Are You My Cousin or My Second Cousin Once Removed


Peggy Guiler and Coleen McBroom, second cousins

Family trees intrigue me though I’ve never had the patience to sit down and figure out how to use, not to mention afford, any of the online family tree sites.  Perhaps the reason I’m so interested is that I was blessed to know so many of the people in my family tree.  Being the only child I attended all the family events because it was easy to take me.  I met everyone.  I also have fond memories of three grandparents and three great-grandparents.

One of the people in my family tree who loves to keep us on track when it comes to identifying the relationship with other family members is my dear Aunt Jane.  She is my mother’s brother’s wife. She now lives in a senior home, unfortunately not remembering much, but she used to have a memory like a steel trap.  (She also had the liquid form of cod liver oil which I had to take every morning when I stayed there.)  She is the person who taught me about first-cousins-once-removed and such.

Let me see if I can help you a little with the cousin thing like Aunt Jane did with me.  If the person is the child of your mother or father’s brother or sister they are your first cousin.  If they are the child of that first cousin they are your first cousin once removed.  If you have children, then your children and that first cousin’s children are second cousins.  If your children’s children and your first cousin’s children have children they are third cousins.  Clear as mud, right?

This summer one of my Dad’s cousins (my first-cousin-once-removed) got a bunch of us together from all over the country.  She had a lovely map on the wall of how we are all related and we had a wonderful day of figuring out the connection and laughing about great memories we shared of people who were part of our history.

The best part was meeting with my long lost second cousins Coleen and Karen.  I hadn’t seen Coleen for over 45 years.  We have picked right up where we left off as teenagers.  And just so you know, my Dad, Chris Guiler and her mother JoyceMcBroom, were first cousins. Their mothers were sisters, Laura (Christie) Guiler and Myrtle (Christie) MacPherson, daughters of Wilbur Christie and Margaret (Secord) Christie.  (Yes, my Grandmother was named after Laura Secord.)

The daughters of Coleen and Karen are my second-cousins-once-removed, and my children and their children are third cousins.  Got it?

This blog post is inspired by another post about ancestry by a blogger friend of mine.  Her blog can be found at Meeting my Family


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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