Some time ago, a Packard descendant told me they are only “indirectly” related to the Packards. What does this mean?
For one, it shouldn’t be confused with direct lineage, that is, yourself, your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and so on, not counting uncles, aunts, and cousins as “direct ancestors”, but rather part of an extended family line. That comes with terms like direct line, meaning a relationship of one person to another in a direct line (parent-to-child, grandparent, great-grandparent), which differs from a collateral line, describing family relationships not in the direct line of descent like siblings, spouses, children of siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. As Amy Johnson Crow tells me, a so-called “direct ancestor,” which is redundant, is “someone like a parent, grandparent, 14th-great-grandparent” while a so-called “indirect ancestor” is the sibling of such a person. This has nothing to do with adoptions or step- relationships.
Reading some online forums (Stack Exchange and The Straight Dope), it seems the distinction between “direct” and “indirect” descent is this:
Direct descendant means those who are biologically descended from a person, while an indirect descendant means someone who is of a blood relation, but not a biological descendant. The latter includes those who have to go through a cousin or a marriage in order to find the desired ancestor.
Taking this definition to heart, I would would “indirectly” descended from Samuel Packard, who came over on the Diligent in 1638 to what we now call New England, since I have to go through Dora Mills’s marriage to Cyrus W. Packard to be connected into the Packard line. Now, if I was a child whose parents where the children of Cyrus and his third wife, Clementina, and still retained the Packard last name, then I would be directly descended. However, due to my connection to Dora Mills, I am “directly” descended from her father, John Rand Mills, which I try to expand on my sister blog, Milling ’round Ireland. What I’m talking about is charted below:
This distinction is largely artificial as all those individuals are my ancestors, whether considered “direct” or “indirect.” Within the Packards, I have a lot of possible relatives who are “descended from a brother or sister of an ancestor, and thus a cousin, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle,” otherwise known as collateral descendants, while those who on all sides of my family are lineal descendants.  I have a straight-and-narrow line to ancestors, whether they are children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, and so on. That’s why I am using those two terms from now on.
That’s all for now. Until next time!
 Lineal descendant: “A term generally meaning all of one’s children and their children down through the generations, including grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. Also called lineal descendants”; Collateral descendant: “A relative descended from a brother or sister of an ancestor — for example, a cousin, niece, nephew, aunt, or uncle”; Descendant: “a person born in a direct biological line. For example, a person’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are their descendants”; Heirs of the Body: “Descendants of one’s bloodline, such as children or grandchildren, until such time as there are no direct descendants. If the bloodline runs out, the property will “revert” to the nearest relative traced back to the original owner”; Ancestor: “The relative of a particular individual from whom that individual is descended directly.