Friday, September 9, 2016

Keeping It in the Family

I participated in two one-place studies of Floyd and Carroll counties, Virginia, a few years ago. The objective was to create family trees in a GEDCOM format. The first phase required volunteers to enter information from heritage books, which included resident-submitted family histories and genealogies. The second phase required gathering of online source citations to validate or disprove those histories. Offline sources were to be collected for facts not proved by online documents and disproved facts were put aside for further review.

I keep one large, sprawling family tree online and because several of the families involved in the one-place studies were tangentially related to me, I entered the data into my online tree, synched it with Family Tree Maker and then split off the one-place studies in that application.

Not long ago I received a question about a couple in my Floyd County one-place study. For that county I had only been involved in the phase that entered data from the heritage book into a family tree application. So none of the information I had was sourced. In an attempt to answer the question, I researched the family group -- much further back in time than I intended as I kept finding men with the surname Quesenberry marrying women with the maiden name of Quesenberry. I figured I had another case of cousins marrying cousins and I wanted to know more. The answer to the cousin question was, as near as I can determine, yes but much more distant cousins than one might think for a county that had a population of 14,405 in 1890 and 15,279 in 2010.

Graphic representing three generations of Quesenberry-Quesenberry marriages
and the spouses relationship to each other; created using Microsoft Powerpoint

Yes, all the Floyd County Quesenberry-Quesenberry marriages were between cousins, but mostly distant cousins.
  • Thomas Henderson Quesenberry married Mary Emma Quesenberry in 1890. They were first cousins twice removed
  • Gordon Lee Quesenberry married Caroline Quesenberry in 1914. They were second cousins twice removed
  • Chester Vinton Quesenberry married Treva Mae Quesenberry in 1939. They were third cousins.
What caught my fancy was three generations of fathers and sons marrying women with the same surname.


  1. Your Quesenberrys are like my husband's Baker family. His 3X great grandparents are Michael Stufflebean and Elizabeth Baker. No one has ever been able to totally untangle 200 years worth of intermarriages, as many cousins had the same given names and were close to the same age. DNA testing can't help, as we already know they are all cousins!

    1. i never thought of DNA and how all the intermarriages would effect the results, but you're right. DNA likely wouldn't help at all.