Question of the Week: How are you using y-DNA in your research?

+16 votes

imageHow are you using Y-chromosome DNA in your genealogy research? Please tell us about it with an answer below. You can also use the question image to share your answer with friends and family on social media.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
Do not know what happen to my post I tried to edit. I asked an "Adoption Angel" to look at my family tree and I was asked to provide Y test results. The results I gave her were not Y. And yet I took a Y test.

So until someone remembers that some of us need help finding correct test results... people like me have wasted money taking the tests.

On top of that my cell phone keeps altering what I write...
I feel your pain. My computer is always getting creative, plus I need new reading glasses. Did you Y test on Ftdna? If so click on the red chromosome symbol at the top left after signing in and it will take you to the DNA page where you can see your results and matches. It should show your Haplogroup. That is probably what they want. You can also download to post on mitoydna or other site.

50 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer

Family lore said that my biological paternal great grandfather was left on a doorstep as a baby in 1868.

My Y-DNA supported this by linking to only "Lewis" males (not our surname)

Further Au DNA triangulation has identified the Lewis grandparents of my abandoned baby great-grandfather, though I am still trying to narrow down which of their eight sons was the actual father.
I assume that the baby's real identity remained a mystery for the past 150 years - but nowadays there are no secrets!    
by Joe Murray G2G6 Mach 2 (29.3k points)
selected by Chris Temple-Watts
+9 votes
We've been out of documents on our Smith line for a while. So my Dad put together a freespace page on his pursuit of our Smith line possible to Finland in the Middle Ages:

My late uncle's Y-chromosome test has no close matches, and haplotree only places him in a group formed maybe 50-70 generations ago. I've been searching for other potential agnate cousins with eighteenth century Duncan ancestors from the same area of Scotland, but so far I have only found one and he was not a match. But that's still telling me something, since some people had assumed a connection between those two Duncan families. For now, it's a waiting game, but I'm patient.
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (228k points)
Nice work!
Great idea
I have my scotland family line to 1500 which itself is notable but it bugged me no end to find anything further back as Where they lived was always in my mind. The Y-DNA did specifically nail my family's traveling up to Orkney and the Shetland island.  Not family names as they were obviously Picts but great to follow my families' movements from there down to Dumfrieshire. It also peaked and confirmed the family's Clan Murray connection. Not a sept but intermarried and certainly followed where the Clan went.

    Also found in my musings the first person using the name in 1228. It's a pile of little things but historically great learning experience.

oh, yes, i forgot that there is only one rare book about the gass family in Scotland. Luguen and his children....... by FSA Robert Gass. Some folks don't think it is very valid but the Y-DNA  shredded that notion - he was pretty right-on.
+9 votes
My brother is the oldest male, in our line, carrying the Stearns Surname. Keeping in mind to test the oldest generation possible we did his yDNA and my mtDNA along with our atDNA. I also was looking for a supposed half-brother, my mother told me about.

The story goes that Dad was a wild young man before he married her. I still have not found that half-brother.

He has 2 Zero Genetic matches and 7 One gentic distance matches. The top 4 are Stearns surnames. None are known family.
by June Butka G2G6 (8.9k points)
Sometimes DNA matching is a long exercise in patience June!
+7 votes
My paternal grandfather was named Talley.  I traced the Talley line to my 3G grandfather born in Brandywine Hundred north of Wilmington Delaware.  There was a Talley who was one of the first English settlers in the area of North Delaware but I have not been able to connect my paper trail to him.  I had my male cousin take a Y DNA test and his results confirmed that we are related to the Brandywine Talleys.
by Donald Lindgren G2G6 Mach 1 (13.5k points)
If you are able to go back further in your Family Tree, you may find that you have French roots.  My Great Grandfather was a Tailly, also spelled Tally or Taillis.  He was from Quebec, Canada.
+12 votes

My surname (Walker) includes at least 80 distinct genetic families. YDNA allowed me to discover which Walker line is mine. Using YDNA matches, I was able to reconstruct my Walker family tree to the very beginning of the 18th century. I was able to resurrect branches of the tree where records were lost. I also discovered that unrelated Walker families would often live near, migrate with, and even marry (!) other each other. Without YDNA, it would have been impossible to identify and understand the different history of each of these families.

by Jacob Walker G2G1 (1.2k points)
edited by Jacob Walker
Jacob, my Walker line originates in Fife, Scotland, have you been able to track your Walker line to Scotland?  My Walker line starts with my Maternal Grandfather, Daniel Walker.

Adam Walker b. 23 Jul 1825, Galdry, Fife, Scotland

Jody Hamabata
+7 votes
I have two y-DNA tests at FTDNA in search of elusive lines; however, neither has been particularly helpful, other than to tell me the surnames we currently use are not the true surnames. I do have some good hints for one line and even a couple of locations but still haven't been able to nail down the exact ancestors. Autosomal DNA hasn't revealed cousins within this y-DNA group, so it is further back in time.

I have a y-DNA test pending which I hope will divulge my great-grandfather's true surname as he was an orphan and autosomal DNA has provided both sets of his grandparents, but not his exact parents, so we are at least anticipating the answer to his father's line.
by Margaret Meredith G2G6 Mach 2 (29.7k points)
+5 votes
Just trying to figure out where this Cobb line ends up. We're R1a, which is odd for England, but at least it's sometimes fun to research.
by Alex Cobb G2G Crew (480 points)

Hi Alex - I too am R1a (subgroup) Z92. My oldest Paternal relative was Albertum Sebastiani Strzałkowski (abt.1689-1761). The family mainly lived in the Masovia region of Poland & possibly Lublin, prior to the 1680s. My FTDNA is #B138322 & my GEDMATCH is A781813. 


Ur same as me ra1 and rb1 I don't no who I match with as people aren't very forthcoming with info or genral chat
+8 votes
There is more than one answer on how I am using Y-DNA in my research.

1. I used Y-DNA to break through a brick wall on my Kenyon surname line, when other efforts were exhausted. My 2nd great-grandfather, Lyman Kenyon was born in 1814, in New York State. I had already identified every possible father who had one or more male children on the 1820 census in New York State. There were about 125 of them. I eliminated as many as I could by process of elimination until I reached a point of diminishing returns.

At that point, I created a "wish list" of those I wanted to test. I used my uncle for DNA testing as my father died years earlier. Then I did descendant searches for the lines I felt were most likely to be the line for Lyman. The first two on my list were not a close match. It was the third one that was a close match and had a signature marker that set this branch apart from the others.

2. I became a co-administrator for the Kenyon Project at FTDNA. Using Y-DNA we determined there are two distinct Kenyon lines in England. We have been using Y-DNA to help us sort through these two separate lines.

3. Today, we are focused on using the Big-Y700 results to help us with branching and dating SNPs. We've identified one SNP that is present in the Rhode Island Kenyon descendants, but not in the Kenyons who remained in England. We are using that as well as other recent dating recommendations to help us date and construct a DNA tree.
by Marilyn Kenyon G2G6 Mach 1 (15.9k points)
+10 votes
When I first got my y111 test (later upgraded to BIGY), the strongest matches were at the y67 level but they all had the surname TODD rather than ANDERSON.  Shocking.  At that time, I had no idea whether these TODD men had descended from a line of ANDERSONs or whether my ANDERSON line had descended from TODDs.

Since my patrilineal line at that date extended no further back than 1805, I was stuck for quite awhile.  Eventually though, I had some autosomal matches that enabled me to go back one more generation and the yDNA was helpful in determining which of a number of Anderson families were or were not related.  None of the patrilineal descendants of my core group had tested, but some descendants of the other groups had and I was able to use the lack of a match  to help exclude them.  This limited use of yDNA at least gave me some value for the money expended for the test.

Later, more autosomal matches enabled me to go back another generation and then another to the point that I had a documented line going back centuries and going from New Jersey to New Amsterdam to old Amsterdam.  I knew that even though the documentation might be solid the yDNA did not agree.

Looking at the TODD matches, I noticed many had come to New Jersey from Ireland and probably Scotland before that and that other matches were from Scotland.  As my haplogroup is Ultra Norse (i.e. coming from a small area near Oslo), Scotland was more probable than the Netherlands although one cannot say that the Norse Vikings did not go to the Netherlands.  It was the New Jersey matches that were most telling as the towns involved and the timeframe (circa 1730) matched the Anderson paper trail.

Long story short, the yDNA makes it clear that I am descended from the same TODD line as Mary Todd (famous for marrying a bipolar politician from Illinois).
by Thom Anderson G2G6 Mach 5 (59.4k points)
+3 votes

Two stories for me.  The documentary research on my direct paternal (McClain) line hits the wall in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in the late 1700s.  I had been convinced that a Charles McClain in New Jersey was the next in line, but my ftDNA BigY test nixed that theory.  It did, however, confirm that I really was a McClain/McClean/McLain/etc. (i.e., no surprising family secrets in that line at least), and the ftDNA MacLean/MacLaine has been a lot of fun to explore.  Most intriguing positive clue so far is an exact terminal SNP match to another McClain researcher whose line also dead-ends about the same time as mine, but in Tennessee.  So we know we're getting close....

Second story relates to a different Y-DNA ftDNA project, specifically the Bassett project, and in my case relating to Roger Bassett who is my 11th GGF. Jeff Bassett has done a huge amount of Y DNA work cataloging the different Bassett families, and his work was key in establishing that my Roger Bassett could not be related to the William Bassett of Plymouth, nor probably to the William Bassett of Leiden, which an earlier version of Roger's profile had claimed.  Well, I guess we're all related if you go back far enough, but in this case that would have required going back to before the last Ice Age....

by Scott McClain G2G6 Mach 1 (18.9k points)
+3 votes
i havent got yDNA  yet, but  takes me back to 1525
by Bill Allan G2G2 (2.2k points)
Beware, because Geni and RootsWeb and other places take me back to 950AD, but Y-DNA has a major hitch around 1600, almost proving that it can't be true (entirely different haplogroup to the known Crawford lines in Scotland). I'm waiting on my Y-DNA to come back, because I might be able to prove that it definitely isn't true.

Also, may inadvertently be proving that a few generations later than 1600 the spurious documentation has my branch completely isolated from the "documented" lines. We shall see!
+5 votes
Y-DNA has confirmed my relationship to the 17th century emigrant to the Virginia colonies Ralph Blankenship and his wife Martha. I'm in the largest group of those by that surname in the Blankenship DNA Project, a big indication of valid paternity. On the other side of the matter, there are Blankenships who it would seem might not descend from Ralph and Martha, as well as people with other surnames who probably do descend from Ralph and Martha Blankenship.. The non-paternal event (NPE) rate, I read, ranges from  2 % to 12 %. We haven't gotten so far as England with this thing yet, but it would be great to find out whether Ralph himself was a Blenkinsopp descendant as people have imagined or if his lineage belongs somewhere else. DNA promises to hold the answers to these and other questions we might have.

I've done the BigY and, interestingly enough, I've got DNA matches from before surnames (i.e. BigY matches) among my Y111 matches at FTDNA. Another interesting fact about my BigY matches is that the SNPs immediately upstream of our English matches are in Scotland. This makes unraveling the tribal affiliations of our predecessors all the more intriguing.

It is likely that mistakes have been made in some official genealogies. There are also many descendants of Ralph and Martha Blankenship that don't have paper trails that lead all the way back to them. It is hoped that if more men do Y-DNA testing at an advanced level we might get a much better idea as to where people fit in the general scheme of things. When we have enough male Blankenships testing at an advanced level then maybe we will be able to get somewhere by comparing the differences in STRs. Doing so, we should be able to better connect people to the specific branches on the family tree to which they belong.
by Frank Blankenship G2G6 Mach 4 (44.9k points)
edited by Frank Blankenship
My paternal great grandmother was a Blankenship from WV, Viola, daughter of Henry Crockett Blankenship.

NPE rates seem to hold steady at about 1-3% of the population in most studies. You can see a bit about this here on ISOGG Wiki: Non-paternity event - ISOGG Wiki

Some suggest that the historical illegitimacy rate was quite high depending on time and place. I would like to clarify that NPE and illegitimacy are not neccesarily one and the same. NPE simply means the putative father is not the biological father. A child born outside wedlock may know very well who his father is (sometimes they are even identified in records) but the parents simply aren't married to one another.

+3 votes
Yes, I bought a Y-DNA-37 test about two years ago because I had hit a roadblock trying to identify my paternal great-great-great-grandfather.  I still presume he had a surname other than all of us since then, but still no good clues.  I had only six matches at that level when my results came in, and no more since.
by Jonathan Venner G2G Crew (630 points)
+4 votes
My Y-DNA test showed a NPE, most likely back in the early 1700's & I've been unable to find out who or when for 3 years now.  Still digging but prob unable to pin anything down for sure.  It is what it is.  But it did blow me away at first.
by Rick Webb G2G Crew (320 points)
+4 votes
I had my brother's y-DNA tested in hopes of breaking down our Biggs brick wall, only to learn that we are actually Smith, of the Richard "Bull" Smith line.  So in our case, it produced more questions than answers, but still useful information and we continue to research how and when it might have occurred.
by Irene Biggs G2G Crew (990 points)
+4 votes
Yes! The thing is, the closest matches for Gibbons  are not my surname, so either orphaning,  adoption or wrong side of blanket somewhere in my past?
by Jim Gibbons G2G Crew (600 points)
+3 votes
My husband did Y DNA, but oddly he didn't get many close matches at all and few with his surname. So it was kind of disappointing. His name, officially, is DuBois but the previous 2 generations used both Wood and DuBois, except for him. He's only used Wood.  They came into French Canada early, and moved to upstate NY about 3 miles from the Canadian Border about 1830. He has one match in Australia and one in England, neither of which have answered an email, and Hap. Type is one so common as to be of no use. ADNA had proved a better research tool so far, but it may be that his cousins simply haven't tested. Still, I'd hoped it would lead to earlier relatives in Canada or France.
by Karen Wood G2G5 (5.1k points)
edited by Karen Wood
Hi Karen:  Your husband might try and join the Quebec ADNy Project of Family Tree DNA to find more matches.  They are looking for Y DNA from French Canadian descendants.
+5 votes

My Youngblood brick wall was knocked down by YDNA.  Many Youngblood genealogy books had linked our family to the wrong Youngblood ancestors.  For years, my dad and I tried to confirm the "wrong" answer documented in our famiy book and many of Youngblood famiy books.  Then after his passing, YDNA confirmed we were not in that line of Youngbloods and set us on the path to finding our place (undocumented) in the South Caarolina Youngbloods c1745-1830 before migrating to GA and AL.

I was able to find descendants of all four sons of our believed common ancestor... we matched first, of course, 12/12 YDNA genetic markers in 2004...and now we match in general 66-67/67 YDNA genetic markers and 109/111.  Only a few members have done the Big Y... maybe one day this will tell us new things.

I had YDNA from the "Other" Youngblood line and we match about 7/12 YDNA genetic markers...then roughly 25/37 but he was relatively undocumented before 1800.  Then I found a member who was very well documented with the help of others on the research lists and he matched me ~42/67 YDNA genetic markers....but near exactly the undocumented first tester of this I was able to connect these to 'Other" lines of YBs.  We have identified their common ancestor to c1680 in MD.

Ultimately, by slight but consistent mutations (1 or 2 genetic markers of 67) and research, I was able to define 4 (four) distinct branches by further research.  

We have identified adoptees with their branch and other NPE's by YDNA and assisted in finding other lost and undocumented branches by using YDNA and the increasing better information contributed by all

At this time, I have yet to confirm a common ancestor to these branches... that person probably having lived in Germany prior to 1700....and migrated to PA/MD c1720s.

Trust but verify…

See our Youngblood YDNA Project Website and feel free to email any questions  

Then click DNA Results, then Colorized Chart.

Celebrating our Successful Sixteenth year of the Youngblood YDNA Project  !

General information

Thank you 

3rd  Annual REUNION  All LINES/Branches Texas TBA September 2021 

119 Annual Reunion August 14, 2021 Troy AL - Thomas YBc1745/ wife Amy Hopkins Branch

Larry  & Marie Youngblood  Project Admin   ; 281 (C) 772-0952

by Larry Youngblood G2G1 (1.4k points)
that is fantastic Larry, well done!
+3 votes
My Y-DNA (J2-L26) has given me a few problems to resolve. J2-L26 is rare in the UK (1% to 2%) but does occur in other UK surname projects. The Jones Y-DNA surname project at FTDNA has 10 people on this branch of the DNA tree and 9 are J1 not J2. So there is a strong possibility of a surname change, a NPE or illegitimate birth along the way, but how far back in history is difficult to determine. There is also the possibility of a patronymic change in the past too as I have some Welsh ancestry. I also feel quite lonely in LivingDNA too, all my autosomal matches are low values too.

I can get a paper trail back to the 1780s or so with ancestors living on the English/Welsh border in Shropshire, Flintshire and Denbighshire. It seems as though I have more in common with other surnames though if I look at FTDNA (Montgomery is a possibility).

At least the Y-DNA result has given me a heads-up to look carefully and explore all possibilities.
by Steve Jones G2G1 (1.8k points)

I have an ancestor, presumably of British origin, that also may be J2-L26. Anyway, William Parsons, 2 generations down from my own ancestor Richard Parsons who married Lydia Briggs, is J2. Further, downstream from J2-L26, his descendant is J2-PF4888 positive. Eupedia says about J2-PF4888:

J2a1-PF4888 is found in the Middle East and among Ashkenazi Jews (F659 subclade: Katz and Cohen).

My guess is that what I've got here, potentially, is someone of Jewish origin who converted to Christianity. The Normans brought in Jews as money lenders before Edward the first expelled them all during his reign. I feel that there must have been an awful lot of pressure put on Jews to convert, and I imagine some of them did. I would think that you'd get a portion of this kind of thing in the British bloodline as a whole.

Hi Frank, looking through the discussions on GedMatch, there seems to be a thought that the historical Jewish line is more likely to be J1 rather than J2, though there is a modern jewish cluster below L558 (Rothschild and Bacharach). I too would not be surprised if there wasn't some Levantine DNA in the British population as the result of Edward I's expulsion in 1290.

It has also recently been confirmed that J2 was present in the Roman era in the UK too. A recent dig in York found J2-L228 in a Roman burial (3DRIFF-26). Because it wasn't really what the study was looking for, this result was dismissed as an outlier.

Personally, my 'dream' result would be to have descended from the same DNA line as Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, who was buried in Shrewsbury Abbey in 1094, or at least one of his entourage. Roger is buried in the church he had built and it is the same church that I was married in Shrewsbury. One can only hope.
Yeah, and some J haplogroup is thought to have come in with haplogroup G, neolithic farmers, but just like haplogroup G, I wouldn't expect to find a great deal of it remaining.

Some Jews might have come in with the Romans, too.

Good, bad, or ugly, I've got my own aristocratic and Norman roots, and I am just fascinated about finding anything that might be a little bit different.
+4 votes
Imagine my ydna Gardner surprise after many years of documenting/researching my Reynolds line from 1770. Paper trail as Reynolds was solid, but were really Gardner by ydna.

I am using the full 111 ydna testing and now using individual snp testing on Gardners to determine the lines, steps of closeness and which male Gardiner b. ca 1750 was my ancestor.  I also use autosomal and gedmatch kit numbers to refine the dna matches.
by Howard Reynolds G2G1 (1.8k points)

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