Friday, February 16, 2007

Did You Know #3

Did You Know #3
What Does it Mean to be "Removed"?

Being a confessed novice in the field of genealogical studies demanded some effort in understanding the terms often used in such studies. Perhaps you have heard some refer to a relative, especially one to whom they are more remotely related, as being a second or third cousin twice removed. If you are like me, you also wondered what that phrase meant.

Rhonda R. McClure, a genealogist working with Biography Magazine clarifies the double aspect of what was once a rather ambiguous declaration("All For You," November 2002, 10). The number associated with the "cousin" (i.e. first or second cousins) describes the number of generations two contemporary cousins must count backwards before they can identify common grandparents.

First cousins share the same grandparents.
Second cousins share the same great-grandparents, etc.
For each additional "great" added to the "grandparents" the initial number increases as well.
The "removed" quotient applies to cousins from different generations and is derived by counting the number of generations separating them (one may share a common grandparent while the other shares a common great-great grandparent).

These two concepts can be illustrated by establishing the relationship between our branch of the Bragg family and the celebrated General Braxton T. Bragg (unfortunately, we can't do the same with General Edward S. Bragg only because of incomplete records, despite the fact that his relatives recognized that the two generals were related to each other).

The two charts below demonstrate these concepts. The top chart shows that, from the contemporary cousins (William and Braxton), we must go back two generations to find first cousins (Joseph B. [1690] being the Great-Great-Grandfather of both men, Joseph [1719] and John [1733] where half-brothers [same father, different mothers], Richard [1760] and John [1741] were first cousins) making William and Braxton third cousins.

To illustrate the "removed" principle, the lower chart shows the forward progression of these two families. Since we were born in the twelfth generation and William and Braxton (he had no sons to carry on the family name) were born in the eighth, there are four generations between us. Our great-great-grandfather William and Braxton were third cousins. Therefore Braxton T. Bragg is our third cousin (based on William's relationship to Braxton) four times removed (based on our relationship to William, i.e. the number of generations seperating us from the two contemporary cousins: William and Braxton).

Dave Bragg