“Surname DNA projects” attempt to bring together persons of the same surname for purposes of comparing DNA for genealogical purposes.
The DNA comparisons can be quite different from charts comparing DNA of a broader spectrum of persons, sorted to determine how close in time their most recent common ancestor along the male lines was alive. (Ancestry.com’s “Paternal Lineage Matches”, displaying the y-chromosomal DNA charts of closely related individuals are an example of a quite different approach that the surname DNA projects.)
I had determined, utilizing ancestry.com’s Paternal Lineage Matches chart, who among those submitting their DNA data to ancestry.com most closely share DNA values with me.
I was particularly interested in three other persons. One, like myself, was surnamed Burnett. Earlier, the Sorensen Molecular Research Foundation suggested that I was descended from a person with the surname Saunders.
Two other persons, one surnamed Kerley and one surnamed Crump obviously shared numerous y-chromosomal DNA elements with me.
Recently, Richard Burnett, who is descended from one of three brothers born in the first decade of the 19th century, shared his y-chromosomal DNA values with me. W. G. Burnett and myself are direct male line descendents from the other two brothers.
Since we all three (Richard, W. G. and myself) are in haplogroup I1 (eye-one) it was instructive to visit the DNA charts of the “Burnett Surname DNA Project” and to determine that only a minority of males surnamed Burnett are in haplogroup I1.
My suspicion is that every person from that haplogroup will find themselves to be descendents of one of the three Burnett brothers who were in fact sons of a man named Saunders.
As far as I could detect there is no Kerley Surname DNA project, but there are Saunders/Sanders and Crump Surname DNA groups.
What became evident in a perusal of the DNA y-chromosonal values of the Saunders/Sanders group is that only a minority of that group belong to haplogroup I1. Those that do obviously share common ancestors along the male line and one suspects that each of these are cousins, albeit somewhat distant ones.
Also evident is that the persons in the Crump Surname DNA Project that are in haplogroup I1 comprise a much greater percentage of that group than do their counterparts in the Burnett and Saunders/Sanders DNA projects.
I recognize the abundant methodological problems in trying to approach genealogical research in this way. After all, only a small percentage of the much larger universe of men participate in any of these studies. A large group of closely related males adding their DNA to the study could skew the study in ways that a much larger sample of the universe would not.
That conceded, I believe it would be very instructive to obtain whatever family tree information exists of these haplogroup I1 to see what can be found. And, of course, the haplogroup is only one small part of the DNA data that is available on the haplogroup I1 persons with these surnames.