“I’m My Own Grandpa” is the title of an old song that my parents used to have on a 78 Rpm record. The song was written by Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe back in the 1940s. It was from the same era as another silly song, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?” They don’t write songs like that anymore and they don’t make 78 Rpm records anymore either. Ray Stevens rerecorded the grandpa song a few years back and some of you may be familiar with it.
“I’m My Own Grandpa” tells the tale of tangled relationships in a family and how a man ended up being related to himself. It seems this fellow married a woman that had a grown daughter from a previous marriage. That fellow’s father married the daughter, making his father his son-in-law. Sort of. I guess to be genealogically accurate they should have used the term “step” throughout the song, as in step-daughter. But that would have thrown off the meter of the song.
My Tombstone Tuesday blog, featuring Barbara Anna Schumm Buechner, nee Pflueger, brought this song to mind, although our family genealogy is not quite as intriguing as the one in the song. In my family no one ended up being their own grandpa, but there are a couple minor twists and turns.
I knew that my Grandpa and Grandma Schumm were related by blood before they married. Louis and Barbara Schumm, nee Pflueger, were the common ancestors of both Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa descended from their son Louis and Grandma descended from their daughter Elizabeth, who married Friedrich Schinnerer.
People did not go very far to find a mate in the 19th century. They often married someone within three miles of where they lived. The Schumms and Scaers lived just down the road from each other.
My grandparents were first cousins once removed. Another way to look at it would be to marry the son or daughter of your first cousin. Isaac and Rebeckah, of Biblical fame, were also first cousins once removed. Several notable people married their first cousin, including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Queen Victoria. First cousin marriages are fairly common throughout the world, making up about 10% of all marriages. But remember, my grandparents were first cousins once removed. There is an extra little buffer in there. Theoretically, that would be half as risky as marrying your first cousin, if you are concerned about passing on a genetic disease.
I was surprised a few years ago when one of my relatives, Milton Schumm and his wife Betty, came to the funeral home after the death of Joe’s grandmother, Goldie Helen Roesner, nee Lee. As we talked with them we learned that not only had they been acquaintances of the Roesners, but one of them was related to Joe! Immediately I wondered if Joe and I were somehow related. As soon as I got home I delved into my genealogy information to see just what their relationship was to us.
I discovered that Milton Schumm was my 2nd cousin once and twice removed. I’m related to Milton twice because of that Louis and Barbara Schumm thing again. Louis and Barbara are the common ancestors of Milton and me.
It turns out that Joe is related to Milton’s wife, Betty, nee Ross. Joe and Betty are 1st cousins once removed. Their common ancestors are Dietrich and Christine Roesner, nee Schoor. Dietrich and Christine Roesner had 8 children. Among them were Edward Roesner, Joe’s grandfather and husband of Goldie Helen Lee, and Elizabeth Louise Roesner, who married Leo Ross. Louise and Leo had 4 children and one of them was Betty Ross, who married Milton Schumm. It turns out that Betty is the niece of Edward and Helen Roesner.
Joe and I are not related by blood. As for our son Jeff, he is of course related to both Milton and Betty. He is a 2nd cousin twice and three times removed to Milton and a 1st cousin twice removed to Betty. I could go on and give Jeff’s relationship to Milton and Betty’s children, but this first, second cousin, once, twice removed thing is making my head hurt. Thanks to Roots Magic and its Relationship Calculator, which makes figuring out these family relationships very easy.