If you look at an Oak tree standing tall in a field, you notice that the branches all fall from the same main trunk and spread out, one branching off of another. We like to think of our families in this same manner. You can buy family trees that show that same strong trunk with photos of ancestors and descendants all perfectly placed on each branch.
The internet has made life so much easier for doing your families genealogy. At your finger tips is the compiled work of so many other people. No longer do you have to spend hundreds of dollars and wait weeks for verifying information. A few quick taps and up comes generations in amazing detail. Each new search on the internet fills out another strong branch. No one ever mentions those branches can have loops in them.
I was merrily searching and filling in information on my ancestors, traveling down one branch and another, getting lost in the family tree. My program has an interesting feature that alerts you to when a person’s information matches someone that is already in your database. Up pops a message concerning one of the members of the family. I switched views, fiddled around to get the correct chart to display. There it was, the loop, oh my heavens. It couldn’t be possible! Siblings had children that married each other. I could see the gene pool shrinking before my very eyes, and now figured I knew the reason some of the family were, well, goofy.
If you think about the way things were in the 1700 and 1800’s it really is no surprise that marriages of relation were a common thing. Without mass transit like it is today, limited population, that was already related before they even got here, family marriages were just the way it was. Ironically, many people who do genealogy fail to admit to the loops in their tree. Family marriages are the kind of thing “other” peoples trees have in them. Of all of the loops that I did find only 2 or 3 actually admit the relation. People seem to go out of their way to hide the fact that their tree has loops in it, they will exclude information that shows the close relation. I started running my relationship calculator on my family tree and out popped dozens. In the notes section for each couple I would mark exactly how related they were; first cousin, second cousin, uncle to niece, now that one is just gross.
A Census from the 1800’s displayed for me exactly how densely packed the Burgess family was in Massachusetts at one period. The entire block was all related in one fashion or another and in some cases more than once. The family tree has now become the family maze, twisting back on each other, the same faces popping up here and there. Chances are good that the person you choose to spend your life with is related to you somewhere distantly down the family maze.