Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Genealogy-Diamond Shape

While most people think their family tree is going to look like the above, with the generations neatly fanning out, the truth is our family trees are very tangled. It doesn't take too many generations to find that you have one ancestor several times in your family history. For example, I have Maupin ancestors who married cousins, my husband has Morgan cousins that married and one cousin of mine is related to the same person THREE times (in about 150 years time).
Most of us aren't quite as bad as above, but back in the day, the communities were small and if you married within your religion, class and ethnic group, the possibilities were even more limited. So most genealogists will tell you that the family tree is more of a diamond shape. One genealogical mathematician said that everyone is no further apart than a 21st cousin of everyone else. Most of our family trees are more like the one below (not our family trees, just one I found on the internet, but you can see the diamond shape):

With that being said, it won't be terribly surprising if we discover that Dave and I are related---Appalachian, Virginian, English-Scottish-Welsh, Protestants. We already know of several names which are the same---they are very common family names like Brown, Davis, Carroll. For this reason, I have had to change some lables "Brown (Morgan)" means the Brown family on Dave's side "Brown (Long)" means Brown family on my side. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my double Watsons both on Mom's side, since it's unlikely they are cousins---they may be "Watson (Illinois)" and "Watson (Kentucky)". The Maupins and Morgans mentioned earlier are cousins so I won't make any distinction with them--they truly were related to each other and probably knew it.

It reminds me of an old country song I used to love as a child "I'm My Own Grandpa!" Click here for the lyrics.

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