“The Cousin Thing”

August 5, 2014

“The cousin thing” is how someone called it the other week, when we were discussing a familial relationship. And so, once again, I got to explain cousins and the whole “removed” thing.

So here it is, as simple as I can make it. Cousins share a common grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great grandparent, etc. If you share a grandparent with someone you are first cousins. If the shared relative is a great-grandparent you are second cousins, etc. [UPDATE:  If you have a sibling, s/he is not your cousin, even though you do share common grandparents, etc.]

OK so far? Removed is where people seem to get challenged, but it’s not really hard at all. If you share with someone, but the common relative is your grandparent and her great grand-parent, you are first cousins once removed. Grandparent and great-great-grandparent? First cousin, twice removed. Great-grandparent and great-great-grandparent? Second cousin, once removed. (The “cousin number” always reflects the lowest level grandparent.)

I have cousins from my dad’s side of the family, M and J. They’re my first cousins, for we share my dad’s parents. Their children are my first cousins, once removed, for my grandparents are their great-grandparents. Their grandchildren are my first cousins, twice removed.

For my daughter? M and J are first cousins, once removed, for they share M and J’s grandparents who are, for my daughter, great-grandparents (and, sadly, people who passed 40-50 years before she was born.) M and J’s children are my daughter’s second cousins, for the connection is, for all of them, great-grandparents. And M and J’s grandchildren? My daughter’s second cousins, once removed.

Lesson over! Now, I’ve never been bitten by the genealogy bug, but 240 words seemed like a short post. So I went looking around and ran across Mason, Bullock & Howland Genealogy, providing a list of famous people who have ties to certain Mayflower passengers. The following individuals are all related to Henry Howland, whose son John traveled on the Mayflower:  Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Sir Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, and Johnny Carson. And Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet/journalist William Cullen Bryant, Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Humphrey Bogart, and Alec Baldwin and his brothers are all descendants of John Howland. (Don’t believe me? The link includes the family genealogy!)

Nixon and Ford, related? Who knew? Apparently, they were eighth cousins, twice removed. And with that, I remind you that there’s a significant milestone coming up later this week. Stay tuned, and anyone who emails me with the anniversary info at markdrubin@gmail.com will be recognized.



One Response to “The Cousin Thing”

Leave a Reply