Sunday, October 6, 2013

Double the Fun with Double Cousins

Do you have any double cousins in your family tree? They are absolutely worth identifying and tracing forward.

I've got three places where double cousins appear in my tree that I know of, two of which are in my direct line. In one branch the parallel line has disappeared, but the other two are still going strong. If you look up at my header photos, part of the Maddox/Lake double cousins are at the far left, while the Allee/Lucas double cousins are in the very large family group. That just struck me rather funny, since I'm not writing about any of them today.

Double cousins are where siblings from one family marry siblings from a second family, with the resulting children being first cousins on both mother's and father's lines and having the same four grandparents. The cousins are often very close and share many of their family stories, which come down the line to their descendants.

Here's an example from my favorite confusing family, the Alexanders, who intermarried with the Maynards. There were more children in each and every one of these branches, but I just want to show the relationships.

My ancestor, Mollydine Alexander, was a double cousin to Patience Alexander and her siblings, as well as to John Maynard and his full siblings. It's called a double cousin because, for example, Molly was a cousin to Patience on the Alexander side as well as on the Maynard side.

In genealogy, the descendants of these double cousins are great partners when working on the brick walls. In the DNA world, it's very exciting to match with one. Double cousins share about as much DNA as a half-sibling, so it amps up the match potential.

I had reached out to Lenora, one of the descendants from this tree, to see if she had done a DNA test. I was hoping she would help my second cousin and me sort out some of our match information. Her email bounced, and so I lost her since our last contact several years ago.

But I'm doing the happy dance anyway. While exploring the new tools at Family Tree DNA, I found a match who is a descendant of Patience Alexander. Charlotte and I are fourth cousins who share those four people at the top of the tree. Although she's not doing genealogy, her willingness to contribute to the DNA pool will help me sort out my own matches.

The orange shows all the bits of our matching DNA at the 1cM level and above. The challenge will be to assign each of those areas to the right surname.


And I've updated my DNA fan chart recently -- you can see Charlotte's red marks in the right center. That's far closer in time than being outside the fan and will be of far more use than the distant cousins.

Double cousins are double the DNA, double the research opportunities -- and double the genealogy fun!