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Second Cousins

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A second cousin is a grandchild of your grandparent’s sibling. Let’s try that again; a second cousin’s parent is your parent’s first cousin. Still no help? How about, your second cousin knows things about your side of the family that your side never would talk about.

Some years ago I decided to make it my business to get to know my second cousins. I started by checking in with my parent’s first cousins. I had heard about my mother’s cousin Virginia for years and I knew her in a family reunion sort of way but who in the world were her children? How about dad’s cousin Phillip who died before I was born? Did he have any children?

It helped knowing where in South Carolina the families lived. Mother’s people generally came from the Lowcountry area of Estill, Hampton, Allendale and Bluffton with a bit of Greenwood County and the Glenn Springs area of Spartanburg County; oh, and Bucksport, both the Maine Bucksport and the South Carolina Bucksport.

To find Dad’s folks I have to travel east to Williamsburg County, Kingstree and Indian Town, Mullins and Bennettsville and most importantly, Brownsville in Marlboro County.

It did not take long to find Cousin Charlie, a wonderful man in Mullins who retired as a mail carrier and spent some of his time delivering the mail and the rest of his time finding family members in cemeteries and looking for deeds and official documents in courthouses. He was 75 years old by the time I found him; he and I would get in the car and drive all over Marion and Marlboro counties. He showed me where the preacher Evan Pugh was buried in 1802; you turn off the highway, drive down a dirt road a couple of miles, slowly turn past a mobile home with a seriously angry dog and then drive about one hundred yards through the trees until a tree trunk across the road blocks the car. You then get out and walk up a hill until you see a chain link fence around a few dozen graves. Evan Pugh’s grave is there along with at least one signer of the Ordinance of Secession.

I asked a friend in Charlotte if he knew a man who I had uncovered as a second cousin and he said he did and gave me his phone number. I called him and explained our DNA connection and offered to drive to Charlotte to have lunch and he agreed. At lunch he handed me an early manuscript of a family history that a great aunt had written and he told me he was glad not to be responsible for it any longer. I followed up on a lead to an elderly cousin who lived in Hilton Head and I spent a wonderful day visiting with him and he was able to fill many gaps in my information about the old Glenn Springs Resort. Several second cousins who I did not know at all or who I barely knew have become dear friends and our children now know their third cousins.

The experience of looking for, finding, and interacting with second cousins has been rewarding. Cousins know the truth about events that never get discussed within a family and since the family scandal did not happen to their side, they gladly will tell you everything! They also have letters from your grandparents to their grandparents and they have pictures and they have letters. Second cousins also share your DNA and you naturally will like them. Go. Find your family!