What Test? I’m a guy and I want my (surname) paternal line ~ y-DNA 101


The man’s y-DNA is a beautiful, rather, handsome – gene reading, an amazing tool of DNA for genealogy – and I have scraped a few cheeks.


And for men who do not know who their father is, the y-DNA can also be a help, some of the time. Certainly for anyone adopted or wanting to identify either parent for that matter the autosomal test is where you might begin, which will clearly show a parent, if they have tested, (also other relatives by degree of kinship through 3rd to 6th cousins) by that test’s type of gene reading.


(This note is truly y-DNA 101 – if you are wanting 202 and 303 – there are other notes and more coming from here)


Always – make sure you understand which test you want to order – this is complicated – ASK First! I will add here also some of my other blogs on what test shows what that have been written over time to help with your decision making – but ask – someone – before you test. Too many people are disappointed because they bought the wrong test.


But to prove a y-DNA surname line – the father’s father’s father’s father’s and on and on for millennia the y-dna is a thing of beauty. Part of the joy is that all these men should have the same surname, though don’t be surprised when that is not always the case.


This test is the reading of the single male gene that makes men men that is only passed from father to son. It changes very slowly, very little over millennia, so a man living today has all but identical y-DNA to his ancestor who lived in 1750 or even 1550. There is little truth, most of the time, to documenting in stone, an exact ancestor from 1550, but you can sometimes know the family clusters of where your male line lived and sometimes died for eons. And you can do this whether you are Black or White or Brown or Yellow or Red or Martian Green. Well, not Martian Green but…


There might be lost records, few people testing from your family groups, and there might be little to ever learn about near and recent biological family, but with your haplogroup(s) you can not only have the chance to match with family for near relatives but also enjoy the ancestry of yourself in your haplogroup(s)’ history and herstory.


This test does not tell about all the people on your father’s side, only a single genetic strand of his father and that man’s father before him etc. No women, and it doesn’t give any details even about the men it gives you.

cherie fan chart dna best names

This chart shows the three main DNA for genealogy tests. The blue line on the left is the sliver of genes tested for just this paternal line ancestry. Nothing about all their genomes or any of their overall ancestry – only the single y-DNA male line of their male line going back for eons of time.


The geneticists have put these genes into groups and those are called haplogroups and I like to think of the haplogroups and ‘their’ ancestors and ‘their’ descendants as ancestors with weird names – like G2a or G-PF3148, and R1b or R-A520.


But when you also know that G2a is an ancestor of G-PF3148 and also an ancestor of my Dai – then we have a tree of ancestors with weird names. I suggest making your own tree with your ancestor’s gene names. (See chart)


Copy 3of g ydna tree

This ‘tree’ of the ancestors of Haplogroup G shows how we were these “ancestors” these haplogroup peoples in the past. We can enjoy learning about haplogroup F and his ‘father’ CT as much as we can work into the future to ourselves through genes that are the sons “descendant” genes SNPs until gene mutations reach you to today. Eventually we will be able to take every man’s DNA and make an unbroken tree from themselves all the way back in time.

For y-DNA for recent genealogy – Say you have a guy who was born about 1800, John Doe. You know from traditional genealogical research, vital, primary and secondary records that John Doe had at least three sons. To establish the y-DNA of John Doe you would research into the future the children of each of John Doe’s sons, if they had male sons and follow through sons only to the present to find living male descendants. Not all patriarchs will have lines to make it to the present through a line of sons only, see alternatives below. But for many you will.


To prove the genetic identity of a man born in 1750 – or any other time – you need to test male line descendents from two of the man’s sons.

1 proved 1 Copy of Copy of male line ydna

Testing the two men marked here Test y only proves their grandfather. Any kind of non-paternity or other issue could happen anytime in any lines and does often. You cannot assume because you test yourself that you are seeing genetics of a 18th century, or any other century, ancestor. You must prove each generation – in-between by testing farther back to start.


1 proved 2 Copy of Copy of male line ydna

Testing these two men marked here Test y proves their great grandfather. In several of our y-DNA projects we have descendant sons from 18th century patriarchs who have all matched each other. This establishes the genetic picture of this Proved patriarch.


In Family Tree DNA’s more than a decade of existence they have supported y-DNA Surname Projects and also Haplogroup Projects. Today when some men test they will find matches for their y-DNA already in the databases and will learn if they match already established family groups. There is an index on Family Tree DNA and you can look for your surname. There are also geographic projects.


In your matches of your y-DNA you may find your surname among the matches – and by joining surname projects you can see what families are already grouped. And from your testing you will have your presumed haplogroup and you can join the haplogroup project(s) and possibly a geographical project.


But in the event you do not have a match when you test then make certain there is not already a family group for a patriarch established but then you can try to establish your own family group’s y-DNA history.


Your traditional research must be correct and with documentation – no guessing. I would not rely on any websites trees; they are rife with mistakes if not out and out falsified – whether the tree owner knows it or not. Using DNA for genealogy you are graduating to proven ancestors. Honoring the real father and mother.


Hopefully you will be able to use the free sites for much of your research – you can see my blog on free sites here. Online Foundation of Searching – or find it in the index on the right.


But to really put the meat on the bones of your ancestors you cannot fail to use Ancestry.com to locate in one place countless records. In their World Deluxe membership you will have much of the Western world at your fingertips.


BUT – read up on any site – maybe a site will not have anything of your family’s records so then you will need from the free site page familysearch.org.


Once you have located male-line descendants from multiple sons of a patriarch, tested their y-dna and they match then you have established a genetic identity for an early patriarch.


And those haplogroup names serve well as ancestor names and help us illustrate a haplo tree for your male line family.


Use autosomal DNA with your y-DNA testing of your male family members

cherie fan chart dna best names

The yellow represents the au-DNA. A person’s 1st 2nd and third and so on cousins will share specific amounts of genes, so you can prove two people are related and know roughly how they are related. Then proving with au-DNA any male line cousin relative you can genetically prove you have the correct research for all your ancestral lines.

1Copy of 01a Copy of cherie known dna haplogroups

You can prove ancestral lines using a combination of au-DNA and y-DNA and get the bonus mt-DNA also.

I am a girl and several of my male cousins have tested their y-DNA and know the established surname and genetic families of our common ancestors. But to prove there have been no non-paternity events between my cousin(s) and me, we would also test our autosomal DNA to make certain we are genetic cousins as we should be.


Once the relationships are established – then you can learn the haplogroups of many of your ancestral lines – which can make certain they are proved lines with not only traditional documentation but also with y-DNA and au-DNA.

But in DNA for genealogy testing the male’s y-DNA test is an amazing ancestry picture (an exclusive set of male genes) of a man’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father going back 10s of 1,000s of years.


See the blog ‘The Trinity of DNA testing’ here for more details about every test or in the index to the right. It is another view of the same DNA testing with mt-DNA testing also mentioned.


37 or 12 markers to start? If you know nothing about a paternal line you might even want more markers – but ‘how and when’ to add markers, can make this less expensive – (starting at about $72. USD for 12) {These genes are easily read in today’s testing, and you can start slowly (and less expensively), and add on markers as or when you need to know more. (The standard rule might be, for some men, 37 markers, but unless you are rolling in dough, I suggest you can start with 12. But if this is a paternity search, the standard 37 is best.) [But still start with 12 unless there is a sale on and then when a sale does come, then add the markers up to 37]}


1 double base Copy of Copy of 6a2Copy of Copy of Copy hair of rawhide and more cherie dna tree 055

All ancestry will be linked genetically – but maybe not in my lifetime.


There is a lot more to the story of y-DNA – we get deeper into SNPs and expand STRs and some test to 67 markers – 111 Markers and Big y and on and now more and more entire genome sequencing – but to answer questions – often less might be just as good as more – from the start.
Once you know your haplogroup… the 101 must website


you need the former Ancient DNA site by jean manco


and might enjoy this story about her from contents on the right

See ‘Honoring jean Manco’

See ‘Online Foundation’ with a few other free sites linked


and ‘The trinity of DNA” for more info about the different tests

You often must use traditional research to find your male line cousins to test for that you will need


DNA Testing – among others





Many have thanked me for my down to earth explanations, maybe I should continue. I hope you think so. If you do, please follow me and let me know of any questions or suggestions for other genealogy topics of history or herstory ~ if you like.

The man that started it all


4 thoughts on “What Test? I’m a guy and I want my (surname) paternal line ~ y-DNA 101

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