I was taken by Andrew Redfern’s tweet last week, showing a graphic representation of his ancestors’ grandchildren per each of their parents. I was curious about how he’d gone about it but then my mate Carmel followed up with a post on her Earlier Years Blog.
Not being able to resist seeing how I could represent my Kunkel family, and inspired by the challenge of doing it in Canva, I gave it a go to see if I could do it also. It was great because not only did I get the illustration, but I also expanded my limited skills with Canva. Tip: don’t try to do this on an iPad as I did originally – its so much easier on your computer.
As you can see from the table, George and Mary Kunkel had 45 grandchildren split between 20 males and 25 females (should have put in a row for totals, oh well). Ironically, it also shows me very clearly how little I had known about my grandfather’s siblings until I started my family history research. Grandad was the eldest grandchild born to George Michael and Julia Kunkel. I had known only two of the brothers represented in the last group of blue figures – William (Uncle Bill), the fourth boy, and Ken (Kenneth Norman), the youngest of the boys. How much my father knew of the remaining siblings had never been mentioned even when I was writing my book about the family. He’d certainly known of the next boy born after grandad, James, as he also worked at Roma St Railway. We also met one of James’s sons in the 1960s.
It was only the day after I started high school at All Hallows’ that a classmate, Madonna, came to tell me that her grandmother, Julia, was my grandfather’s sister. That was certainly a surprise as I had known nothing about grandad’s siblings, or his early life. How often have I wished I’d asked him more about it – not only was the eldest grandchild who certainly knew his grandparents, but he lived next door and I had ample time to talk to me. Sadly, he was a reticent man and I don’t know that he’d have been keen to share some of the stories of his life, including his parents early deaths when he was just a young man of 21. All I knew was that he’d had a falling out with his family about religion.
I’ve been vaguely curious for a while about how many great-grandchildren descended from George and Mary Kunkel. I checked my records and discovered that they had 86 great-grandchildren of whom 28 were born before Mary’s death in 1919. I didn’t bother to check how many were around before George died in 1916. I’m flat out keeping track of four, so I can’t imagine wrapping my head around meeting 28.
It’s easy to see that it became a law of diminishing returns in terms of descendancy, especially with those bearing the Kunkel surname: my father being the eldest of the eldest, all male. Also interesting to me is that my father had 33 Kunkel cousins, of whom I knew only three. I suspect he may have been aware of more from his Uncle James’s family but not the rest…at no point did he talk about it, even when I was publishing my book. I did meet one second cousin from that branch of the family many years ago. Mum used to sometimes call dad “Elastic Jack” when he’d be telling some sort of yarn, but when it came to family he was more like a clam!
Of the descendants there were quite a few infant deaths, some who didn’t marry, and some who were adopted, in or out. Which raises the question of how we each define “family”. My own decision is that those who are brought up in the family are part of the family irrespective of genetics, and those who are adopted out are also family, due to genetics. I have included any great-grandchildren irrespective of when they were born, or how long they lived.
It’s been a fun exercise counting the rellies and I certainly hope I haven’t made any errors in my gender distribution.
Thanks to Carmel and Andrew for enthusing me enough to do this exercise.
Have you ever played with analysing your family’s descendants?