DNA and a brick wall

Click on the image to expand it.

Recently I’ve been playing around with DNA Painter. It is a colorful, easy-to-use tool for understanding the chromosome segments you received from an ancestor. This free program lets you map DNA segments and assign or “paint” them various colors on your different chromosomes.

I created the chromosome map above by first determining a common ancestral couple between myself and a match. Then I download our shared segments and added them to DNA Painter. You can do this for any results found on 23AndMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDMatch. For each match I assigned them a color based on our most recent common ancestors.

So far, I have only painted about 9% of my DNA and most of that is from my maternal line. But once you begin to build up your chromosome map you can use it to help figure out the relationship between you and other matches that you are unsure about.

For example, I have assigned the maternal DNA from my great-great-grandparents Carl and Christina (Beier) Behnke a deep purple color. If I find a maternal match on any of these purple segments, then I know we are related through this Behnke and Beier line. Sometimes these matches have shallow trees but once I know where we are related I can do a little research and build out their tree to intersect mine.

If I find a maternal match on any of these purple segments, then I know we are related through this Behnke and Beier line.

I also have a major brickwall I hope DNA Painter can help me with. My great-great-great-grandfather was Michael Yeagle. According to his obituary, he was born in 1810 in Centre County, Pennsylvania. He married Sarah Kreilick from Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, sometime in the mid-1830s, and they moved to Sandusky County, Ohio, about 1839. I know a lot about Michael and Sarah in Ohio. But I know nothing about the Yeagle family from Pennsylvania except they were of German heritage.

However, I’ve recently discovered a group on DNA Painter that might help. On chromosome 17 I noticed I had a cluster of five matches who also had a lot of Pennsylvania German lines in their family trees. I assigned them the color yellow and they are my new FAN (friends, associates and neighbors) club for Michael and Sarah (Kreilick) Yeagle. Although we haven’t figured out how we are related yet, I hope further research will provide some clues about my Yeagle family.

Pam Guye Holland

About Pam Guye Holland

Pam has been researching family roots in Ireland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Germany for over twenty years. She is the genetic genealogy director for the Massachusetts Genealogical Council and is a certificate holder from the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate program. She lectures internationally, is a regular contributor to the NEHGS blog, Vita-Brevis, and has published articles on genetics and genealogy in the American Ancestors magazine. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she grew up in West Virginia, and currently resides in the Boston area. During her earlier career she earned a BA in International Relations from the College of Wooster and a MS in Computer Science from Northeastern University. Areas of expertise: Irish immigration, Irish records, DNA, church records, German, New York (both city and state), and New England.View all posts by Pam Guye Holland