Oct 7, 2022

Twisted Family Trees

October 7, 2022

This week I’ve been looking into my third great grandfather’s siblings. I’m hoping to learn more about my ancestor’s life by studying his family. My third great grandfather, Stephen Hadlock, had a bunch of siblings, ten to be exact.


As I’ve been looking at his brothers and sisters, I’ve realized how confused the records for this branch of my family are. Over the years, multiple trees have been posted in various places on the internet. Many of them seem to delineate a twisted tree where cousins married cousins for several generations in a row. No wonder my DNA results are hard to figure out.


One of the most convoluted branches of this family must be that of my ancestor’s older brother, Jonathan Hadlock, and his younger brother, Amos Woods Hadlock. Trees abound for these two men, but many of them disagree. Some have the same children listed for both men. These are easily recognizable as the same children with the same birthdates, same death dates and same spouses. While I realize that brothers sometimes name their children the same names, this situation is clearly an error.


Even when the trees separate most of the children into two separate families, they still repeat some of them in both families. Thus far I haven’t been able to definitively determine which children belong to which brother.


Recently, I ran into another twist for these two men. According to a Daughters of the American Revolution application based on these two men, the wives of Jonathan and Amos Woods were mother and daughter. I obtained the document years ago but had never previously studied its details.


Jonathan’s wife was a widow named Nancy Moulton who seems to have had a daughter named Sarah Moulton. Sometime after Jonathan married Nancy, her daughter Sarah married Jonathan’s younger brother Amos Woods. There was nearly twenty years difference in age between the two brothers, so the marriages were perhaps not as strange as they appeared at first glance.


The marriage of brothers to a mother and daughter are perfectly legal. The possible pool of mates was small in tiny New England towns. Men needed wives, and women needed husbands. Maybe this wasn’t even the oddest marital situation in town at the time.


However, as I look at the marriages two hundred years later, I admit to feeling that there is a bit of “ick” factor about them. My feeling is mostly because of the relationship of the children of the respective marriages. Children of brothers are first cousins. Children of a daughter are grandchildren of her mother. Children of the mother are siblings to the daughter. All of this is straightforward.


The question is what happens when these relationships are within the same family. I’m not a good enough genealogist to figure this all out, but I know that it results in one twisted family tree. No wonder I’m having so much trouble untangling the branches. I doubt even the participants could keep it straight at the time.


Sometimes genealogy can lead to some odd family trees.


Carol Stetser