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Everything you need to know about the Sister Wives’ tangled family tree

The Brown Family of Sister Wives
The Brown Family of Sister Wives. Pic credit: TLC

Typically, a family tree can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. In the case of the Brown family, there is no simple way to construct a full family tree.

At the helm of the Brown family is patriarch, Kody Winn Brown, born to William Winn and Genielle Tew Brown. Kody took four wives: Meri Brown, née Barber, Janelle Brown, née Schriever, Christine Brown, née Allred, and Robyn Brown, née Sullivan.

Meri and Kody have one biological child together, Mariah Lian. Janelle and Kody share six biological children: Logan Taylor, Madison Rose, Hunter Elias, Robert Garrison, Gabriel, and Savanah.

Christine and Kody also share six biological children: Aspyn Kristine, Mykelti Ann, Paedon Rex, Gwendlyn, Ysabel Paige, and Truely Grace.

Kody and his fourth wife, Robyn, share two biological children, Solomon Kody, and Ariella Mae. Kody also legally adopted her three children from a previous marriage, Aurora, Dayton, and Breanna Jessop.

Janelle was once married to Meri’s brother

This is where things get interesting and complicated. Meri’s brother, Adam Barber, was married to Kody’s second wife, Janelle, at the same time Meri and Kody were married, making Janelle both Kody’s and Meri’s sister-in-law at one point. Janelle later divorced Barber and, three years later, (spiritually) married Kody.

Even more confusingly, Janelle’s mother, Sheryl Brown, was married to Kody’s father, William Brown. That made Janelle’s mother, who is now deceased, both Janelle’s mother and Janelle’s mother-in-law. Are you keeping up so far?

Kody’s mother and his second wife also share the first name, albeit spelled differently (Genielle and Janelle). Kody’s parents weren’t always practicing polygamists. They were Mormon but didn’t begin practicing plural marriage until Kody was on a mission trip and his mother, Genielle, felt called to it.  

Maddie, who is Janelle and Kody’s biological daughter, is married to her aunt’s brother. Caleb Brush, Maddie’s husband, happens to be Maddie’s aunt’s brother, Curtis Bush-Brown (now deceased), the brother of Kody’s sister-in-law, Erica Brush Brown.

Kody and Christine are distant cousins who share great-great-great-grandparents

In another interesting twist, according to one Ancestry.com family tree, Kody and wife Christine share great-great-great grandparents, making them fourth cousins. Per Radar Online, “Christine’s great-great-grandfather, Byron Allred, was the brother of Nelson Allred, who is Kody’s great-great-grandfather. Byron Alred’s son, Rulon Allred, is the father of Rex Allred, who is Christine’s father. Kody’s mother, Geneille Brown, is the daughter of Daisy Allred, who was the daughter of Nelson. The connection makes Kody and Christine fourth cousins.” Phew… does your brain hurt yet?

Robyn’s ex-husband, David Preston Jessop is related to Meri through marriage and is also Christine’s first cousin and Kody’s third cousin. Christine and Kody’s daughter, Aspyn, is married to Mitch Thompson, who is related to Vanessa Alldredge, who appears on another TLC polygamy series, Seeking Sister Wife.

Given the dynamics of plural marriage, it’s easy to see how their family trees can get so difficult to follow

Polygamists account for a small percentage of the population, less than 0.5%. Given the small population, that leaves limited options for those seeking plural spouses.

Also, because the fathers have multiple children with multiple wives, the family trees are large and intertwined. The Apostolic United Brethern, the former church Kody belonged to, is incredibly small with only 7,000 to 10,000 members, so it would make sense that a lot of the members share ancestors.

Now that you’re caught up on the Brown’s extensive family tree, see if you can keep tabs of who is related to who this season, especially as the family continues to grow.

Sister Wives airs on Sundays at 10/9c on TLC.

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