in 52 Weeks
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.  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. 
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
- Osborne family tree, https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/13493206/family?cfpid=-60123689
- Admiral Byrd post, https://barblafara.com/admiral-byrd-id-like-to-meet/