To help a niece understand how she is related to ALL these people, let's put it in story form, and group folks by family instead of the generational prayers lists I did a few days ago. I hope this is a story you can tell your children. And as Bob helps me understand from his memories; what he was told...
Once Upon a Time...a gruff old man who would survive the Great Depression, hardship---even the betrayal of a business partner (explaining why he was gruff, perhaps) settled in El Paso and continued to build houses in 1929. The El Paso climate was better for his wife's lungs, and his twenty-one year old daughter, Elizabeth Emily (later to be know as Aunt Betty) got a job at the bank in 1929. (Elizabeth Emily was born in Artesia, New Mexico when WR worked on the railroad) His daughter Marian, and two sons, Bill and Joe finished school and graduated from Austin high school there in El Paso, and after the Great Depression, Bill and Joe went off to war--World War II where they served for four years. Joe was drafted in 1941 and flew for the OSS over Europe in B-24s. The unit was called, "Carpetbaggers". Bill served in the medical service corps--a medical platoon leader, and his job was medical platoon leader. His platoon evacuated people from the field of battle who had injuries. And he has told the story of getting permission to write his future wife while pulling the body of a soldier out of a tracked vehicle that was used to haul tanks. Bill and Mary met in Columbus Georgia (Fort Benning) at the First Baptist Church in the choir, and Aunt Mary was dating Clyde. When Clyde asked Bill to pull the body of a soldier from a tracked vehicle off a battlefield in France, Uncle Bill got Aunt Mary's address--and Clyde's encouragement to write her. They corresponded the rest of the war, and most of the family have heard of that first kiss at a railway station in El Paso after the war. They married, and lived in El Paso briefly before moving to Carlsbad.
Aunt Mary was working for the war effort in Georgia when she met Uncle Bill, but she was born in Michigan to Clarence Martin and Ruth Hobart. Bob tells me that Clarence had attended the University of Michigan, even though he was from the east--upstate New York, and helped survey the shore of Lake Michigan. Clarence had two sisters that settled in Massachusetts---famously known in the family at Great Aunt Florence Purple, and Great Aunt Helen Jackson (green inked letters make some cringe to this day). Ruth's sister was named, Lotta. Ruth and Clarence had three daughters: Mary, Clara and Harriet. Detroit, Michigan is where they were born and raised.
Back to Carlsbad, where the lovebirds, Mary and Bill are starting a family. Sixty-two years ago this Sunday, April 26th, their firstborn son, was named after his father, sorta---William Joel. Often called Billy as a kid, he is back to the more formal, Bill. Mary and Bill would go on to have two more children, Mary Elizabeth and John, but when Bill was still a tiny newborn, Mary's sister, Clara came to visit and see her new nephew and as Bob puts it, the family started plotting to get Clara and Joe together. Joe, you will remember, was Bill's younger brother. (born Joseph Samuel, Joe decided he was Joel Tracy as a little kid! I'd like to see my sons try that! Was Joe---Joel Tracy the first a stubborn coot??!!) (Would someone tell your brother, the third Joel Tracy that he ought be Joseph Samuel the third??)
Bob says his folks, Clara and Joe married in San Francisco, and their firstborn, my nieces' Dad--for whom I dedicate this story--Joel was born in San Franscico but they moved back to El Paso where Joe and Clara continued his father (W. R.'s) construction business, and went on to raise eight children.
So, dear niece, since brothers married sisters, we have the unique situation of double cousins. The eight siblings of the El Paso clan and the three in Carlsbad could point to the same four grandparents, where in other families, there would be six grandparents. Mary and Clara's other sister, Harriet moved to Carlsbad, and the Michigan grandparents moved to Carlsbad too when they retired. So, these eleven double cousins thought it was normal to share the same four grandparents. Bill and Bob both remember playing together and thinking their other cousin, Harriet's son, Dana, to be the odd one, as he only shared the maternal grandparents---not the paternal ones.
Sadly, Mary lost her two sisters in 1974 just weeks apart---cancer took them both. So, Mary and Bill adopted spiritually the motherless---and prayed for your folks, and all your aunts and uncles by name for years and years. Every day. Aunt Mary and Uncle Bill moved to the DFW area ten years ago to be close to their daughter and her family. And Aunt Mary died a few Christmases ago. Now Uncle Bill, age 93, waits his promotion home. He fell a few weeks ago, and even though he had that call device around his neck, he did not have the presence of mind to use it. Sometimes his mind goes back to church meetings long ago. But, if he is not too tired, he recognizes his daughter and warmly smiles as she is the light of his life. Bill and John keep in touch by phone, and visits, and have been so good at emailing us updates. Their parent's love story had such an impact on the whole clan.
Let's review: W. R. and Lena (a Godly woman who shared the gospel with her sons and read to them from the Bible---a woman dearly loved by her sons and daughers) parented Elizabeth Emily, Marion, Bill and Joe. Clarence and Ruth parented Mary, Clara and Harriet.
Aunt Betty had Marian Rae and Judy. Marion (Aunt Betty's sister--not her daughter) had Betsy and Tad.
In the next generation, Marian Rae had six kids: Joy, Phillip, Mark, Elizabeth, Steven and Paul. These would be your Dad's first cousins, but outside the double cousin circle. And since they are much older---Marion and Betty were ten years older than Bill and Joe---there seems to be a generational span here. And easy to get confused as Aunt Betty named Marion Rae, her daugher, after her sister---it would be like you naming your daughter after your sister.
Joy, Phillip, Mark, Elizabeth, Steven, Paul and Judy's kids: Donald, Danny Patrice and Thomas are technically, your generation, but some may be grandparents themselves, already. I have corresponded with Marion Rae---so maybe she will catch us up. And Betsy's kids: Kathy, Kimberly, Todd--are also first cousins in your generation, although they are much older than you are. I hope that makes sense. We could draw it up on chart.
My sons, living in this area, got to know their double cousins---Mary Elizabeth's sons, Doug and David. And we met Bill and John's grown children at Aunt Mary's funeral. I feel like we have always known them, because Aunt Mary was the best a letter writing and calling---way back before the internet.
All this to say---know that you are loved, and part of a huge family that prays for each other. And the double cousins---the El Paso descendents and the Carlsbad descendents have produced eleven precious cousins to start the new century, and honor those Godly, praying Great-grandmothers, Lena and Ruth.