Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Understanding The Relationship Chart

The relationship chart is designed so that the beginner, as well as the more experienced genealogical researcher, can quickly compute the degree of relationship from the family representative to any of their relation.

Blood relationship is divided into lineal and collateral relatives.  Lineal relative exist between persons, one of whom is descended from the other.  Collateral relatives exist between two persons who are in different lines of descent from a common progenitor.

A collateral line includes all lines other than the line through which you descend.  One's grandparent, parent, them-self, child or grandchild is a direct line, while ones' uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephew, and nieces are related collaterally.

To assist in determining relationship to any relative without the use of a chart, the following explanation is given:

  • Progenitors:  If your own name is listed as family representative, you are a son (son) or a daughter (dau) to your parents; a grandson/daughter (g son/g dau) to your grandparents; a great-grandson/daughter (g g son/dau) to your great-grandparents; and a second great grandson/daughter (2 g g son/dau) to your second great-grandparents.
  • Brothers And Sisters Of Your Progenitors:  You are a nephew (nep) or niece (niece) to your parents' brothers and sisters; a grandnephew/niece (g nep/niece) to your grandparents' brothers and sisters; a great-grandnephew/niece (g g nep/niece) to your great-grandparents' brother and sisters; and a second great-grandnephew/niece (2 g g nep/niece) to your second great-grandparents' brothers and sisters.
  • Cousins: In determining the cousin relationship to any descendant of your uncles and aunts in any degree, follow these steps:  
    • Step 1: Children of brothers/sisters are first cousin (1cou) to each other; children of first cousin are second cousins (3cou) to each other; children of second cousins are third cousins (3cou) to each other; children of third cousins are fourth cousins (4cou) to each other, etc.  In other words persons sharing teh same grandparents are first cousins (1cou) to each other; those sharing the same great-grandparents are second cousins(2cou) to each other; if they share the same second great-grandparents, they are third cousins(3cou) to each other.  Especially note that you and your cousin in any degree are both an equal number of generations from the common ancestor or from the point where your lines converge.
    • Step 2: Descendants of cousins in any degree are also that same degree of cousin relationship to you.  They are, however, designated in addition as "removed" according to the number of generations that they are descended from that cousin.  Basically a child of your first cousin is a first cousin to you, but is designated as a first cousin once removed (1c1r); a grandchild is a first cousin twice remove (1c2r), and a great-grandchild is a first cousin three times removed (1c3r), etc.  To your second cousin's children you are a second cousin once removed (2c1r); to the grandchildren of your second cousin you are a secon cousin twice remove (2c2r). To the children of your fifth cousin you are a fifth cousin once remove (5c1r), and to his grandchildren you area a fifth cousin twice removed (5c2r).
    • Step 3: A cousin in any degree to any of your progenitors is also that same degree of cousin relationship to you, but you are designated in addition as "removed' according to the number of generations that you are removed or descended from that progenitor.
Other examples:  to your father's cousin you are a first cousin once removed (1c1r); to your father's second cousin you are a second cousin once removed (2c1r); to your father's sixth cousin you are a sixth cousin once remove (6c1r).  A first cousin of your fourth great-grandfather is also your first cousin; you are, however, a first cousin six time removed (1c6r), since you are six generations removed from your fourth great-grandfather.

When listing the relationship on the one family group record, a clear distinction should be made between blood kindred and those to whom they are married.  The latter are known as "in-laws"; thus the family representative is a nephew-in-law (nep IL) to his uncle's wife, a first cousin-in-law (1cou IL) to his cousin's wife, etc.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gathering Genealogical Information

The gathering stage can be a really interesting event.  Gather all of the information you can from your home, homes of relatives, personal knowledge of relatives, etc.

What kind of information are you looking for?

  • Personal knowledge of relatives cannot always be taken as "gospel" but can sometimes provide clues.  
  • Family traditions can provide cultural knowledge, there is usually some truth to them even if some of the facts have been distorted.  
  • Old letters from relatives and friends can be valuable.  
  • Diaries, journals, or biographies or other printed or published family histories.  
  • Family bibles are often worth their weight in gold with genealogical, military, medical, and various forms of information.  
  • Vital records include birth, marriage, death certificates,  Christening, baptism or other church ordinance records.  
  • Newspapers can provide a wealth of information and includes obituaries, articles, announcements.  
  • Old photographs usually provide notes made on the back of the old photos.  these can be helpful and studying the photo itself can provide clues.  The biggest problem I have in is that sometimes we just ma and sis thus not containing the full name of those in the photo.  Military uniforms may lead to various military records records and other documents.  
  • Emigration and Immigration documentation include passports, citizenship papers, and naturalization papers.

Obtaining Personal knowledge from older relative is MOST IMPORTANT.  If they are close by do pay them a visit and interview them.  Take notes, use a tape recorder or a video camera.  Don't rely on your memory.  If they live far away do write to them.  DO NOT PROCRASTINATE, people don't live forever.

During the gathering stage it is really important to ORGANIZE the information you gather include data on pedigree charts and family group forms.  Document your sources carefully.  Choose the ancestor or family line you would like to research and try to research one line at a time to avoid confusion and data crossing.


Obtain a copy of the pamphlet,

"Where to Write For Vital Records in the United States"

Publications.usa.gov at http://publications.usa.gov/

Most of the State vital records (except New England) begin about 1900.

Using the information on your family group sheets and pedigree charts, send for the birth and/or death certificates for each appropriate person.  (that is, those being born, marrying, or dying in the given time period for your locality).  The information found on these certificates may be new to you or may just confirm what you already know.  As well, you'll need these documents if you plan to apply to any American Indian Nations to show proof of you Native American lineage.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Genealogy - Relationship Terms

I have been doing genealogical research since 1985 and one of the biggest needles in the hay stack I encountered was to document relationship terms that I frequently found.  

This was once a stumbling block for me so after researching the correct interpretation of genealogical records and how relationship terms were used to denote degrees of relationship, I found that sometimes these terms have different meaning than they have today.

Brother:  Besides its obvious meaning, could indicate any one of the following relationships by blood or marriage: 
  1. husband of one’s sister, 
  2. brother of one’s wife,  
  3. husband of one’s sister-in-law, 
  4. half brother,  
  5. stepbrother,  
  6. sometimes did not indicate any relationship by blood or marriage but rather used to refer to a brother in the church.

In-Laws:  “Father-in-law” or Mother-in-law” could mean step-father or step-mother.  “Son-in-law” or “Daughter-in-law” could also be step-son or step-daughter.

Junior/Senior:  Prior to nineteenth century it is not safe to assume that the use of the terms “Senior” and “Junior” refers to father and son.  SR could be used to designate the elder person of the same name in the community or JR the younger.  Keep in mind that a man known in his younger years as JR, may have been known as SR after the death of the older man.

Cousin:  Once used generally to indicate almost any degree of relationship by blood or marriage.  Early New England used to refer to nephew or niece.

Nephew:  The term derives from Latin “Nepos”, meaning grandson.  Occasionally it refers to the testator’s grandchildren, both males and females.

“Natural Son”:  The researcher should not jump to the conclusion that it denotes an illegitimate relationship.  It always indicates a relationship by blood to distinguish from marriage or adoption.

“Alias”: (Also known as)  Use of two surnames, joined by the word “alias” may indicate an illegitimate birth and that the person has joined the surname of his reputed father to that of his mother.  Other reasons for the use of two surnames:  when children inherited through their mother they used both the father and mother’s names.  Sometimes the name of the natural father, who had died, was joined to that of a stepfather.  Adoption, the original name and the name of adoptive parent were sometimes used together.

“Now wife”:  Does not always mean there was a former wife.  Could mean present wife.

Never building to much faith on the casual mention of relationship terms in early records.  Conclusions about the relationship between any two people must rest on a preponderance of all the available and documented evidence.

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