The Magic of Y-DNA

My cousin’s Y-DNA was recently upgraded from 67 Markers to the Big-Y 700 Markers. The matches at this level show that our McGrews & McGraws were possibly surnamed McGrath a few hundred years ago therefore quite possibly descended from one controversial Irish Priest known as Miler McGrath/Magrath.

At 37 Markers, my cousin Homer is an exact match (of course) to near and distant cousins, all of whom descended from Thomas McGraw and wife Catherine “Caty” Withrow: These individuals match through two of their sons, Samuel and John “O” McGrew. (The surname in the Kanawha Valley was likely changed from McGraw to McGrew shortly after the Civil War).

At 37 Markers up through 111 Markers are distant cousins whose ancestors were born more commonly in Fayette County, West Virginia (Samuel McGraw) as well as in Russell County, Virginia (John McGraw). One of these individual test takers grew up with the surname Helton which I discuss in a separate post.

Why didn’t I include descendants of Martin McGraw Jr? Because Y-DNA is passed from father to son generation after generation: Martin McGraw Jr. didn’t have sons until the three born by his second wife: TWO  lived and died in the Kanawha Valley (William, and Samuel McGREW), George Andrew McGRAW died in Madison County, Ohio in 1930. To date, none of their descendants have taken the Y-DNA test. The same is true for male descendants of George Anthony McGraw and the youngest, Henry McGraw. Of William McGraw, I have yet to trace him out of Monroe County, WV after 1814. None of the descendants, to my knowledge, of these gentlemen have tested at (because if they did, I’d connect them).

But then there are those McGraws who descend from individuals located in Blair and Bedford Counties of Pennsylvania to which we share a Genetic Distance of 3 steps at 67 and 5 steps at 111 Markers. I’m fully aware that my ancestors, Martin McGraw Sr and wife Margaret (Last Name Unknown) came from Pennsylvania. According to sons John McGraw (Russell Co., VA) and Martin McGraw Jr (Nicholas/Fayette/Putnam Co., WV) both provided their birthplaces as Pennsylvania in their respective censuses in 1850:

1850 Russell Co, VA - John McGraw, son of Martin and Margaret McGraw

1850 Putnam Co, WV - Martin McGraw, JR, son of Martin and Margaret McGraw

There is no doubt there is “a” Martin McGraw recorded in the tax lists of Bedford County, PA during the years from 1775 to 1785. I am inclined to believe this is my ancestor and is somehow related to the William and Edward McGraw of Bedford and nearby counties in PA. Further, there is a George McGraw of possibly Chester County who is also descended from a common ancestor as the two mentioned above. Note that none of the trees containing these individuals go further back than 1800.

1775 Tax List, Hopewell, Bedford Co, PA

ALL of these individuals match the McGrew descendants at 37, 67, and 111 markers as well as the Big-Y (700) (those who took the higher numbered tests).

FTDNA Test Takers & known ancestry


Below is a post by Stan Megraw, the McGraw Surname DNA project:

“MAR 25, 2023: Thanks to the generous donation of a project member, two kits were upgraded from Y-111 to Big Y-700 and their results released today.

Kit 943657 (Martin McGraw, b. ca1750, Pennsylvania, USA) has the following breadcrumb trail … M222 > Z2959 > BY35297 > FGC4077 > A725 > A11360 > FT80690 > BY11740.1 > FT445853 > FT123736 > FT124490 > FTC15936 > FTC15046.

Kit 739716 (Edward McGraw, b.1816. Pennsylvania, USA) has the same bread crumb trail with a terminal haplogroup of R-FTC15046.

Both kits share the same terminal haplogroup (R-FTC15046) with a third kit, 972590 (William McGraw, b. 1837, Pennsylvania, USA) and all three kits are downstream of the terminal haplogroup of a project member (684718) with a confirmed pedigree back to Miler Magrath (b. ca1523, Co. Donegal, Ireland).

An examination of paper records is currently in progress in order to determine the probable common ancestral genealogy represented by these genetic results.

[Note: a “Results” page has been added to the About section in the menu to the left. It includes the FTDNA Group Time Tree showing the three major groupings in the McGraw surname project as well as modified Block Trees for project kits identified as Group 01 (Ui Neill > Cenel Eoghain) or Group 02 (Ui Neill > Aindréas Mag Craith)].”

So that we’re clear, I’ve joined the McGrath Clan surname Project as well. You can see updates for yourself at:


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