Cousin relationships

Some of you may not be clear on how cousin relationships are expressed. Cousins are (usually blood relatives but can be adopted) relatives through grandparents. There is a standard way of expressing grandparents by abbreviating all the great great …. stuff with a number and and X so your ‘great great great grandmother’ is more simply expressed as ‘3X great grandmother’. As my grandmother married Lynton “Pappy” Scharff and “Pappy” and his first wife, Jessie Grace Block, had grandchildren (they are my step 1st cousins); however they are also blood 2nd cousins, which is a stronger bond.

  • First cousins share a common set of grandparents (each person has 4 grandparents)
  • Second cousins share a common set of great grandparents (each person has 8)
  • Third cousins share a common set of 2X great grandparents (each person has 16)
  • Fourth cousins share a set of 3X great grandparents (each person has 32)
  • Fifth cousins share a set of 4X great grandparents (each person has 64)

The term ‘removed’ is used to express the relationship to an individual who is of a different generation. My 1st cousin’s child is my ‘1st cousin once removed’ and that same term is used for his/her relationship to me. Furthermore, since my 1st cousin’s child and my child have common great grand parents (Simon & Dora Ghertner) they are 2nd cousins. The grandchild of my 1st cousin is my child’s 2nd cousin once removed. I’ve contacted my 2nd cousin once removed, who lives in Israel, and her grandchildren are my 2nd cousins three times removed. I hope you got that. There will be a quiz!

Theresa Bloch, wife of Rabbi Wise

Theresa Bloch, wife of Rabbi Wise

Iphegene Bertha Ochs

Iphegene Bertha Ochs,from obituary

The most distant relatives (with credible sourcing) I’ve discovered are 5th cousins once removed. Some are descendants of Theresa Bloch (1st cousin of my 2X great grandfather Solomon Block); and Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), one of the most significant figures in Reform Judaism in America in the 19th century. Theresa Bloch was my 1st cousin four times removed. On this branch of the tree, which I’ve pieced together from public family trees that trace back to the 1300s in Spain, there were some Rabbis and the most distant relative was Josef Halevi, the 20th great grandfather of the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed, Iphegene Bertha Ochs (1892-1990). Josef was not a blood relative, he was mishpocha – (Yiddish) the entire family network of relatives by blood or marriage (and sometimes close friends). In case you were wondering, we had 1,048,576 20X great grandmothers and 1,048,576 20X great grandfathers!

My new contacts with cousins I’d never known:

  1. A 5th cousin (in California) whose father was adopted by a grandson of Theresa Bloch (a 1st cousin, four times removed of me) and Rabbi Wise
  2. Two 4th cousins whose 2X great grandfather a the brother of my 2x great grandfather, Solomon G. Rhine. Solomon was my mother’s great grandfather.
  3. A 3rd cousin (in Tennessee) whose 2X great grandparents were also my 2X great grandparents, John and Fannie Bloom,my mother’s great grandfather
  4. Two 2nd cousins (in Israel) who are grandchildren of siblings of my paternal grandfather Simon Ghertner
  5. A 2nd cousin 1X removed (in Israel) who is a 3X great grandchild of a sibling of my paternal grandfather Simon Ghertner
  6. A 2nd cousin (in Arkansas) who shares great grandparents Joseph and Fanny Block and lived in the same city as my maternal grandparents but I’ve never met.
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