Who the hell are my relatives? Do I actually have any?

I have a strangely tiny family tree…at least in terms of who I know. And I’m not entirely certain how to categorize them.

Both my parents are only children.
I have four sisters, all of whom are childless and past menopause. (I am also childless and sterile. Five women in one family and not ONE child among them… dare ya to find THAT any time soon.)

My maternal grandfather had a sister who died childless.
My maternal grandmother was an only child.
My paternal grandfather was unknown to my father and long dead. If relatives exist, they are so far gone as to be untrackable. My paternal grandmother had two sisters who had children. I do not know these people. I know THEY had children, and I do not know them either.

My question is: who are they to me? I know that my grandmothers’ sisters were my “great” aunts. Who are their children to me? My father’s cousins, I guess…which makes them what to me? And what of their children’s children? What are they to me?

I’m thinking this is where we get into degrees of cousin-ness. 1st, second, third…and levels of removal. But does anyone know the actual breakdown of such relationships?

getting curious about her family tree now that she’s building an estate and has no will…

Removal is when you aren’t the same number of steps from an ancester. I think of those people as aunts and uncles instead of cousins, but the geneologists don’t.

That is odd!

I’m available for adoption, for inheritance purposes.

I’ll volunteer to be your “love child”, conceived in a brief, passionate affair with a married Lit. Professor in your reckless youth. Sorrowfully, but realizing it would best for a child to have two parents who care for and love him, you left me at a Catholic orphanage. I’ve often stared at the ceiling wondering about you. What things did we share in common? Do I have your nose, your eyes, your hair? Oh the tears I’ve cried hoping against hope that we could “connect”. I posted on all the net adoptees boards hoping for a response but none came. “She doesn’t care I thought” and resolved myself to a life with this well… void.

Now I’ve found you! Oh the things we can share! We can swap tales of retro-porn site administration and commercial real estate transactions over a Sunday brunch. You can teach me to swing dance! Oh Mommy Stoid! I’m so happy! Now tell me about this “estate”.

Your grandmother’s sisters are your great or grand aunts depending upon what sort of phrasing you use.

The children of your great aunts are your first cousins once removed. Their children would be first cousins twice removed.

Hmmm. Okay, what is the “first” and the “removed” actually referring to? When would they become “2nd” cousins? I’m still kinda confused.

And I just talked to my dad, and was reminded of a fun detail of my ancestry: the unknown grandfather, my dad’s real father, was * gunned down by da coppers! * I’m the spawn of Depression era gangsters, a la Capone, Babyface Nelson, and Bonnie and Clyde! Cool beans!

Big Stoid (trying on gangster-handles)

Here’s a quick rundown.

Your parents’ siblings are your aunts and uncles.
Their children are your first cousins.

Your grandparents’ siblings are your great aunts and uncles.
Their children are your first cousins once removed.
Their children are your second cousins.
In short, “removed” is when the person is up one generation from you. (There is no equivilent for down one generation, those people would be your regular, great, etc. neices and nephews.)

The degree of cousin (first, second, etc) is how many generations up you have to go to find the sibling relationship.

Stoid, I’ll e-mail you a relationship chart from Rootsweb.

The siblings of your grandparents are referred to as great aunts/uncles. Their children would be cousins of your parents, therefore the children are your first cousins once removed. If THEY have children, they are your second cousins, not your first cousins twice removed.
To determine the level of “cousinness”, count forward from the generation where you and your relative had sibling ancestors until you reach either your generation or your relative’s generation, whichever comes first. Then, to determine how far removed the relationship is from that level, count the added generations until the remaining relative is reached.

Can you email it to me to please?


The worst part is that now you have to accumulate a vast fortune, so that you will eventually be able to leave it to one of these relatives in your will.

“Why have you called me here?”
“I represent the estate of your Great Aunt Stoid. You never met her, but as her closest living relative she left you her entire estate of seventeen million dollars.”