Our Surname Tables for DNA Research

Have you created a surname table for your genealogy research?

Researching your family tree using DNA can be complicated when you haven’t created a surname table as a cheat sheet for referencing your data. Andy talks about these regularly in beginner DNA classes but I hadn’t created one until today!

And you’re about to see my jealousy rear its beastly head. Before we begin, take a look at Andy’s Surname Table:

Surname Table Lee
Lee/Kevern DNA Surname Table

Look at the five spots that are holes in the 4th GGP section. That’s not bad. The holes beside the Garnett in 3rd GGP only indicates that the Lees aren’t really Lees and from that point on the surname line changes.

Are you ready to see my chart?

I’m really sad.

Surname Table Geiszler
Geiszler Brown Surname Table

Before you think I’m a terrible Genealogist, each missing surname comes with a challenge. The Anderson/Sparks is pretty ‘righteous’ (bad holey/holy pun) because Anderson and Sparks disappear from records after they have a child. There’s only one record for William Anderson, of Sweden, in Missouri and nothing else.

Oh, yea!  After that, the women, and then men, on that line is very sparse. This line is new to me and is concentrated in a time period where record keeping hadn’t begun with consistency. That’s a hard section to work on. Could DNA help?

The third column is also a challenge. The Browns and Townsends were farmers and as such, they weren’t often highlighted in records. I barely pieced together the Townsend to Lynch connection. But the Gordons, Browns, Fickles, and Nashes are difficult to separate from the other Gordons, Browns, Fickles, and Nashes around the US at the time.

I LOVE my Zumstein line. My great-aunt Dorothy and the other Zumsteins, Comforts, Hedricks, Synders, Lanes, and Mootes from Ontario, Canada were a record-keeping set. There is very little that I can do to tackle this line that hasn’t been done. So, my DNA serves as a reference point to anyone who is on these lines.

I’m pretty proud of the Geiszler line. This was created by rebuilding the broken bridges of family relationships. A few record keepers made this research possible. I have a question mark next to the King last name because I haven’t proven that as well. I just discovered it on FamilySearch today. But the other names are well researched. The gaps belong to my German pond hopping ancestors who left little ties to their homeland so far as I can tell.

This video walks you through the process with a little more detail,for all of you visual learners like me!

I’m happy to have created this table. I thought I knew all my surnames by heart, but Andy keeps saying you can’t keep track of all of them. And it’s true. Koller, King?, Kouck, Wright, Jenkins, and Simons were names I didn’t recognize. So, it’s fun to go generation by generation finding the surnames that you could be connected to via DNA.

Are you seeing all the cousin matches you could with your DNA results? Try making a surname table and quickly catch all of those autosomal relatives, #dnatesting #geneticgenalogy #genealogytips
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Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

35 thoughts on “Our Surname Tables for DNA Research

  1. Andy's proven lineage to the Saville's is
    Mary Ann Saville, b 19 February 1843 in Saffron Walden, Essex, England. In FamilySearch, the line extends several more generations but Andy hasn't worked thoroughly on this line like he has his Kevern line.

  2. AWESOME. I've never see the last name spelled Clabo but there's a first time for anything.

    Devon's Claybaugh are descended from Nicholas Clabaugh b 1765 in Jerusalem, Washington, Maryland, United States. He married Rebecca Dickey, b about 1760 in Berks, Pennsylvania, United States. IF I had any American Revolutionary Ancestors, it would be this family, but I haven't seen enough evidence that this is the case.

  3. Thank you for this chart, it looks like it will be a useful tool for analyzing DNA matches. Also wanted to tell you, I may me related to your husband. I see Saville on his Surname list. My mother’s maidan name was Saville.

  4. What do you do in the case of first cousins marrying each other? This happens three times in my tree, and in one case (my father's father's line) both my 2nd great grandparents have the same last nane, Hurst. They share the same grandparents. How do you chart that?

  5. Originally my grandfather on my fathers side had his mothers surname. As he was illegitimate of Finnish mother and italian father. His sons have this surname as well as their children. ( including myself) I don’t know anything but a surname for the Italian father.
    To make this chart, does him having his mothers surname, effect the usage of this? How would I go about making a surname table in this situation?

  6. Wouldn’t there have to be some name duplications on the chart?? For instance — my grandparents surname Strader would be my mother’s maiden name. The surname of the person giving the surname Strader to my mother’s father was his father and it is Strader also. Perhaps I don’t understand what this is or how to use it yet!! I’m a very very new beginner to ancestry search! Please help!

    1. I’m like Susan – I’m confused. Wouldn’t the 1st GGP line has two names in each box? Unless, we aren’t supposed to repeat the surnames. For instance, my Grandpa Worley, would have Worley and Birchfield, unless I don’t repeat the Worley. Thank you.

      1. You don’t need to repeat surnames because it would clutter up the chart. You would repeat names only if have tree collapse or endogamy.

        So if your 1st GGP is Worley, then you have Worley in that line. If Birchfield married Worley, you add Birchfield to the 2GGP generation because the Worley is in the 1st GGP generation. However, if Birchfield married into a Smith in the 1st GGP for a different column, you would have Birchfield twice.

  7. I have a situation back in the early 1800s where the husband disappeared after the 2nd child. The mother then moved in with a Catholic priest who was the father of the next 5 children. The children had the last name of their mother’s long gone husband. Four of these children of the priest later changed their last name to that of the priest, except for the 3rd child of the mother (1st of the priest). I am descended from that child, so I have the wrong last name as that 3rd child because he did not take the name of the priest. What effect is this on the chart, if any?

    1. Great question. Where there is a name change on a male, you would add an extra row with the name change in the column that is affected. Let’s say the third column was for your Raymond family line. In the 3rd GG section, the father wasn’t a Raymond but rather Bryson. You add a row before the female surnames that just has Bryson in the Raymond column. Leave the other columns blank. On the next row in the 3GG line, you add new female surnames.

      Your Surname chart can have asterisks (*) with notes that the biological name was Bryson but for a time the last name for a child was that of their step-father (let’s say, Morales).

      For DNA Surname tables, attempt to keep use only biological last names rather than step-father or adoptee names.

      If you have more questions, let me know.

  8. Confused about not re-using surnames with each section of grandparents. I only come up with 4 new names(maiden) to use in the 2nd gg section of I dont re-use father’s surnames. I’m missing something.

  9. I keep getting the DNA cannot prove a Sirname even when there is over 50 1st and second cozens connections with the SIR name in their lineage. As a lot of Genealogy research goes when there are Native Americain in the family lineage there are a lot of parents without any documentation, no marriage or birth records, then the woman only has their husbands last name, and to complicate matters there are dual marriages of two brothers with the same wife, Then to even make it more impossible there is direct fraudulent claims in an attempt to gain access to benefits from native blood connection, and this is new it started back as far as the 1600’s first to conceal the native bloodline from others because it became illegal to be married to them and loss of rights ensued, so no paper trail at all and if there is one it is fabricated to make the Native children legitimately white. My question is when you have a female grandparent without any documentation for birth or marriage and a conflicting trail of family trees giving them two last names and your DNA does not show any DNA connection to one of the 2 surnames but does one and to the parents of that one is that proof of a Sirname connection?

  10. Have done mine and my wife’s – devastated! Didn’t realise I was missing so many 🙁
    Fun and games with mine as I have Norwegian on one branch. GP and 1st GGP were fine but anything earlier, each SURNAME (family name) was different because of the patronymic system! Had to concentrate furiously with the number of extras that had to go in that spot of succession …..

  11. How would you deal with Patronymics? Andrew Nelson’s father is Sjur Nielson and I can consider that an alternate spelling, but Sjur Nielson’s father was very likely Niel (Father’s name)son (I don’t actually know what his name was – I haven’t found him yet, but that has been the pattern with my Norwegian folks).

  12. My Welsh line would make you feel so much better about your gaps. I have one line of Davies marrying Davies into infinity. When the patronymic naming system was ended (I think the Romans did it), Wales was left with huge numbers of families with the same surname – Davies because their fathers were called David, etc. So they weren’t necessarily related, not even closely related within an area. Of course, some will have been!. Add to that the huge numbers of Mary, Sarah, Anne, John, David, Evan, etc. Impossible to find marriages to be certain of.

    There’s another part where a surname is ‘lost’ in this chart, again because of patronymic naming (it did survive in parts). My LEWIS was the son of HOWELLS but the latter name doesn’t appear at all doing it this way because we’re always looking to maiden names as we go back.

    So do be happy with what you have found – and maybe we’ll break down those walls in the end.

    1. That can be challenging when the names are often repeated. The Surname Table is flexible enough to expand for patronymics. I’m in the process of creating some videos to explain how. They won’t be ready for until February 2020. But your case definitely presents new challenges.

  13. Love the chart! Was a little challenging at first, but I got a handle on it. I had a couple of cases where the children kept the mother’s surname because of no marriage, but I just listed the male surname as new as of it were the female. I also have duplication. First or second cousins marrying. I went ahead and listed the name rather than leave a blank, but I put an asterisk and moved the name to right justify. I also have another weird one where my gf’s gf married the sister of my gm’s gm. So my gggf and gggm are the same couple in two lines. Lol

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