My First Genealogy Confusion

I’m helping a cousin with her Daughters of the American Revolution application for our mutual ancestor. This cousin and I have a lot of mutual ancestors who came from the eastern United States and Germany to settle in Hancock County, Illinois. That’s where both of us were born and raised.

I don’t remember this cousin from when I was a child, but I do remember her mother, Rose (Walker) Ufkes.

Mrs. Ufkes was my third grade Sunday School teacher. She would sometimes take us to the drug store a block or so from the church where we would get a quarter (or maybe fifty cents) and buy some candy. Those trips were a plus in my book. And I knew she was a relative somehow. Even though I was only eight years old, I thought I had it figured out. Her last name was Ufkes. My mother was an Ufkes before she was married and my grandparents had that last name. It was not too difficult to think there might be a connection.

And then my third grade Sunday School teacher confused me. She told me something that had nothing to do with drug store candy or memorizing the Lord’s Prayer. Nothing at all.

She said that she and my Grandpa were cousins. That didn’t really confuse me too much. My Granddad’s last name was Ufkes and her last name was Ufkes. Simple enough. I had already figured that out. I’m not certain what I said before the real confusion set in.

She was a cousin to my Grandpa Neill. I didn’t want to be rude and disagree with her so I must have said “ok” or something like that. But I knew I heard what she said and I knew what I knew.

I was confused and it had nothing to do with memorizing Bible verses.

I must have later said something to my parents and I was told that yes, she was a cousin to my Grandpa Neill. She was talking about herself, not her husband (who was a cousin to my Granddad Ufkes). Mrs. Ufkes was a cousin to my Grandpa Neill because their mothers were sisters.

This was on top of her husband and my mother’s father being first Ufkes first cousins.

I’m not certain how much I really understood it at the time and I was not one to argue with my parents when I was confused. I never met my Grandpa Neill–he died when I was an infant–and his parents died well before I arrived on the scene. It was difficult for me to visualize the relationship because all the “connecting people” were dead people I had never met.

It was several years later when I started my family tree research that I got the relationship straight in my head.

Her daughter is the relative who I am helping with her DAR application. Our Rampley ancestor is a qualifying patriot. The two “mothers who were sisters” were daughters of Riley Rampley, who died in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1893. And the daughter is also a descendant (as am I) of Johann and Noentje (Grass) Ufkes who married in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1874 where they later died. That’s the connection that first stuck out to my third-grade brain even though I didn’t know the names of Johann and Noentje at the time.

I was later to discover that my cousin’s Grandma Ufkes and my great-grandma Habben were first cousins–granddaughters of Johann Goldenstein who died in 1891 in Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany.

It’s probably a good thing no one tried to tell me that when I was in the third grade.

I might have written genealogy off as too confusing to even bother.




3 thoughts on “My First Genealogy Confusion

  1. I have people in my tree with connections like that too! My mom had a cousin who was also a second cousin on the other side of their families. He grew up and married a girl whose parents both are related in our tree.

  2. Thank you for your story! Loved it. I’m glad you didn’t get turned off researching your family history! My husband has a difficult time just trying to understand that my second cousin is the granddaughter of my grandmother’s sister.

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