I fairly often get a query from someone who has a number of matches - but their matches are with other surnames instead of matching their own surname.  This posting isn't going to delve into the "why this happened" - but addresses the "how to deal with it".  (of course, the eventual goal is to understand how, why and when this happened) 

I just provided a recommendation to a man in this situation.  Please keep in mind that there will be differences in every situation and yours may not be identical.  Read this as a possible framework for your own actions.  Some suggestions may apply, while others may not.  This can be helpful to you even if you do have matches with your own surname - as the matches with (an)other surname(s) can be an important part of your ancestral family's story. 


Sorry, but you have no matches in the B___ project at this time.  You do have an intriguing set of 37 marker matches: two each P___, G_____, & R____ – plus other names.  Here are suggestions:

  1. Add a location to your “Most Distant Ancestor” field in your uncle’s FTDNA kit page
  2. Join P____, G____, & R_____ projects, contact your matches in each project, share what you know of your B____ paper trail (names, dates and places – with dates and places being most important – as you are looking for places where paper trails cross) and ask them to help you understand why your B____ paternal line shares a yDNA profile with their family.  Also, ask them if they have a number of matches with different surnames, like you do
  3. Invite all 9 of your 37 marker matches to join B____ project – so I can look at everyone’s result side by side and advise you all as a group on how to dig deeper into this puzzle – and so I can see if there are any logical subgroupings (branches of the genetic family) who more closely match each other than they match the whole group  Note - if I am going to do this analysis for you - the blog reader - make sure that you pick a project where I am administrator, so that I can prepare the results table - as that makes it so much easier for me to help)
  4. Upload your uncle’s gedcom at his FTDNA kit page
  5. Look at the gedcoms provided by 4 of the men among your matches to see if any of them has something of interest to your search for understanding (click the dark blue “tree” in the 4th symbol after the match’s name)
  6. Locate and test the most distant B____ cousin you can identify – to verify that he also carries the same yDNA profile as your uncle.  This confirms that the most recent common ancestor of the two matching men also carried that yDNA profile
  7. Upgrade your test to 67 markers – especially if you can get a P____ and R_____ match to also upgrade (as the G____ men have already done) – as this may clarify which, if any, of these 3 families are of most interest to you

Hope this will help you break free of a frustrating situation that you haven't seen how to handle.  (almost all of us are going to have some variation of this challenge somewhere in our ancestral lines)


109/111 match

I have a109/111 match with Thomas Place who matches my pedigree shown for kit N9119. Thomas is the third one on the Patrearch page. We have the same surname of course and this very close match. We even paid a fellow in Yorkshire to take the 111 test and still no paper trail. Funny thing is, Thomas does not show up in the Family Finder I purchased from FTDNA !! Got any suggestions? I should have added that Michael, the fellow in Yorkshire was on Thomas' tree, so we picked the right fellow. He wasn't as closely matched as Thomas and me but ony about 5 steps out. Interesting and frustrating.

Dave Place
Place Surname Group

Chances of finding a cousin with Family Finder

Autosomal Block DNA (Family Finder is the name FTDNA uses) would be fantastic if it had the ability to consistently reach back many generations into our past and successfully identify any and all of our genetic cousins.  Unfortunately, it does not work that way.  Discernment drops off rapidly.   Here is the table that FTDNA provides:

Chances of finding a match:
Relationship Match Probability
2nd cousins or closer > 99%
3rd cousin > 90%
4th cousin > 50%
5th cousin > 10%
6th cousin and more distant Remote (typically less than 2%)


So - if you tested 100 known 4th cousins, the expectations are that atDNA would successfully identify less than half of them.  However, most of us have more than one ancestral connection with our matches, which will affect the estimate of distance to shared MRCA (most recent common ancestral couple).  My understanding is that this table assumes that you and your match share only one ancestral couple. 

I have many "4th cousin" matches where we can't identify our shared ancestral couple - despite both having good family trees.. I theorize that this is because we share atDNA from more than one ancestral couple - which distorts the relationship calculator

Moran Forum

How do I connect the FTdna results with the Moran Family? It appears in the Graves Family results.

Question in the wrong place

If your match is yDNA, you can join the Moran project (through your FTDNA kit page)

If your match is Family Finder or mtDNA, it really isn't surname specific and there is little or no gain from joining multiple surname projects


Christopher Branch DNA

I am a great granddaughter of Alexander Branch Born in Virginia died in Oklahoma. We are interested in doing the DNA test using an elderly cousin of my dads who lives in Oklahoma City and shares the surname Branch. Problem is none of us can come up the the funds for the test. Are there any studies that provide the test free of charge in order to obtain more entries into the Christopher Branch project?

Adam family from Canada

Would there be any type of connection to Adams Family. My grandmother was Blandine Adam Lemieux from Quebec Canada. The Adam Family I believe came from Bourgogne

How to amend submitted information to Surname Projects

I added information for a grandfather to a surname project, which I have subsequently proved wrong.
How do I amend the information?


I am searching for the history of my grandfather, George Murrey Gready.