More talk about cousins?

The interest and participation in the thread How many First Cousins have you had? (which I started last Friday) has me wondering if there are other related topics about our cousins that might not be too private to discuss in at least general terms.

The latest distribution of responses in that thread

View Poll Results: How many First Cousins have you had?  
This poll will close on 04-03-2014 at 10:27 AM 

None      11  4.76%   4.76%
One        7  3.03%   7.79%
Two       11  4.76%  12.55%
3-5       37 16.02%  28.57%
6-10      60 25.97%  54.54%
11-15     32 13.85%  68.39%
16-20     20  8.66%  77.05%
21-30     30 12.99%  90.04%
31-50     18  7.79%  97.83%
Over 50    5  2.16%  99.99%

Voters: 231 

would indicate that over half of us have 10 or fewer first cousins, and 3/4 of us have fewer than 21.

What are some other noteworthy aspects to our “extended families” that might be worth sharing?

For starters:

  1. How many Second Cousins can you name, and how many of them have you met?
  2. How spread out geographically are your First Cousins?
  3. Do your children (assuming you have any) know their first cousins?
  4. How many generations of your family still have living members?

Add to the list of questions and answer as many as you are comfortable with.


In my case I know the names of some of my second cousins and first cousins once removed, but that’s about as deep into the family tree as I can go without looking at ancestry charts. My mother was very thorough in her family research and I know a little about the major ancestral lines on her side and my dad’s side for at least eight generations. After that, the families’ whereabouts and specific names get fuzzy.

I have met maybe five of my second cousins at those big family reunions we had when I was young. The latest one of those would have been in the 60’s or 70’s.

As for geography spread, I know for sure of seven states, and there are probably another three or four that I’m not sure about, where my generation is/are living now. An older first cousin died a few years ago, but I think the rest are still living.

My children’s mother was an only child and my only brother has had no children so my kids have NO first cousins. They may know a dozen or so more distant cousins in their age group, but I can’t swear to that.

As for living generations, I have one living blood uncle and maybe three still living aunts by marriage. The rest are gone.

What do you feel comfortable discussing about your own families?

First you’d probably better define what you mean by “second cousins” and “first cousins once removed” because I know many people misunderstand the terms. I know in my family people tend to use them inaccurately, and I’ve never been quite sure how to correct my own terminology.

Let’s say me and you are cousins. We have kids and our kids have kids.

Me … You
| … … |
mykid … yrkid
| … |
myk’sk … yrk’sk

Me and yrkid are first cousins once removed. We moved down the generation on only one line.
mykid and yrkid are second cousins. We moved down one full generation.
mykid and yrk’sk are second cousins once removed.
Me and yr k’sk are first cousins twice removed.

Quiz: What are myk’sk and yrk’sk?

Hope I have that right. It’s tough to keep straight!

I haven’t seen my first cousins in decades, although they lived close when we were younger, we now live a few thousand miles apart. My mother keeps in touch with them. I have no idea if I have second cousins for first cousins once removed.

You did okay. Here’s how I explain it to people:

First cousins have at least one grandparent in common.

First cousins once removed have no grandparents in common. Rather, the grandparent of one is the great-grandparent of another. Put differently, the child if your first cousin is your first cousin once removed, and your child is the first cousin once removed of your first cousin. Similarly, first cousins twice removed have no grandparents in common; rather, the grandparent of one is the great-great grandparent of another; that is, your grandchild is the first cousin twice removed of your first cousin, and your first cousin’s grandchild is your first cousin once removed.

Second cousins have at least one great-grandparent in common.

Second cousins once removed have no great-grandparents in common. Rather, the great-grandparent of one is the great-great-grandparent of another. Put differently, the grandchild of your second cousin is your second cousin once removed, and your grandchild is the second cousin once removed of your second cousin.

And so on down the line.

You also left out the possibility of double first cousins, who have all four grandparents in common. My family is an example. My father’s twin brother was married to my mother’s older sister, so my aunt & uncle’s children are double first cousins to me and my siblings. The fact that my father and his brother were twins doesn’t matter, incidentally; if one of his non-twin brothers had married one of my mother’s sisters, their children would be my double first cousins.

I’d go into parallel cousins versus cross cousins, but I don’t care enough right now.

Missed the edit window:

As to the thread questions: I’ve about 2 dozen first cousins, but see only two regularly. One of my DFCs, “B,” is a good friend; I could call him in the middle of the night (in fact have) and said, “Get up and get dressed, we gotta go out, I’ll explain when I get there,” and he’ll be cool with it, and vice versa. I’m not quite that close with his sister S, but we have some overlapping professional interests so often see each other. But I’ve seen all the first cousins three times this year, because two of our generation and one of my first cousins once removed died and we had to assemble for the funerals.

That’s all true, and can all be derived from my account. Double cousins can be guessed, if not derived. As for parallel and cross cousins–I have to go look those up again myself!

This Consanguinity/kinship Chart does as good a job as I have seen of explaining the terminology. Also goes into more detail about the general topic.

I won’t attempt to persuade you that these are the only definitions people go by. I was an adult before I learned a different version (this one) from how my own family defined things. It’s confusing when all the half-, step-, double- and other such variations come into play.

That’s one reason I thought this thread might help broaden our understanding of these matters.

I was one of the people in the 21-30 range, fyi.

  1. I can name at least eight second cousins on Dad’s side, and probably five or six first-once removed (my Dad’s first cousins). I’m much less clear on Mom’s side, but I probably know several of her first cousins and just am not aware of how we’re related. I don’t believe I know any of my second cousins on my Mom’s side. I can name pretty much all of my cousins’ kids, regardless of whether they’re maternal or paternal.

  2. Cousins on Dad’s side are all in the New York/DC corridor. Cousins on Mom’s side are all in New Jersey or Western PA, as far as I know.

  3. I have no children, so my brother’s children have no first cousins. They do know many of their second cousins, because my father’s family is still pretty tight.

  4. At the moment, we’ve got four generations on both sides. My paternal grandmother is still alive at 93, and my youngest first cousin once-removed is about 18 months old. (Plus at least three more currently in-utero.) My maternal grandmother passed away this morning, but my grandfather is still alive, and the youngest first-once on that side is about two. I knew three of my great-grandparents, but none of them lived long enough to be great-great grandparents. It is possible, given my Grandma’s intention to live forever, that she may be around long enough to see my sixteen-year-old nephew have a kid or two.

And I do have some first cousins who are doubles, just not to me–two of Mom’s brothers married sisters.

If you start at my maternal grandmother and grandfather, and count all of their descendants and spouses of descendants, at last count the total was 108. That was a while ago, though, and it’s probably up around 130 or 140 now. We’re currently to their great-great-grandchildren (i.e., my first cousins twice removed), and Grandma lived long enough to see and be photographed with the first of them.

What may also be useful is a cousin term common in our family, for which I don’t think there is a word in general use. The cousins of one’s cousins on the other side, to whom one is not directly related, are one’s “turkey cousins”. They get this name because the family so related which is closest to ours (i.e., we see them at a lot of family gatherings and such) are generally regarded by our family as being a bunch of turkeys.

If there are any Iroquois or other cultures among us who distinguish cross/parallel cousins, I found the Wiki account sufficient. Not sure there’s a call for that anymore though… Most cultures seem to have loosened up matrimonial consanguinity in that regard.

I have no idea even how many first cousins I have. I think that I have met most of them once or sometimes twice. Dad was youngest son of 13 children and his parents were married in 1896. The older kids were grown and gone from home before the younger ones were born. At a family reunion when I was a teenager one aunt met her oldest brother for the first time, she was 42 years old and he was in his 70s. The number and names of second cousins, and probably 3rd or 4th cousins in this large group is unknown.

My mother’s family had 7 children, I have met all of my first cousins on that side at least once but I do not know about the second cousins.

The families are spread all over the country. My brother contacted a guy a few years ago who had traced the paternal family line back to early 1700s North Carolina, and then the various descendants moved west through Tenn., Arkansas, Missouri and on to the west coast.
I think an aunt on my mother’s side has a genealogy chart for her side of the family.

I am no longer in contact with any members of this large, extended group of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Life just got too busy growing up and I lost track. When my parents were still alive and I was a kid we had routine family reunions but they are gone now and so is the family cohesion.

My condolences to you and your family, Draelin, and thanks for all those details about them. We share a lot of the same sorts of particulars.

  1. How many Second Cousins can you name, and how many of them have you met?

I don’t think I know any of my second cousins.

I’ve met some of my first-cousins-once-removed–that is, my first cousins’ children–at family reunions. If I think about it, I’m sure I could remember some of their names.

  1. How spread out geographically are your First Cousins?

All across the country, from the east coast to Texas to California and in the middle too.

  1. Do your children (assuming you have any) know their first cousins?

I don’t have children, but my brothers’ and sister’s kids know each other well. My Aunt Karen’s grandchildren are also close, since that whole branch of the family all lives within about 20 miles of each other. Some of Mom’s grandkids and Karen’s grandkids (second cousins to each other) have met at the family reunions mentioned above, but the two sets of kids aren’t well acquainted.

  1. How many generations of your family still have living members?

Just 3 at the moment. My grandparents’ generation is all gone now. My oldest nieces and nephews and those first-cousins-once-removed are just of an age to start having their own kids but as far as I’ve heard, none has had a baby yet.

Me too. Two of my uncles, brothers, married sisters and each couple has a son and daughter, double cousins.

I have dozens of second cousins but have not seen any of them in about 20 years. There are a few French speaking Quebecois, a few in the midwest, but most are in the border country on both sides of the Rio Grande, some Americans and some Mexicans.

I never lived close to any cousins. My mother’s cousin (so my first cousin once removed) did go to college near us so we visited him a few times when I was young.

Iggyette is actually a step-child. She has grown up in the same house with cousins and cannot fathom that I didn’t. She certainly has not met any of my cousins.

We have four living generations. My great-grandmother, the last of her generation, died just a few years ago at the age of 100. Family did gather for a 5 generations photo while they had the chance.

My father had 50-60 first cousins. My mother had about 15-20, so while I can’t count how many second cousins I had, it’s a pretty good number. With that. . . .

  1. Without cheating, I can name about 8, but only three have I met face to face
  2. Texas to West Virginia
  3. No children, but if I did, they would certainly know all their first cousins.
  4. Five generations, but not lineal generations. Some great-aunts, an uncle, my siblings and me, and my siblings all have children and grandchildren, but all with a common ancestor.

This is a bit off-topic, but it may relate in a way. Have you ever wondered how many of us (SDMB participants) may be blood kin without knowing it?

How far back in our individual lineages would we have to go to find a common ancestor?

Even more off-topic: when you Google your full name how many others with that same name do you find?

Y’all ask whatever related questions you may have. The OP was just for example and meant to serve as a guideline for topics that may relate.

Earlier, Dallas Jones said,

This made me curious how many of us have ancestors from the Carolinas. My dad’s side started there, as best I can determine.

1) How many Second Cousins can you name, and how many of them have you met?
I do believe I’ve met all of my dad’s cousins (not that many of them) and half of my mom’s cousins. I actually worked for my mom’s cousin for a while so I know him and his siblings.

2) How spread out geographically are your First Cousins?
It used to be just Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Now it’s Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Colorado and Washington.

3) Do your children (assuming you have any) know their first cousins?
Don’t have any but my nieces know their first cousins very, very well even though they live 350 miles apart.

4) How many generations of your family still have living members?
Dad’s side the last of my grandpa’s generation died last year - my grandpa and his sister died within weeks of each other. Dad’s uncle is still with us but he is not “blood.” So actually the oldest person in dad’s family is his cousin or his sister (I forget which is older) and they are not even 70.

Mom’s side has one aunt (my great aunt) still living, and that’s it. Once she passes it’ll be the same situation as dad’s family, with her not-yet-70 cousin being the oldest.

Mom’s cousin has great grandkids so it’s 5 generations living.

I started thinking about this question, and immediately bogged down, since I have a somewhat astonishing number of cousins once you start hitting the once-removed, seconds, etc. Besides, even though I know the nomenclature, I have to sit down with a pen and paper to figure who’s who on the list! So, just for giggles, I went through my Facebook friends list, and just sorted out the family members on there.

About fifty of my FB friends are related to me (actually, there honestly may be more. Likely, in fact, that some of my school mates are third cousins twice removed or something, since I grew up in rural-ish areas where my ancestors have lived for a long time.) Of those confirmed relatives, about ten are very close - siblings, aunts, mom, my kids.

The rest:
7 first cousins
8 first cousins, once removed
5 first cousins twice removed (grandchildren of my first cousins)
5 second cousins (we share a mutual great-grandparent)
7 second cousins once removed (children of second cousins)
1 second cousin twice removed (grandchild of my second cousin)
1 third cousin once removed (my great-grandmother and her grandmother were first cousins)
1 fourth cousin (we share a great-great-great grandfather)

Then there’s the “dog kin,” as my uncle (who’s really my first cousin once removed, of course!) refers to them: we share a mutual uncle, who is married to my late father’s sister. We grew up like cousins, but aren’t related. Even more fun, after my father’s death, for several years, my mother dated the brother of that uncle. I refer to that man’s daughter Debbie as my Not Sister, Not Cousin.

My own kids only have two first cousins, maybe a dozen seconds, and about that many seconds once removed. I almost feel bad for them, not having a whole tribe of extended family in their generation, because I really enjoy most of the cousins and not-cousins I grew up with.

Geographically, the vast majority of my family are in the southeast, and probably 80% are in Georgia. But the ones who left “home” really meant it, so I have first and second cousins in Washington and Los Angeles, Japan, Germany, Bahrain, and Australia.

As far as living generations, at 45, I still have one living grandmother, and I have two (first) cousins who are grandparents themselves, and one who will be a great-grandmother in a couple of months. They aren’t the same side of the family, though. Four of Grandmother’s great-grandchildren are in their twenties, though, so she may live to see one more generation.