Eureka! I’ve discovered I have a whole new bunch of relatives. Shirt-tail cousins, shirt-tail aunts, and shirt-tail uncles. Who are these folks? They don’t share any genetic connection. I’ve bumped into them, though, when researching a branch of my family tree. Like so many other genealogy enthusiasts, I’ve ended up way out on a limb when climbing up and down my family tree. If you are intrigued by the term “shirt-tail relative” and wondering if you have any yourself, here’s one definition: someone who is distantly related who rides into your family on the shirt-tails of a person who married into the family.
I’ve got quite a few family members in my husband’s family whom I refer to as cousins-in-law, aunts-in-law, and uncles-in-law. Now I know what to call some of the others such as the great-grandson of the second husband of my great-aunt Tillie Spiegel Cohen Bernstein Gumowitz, with whom I became acquainted when searching for marriage and death records. How about the great-nephew of the wife of my great-uncle Murray Spiegel? And the great-grandniece of the wife of my great-uncle Jack Spiegel?
Welcome to the family, shirt-tail cousins!
Would the 2X-great-grandfather of my son’s wife be my shirt-tail great-grandfather? I’ve managed to acquire a fascination with his life story and I’m researching and writing a biography about him. It would be nice to be able to welcome Bernard “Barney” Rosenblatt, too, as a shirt-tail relative.
Some people just refer to such distant relations as out-laws, especially the ones they don’t particularly like. I, myself, haven’t labeled any as out-laws yet.