One of the most confusing terms when talking about family relationships and Family Trees is the term “removed”. People will consciously avoid it opting for a second or third cousin reference, because it’s seemingly too confusing. Well, a long time ago, because I’m quite an accomplished nerd, I decided I needed to conquer it if I were going to work on my family tree. A little staring at the explanation and the light bulb came on, and now I’m going to attempt to explain it to you.
I should tell you at the outset, that I’m terrible about teaching things. If Word weren’t fighting me at the moment or I had Visio at home, I’d probably do a better job, but you got me and text, and well… like I said I’m terrible at teaching things. Good luck! ENJOY!
Here we go!
Let’s say there’s YOU and YOU have two cousins ALLIE and ARNOLD. ALLIE and ARNOLD are your Mother’s sister’s children; they are your first cousins. Now ALLIE grows up and has one son, BERNARD. BERNARD is your cousin. As your first cousin’s son; he’s your first cousin (ALLIE) once removed. At some point you go off and meet the spouse of your dreams and your first child (apple of your eye with only your good qualities) is BARBARA. BARBARA, as your child, is ALLIE and ARNOLD’s first cousin (you) once removed – BARBARA. However, BARBARA and BERNARD are second cousins.
Think of it in terms of Family Tree tiers. YOU, ALLIE and ARNOLD are on the same tier. ALLIE’s son, BERNARD and your daughter BARBARA are on the next tier. The same tiers represent first, second, and third cousins, and so on. If someone is not on the same tier as YOU (in other words, they are not ALLIE or ARNOLD) they’re considered “removed.”
ALLIE’s son BERNARD has a girl, CATHY. She is ALLIE’s granddaughter, so she is your first cousin (ALLIE), twice removed (BERNARD – once removed, CATHY – twice removed). If BARBARA has a daughter CAROLYN, then CAROLYN is also ALLIE and ARNOLD’s first cousin twice removed. CAROLYN is also BERNARD’s second cousin, once removed and she is CATHY’S third cousin.
So, now that you’ve got that completely straightened out (aka “survived”) – meet my third cousin, five times removed – Hazel Bess Laugenour. (I cheated and had Family Tree Maker figure that bit out, but now that you’re a relationship pro you could easily map it.) She’s my latest genealogical find! She’s a hoot! She’s also a swimmer, a vaudevillian, an inventor (something with a hydroelectric current), graduate of Berkeley in the early 1900’s, and chock full of spunk and sass. You should read the news articles on her!
… and because I now understand “removed”, you can tell that Hazel and I are incredibly close (thus the similarities in disposition and achievements – Like I’m incredible at flailing around in the water – a careful (carefree?) balance of water ballet and drowning. I’m quite the little water naiad. Then there was that time I invented ummm… well, we have to have some differences otherwise how would you distinguish the two of us? You couldn’t!)
Armed with this newly found knowledge, imagine what you’ll discover! Now go forth and remove those cousins!