“Direct” vs. “indirect” descent in the Packard line

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:

Example of “direct” descent in my Mills family line. He was called Robert Mills because he was adopted by Dora’s brother, also named Robert Mills. His original name was Robert Barnabas Packard before adoption.

Example of “indirect” descent in my Packard family line. The yellow indicates where the “indirect” line begins, and my connection to the Packard line.

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. [1] 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!


Notes

[1] 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.

17 thoughts on ““Direct” vs. “indirect” descent in the Packard line

  1. A good post, which pertains to one of my pet peeves concerning many amateur genealogists. I often see “I am a direct descendant of so-and-so” or “so-and-so is my direct ancestor.” “Direct” is redundant – either you are someone’s descendant or you are not. Either someone is your ancestor or they are not. There is no such thing as an “indirect” ancestor or descendant. What some might call an “indirect ancestor” or an “indirect descendant” is simply a relative, and not any kind of ancestor or descendant. Some genealogical terms have precise meanings and should be used precisely. I have far more relatives in my database than I do ancestors.

    Dale H. Cook, Member, NEHGS, AGS, MA Soc. of Mayflower Descendants;
    Plymouth Co. MA Coordinator for the USGenWeb Project
    Administrator of https://plymouthcolony.net

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    • I agree. The whole direct/in-direct distinction confuses me to no end, which is why I wrote this. I agree that some genealogical terms have precise meanings and should be used precisely as you put it.

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  2. Maybe I don’t understand the adoption part, but are Dora Mills and Cyrus Packard the parents of Robert Mills (who was adopted by Dora’s brother?)

    If so, then you are a direct descendant from Samuel Packard on your mother’s side. The last names have nothing to do with it if the blood line continues.

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      • Also, if your line is as you have above, then you and I are 8th cousins, 1 times removed via Francis Cooke of Maryflower, although we might be closer because my Mayflower line is through the Packards of Bridgwater.

        If so, then you should also contact Dale Cook (commenter above) and join the Mayflower Society via Francis Cooke. Dale has a lot of Packard info and might know if, say one of the other wives is related to another Mayflower passenger. The Packards seem to have married a number of those people. Also, Samuel’s wife was Elizabeth Stream.

        By the time you go through pulling together all your records and get app approved, it might take 6 months, and there an a number of great events scheduled for 2020 for 400 anniversary. Also, FYI. the California Mayflower Society is looking for Rose Bowl Parade volunteers to help put flowers on their float and march Jan 1, 2020.

        Here is what I think you are. Francis Cooke is my 9th great grandfather

        Line A: Mayflower Cooke to Harmann via Lydia Tomson/Thomson-John Packard
        1. Francis Cooke and Hester Mahieu
        2. Daughter Mary Cooke – b. 22 May 1627; m. 1645 John Tomson/Thomson b. 1616
        3. Son Jacob Tomson/Thomson – b. 24 Apr 1662; m. Abigail Wadsworth (he d. 1 Sep 1726, she d. 15 Sep 1744)
        4. Daughter Lydia Tomson/Thomson – b. 22 Apr 1703; m. John Packard
        5. Son Barnabas Packard m. Sarah Ford (see below – they were 3rd cousins 1 times removed)
        6. Son Barnabas Packard m. Mary Nash
        7. Son Barnabas Packard m. Ruth Snow
        8. Son William Packard m. Rachel Tilson
        9. Son Cyrus Packard m. Dora Mills
        10. Son Robert Barnabas Packard was adopted by Dora’s brother Robert Mills and name changed to Robert Mills m. Miriam Hirst
        11. Son XX m. XX (YY)
        12. Daughter XX (YY) m. XX
        13. Daughter Burkely Harmann is 10th great granddaughter of Francis Cooke of the Mayflower and Hester Mahieu (Francis Coooke is 10th great grandfather)

        Alternate Line B: Mayflower Cooke to Harmann via Sarah Ford-Barnabas Packard is 1 generation longer
        1. Francis Cooke and Hester Mahieu
        2. Daughter Mary Cooke – b. 22 May 1627; m. 1645 John Tomson/Thomson b. 1616
        3. Daughter Hester/Ester Tomson/Thomson – b. 28 Jul 1652; m. 1675 William Reed/Reade b. 1639
        4. Daughter Mercy Reade – b. 1681; m 1st Nicholas Whitmarsh, 2nd Andrew Ford b. 1682
        5. Son Jacob Ford – b. 20 Jul 1711; m. 1733 Sarah Poole/Pool b. 1717
        6. Daughter Sarah Ford – b. 1739; m. 1760 Barnabas Packard b. 1738 (see above – they were 3rd cousins 1 times removed)
        7. Son Barnabas Packard m. Mary Nash (confirm that this is Barnabas Jr. b. 1766 and not a cousin Barnabas Packard b. 1764 to Lamakia Packard and Leviah Ford b. 1764)
        8. Son Barnabas Packard m. Ruth Snow
        9. Son William Packard m. Rachel Tilson
        10. Son Cyrus Packard m. Dora Mills
        11. Son Robert Barnabas Packard was adopted by Dora’s brother Robert Mills and name changed to Robert Mills m. Miriam Hirst
        12. Son XX m. XX (YY)
        13. Daughter XX (YY) m. XX
        14. Daughter Burkely Harmann is 11th great granddaughter of Francis Cooke of the Mayflower and Hester Mahieu (Francis Coooke is 11th great grandfather)
        Also Jacob Ford #5 for Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and DAR
        National # 3846 from Illinois Society Application 2566, 31 Mar 1993
        If same, then he was 65 and 69 when in service, which is really great and not that unusual but older than average.

        Jacob Ford, private in Capt Edward Cobb’s Company, Col Edward Mitchell’s Regiment, Gen Cushing’s brigade (service 16 days), marched from Abinton to Bristol, R.I. 9 Dec 1776 on an alarm. Also in Capt Edward Cobb’s Co, Col Eliphalet Cary’s reg, marched 20, Jul 1780 (service 3 days), marched from Abington to Tiverton, R.I. on an alarm; discharged 1 Aug 1780.
        Also Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors, Vol 5, p 857

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      • Dean, thanks sharing all of this. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were 8th cousins, 1 times removed. I have talked with Dale Cook a little before. If I have some more time, perhaps I’ll join the Mayflower Society via Francis Cooke. When it comes to Samuel’s wife, there is no evidence her maiden name was stream, none at all. Its just a silly family legend with no basis in reality. In fact, previous editions of the now-defunct “Packard’s Progress,” noted this as well. But thank you for sharing this, I’ll look into this all further at some point. – Burkely

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      • Dean Hobart –

        Some of the information in the Cooke lines that you posted on 21 -Jun-2019 is incorrect. Some dates that you gave precisely are known only approximately, and some dates that you gave approximately are known precisely. We do not know the date of birth of Mary2, daughter of Francis1 and Hester (Mahieu) Cooke. We know that she was born before the land division of 22-May-1627 [Plymouth Colony Records, 12:9-13, Mayflower Descendant, 1 (1899):148-154] so that date is a late bound on her birth and not her date of birth. We do know the precise date when she married John Tomson at Plymouth, it was 26-Dec-1645 [Plymouth Colony Records 2:94].

        People, please be precise in your statements – if you give an exact date (whether an exact date or just a year) be prepared to cite a contemporary record to prove the assertion. If you cannot prove an exact date please qualify the assertion – Mary2 Cooke was born about 1625-26.

        Aside from some problems with dates those two lines of Cooke descent are correct down to marriage of Barnabas Packard and Ruth Snow – I have no records beyond that event.

        Dale H. Cook, Member, NEHGS, AGS, MA Soc. of Mayflower Descendants;
        Plymouth Co. MA Coordinator for the USGenWeb Project
        Administrator of https://plymouthcolony.net

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    • Dean, yes, Dora and Cyrus are the parents of Robert B. Mills II (born as Robert Barnabas Packard). I would still be an indirect descendant, however, as I am only connected to the Packards due to Dora’s marriage to Cyrus. – Burkely

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      • Just same across this post (I am a desc. of Samuel) and I, too, do not understand why you would not be a descendant. If Dora and Cyrus are the biological parents of Robert, and Robert is your biological ancestor, you are equally descended from both Dora’s and Cyrus’ lineage and therefore are a Packard descendant. The only way that you would not be a Packard descendant would be if Cyrus was not Robert’s biological father.

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      • I never said that wouldn’t be a descendant, its just that I am indirectly descended rather than directly descended. If Cyrus and Dora had never married, I would have no Packard lineage whatsoever. That was the point I was trying to make.

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      • I don’t think you understand what the term “direct” and “indirect” mean. You seem to be using those words in a way that is not accurate when applied to genealogy and to biology/genetics. In your example, you are directly descended from BOTH biological parent ancestors. You are a direct descendant of Cyrus Packard, so you have Packard lineage and are a direct Packard descendant. You are indirectly related to Robert Mills, Dora’s brother, who adopted Robert Packard and changed his last name to Mills. If you are related by blood, then you are a direct descendant. If only by marriage or adoption, then only indirect. You would only be an indirect descendant of Cyrus if you were related only to Dora and only a step child to Cyrus. If you are related by blood to Cyrus Packard, then you are a direct Packard descendant. That is way in all the genealogical books the trees extend to people with other last names – directly descended from daughters.

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      • Why are you so worked up about this? Let me say simply that I am directly descended from the Mills line. I laid it out on my other blog specifically focusing on the subject of my Mills ancestry. Seems that you didn’t read that. I would say this is indirect ancestry because if Dora and Cyrus had never married. Sure, Dora’s brother, Robert, adopted Robert Packard and later gave him the last name of Mills. I’m still directly related to him because Dora is my direct ancestor and Dora is the mother of Robert Packard (later changed to Mills after adoption). Please, before you come up with some BS comment like this, do your damn research. Clearly you didn’t. In any case, the whole direct vs. indirect is a silly distinction which really doesn’t matter at all. That’s why I don’t use it, generally.

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    • Dean you don’t understand the distinction here. A so-called “direct ancestor” is a parent, grandparent, 14th-great-grandparent. A so-called “indirect ancestor” is sibling of such a person. It doesn’t relate to adoptions or step- relationships. Please stop spamming my comments.

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  3. Pingback: Packed with Packards and existing social hierarchies | Packed with Packards!

  4. Pingback: The first in a line of Packards: the story of Elizabeth | Packed with Packards!

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