If you have ever knitted or crocheted, you have at some point encountered a snarl of yarn that has to be untangled before you can proceed. Some snarls are so bad you finally end up cutting the thread and reconnecting, but it is always the best policy to unravel the tangle if at all possible.
The family thread can get snarled from time to time. These snarls are a lot more fun to detangle, but sometimes just as tough.
The first and best-known tangle in the family tree involves the McAfees and Masons. Great-grandfather Burl Mason was first married to Pinkey Fariss (remember that name). They had several children, one of which was daughter Susie Mason. After Pinkey died, Burl met Nettie McAfee, a young widow with two sons. Nettie was the only daughter of Albert McAfee and his first wife Johney Elizabeth Underwood. When Johney died, he left Nettie in the temporary care of a neighborhood girl named Mary Brock. Albert ultimately married Mary and they had another batch of kids, one of which was son Albert Henry.
Albert Henry married Susie Mason and they had several kids. Meanwhile, Burl and Nettie had children together, one of which was my grandmother Lucy. Another was daughter Annie Mae, who married Jim Byrum (remember that name).
Bottom line for this little family tree snarl was that Lucy was the half-1st cousin and the half-aunt of the children of Albert Jr. and Susie McAfee. (To me they are half-1st cousins once removed and also half-2nd cousins once removed.)
We started with the easy one, believe it or not. Now, let's look at a real snarl, the kind that if you were knitting would probably have to be cut.
Burl's first wife was Pinkey Fariss. Pinkey had several siblings, including Mary B. Fariss and Jane C. Fariss.
Burl had a brother John Mason and a sister Hulda Mason, who married to William Ashley.
John Mason married Mary E. Adkins, who was the daughter of Mary B. Fariss and her first husband L. C. (or D. C.) Adkins.
Hulda Mason Ashley died and her widower William Ashley married Mary B. Fariss Adkins.
Jane C. Fariss, sister to Pinkey and Mary, married 5 times and one husband was named Crockett. With him she had daughter Nora. Jane then remarried to J. C. Byrum. Nora had a son named Jim (at this point I am not clear on who the father is), who ended up being raised by his grandmother Jane, who ultimately married a man named Walling. The best I can tell, when grandson Jim went to live with Jane, he took the name of her then husband and became Jim Byrum. (In one census Jim is listed with the last name of Crockett, which was Nora's maiden name, so I'm guessing she was not married when she had Jim.) Jim Byrum married Annie Mae Mason, as mentioned above.
Ok, now where are we after all this? Actually it's a tangle of lines marrying into lines that are related, but the blood relationship is fairly simple.
Jim Byrum, my grand-uncle by virtue of marriage to my grandaunt Annie Mae Mason Byrum, was the grand-nephew of Burl Mason's first wife, but had no blood relationship to the Masons, except as second cousin to the children of Albert Jr. and Susie Mason by virtue of a shared set of great-grandparents in the Fariss line. Burl Mason would have had the dual relationship to Jim as father-in-law and grand-uncle by marriage to Pinkie Fariss who was sister to Jim's grandmother.
The fun of this particular snarl is plotting all the names on a sheet of paper and then connecting the marriages with lines and seeing them loop around the various generations. Whatever else you can say about it, the Fariss folks got around.
One little additional point of interest with this little snarl of relationships is that three of the Fariss connections met a grisly death in January 1899. Pinkey Fariss Mason's brothers James and Cass and William Ashley, the widower of Hulda Mason Ashley and by that time Pinkey's brother-in-law, were killed by a train near Smithville. They were at a railroad crossing in a wagon, when apparently the horses spooked and ran into the train. All three men and the horses died in the accident.
Researching can lead you down paths you never expected. I am not related to the Fariss family by blood, but their history is so intertwined with that of my bloodline, I feel they belong in my files.
P.S. One other Fariss complication that has not yet been solved involves my Mobley line, where great-grandaunt Sallie Mobley married widower Tom Fariss who had kids and then they had kids together. I don't yet know whether Tom Fariss is related to the other Farisses that connect to the Masons, but the Mobleys lived out in the Oak Hill area of Bastrop County as did Jane C. Farris. I'm betting that sooner or later I will find yet another non-blood connection to the Fariss line.