Many people are totally flummoxed when they hear someone saying, “He’s my first cousin twice removed” or worse yet, “She’s my second cousin three times removed.” You can see it in their eyes – “Removed to where?”Today’s blog is going to clarify that for you, just in case you consider yourself among those flummoxed. The simplest answer is the word “removed” really has to do with generations. Let’s say you have a cousin Polly and Polly has a child. That child is NOT your second cousin, although many people erroneously think so. That child is your first cousin once removed. It just means one generation separated from you.
I’ll give you an illustration and you can work it out with your own relatives. Doing so helps clarify things.
My grandma Jessie (first generation) had 7 kids.
My mom, Virginia, was one of them, and my cousin Shirlee’s mom, Marie, was another.
Shirlee and I are cousins. Both of us have children.
These children are second cousins to each other, but to Shirlee and me, they are First Cousins ONCE REMOVED.
When the children of cousins have kids, those kids are related to each other as third cousins, but to us, they are still first cousins but are twice removed (again, two generations from us). And so it goes.
Being as July is a month of celebrating national historical events, I’m going to share with you some little tidbits of history that my ancestors lived through or were involved in. The first starts off with Agnes Hall’s family history paper. Agnes Hall was my Second Cousin once removed. (Can you figure that out now?)Agnes lived from 1881 to 1957 and was born in Kansas. Her family history in Kansas goes back to Lawrence before it became a city and Kansas before it became a state. Her family came west from Virginia by flatboat on the Ohio River. Her grandparents, Henry and Nancy Matney Corel, were married in Virginia, built a house near the Kaw River in Douglas County, Kansas and died there in a measles epidemic in 1855. Agnes’ mom was Jemima Corel and she was a teenager then, the oldest of 5 children who were left orphans. These 5 little kids were raised by the myriad of Corel aunts and uncles who had all come together to the west. Agnes heard all the family stories and wanted to save them for her own children.
In 1929 she wrote the following: Now Jemima Morris, your ancestor, was born in England and came to America very early. This same Jemima saw George Washington and said the Indians could not shoot him.”
In my genealogical research, I have not yet tracked down Jemima Morris, so I don’t know how much of that is true. But I wondered what was meant by her saying the Indians couldn’t shoot George Washington.In my research I discovered this understanding came out of the French and Indian War (1750-1763) when Washington served under General Braddock. At one point Braddock wanted to march into the wilderness, and Washington, who was an experienced frontiersman told him this was not a good idea. Braddock rallied the troops and went anyway. Washington survived but Braddock and hundreds more did not. There are many books about this incident, and in one I found the sentence “Later testimony indicated that the Indians thought Washington was bullet-proof, since they had attempted to shoot him many times….”
I would like to find and read that testimony. I would like to find Jemima Morris. I have been doing genealogy since 1984 and I have found pretty much all the easy stuff. I doubt if I have time left in my life to get answers for these….but whatever, it is nice to know that in my family’s past, there were people who at least claimed they saw George Washington. I have never seen a president, so Jemima was one up on me!