Humor: My Three Cousins

For those who don’t understand how cousins are counted…it’s easy. My uncle has three sons: the oldest one was my first cousin, the middle one was my second cousin, and the youngest one was my third cousin.

Of course that’s not how first, second, and third cousins are determined. First cousins share a set of grandparents. Second cousins share a set of great-grandparents, and third cousins share a set of great-great-grandparents. The pattern continues on successively. There are charts that attempt to show the relationship graphically for those who are visual learners.

Then there are the removed when the two individuals are not the same generation of descent from the common ancestor. Your first cousin’s child and you are first cousins once removed–because that child is one more generation removed from the original ancestor than you are. Your cousin’s grandchild and you would be first cousins twice removed–because that grandchild is two generations further from the original ancestor than you.

Your child and your first cousin’s child would be second cousins. Your child and your first cousins child share a set of great-grandparents–the people who are you and your cousins’s grandparents.

And of course, there several nuances:

  • half cousins–would only share one grandparent or one great-grandparent. This could easily happen if a person had multiple spouses
  • double cousins–people who are related in more than one way. This most often happens when brothers marry sisters, a brother and sister marry a sister and a brother, etc.

Instead of stating the specific relationship between two individuals, I prefer to clearly state the common ancestor.

Edward and Curtis Habben were both grandsons of John M. and Anke H. (Fecht) Habben.

Cecil Neill and Edna (Rampley) Dion were second cousins, being great-grandchildren of James and Elizabeth (Chaney) Rampley. Their son Riley was Cecil’s grandfather and their son James was Edna’s grandfather.

Your mileage may vary.


9 thoughts on “Humor: My Three Cousins

  1. So in a case where a couple marry and his mother and her grandmother are sisters.
    Does that make them 1st cousins once removed. Or half cousins?

  2. I had never heard the term half cousins.
    Since my ancestor was married 3 times with children from each marriage I have a lot of those people and always thought they were “cousins”. Please explain further how to show this in genealogy records/writings.


  3. Although in most instances I consider myself to be a visual learner, relationship charts make my eyes cross. Thank you for this clearly written explanation of cousin relationships. I too had not heard of half cousins and did not know the descriptor for folks who are related in more than one way. Thanks for that as well.

  4. I’m 80 years old. My wife and I grew up in the same rural community — didn’t realize it at the time, but we’re double 4th cousins once removed. Our children were shocked to learn that! I explained that in those days next door neighbors might have lived a half-mile away or more, and the only modes of travel were on foot, horse and buggy or mule. Probably half the people in the community were related to each other within 3 or 4 generations. Much different today.

    • It happens more than a person thinks. My grandparents (married in 1941) were 5th cousins (going back to a man born in 1710). They are related numerous ways via more distant ancestors. Their families immigrated from the same area of Germany in the 1850s/1860s and essentially “transplanted” a large part of their small German village.

      I have a significant proportion of double cousins, largely because of families that didn’t move all that much and married within the same social or religious community.

    • Andrea Powell says:

      Yes, my dad had kids from his first marriage & I was born from his second marriage so his other children are my 1/2 siblings making them 1/2 aunts & 1/2 uncle to my kids (same as their kids being 1/2 cousins to my kids) Same would be for step relationships… My Dad’s ex remarried a man with children from a previous marriage adding step sibling for my 1/2 siblings.

  5. Cindy Horning says:

    5 of my fathers siblings were married to 5 siblings from another family so there are many double cousins at our family reunions. Also, my mother’s nephew married my father’s niece so they are both my first cousins, even though they are not related to each other.

  6. Wow what a thought thread. my family is made up of 1/2 older sister so her son and daughter would be my 1/2 nephew and 1/2 neice, yes?; my full brother has a daughter and 4 sons they are my neice and nephews; my younger 1/2 sister has a daughter who has two sons they are my 1/2 nephews, yes?; my adopted younger brother does not have any yet what would they be to be and my sons and their children and grandchildren. Now my younger son has a daughter who has a daughter what is she to my older 1/2 sister’s son and daughter, my older brother’s children, my younger 1/2 sister’s daughter and her son’s, and my younger adopted brother’s children? sorry for the long reply and questions but this relationship question has me confused. Thank you.

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