52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 6:
Same Name

Surnames, and a Little Math

Building a family tree leads to discovering surnames well beyond those of parents and grandparents. Each generation represents 2X surnames where X represents the number of generations removed. For example, 3rd great-grandparents are 5 generations removed and represent 32 surnames, typically. I get excited when I discover an ancestor with the same name as a friend, or co-worker, or neighbor. Maybe we are related!

So Many Same Names

I am fortunate enough to be able to trace my ancestry on several lines back 10 generations, and in some cases beyond, representing hundreds of surnames. [1] If I find a name in common with a friend such as Smith, Jones, Miller, etc., it is just too popular of a name to try and find a common ancestor. The more unusual a surname, the better for researching. Last year I wrote about discovering an 8th great grandparent named Byrd, and I was able to trace my connection through him to a childhood hero, Adm. Richard Byrd. [2]

These are many of the surnames in my family tree

Skaggs, a Same Name Success

To date, I have not made a connection between an ancestor-surname and a current friend with the same name. But, I have found a connection to a friend by spotting a same surname in their family tree.

While looking over a family tree developed by a longtime friends’ mother, I spotted a surname that is also in my tree, Skaggs. We soon discovered we share 7th great-grandparents, James and Rachel Moredock Skaggs. I often tell my friends that “we are all related.” It’s fun to have proof of that by finding the same name in our lineages.

Common Ancestor: James Skaggs (1700-1790), 7th great-grandfather

  1. Gourdhead Skaggs (1728-1829)
  2. John Skaggs (1754-1839)
  3. Joseph Scaggs (1773-1834)
  4. Cinderella Skaggs (1817-1837)
  5. William Pruitt (1837-1921)
  6. Cinderella Pruitt (1862-1898)
  7. Emerson Carter (1884-1937)
  8. Her Father (1913-1988)
  9. Friend’s Mother – My 8th cousin
  1. Longman Skaggs (1734-1816)
  2. Eli Skaggs (1770-1833)
  3. Susannah Skaggs (1800-1878)
  4. Calvin Major (1819-1898)
  5. Mary A E Major (1842 – 1907)
  6. Pauline Elizabeth Koontz (1874 – 1952)
  7. Major Graves Dyer (1901 – 1973)
  8. My Mother
  9. Barb LaFara