The other day one of my students came to my desk and very seriously asked, “Mrs. Maurer did you know Cody and me is cousins?” “No.” “Yep! She was born at 3:20 and I was born at 3:20. That makes us cousins!” “Wow!”
I’m not sure how families function in other parts of the country, but in the South, and here in the near-South, cousins and their relationships are very important. I was at the genealogy library the other day and one of the volunteers was explaining “double cousins” to someone. The concept of “removed” is also frequently explained in great detail. We have charts and graphs to make everything understandable. It’s an important genealogy topic, especially when money or land or Native American heritage is involved.
Perhaps the importance of cousins stems from the early days when families were often isolated from other settlers and needed to be very clear about who could marry whom. In our own family history there was a group of twenty-five families that made at least two cross country trips together to settle in the wilderness. As far as I can determine there were several marriages among third or fourth cousins. I’m not sure where they “drew the line”.
My grandmother’s lineage shows the multiple joining of some families where brothers from one group married sisters from another. That must have made it even more difficult to keep track of who was a “third cousin twice removed”. One of my brothers married the daughter of our aunt’s brother. No blood kinship, but a lot of complicated relationships! One of my classmates was also my first cousin once removed- my great-grandmother was her aunt. I also have step-cousins, something not found on most relationship charts.
I think one of the reasons why cousins are so important here is because we all live in such small communities. You can’t talk about anyone or be rude to anyone, even at WalMart, without it getting back to their mama and yours because it turns out they are someone’s cousin who reported it to their cousin who called your mama. And you sure can’t marry someone or elect someone to public office without knowing all of their kindred connections. It’s just not done! And if someone wins the lottery? Look out! Cousins by the dozens!! LOL
My cousins have always been very important to me. We lived most of my childhood in California away from other family members. My uncle in CA had two step-children, my aunt had no children. Grandmother had a brother in Nevada with children, but we seldom saw them. Our annual trips to Oklahoma were a joy because of mother’s siblings and their numerous children. They made me feel like a member of an exclusive club!
So this morning I’m posting some photos of me with my first cousins. We still see each other from time to time and I’m still happy to be part of their club!