[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Figuring Relationships

Earl.Schultz Earl.Schultz at telusplanet.net
Sun Oct 5 22:17:45 PDT 2008

 Welcome to the club, Leo.  I am in exactly the same situation as you are.
My mother is my 3rd cousin and my mother and father are 2nd cousins once
removed.  As everyone has mentioned, it is extremely common as people did
not stray far from their villages.  I also suspect that my maternal
grandfather and grandmother were cousins but not sure how close (likely 1st
or 2nd).  In Poland this summer, I was very surprised to learn that the
descendents of the marriage that linked my mother's and father's lines 150
years ago are still fishing together, probably not even aware of the

Contrary to popular belief, 2nd cousins, etc. marrying was likely a major
benefit to us.  I read a New Scientist article about 30 years ago that said
that close marriages like that can emphasize the positive genes in the same
way that we know it can emphasize the negative ones.  The article postulated
that our resistance to disease was improved by 2nd cousins marrying and
probably improved our ability to survive the many plagues, etc. that existed
in those days.  I wish now that I had kept a copy of the article but I
remember it very clearly.

It is interesting how my parents met and married.  They met in Canada, far
from their home in Poland.  When my father left Poland at age 20 he was told
to look up my mother's family and they would look after him.  It was logical
for his mother to give the name of a child of her first cousin.  He boarded
with them and took a liking to the daughter, not knowing that they were
related.  Years later they had heard rumours that they were related but it
was not until they were married almost 60 years that I was able to confirm
the relationship.  My father was very interested; my mother, embarrassed.



Message: 3
Date: Wed, 01 Oct 2008 19:15:07 -0700
From: Leo Sonnenberg <sonnal at shaw.ca>
Subject: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Figuring Relationships
To: ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org
Message-ID: <48E42EAB.7020906 at shaw.ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

I recently received a list of ancestors on my father's side back to 1790
from a cousin in Germany. I was surprised to see that my grandfather on my
mother's side was also on the list.
My mother is a great granddaughter to the common ancestor and my father is a
great great grandson to the common ancestor. I am both a great great
grandson through my mother and a great great  great grandson through my

My questions are -  A. what cousins are my parents to each other and B.
what am I to my distant grandfather?  How would I classify myself - a two
great grandson or a three great grandson? So who am I?

Also, does this situation occur very often?

Any definition of my relationship to my distant grandfather is welcome
(including any jokes).

Leo Sonnenberg


More information about the Ger-Poland-Volhynia mailing list