Y-DNA Testing Strategy – Case 1, the Kennedy-Cannaday-Canada Family of Western Kentucky

///Y-DNA Testing Strategy – Case 1, the Kennedy-Cannaday-Canada Family of Western Kentucky

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Y-DNA Testing Strategy – Case 1, the Kennedy-Cannaday-Canada Family of Western Kentucky

One of the most important truths of genetic genealogy is that successes do not happen on their own.

Genealogists plan them.

Unless you are adopted or have an unknown paternity on your paternal line, the best practice for Y-chromosome DNA genealogy is testing of targeted people combined with traditional genealogy.

There are three steps:

  • Evaluate your known genealogy
  • Confirm your Y-DNA lineage
  • Form and test a hypothesis to solve a genealogy puzzle

Evaluate Known Genealogy

In a earlier post, I wrote about the need to build a library of robustly Y-SNP defined male lineages using NexGen tests like the Big Y. I will be investigating my ability to test men to represent the 2nd great-grandfather generation of my five generation pedigree.

Here is my five generation pedigree chart. From it, the first surname for me to test is Canada.

Y-DNA Testing Strategy - Case 1, the Kennedy-Cannaday-Canada Family of Western Kentucky

Rebekah's 5 Generation Pedigree

Before anyone writes to me to ask, Canada is a variant of the Kennedy surname. In Kentucky records, it frequently changed from Kennedy to Cannaday, to Canady, to Canada, and back again. This is what Wikipedia says about the Kennedy surname. 

Derived either from Ó Cinnéide meaning grandson of Cinnédidh, or ceann and éidigh meaning “ugly head.” Kennedy, alternately O'Kennedy and Kennedie, is a surname of Irish and Scottish origin that has also been used as a given name.

My first step is checking my known genealogy. To do so, I draw out a male only genogram descendant chart with my ancestor Seaborn Smith Canada at the top using my previous genealogy research. If you are new to genograms, men who are dead have a line through their square from the top right to the bottom left.

To build the genogram, I started with Seaborn in my tree at Ancestry and worked my way down.

Seaborn Smith Canada Descendants

Seaborn Smith Canada Descendants

The morning after I finished it, I looked at it, and I remembered a message in my Ancestry inbox from back in 2013. Thus, I went back and reread the message, then I redid my tree.

Seaborn Smith Canada Descendants V2

Seaborn Smith Canada Descendants V2

My brother is M.W. Canada down on the bottom left. It is now clear how many other living Canada lineage males are known to me.

Seaborn Smith Canada had five sons, but only one of them had sons. That was my ancestor William Ephram Canada. There are no sixth cousins to test.

William Ephram Canada had four sons, and three of them had sons. One of the lines dies out in the next generation though. My most distant cousin on this line is A. Canada. He is the man who contacted me back in 2013, and he is the best choice for the second Canada Big Y.

William Ephram's son Albert Huston Canada had two sons. Here things get better, because those two sons had sons who are either living or have living sons and grandsons. These are my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins. The 3rd and then 2nd cousins are my next best options for Big Y testing.

Test to Confirm the Line

What do I mean by confirming the line? For me, it means removing reasonable doubt that my Canada surnamed father is the paternal line descendant of Canada men. There are two ways to confirm your line with Y-DNA.

The first and more robust method is to test two or more men from the lineage. The second method is to test one man and hope he has matches in the Y-DNA matching database. This second method is often a long and frustrating wait.

Targeted testing

I want to test the Y-DNA of two men to confirm my line. I am most fortunate to have DNA from both my brother and my father. Ideally, my second testing candidate is the most distant cousin to them. If someone from the more distant lines is not willing to test, then my second person to test is my father, B.J. Canada.

I will also note here that I use autosomal DNA as evidence that I am related to the men I test and the relationship is consistent with the known genealogy.

Testing my father and brother will only be evidence of the relationship between them. If it is the only option, I have to live with that though and work with what I have. This is where the second method of DNA matching comes in.

DNA database matching

I did the first Y-STR based testing on my brother back in late 2005 and early 2006. Here is his Y37 profile.


For many years, he did not have matches with the Canada/Canaday/Cannaday/Kennedy surname. Then, things changed.

He now has three Y37 near matches.

One has the Canaday surname.

Y-DNA Testing Strategy - Case 1, the Kennedy-Cannaday-Canada Family of Western Kentucky

My Brother's Y-DNA37 Matches 1

Two have the Kennedy surname.

My Brother's Y-DNA37 Matches 2

My Brother's Y-DNA37 Matches 2

None of the three are close enough to show a close relationship. Their most distant ancestors are also a generation or two too early to line up with my Seaborn Smith Canada. However, that my brother matches them is a good indicator that I am truly researching the Canada lineage.

Forming a hypothesis and planning testing

To review progress so far, I have checked my Canada lineage genealogy, identified potential test takers, done some testing, and found distant matches to support that I am researching the right genetic and genealogical lineage.

Many people at this point would start to research the genealogy of those Y-DNA37 matches. This is not the best option, and it will usually only lead to frustration.

What I am going to do instead is return to my genealogical research and take a look at an unproven hypothesis that Seaborn Smith Canada is a son of David and Cynthia (Grimes) Cannaday. This is something that has been passed around as part of family tradition. I have not though ever found a source that supports it.

To test if there is evidence of a Y-DNA link between David and Seaborn, I will need to find the male line descendant of at least one known son of David to test. I need to work forward the genealogy for all of his descendants, because for robust genealogy you don't work on just part of the family.


My goals for Y-DNA testing the Canada surname in my family for 2018 are now:

  • Big Y test my brother.
  • Find a male from my known genealogy for a second autosomal DNA, Big Y & Y37 combination test.
  • Research the genealogy of the descendants of David and Cynthia (Grimes) Cannaday.
  • From the third goal, find a male line descendant of David Cannaday to autosomal DNA, Big Y & Y37 combination test.
  • Compare and evaluate all research and DNA test results.

2018-01-18T15:56:21+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |
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