Genealogy Puzzle

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My mom forwarded me this article about my dad's cousin selling his small utility company and retiring. His name is Tom Pierce. There's a funny account in there about how he had to run around a pole to get a dog tangled up so he could do his work, but that's not why I'm posting this. I had to do a double-take while reading the article. It mentions Tom's great-grandfather's name as Edward Pierce. That struck me as strange, because there's no Edward Pierce in my ancestry in the last ten generations. But Tom Pierce is my dad's cousin, and this is that same Tom Pierce and not someone else with the same name. Then I remembered something. What could I have remembered that would have made it all make sense? There are several possible answers consistent with the information I've given, but only one of them is the right answer in this case.

Note: Family members are not allowed to answer (except by email). I want to see if anyone comes up with this on their own.


Well, Pierce being a common last name (especially since you have the 'normal' spelling), it is entirely possible that there was another family with the name Pierce related on the other side (e.g. a maternal grandparent). That is, suppose Tom to be your father's brother's son, and Edward to be his (Tom's) mother's mother's father (that is, the father of the mother of your father's brother's wife). In this way it could easily be a totally unrelated Pierce, who was not in your ancestry.

You're in the right direction, but there's one funny fact about what happened that you haven't said (and your assumption of how it went is actually backwards, which is one reason it was more surprising to me until I remembered how it really went).

If your family tree is like mine, families (cousins) married, your brother's wife might be your husband's sister, etc.

There is one place (1300's) where there was a husband and wife (this pair's child is an ancestor), another husband and wife (this pair's child is also my ancestor) the wife of the first couple had an affair with the husband of the second couple (the child of that union is also an ancestor), the wife of the second couple died and the husband had a second wife (and the child of that union is an ancestor).

There are 5 people, with 4 different combinations that bore children - and all of those combinations are in my family tree.


No, there's nothing like that here. As I said, I'm not descended from Edward Pierce. As far as I know, we're not related in any remotely close way.

Well, it seems like this isn't generating much discussion, so I'll go ahead and give the explanation. Tom Pierce is my dad's cousin. His mom was Margaret Pierce, the sister of my grandfather. She married a man named Leslie Pierce, who as far as I can tell is of no recent relation. Edward Pierce would be Leslie Pierce's grandfather.

The two funny things here are (1) that two people named Pierce married each other and (2) that people's first assumption seems to have been that Tom Pierce was the son of my grandfather's brother, and he had another grandfather named Pierce through his mother. It was actually the reverse.

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