Family Search Policy on Categorizing & Claiming Non-Blood “Relatives”
I received an email from Family Search recently with a subject line that said:
”…Benjamin Franklin is Your Relative!”
Yes, intriguing for sure!
And when I signed in and clicked on a link in the email it told me that Benjamin Franklin is specifically my “5th cousin 9 times removed”.
So…good old Ben! Who knew we were related?! ? 🪁
However… when I clicked on a further link that said “View Full Relationship” it revealed a family tree leading back to a pair of sisters, one of whom is shown as a direct ancestor on my father’s side, and the other of whom is shown as the direct ancestor of a man named John Rogers, who was the first husband of Benjamin Franklin’s wife Deborah Read.
It took some moments of visual discernment of this Family Search-created tree finally to see clearly that the tree does not show that Benjamin Franklin is my blood cousin at all.
Instead, Benjamin Franklin is the second husband of my distant blood cousin John Rogers’ former wife, Deborah Read.
If Ben and Deborah gave a family party, would they really put me on the guest list, as Deborah’s ex-husband’s cousin?
Let me just say that I have my doubts.
(And according to the Wikipedia article on Deborah Read, my cousin John Rogers was quite a scoundrel.)
So my question for you is—why on earth did Family Search announce to me excitedly that Benjamin Franklin is my “5th cousin 9 times removed”? Ben is not my blood cousin, nor a cousin by marriage.
He’s simply the husband of a woman once married to my cousin.
So what exactly is Family Search’s criteria for claiming someone as a “cousin” or “relative”?
Also, in March of this year Family Search announced to me with similar excitement that actor Sean Astin is my cousin. And Family Search showed me a family tree that showed I am related to Sean Astin through my father and his father.
But who was Family Search counting as Sean Astin’s father? Google reveals that Sean Astin has an adoptive father, a biological father, a stepfather and a former presumed father. Family Search did not care to elaborate about which of these fathers it is saying is related to my father.
Google says that Sean’s biological father is ethnically Jewish, while my father (as documented by Family Search) is not. So is Family Search perhaps counting Sean’s adoptive father as the man who is a (blood?) relative of my father? ?
If Family Search is going to excitedly announce to me that certain people are my “relatives”, and then upon inspection I find many more questions than answers about the accuracy and general intent of those announcements, Family Search could kindly be clear from the outset about exactly what criteria it is using in each case to declare a particular person my, or any one else’s relative”.
Thanks very much.