Background: I would like to focus on the set of people who are first cousins of (my) ancestors at each available level of the hierarchy. This helps me check contemporary family activities, vetting local records and documents for close family members who may be mistaken for one another. It also helps me follow "shells" of 2nd, 3rd, ... cousins who may wish to share information about common ancestors.

Question: Are these or similar "cousin-centric" relationships addressed by some specific software products, or by some specific thoughtful bloggers? (I can read math and computer science formal languages, so geeky responses are fine.)

  • 2
    I like your idea because I work with and find many insights from "circles of siblings". However, I suspect the insights per unit effort from "circles of cousins" may be much less. Occasionally, I see a cousin show up living alongside an ancestor in a Census, inheriting from their will or witnessing a marriage but siblings show up in those events far more often. Would you perhaps be able to edit your question to expand a little upon your idea and the types of functions you think could be implementable to use it?
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 9, 2014 at 22:24

2 Answers 2


Brothers Keeper lets you scroll through siblings while viewing their children, and I assume many other genealogy programs do also.

I have an ancestral couple from France, whose German neighbors in America could not pronounce their surname, Jacques. (There is no German letter for the French "J" sound.) The couple had over 100 grandchildren, and many had the same names - John, Peter, Henry, Frank. When the grandkids grew up, they couldn't get their mail, so they all took on different phonetic spellings of the last name.

At the beginning, I probably created a 3 or 4 generation descendancy report to keep them straight. But once I had families figured out, it was easy to track them individually. I have traced about 7000 of their descendants so far, with five different surnames.

Peter Schack

John Chalk

Henry Schaak

  • That's a great example. Migration tracking of extended families may be a more direct way of meeting my needs. I have many instances of people who may be relatives "pop up" in odd locations for some period of time. (Taking the Conestoga wagon off for a summer tour of the relatives in the plains states, for instance.) Often though, the travel or migration involved more than one immediate family. I was focusing on cousins because that was common for a number of instances in my family. I will re-orient more on the migration than on the assumption of the relationships to fellow travelers.
    – Model_Math
    Nov 9, 2014 at 13:31

I'm struggling to provide a direct answer to your question, and so instead will try to describe some functionality which might be along the lines of what you are looking for. To explore the siblings of my direct ancestors in Ancestry.com from a person's Overview tab I often use the Show Siblings button below Parents. In the screenshot below this shows how the Pearce second name of a sibling suggests the possibility that my ancestor's mother Martha's maiden name may have been Pearce.

Since the sibling-parents relationship is like (but an order of magnitude easier to deal with) than the first cousins-grandparents relationship it is likely to become screen real estate hungry very quickly, but perhaps a Show Grandparents section (there will only be four) that could be expanded further to Show Cousins (50 or more in some cases) would achieve some of what you are looking for. From there I think it would become very evident when a grandmother's maiden name was being used by her children in the names of their children, or when either grandparent's first name was being used (or not) in their grandchildren's names.

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.