Sunday, March 25, 2012

Theory Of Relativity: If You Go Back Far Enough, We're All Related

“How many uncles do you have?”  asked my high school boyfriend.  I counted 17 men I called “Uncle” that lived within a 20 mile radius of my home.  He assumed I was joking, I was not.  In fact I had only two "true" uncles, siblings of my mother and father.  I also had one “half-uncle”, one “step-uncle”, one uncle by marriage (married to an aunt), several grand-uncles / great-uncles (uncles of my parents) and the rest were my parents’ cousins, who being an older generation I called “Uncle” as a title of respect.  The Macmillan Dictionary defines an uncle as1 a: the brother of one's father or mother, b: the husband of one's aunt; 2: one who helps, advises, or encourages.”  Based on this definition I had more than 17 Uncles….

So now this same high school boyfriend is my husband and he wants to know “How many cousins do you have?”  Well, it depends on how you define cousin. The Macmillan Dictionary states a cousin is “someone who is related to you through a brother, sister, uncle, or aunt of one of your parents”.
The Free Dictionary defines cousin like this: 
1. A child of one's aunt or uncle. Also called first cousin.
2. A relative descended from a common ancestor, such as a grandparent, by two or more steps in a diverging line.
3. A relative by blood or marriage; a kinsman or kinswoman.
4. A member of a kindred group or country: our Canadian cousins.
5. Something similar in quality or character: "There's no mistaking soca for its distant Jamaican cousin, reggae" (Michael Saunders).
6. Used as a form of address by a sovereign in addressing another sovereign or a high-ranking member of the nobility.

Based on these definitions, I have many, many cousins!  Colonel George Washington is a cousin (3rd cousin, nine times removed) and so is Henry Clay, the Great Emancipator (2nd cousin, 7 times removed).  If one of my “research cousins” is correct, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I are also cousins! 

I have been doing family history research since a 6th grade school project got me started.  I have been seriously researching for over 20 years and using the internet since the mid-1990s.    Anyone who researches a common ancestor with me is a cousin in my book.

Your Cousin Caron

 Caron In High School