friend and his cousins are “enhanced 1st cousins”…you can also have “enhanced siblings,” where for example the parents are 3rd cousins to each other, so that their children, besides being siblings, are also 4th cousins to each other. These situations are rare, certainly…but real none the less…and especially interesting to me are “enhanced half-siblings.” Usually, half-siblings share one parent…say they have the same father and different mothers. Many will simply call themselves siblings rather that halfs, and that’s an acceptable everyday simplification. But they aren’t like normal siblings, who have the same father and  the same mother. They may have grown up in the same house, maybe not…they may have had very little contact at all, or always been close…each family is different.

chart 713

198.6  For most half-siblings, the parents they don’t share are not related to each other…but for a few, they are…and they are the enhanced ones. In Chart 713, X and Z are half-siblings, having the same father A. If their mothers B and C are unrelated, they are simply half-siblings, related by 1/4. But is B and C are related, X and Z are related over and above half-siblings…if the mothers are sisters, they are also 1st cousins…half-sisters, then half-1st cousins…1st cousins, then 2nd cousins.

198.7  Prof. Lancaster leaves it at that, but I couldn’t resist running with the “enhanced” idea…to what I call “super-enhanced half-siblings,” where one or both of the unshared parents are related to the shared parent.  I discussed this at Related How Again? #46: More of David  and again at #99: 7/8ths of What Again?…but it’s worth reviewing.

chart 714

198.8  As with kinship in general, the possibilities are virtually endless, given how human beings can and do combine and recombine. 3 of the simplest are illustrated above. In Chart 714a, the shared father is a 1st cousin to one of the mothers. In Chart 714b, he is a 1st cousin to both of the mothers, and I have colored the connections differently to indicate that these are on opposite sides of A‘s family…say he is 1st cousin to B on his father’s side and 1st cousin to C on his mother’s side. If it were all on the same side, the 3 parents would be 1st cousins to each other, as in Chart 714c.

198.9  And there’s a 4th cousin possibility…B and C could be 1st cousins altho not on the side that relate them to A…in other words, A‘s and B‘s fathers could be brothers…A‘s and C‘s mothers could be sisters…and B‘s mother and C‘s father could be siblings. I just kept it at 3…sue me. But how do we figure the relationship of X and Z?

chart 715

198.10  By comparing the parents, by pairs. And as seen in Chart 715, moving left to right, we get closer and closer to the equivalent of “3/4 siblings” but never quite reach it. I know, it can make your head spin if math isn’t your bag…but a hobby’s a hobby, nez pah?


198.11  Speaking of math skills, they’ve really been hit hard by the general dumbing-down over the past several decades…and the Media, God bless ’em, gleefully leads the charge. Is there a newspaper or magazine anywhere that would disagree with this statement: 10th Annual Ogdensville Pomegranate Festival marks their 10th Anniversary.  Actually, there are…and I’ve seen them…the ones that realize, logically enough, that the 1st Annual Festival did not  mark the Festival’s 1st Anniversary…those 2 numbers mean different things and will never match. But they are few and far between, and I suspect their number is dwindling…as old pros, for whom such simple cyphering is second nature, get unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

198.12  And since reckoning degrees of kinship is mathematical at the heart of it, that also takes the hit…altho once in a while they get things right, and are to be applauded and encouraged on those rare occasions.

chart 716

198.13   I noticed the above item in my local Sunday paper next to the birth listings…and almost as a reflex I sketched it out. Were they correct? If Rick and Randy are brothers they are, and a quick check of Facebook confirmed all is kosher. Admittedly, the paper likely got 2nd cousins right because the family told them about it…such are the virtues of living in a small town…but being right is never wrong, and it sets a good example regardless.

chart 717

198.14  I happened to come across a chart I did for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, 5th cousins once removed, showing how un-related they really were…and it serves as a good cousin reference…print it out and stick it on the fridge. Their degree of kinship was half-way between the bottom 2…so about .03% related, 99.97% un-…which is why nobody got very excited about it…altho that was then, this is now, sad to say…

wicked ballsy


Yeah, but see…having a child does make you a father…always has…Biology 101. At the same time, the word “father” does have different meanings, so point well taken, sez me.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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