As you dive into your family history, you’re likely to find lots of different relationships and connections that confuse you. Sometimes your family tree can look more like a family pretzel! Many casual researchers are simply trying to fill in the blank spaces of their genealogy, and only look at their completed branches to be sure that all the basic information or religious work has been done for them. That is definitely a great place to start if you’re new to genealogy, but if you’re looking to get serious about your family’s genealogy then delving deeper into your existing family lines can be interesting and rewarding work. Because somewhere back there, you’re going to have a very interesting cousin or famous ancestor. Then comes the trouble of understanding exactly how you’re related to that fascinating individual. You’ve heard the terms “first cousin” or perhaps “third cousin once removed,” but what does that actually mean?
First, Second, Third Cousins
Think of your cousins. The defining characteristic of cousins is that they have a common ancestor who is not immediate family. Usually cousins
share two grandparents, making them first cousins. Your first cousins are the sons or daughters of your parent’s siblings. Second cousins are the children of first cousins, meaning that when you have a child and your cousin has a child, your children will be second cousins to one another. Second cousins share great-grandparent. If your child has children, and their second cousins have children then those children are third cousins, sharing a great-great-grandparent. Confused yet? Now we get to move on to the “removed” level!
Cousins Who Are “Removed”
Genealogy is all about generations, and that’s what we mean when we say “removed.” When a cousin is labeled as “removed” it means that they are not on the same generational level as the other cousin. For example, if your first cousin Bill has a child named Bob then you are first cousins with Bill and Bob is your first cousin once removed. Bob is removed one generation from you, but is attached to your first cousin. Therefore: first cousin once removed. If you have a cousin who is once or twice removed, then you have a common ancestor in your genealogy, but the relationship will be different for you and your removed cousin (such as your grandmother being their great grandmother). Basically “removed” means a generational level.
How To Determine Your Cousins
You might find an interesting, famous, or otherwise critical ancestor in your family tree and want to label exactly how you’re related to them. It can be a little tricky, but you can do it! Go back and find your common ancestor. Count the generations back from you to the common ancestor, then the particular cousin back to the common ancestor. Counting the generations can tell you if you’re first/second/third/ cousins and how many generations removed you may be.
For additional help, coaching, or genealogical services you may consider hiring a genealogy professional like Price Genealogy to help you map out and complete your precious family tree.