01 February 2022

How to Find the True Cousins in Your Family Tree

I've been on a genealogy rampage lately—but in a good way. I'm tapping into my enormous database of vital records from my ancestral hometowns. And I'm using it to add about 100 people a day to my family tree.

Everyone from my ancestors' hometowns can fit into my family tree somehow. But right now, I'm going after my distant cousins. Here's how I'm doing it:

  • I pick one of my direct ancestors, like a 4th great grandfather.
  • I locate every one of their children.
  • I find out who each child married, and I search for their children.
  • I keep searching for children's children until I reach the end of the available vital records.

It's a blast to add whole families to my tree that some distant cousin is going to find through an Ancestry hint.

What happens when you research your ancestors siblings? Your family tree grows to include hundreds or thousands of blood relatives.
What happens when you research your ancestors siblings? Your family tree grows to include hundreds or thousands of blood relatives.

With all this recent growth, as of this writing, I have 36,434 people in my tree. Many of them have crazy relationships to me. Like step-father of the son-in-law of the 2nd great uncle of my great aunt's husband.

Now that I'm concentrating on blood relatives, I wondered how many of each type of cousin I've located. How many 1st cousins 3 times removed have I found? How many 3rd cousins 4 times removed?

To find out, I exported a current GEDCOM from my Family Tree Maker file. (Make sure you are the root person in your GEDCOM file.) Then I opened it with Family Tree Analyzer. I clicked Main Lists to see a spreadsheet view of everyone in my family tree. Then I clicked the Export menu at the top of the program and chose Individuals to Excel.

In one second flat, I had a spreadsheet with all the facts and people from my tree! I opened the file and sorted it by the RelationToRoot column. Then I filtered out any blank relationships, hiding them from view. (Family Tree Analyzer doesn't include crazy relationships like the one I mentioned above.)

Use Family Tree Analyzer to instantly export all your family tree facts to a spreadsheet. Then sort and filter to see how many types of cousins you've found.
Use Family Tree Analyzer to instantly export all your family tree facts to a spreadsheet. Then sort and filter to see how many types of cousins you've found.

Now I can click with my mouse and pull it down to select relationships of the same kind. Then I can see at the bottom of the spreadsheet how many rows I've selected. Here's what I have.

I'm using an abbreviation below that I learned from another genealogist. C means cousin and R means removed, so 1C3R is a 1st cousin 3 times removed.

# of First Cousins in my family tree:

  • 1C–5
  • 1C1R–30
  • 1C2R–108
  • 1C3R–97
  • 1C4R–190
  • 1C5R–259
  • 1C6R–166
  • 1C7R–65
  • 1C8R–10

# of Second Cousins in my family tree:

  • 2C–44
  • 2C1R–172
  • 2C2R–29
  • 2C3R–193
  • 2C4R–439
  • 2C5R–339
  • 2C6R–114
  • 2C7R–15

# of Third Cousins in my family tree:

  • 3C–101
  • 3C1R—112
  • 3C2R—116
  • 3C3R—556 Whoa!
  • 3C4R—485
  • 3C5R—179
  • 3C6R—29

# of Fourth Cousins in my family tree:

  • 4C–18
  • 4C1R–21
  • 4C2R–215
  • 4C3R–361
  • 4C4R–205
  • 4C5R–44

# of Fifth Cousins in my family tree:

  • 5C–16
  • 5C1R–86
  • 5C2R–159
  • 5C3R–70
  • 5C4R–44

# of Sixth Cousins in my family tree:

  • 6C–19
  • 6C1R–28
  • 6C2R–16
  • 6C3R–20

# of Seventh Cousins in my family tree:

  • 7C–9
  • 7C1R–6
  • 7C2R–3

# of Grand Aunts and Uncles in my family tree:

  • grandaunts and uncles–14
  • 1st great grandaunts and uncles–46
  • 2nd great grandaunts and uncles–68
  • 3rd great grandaunts and uncles–103
  • 4th great grandaunts and uncles–89
  • 5th great grandaunts and uncles–77
  • 6th great grandaunts and uncles–77
  • 7th great grandaunts and uncles–9

# of Great Grandparents in my family tree:

  • 1st great grandparents–8
  • 2nd great grandparents–16
  • 3rd great grandparents–31 only 1 missing!
  • 4th great grandparents–53
  • 5th great grandparents–84
  • 6th great grandparents–108
  • 7th great grandparents–72
  • 8th great grandparents–20
  • 9th great grandparents–5

I love seeing this breakdown of my people. I'm astonished to learn that I've identified three of my seventh cousins twice removed. The only thing keeping me from finding 8th cousins is a lack of records. But I'm psyched to keep adding more and more cousins. And their spouses. And their spouses' families.

You say you don't venture beyond your direct ancestors? These cousins are your people, too. Does everyone ask you if you've finished your family tree yet? Tell them you have several hundred cousins still to find. And their spouses. And their spouses' families. Tell them this is one puzzle that's never finished!


  1. "It's a blast to add whole families to my tree that some distant cousin is going to find through an Ancestry hint."

    That's exactly how I feel, DiAnn! I hope with each person who is added to my tree, someone is being helped to work out their family puzzle.

    I get those weird relationships, too. The one that throws me for a loop is a DNA cousin with whom I have a 101cM match. The relationship Ancestry gives me is "1st cousin 2x removed of husband of 2nd cousin 2x removed", which doesn't sound much like a genetic kinship to me.

    I haven't been able to backtrack to this 2C2R, but I do have other shared cousins with him, who I match around 40-50cMs, that I have successfully placed in my tree. Still, I can't place him. Something just isn't adding up. I have an idea where that "not adding up" has happened, but proving it is an entirely different story!

    Until then, I get tormented with "1st cousin 2x removed of husband of 2nd cousin 2x removed".

    You're doing a great job with your tree! Thanks for another great post. :)

    1. I've added a few hundred people to my tree since I wrote this article. Today I made sure everyone married in my Grandpa Iamarino's hometown in 1809-1811 is in my tree. It's an amazing foundation for all the babies and grandbabies that will be born to them.

    2. I agree! I think it is awesome what you're doing, connecting the folks in those hometowns together.

      I realized last night, while looking at the graveyard for the church near where my late father-in-law was born, that likely everyone in that graveyard is part of our family. I can't wait to get that all worked out.

      My husband's family and my family have been dancing around each other in that county for well over a century, and likely longer. I find that pretty exciting. :)

    3. The graveyard is a great project. My husband says next time we go to Italy, we have to film the graveyard so we capture every single marker.

    4. Thank you. I hope to begin that project today. We're having an Ice Age apparently here in coastal Texas, so I can't do much else. :)

      I think it is a wonderful idea to film the graveyard in Italy and what a blessing to be able to go there. My uncle was stationed there while he was in the Navy and my oldest son has been there via the Navy, too. It is a beautiful country. Some of my ethnicity reports have said Italian, but I have yet to find where it could have come from.

      When will you get to go back to Italy? I look forward to seeing your after-Italy posts. :)

    5. It'll be a long time before I'll want to get on an airplane again, unfortunately.

  2. Yes very interesting.. I have been doing this same sort of thing for years. My only problem is my town in Italy has not had its church records digitized yet. They are presently undergoing restoration

  3. Church records are not available for any of my towns either. I'm working with civil records and a book with 1742 census data.

  4. Great article! I'll have to try this application too!

    Since you have some ancestors from small villages (like I do), I assume you are related to some people in more than one way. For example, I have a cousin that I know is my 2C1R and my 3C2R, and is probably related to me in other ways too.

    Do you know how the Kinship Calculator in Family Tree Analyzer works?
    - Does it show the closest Kinship?
    - The first one it runs across?
    - Or are people counted in every category they appear in?

    1. Family Tree Analyzer only shows one relationship, and it doesn't call out in-laws at all. It seems as if it's only pulling the closest relationship, but this would be a good question to raise in FTA's user group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/499088307242461