Who’s who in the blended family, circa 1886

The fascination with family intricacy and naming relationships, as seen in The Brooklyn Magazine (v. 3, no. 5, Feb. 1886, p. 196).

A Marriage Mix.—I got acquainted with a young widow, observes a recent writer, who lived with her stepdaughter in the same house. I married the widow. Shortly afterward, my father fell in love with the stepdaughter of my wife and married her. My wife became the mother-in-law and also the daughter-in-law of my own father; my wife’s stepdaughter is my stepmother, who is the stepdaughter of my wife. My father’s wife has a boy: he is naturally my stepbrother because he is the son of my father and of my stepmother; but because he is the son of my wife’s stepdaughter, so is my wife the grandmother of the little boy, and I am the grandfather of my stepbrother. My wife also has a boy, my stepmother is consequently the stepsister of my boy, and is also his grandmother, because he is the child of her stepson; and my father is the brother-in-law of my son, because he has got his stepsister for a wife. I am the brother-in-law of my mother, my wife is the aunt of her own son, my son is the grandson of my father, and I am my own grandfather.

Note that this whole blended-family story, with many step-relatives, is made possible by widowhood — but no divorces.

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