Friday, October 15, 2010

Kissin' Cousins, Oct. 15

Cousin to cousin we'll always be,
Special friends from the same family tree.

~author unknown

Hello Family and Friends,

In my last post I referred to my Ggrandfather Samuel Pickens Shannon. He received his middle name from his grandmother Ann Pickens, who was a Ggrandchild of immigrants William and Margaret Pickens. Curiously, Ann was also the GGgrandchild of William and Margaret. "How can someone be a Ggrandchild and a GGgrandchild of the same couple," you ask?

Here's how it happened: It's confusing, and a little bizarre, so follow me closely. Two of William and Margaret Pickens' grandchildren (first cousins) married each other, Matthew Gillespie and Anna Pickens. They had a child who they named Mary Q. Gillespie. She married Andrew Pickens, who was yet a third grandchild of William and Margaret. Are you following me? (Evidently Willie and Marge's grandkids didn't wander far from the family farm.)

The following is a 12 generation lineage that begins with European immigrants William and Margaret Pickens and continues through their youngest descendant Preslea Shepard. It includes the aforementioned first cousins who are indicated here by asterisks*.

  1. William Pickens (1670-1735)
    (who married Margaret Pike)
  2. Israel Pickens (1693-1749)
    (who married Martha Davis)
  3. *Anna Pickens (1726-1775)
    (who married
    *Matthew Gillespie)
  4. Mary Q. Gillespie (1756-1789)
    (who married
    *Andrew Pickens)
  5. Ann Pickens (1785-1867)
    (who married David M. Shannon)
  6. David R. Shannon (1821-1864)
    (who married Peggy Ann Gray)
  7. Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930)
    (who married Finetta Dearien)
  8. Nola Shannon (1902-2004)
    (who married Leroy Gower)
  9. Maida Gower (b. 1924)
    (who married Eugene Shepard)
  10. Steven Shepard (b. 1948)
    (who married Cynthia Harris)
  11. Nathan Shepard (b. 1977)
    (who married Chenda Sou)
  12. Preslea Maida Shepard (b. 2010)

I am 1 of 12 first cousins who are grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower. I am also 1 of 12 first cousins who are grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. (See the collage of cousins: Beverly, Rex, Jimmie, Gary, Hershell, Dane, me, Paula, Linda, Michael, Joan, Gloria, Kim, Darren, David, Russ, Barbara and Darrell.) Of all my cousins, none married each other, or even came close.

250 years ago, however, the marriage of first cousins happened on occasion. In some families it was encouraged. In others it was almost necessary because of the "slim pickens" in their not so highly populated communities. But today it is illegal in some states.

Now, be careful before blaming your weird personality traits or your forgetfulness on these ancestors of ours who messed up the family gene pool. The marriage of first cousins is perfectly legal in most of the United States, because there is simply not the scientific evidence to confirm the genetic dangers. Most of us would never marry a first cousin, not because it's dangerous, but because of our modern day cultural conditioning.

How often have first cousins married in the history of our extended family? I haven't been able to turn up any others besides Anna and Matthew. Can you?
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