Friday, February 21, 2014

How Far Do We Go Before We're not Related Anymore?

      A few days ago I sold a car. When Bill came to pick the car up he came in and we had tea. Bill had been looking at my car for four or five years. He would drop buy every few months and want to know if I was selling yet. I got to know him a bit. It happens that he came from a little village near my home village and that we knew many of the same people. Bill is a generation younger than I am so it was fun piecing together who we actually knew. 

      When he came in the other night I got out my local history book to check out a few things. Bill played hockey for my village so we found some hockey teams he had played on. I knew some of his neighbors on the farm. I told him that my Dad's cousin's daughter married Walt Ward. Bill said , "They lived right across from our farm." This really interested Bill. Then he told me that Walt's mother was his(Bill's) grandmother's sister! So Bill said., "That makes us relatives!" Have I lost you yet?

     I thought the relative definition was quite a stretch , but it got me thinking about the definition of relatives. Do we go as far as DNA traces? DNA shows family traces accurately. Do we spend much time researching family history and make huge family trees? Our family tree was completed about 25 years ago by the same "cousin's daughter" the Walt married. 975 people were discovered. I was surprised to find out who I was related to. Are relatives only the people we know and people other family members know? Are relatives only the people our grandparents know and tell us about?

    So I'm really wondering about the definition of relative and how far out in family does it go. I think Bill and I made a big stretch to come up with labeling ourselves relatives.

    What do you think? I know some blogs I follow have an intense interest in family history. Is the sky the limit?

     

40 comments:

  1. i loved this line: Are relatives only the people we know and people other family members know?

    it is so true. if we don't have 'real' known connections to folks as family members, they're just neighbors. :)

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    1. the way we are scattered today we have very little contact with relatives. One wonders what will happen to family in the future.

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  2. You can never have too many relatives. Here we often call close relatives Blood Relation and others Outlaws:)

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    1. Your family seems to be still living close together. My daughter is in Chicago and my son on the west coast.

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  3. Relatives are people who share family genetic make up. There are close relatives and distant relatives. It has nothing to do with whether you know them.

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    1. I was looking forward to your comment as I know you are intensely interested in genealogy. The example I described would definitely be distant.

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  4. Apart from the fact that there are "family" ties as far as DNA is considered, there are other ties too which are stronger than "families"

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    1. The clans and tribes are another interesting aspect of relations.

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  5. I believe if we traced our DNA back we would all be related one way or another. It is a small small world. :)

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    1. DNA would show relationship but not much else. No when where or who.

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  6. Relatively speaking I only class relatives I know as relatives...........Some of them I ignore.

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    1. I like your last phrase. For many relatives a good relationship is impossible.

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  7. Well, as you know, if you follow DNA to its end trail, you are related to many, many, many people!!

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    1. DNA shows we are related but not much else.

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  8. We call em relatives, whether short or long - actually , we find its easier to just say family - entended or not just comes out as Family. I shall tell you that my Mom had guests stay at our house all through my childhood - (some would call them boarders back then)...after they had been at the house for a while - and some lived there for years - they were part of the family - related or not. DNA can go a long way in confirming family and relatives, but I had a heck of lot of "Aunti's n Uncles" living at our house. Very interesting post Sir Red - have a wonderful day......now I feel like singing "We.... are.... Family" lah,lah,lah,lah :)

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    1. So your point is don't make an issue...family is family. I lived in boarding house for 6 years. Some were great and some horrible.
      I like the Sir Red thing. I am now starting to wonder about my aristocratic background!!!

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  9. I had fun wondering along with you, Red. In some sense, we are all related somewhere down the line. Does it really matter anyway? :-)

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    1. Family is really about relationship and support. I was brought up with grandparents, aunts and uncles an cousins. There was support from all those people. We don't have that today and I think that's what matters.

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  10. Running one post behind I have to mention the stocking cap my mom gave me in 1955. I still have and wear it albeit with a small hole. An ninety plus neighbor lady was having dinner with us several weeks ago and noted the hole. I shamelessly mentioned how near and dear it was to me several times cause it was from my mom. She showed up at the door yesterday with two new one (blue and green) she had just knitted for me. :)

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    1. That's pretty impressive. I have not heard of knitted stocking caps unless you mean touques

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  11. That extended relative can run rampant if you are in a lesser populated area

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    1. Lesser populated means fewer people to weed out so easier to find relatives!!

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  12. Tex nailed it. But I think our lineage goes back way further than we realize. This was an interesting read. I've never dabbled in genealogy.

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    1. Our lineage and family are limited by our memory unless somebody is prepared to do an awful lot of research.

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  13. I'd say you're relatives. I had to reread the connections a few times (yep, you lost me for a minute) - but there's definitely a family connection.

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    1. I found this one interesting because it came out of the blue...one comment and bingo!

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    1. Some families can get very large.

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  15. I think we are genetically connected to many people, but we typically stay close to only a few of them. I have tons of cousins and aunts and uncles that I know of, but don't keep in touch with. Mostly because they live far away. They are considered relatives, but we don't have a relationship.

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    1. So at one time families stayed in the same area. I wonder what we're losing by moving far away.

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  16. On the Island where I live in Scotland it is not unusual for people to know their relationship to people as far removed as sixth cousins and to refer to them as such.
    My maternal grand uncle made it his life's hobby to trace back our family tree which he did for nearly 1000 years although my brother, who is also interested in these things, says there was a leap of faith around the 1500s (I think). Even if one can only trace one's family back 600 years it still means that one can trace a lot of people to whom one is related. My question has always been "But why would you want to?",

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    1. Good point. There has to be meaning. Some people are far more curious than I am.

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  17. This is interesting from the point of view of an adoptee! I think we can count people as a relative, as those who have had some influence on our lives! I met my birth mom once. Am I ever glad I was adopted!

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    1. Adoption is a very special category. My kids are adopted and they tell me that we are family. My daughter has met her birth mother and visits often but Mom and Dad are still "it."

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  18. If we could go back centuries before records were kept, we would certainly find we are related. The Indo-europeen tribes that invaded Europe were relatively very small groups of people, they were our common ancestors. If you could go back to when we left Africa, you would have billions of people related.

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    1. Genetically we're related. I would be satisfied to discover some of my European ancestors.

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  19. It sounds to me (if I'm reading it correctly) that you and Walt don't share a genetic connection but are related by marriage between one of your family members (a second cousin) and one of his (Walt and Bill would be first cousins, once removed.. I think). Since neither of you are the offspring (no matter which generation) of that union, you are not related in the genetic sense of the word. And since you didn't know one another as family, you're really not related at all. That's if I understood the chain correctly.

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    1. You understand correctly and I agree with you about no relationship. We didn't feel related either when we made this discovery.

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  20. Hello Red,
    I just saw you on Keith's blog and have seen you on others as well. You have such a warm and friendly face that I just had to visit and see your blog. What fun to learn you are a retired teacher also.

    As for relatives, here on Oahu you have to be careful not to yell at anyone because if you talk to anyone long enough, you'll probably find out they're your cousin 5 times removed or something of that nature.

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  21. Thanks for visiting Hiawatha House. I think those who winter in warm areas meet lots of people and in visiting discover connections..

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