The Baca / Douglas Genealogy and Family History Blog

11 January 2006

What is a fourth cousin, three times removed?

On The Baca / Douglas Genealogy Web Site I mention that my wife may be a fourth cousin, three times removed of Abraham Lincoln. You may wonder what that means. Well, I'll be glad to explain to you.

A cousin relationship is based on a common ancestor that you and another person have with each other. For instance, first cousins have a set of grandparents who are the same. This makes sense since first cousins are the children of siblings. Second cousins have a set of great grandparents that are the same. Third cousins, a set of great-great grandparents (or 2nd great grandparents,) etc. The rule of thumb is that you add one plus the number of "greats" of your common grandparents. So, if you share a set great, great, great, great grandparents (4th great grandparents) you are fifth cousins with that person.

{By the way, you are only a full cousin (whether it is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc - it doesn't matter) if you share a set of grandparents. If you share only one grandparent, then you are half cousins. An example would be if your grandfather married two women, and you and your cousin are descended from separate grandmothers.

Just to confuse things even more, a Double cousin is someone who shares two sets of grandparents with another person.}

When someone says that they are a fourth cousins, three times removed this means that they share a common ancestor, but not in the same generation. In this case, two people are fourth cousins because they share a set of ancestors. However for one person those ancestors are great, great, great grandparents (3rd great grandparents) and the other person those ancestors are great, great, great, great, great, grandparents (5th great grandparents.)

In other words if you had a fourth cousin, three times removed relationship with Abraham Lincoln, your great-grandfather (or great grandmother) would be the fourth cousin of this President.

Whew! Easy isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"His parents had lived in the same settlement in Kentucky where Lincoln spent his early years. Mr. Hanks' relationship to Nancy Hanks was traced through his uncle, Abner Hanks, who was a cousin of Lincoln's mother."

Please realize there is an error of two in this paragraph of the obituary. Researchers believe John Wm. Hanks was a grandson of Abner Hanks (via Sidner Hanks who would have been Abner's son by either the second or third of Abner's several wives) Current research is still being done on Abner and family, and there is still potential for error at this link. However, we do know for certain that John Wm. Hanks' parents, Sidner and Eliz. were married in Henry Co. KY, before moving to the Brown Co. IN area. ( Legal records spell Sidner multiple ways, Signer,Sydnor etc.) After Sidner's death, Eliz. and the sons and a dau. or two, moved to IL, Douglas Co. IL. Widowed Amanda moved to Hindsboro IL. prior to c1938, to a house one block south of the school, where she lived until her 1958 death. Jerry Douglas was born when Ralph and Ethel lived diagonally across the corner from that house, and later lived a block west of that house. Later Jerry and wife lived in a nearby home just southwest of the Hindsboro school building. MTM