YDNA matches with a different surname can be confusing. But doing traditional genealogy may be able to help you discover how these matches are related to you. Here’s how Bill did genealogy to understand how he was related to his YDNA matches with a different surname.
YDNA testing can be a great way to research paternal lineage, because YDNA goes back much farther than autosomal DNA. But in cultures where you expect the father’s surname to be consistent on the paternal line, what do you do when your YDNA matches have a different surname?
YDNA Matches with a Different Surname
Bill started researching his family tree several years ago. At the time, his living relatives only knew the names of some of their great-grandfathers, so he decided to take an autosomal DNA test at Ancestry as a starting point for learning more about his family. Using his results, which included matches with Hatelys, he was able to build a tree for his paternal Hately line back to his 5x great-grandfather, Henry Hately, Sr.
Bill discovered a Hately family cemetery in eastern Washington state which included the grave of Nineveh Hately, Bill’s 2x great grandfather of record. A Hately descendant who helps manage the cemetery suggested he take a YDNA test, as several living Hately men had already done so. Bill then took a 67-level YDNA test. Surprisingly, his results didn’t match the Hatelys. Instead he matched with eight living men, all with the last name Smith.
Bill’s second cousin Mike also took a YDNA test and received the same results, which meant their known common ancestor carrying the Smith YDNA should be their shared great grandfather, Scott Hately, who was born in Colorado in 1869. Oral and written family history maintained that Ninevah Hately was the father of Scott Hately, and this relationship was consistent in all the Ancestry trees that Bill could find. He thought Ninevah could have Smith YDNA which he passed to his son, despite the fact that William Hately was Ninevah’s reported father. But this couldn’t be the case, as other male-line descendants of Ninevah living today (the ones who tested) still possess the Hately YDNA. So who was the biological father of Bill and Mike’s great-grandfather Scott Hately?
Bill had to use traditional genealogy to learn how he was related to his Smith matches. When looking at the Hately family, he noticed one of Ninevah’s older brothers was named Wiley Smith Hately, born in 1844 in North Carolina. Curious about the “Smith” in Wiley’s name, he found Wiley in the 1870 U.S. census on a farm in Kansas. Bill wanted to locate a direct living male descendant of Wiley since this descendant would carry the same YDNA as Wiley. With those results, he could confirm or deny if Wiley carried the Smith YDNA.
In 2018, Bill noticed he had an autosomal match with a man who had a different surname, but was a direct descendant of Wiley Smith Hately. Bill contacted his match and learned that he was adopted, which explained the different surname. After meeting, Bill’s match agreed to take a YDNA test. The results showed that his YDNA not only matched with both Bill and Mike, but also the eight Smith matches. This has led Bill to conclude that Wiley Smith Hately was his 2x biological great-grandfather.
Bill then returned to the eight Smith men his YDNA results matched with and discovered that one Smith man in several of their family trees was listed as the grandfather of both Bennett Smith and Jehiel Smith from North Carolina. During his research, Bill had found both of their farms close to the farm of William and Anna (Ford) Hately (Ninevah and Wiley’s parents) in North Carolina in the 1840 census.
Bill’s still unsure which of these two Smith men was the biological father of Wiley, but his research has helped him correctly identify his 2x great-grandfather and the origin of his Smith YDNA. Thanks to his clever use of both YDNA evidence and that autosomal match, he can now build his tree in a way that more correctly identifies his biological origins.
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