The ability to view relationships on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree has just been dramatically expanded. Thanks to my online friend, David McLean for alerting me to this expanded feature.
Now, according to this notice, you can trace your relationship back as far as 15 generations. Please take seriously the notice that the relationships are only as accurate as the data in the Family Tree. Going back 15 generations in any family line involves a lot of assumptions and very little factual content.
This link to "View My Ancestors" appears on every person's detail page on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree.
David McLean also sent me some notes about how we describe the relationships that the new features will reveal. For someone like me, working through relationships has almost been second nature. I was always being required to figure out how I was related to someone or another. Let's take this relationship chart for an example. How am I related to Charles Howard Randall?
So here is how I am related:
As David explained in his email to me, if you count back from the related person, until you reach the common ancestor the number of grandparents equals the number of the cousin. So here, Charles Howard Randall's father is Henry John Randall. His first grandparent is Matilda Tanner and the second one is shared and is John Tanner. That makes us 2nd cousins, but there are now two extra generations to count. We refer to these extra generations as "removed." So, in genealogical jargon, I am a 2nd cousin, two generations removed to Charles Howard Randall.
You can extend this as far out as you wish to go. Here is another example:
How am I related to Aurelius W. Brandt? This is a trick question. I am not related. He is the spouse of my 1st cousin, four generations removed on my side. OK, so this isn't as easy as some of us would like to think. It does help to have a chart and when you are working on descendency research, you can use the link to remind yourself how you are related to the person you are working on.
David McLean gave me a good way to refer to these relationships and with his permission, I will quote him.
When I teach it, I say “to be related we must share a common ancestor . . .” Once this is established I go on to say; “ if we share a parent, we are siblings; if we share a 1st generation grandfather, we are first cousins; if we share a 2nd generation grandfather, we are second cousins; if we share an X generation grandfather, we are Xth cousins." People usually catch on to this very quickly.I think it is the term "removed" that causes some of the confusion. We are so many generations removed when we aren't in the same generation. My father's brother's children are my first cousins. But those same people are my children's first cousins and there is a "removed" generation that is missing on the cousins' side so my first cousins are my children's "first cousins, on generation removed." Be sure to count yourself in the "removes."
I then say, “Just start with the shortest ancestry and count up parent, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and then count the extra hops."
Don’t say “times-removed” (what is a “times” anyway); it is a “generation” removed.
By the way, an uncle/aunt is nothing more than a sibling X generations removed.
Thanks to FamilySearch for finally clearing all this up.