Playing with DNAPainter

i have been hearing a lot of rave reviews about DNAPainter, an award-winning DNA analytical tool. So I thought that I would try it. Before I tried it, I had to finish my taxes. Now my State Taxes are in the mail and my Federal Taxes are e-filed, so I’m raring to go.

Using DNA Painter

The instructions seemed pretty straight-forward and intuitive. In short time, I went through a lot of my Gedmatch top matches and painted into the program.

I have a lot of 2nd cousins as my Hartley great grandparents (represented in green above on the DNAPainter) had 13 children that made it past infancy.

My grandfather is third from the right with his 12 siblings and mom. I”m told this photo was from 1938.

The DNAPainter shows that I have painted 28% of my chromosome. So far I have not started on my X Chromosome and still have some more to map.

The Matches Behind the Matches – Under the Hood

This is one of the cool features of DNAPainter. Here is Chromosome 18, for example:

This shows that on the top paternal side, I have a blue match mapped to James Frazer and Violet Frazer. They were born around 1804. When I select the Chromosome, it opens up, so I can see the matches that make this up:

The Maternal side splits out also, but I am just looking at the Paternal side for now. These four bars represent four people that I match and two sets of common ancestors. The brown represents my Frazer and McMaster great-grandparents. The blue represents my Frazer 2nd great-grandparents.

Separating the DNA and the Ancestors

A lot of genetic genealogy is about separating out the DNA. For example, if I have a match on the brown segment above, I would like to know if it is specifically Frazer or McMaster DNA. My guess is the brown match with Emily above is a Frazer and not a McMaster match. Emily in brown above should match Gladys, Susan, and Doreen in blue.

It seems like Emily has to match the blue matches, but I’ll check to make sure:

These are Emily’s matches with Doreen, Susan and Gladys (in that order). Emily’s matches with these three women go from about 26M to 53M. Emily matches me from 35M to 52M. Now on my Chromosome 18, I got all my paternal DNA from my Frazer grandmother. I can now know two things:

  • The match with Emily is a George Frazer match and not a McMaster match
  • The segment right before 35M and after 52M on my Chromosome is not from George Frazer. This could be DNA I got from McMaster or even my grandmother’s mother Clarke.

Because I know that my match with Emily is with George William Frazer, I can map that DNA more specifically. In order to do that I click on the brown Emily segment on Chromosome 18:

Then I choose Edit Segment.

Under the drop-down menu for Group/ancestor, there is an option for ‘Create a new group’. This looks like a good option.


Now the match with Emily is yellow and represents just George Wm Frazer 1838. This means in a practical way, I will not be looking for McMaster matches in this segment, but Frazer matches.

More George on Chromosome 7

By the way, here is George Frazer and his wife Margaret McMaster:

Again, the light blue goes back to James and Violet Frazer in the early 1800’s. On the end of the blue segment, it gets a little darker, indicating that something is going  on. That is when I look under the hood:

Again, here is a match in brown (indicating Frazer/McMaster.  However, this time it is a match with my cousin Paul and not with Emily. This has to be just George Frazer as it is overlapping with a match going back to the parents of George. The two blue matches represent Ken and his sister Susan. Ken does not show up on Paul’s match list, as the match would be too small. However, Paul does show a match with Susan.

This match that Paul has with Susan is at about the same location as the match I have with Paul. That is triangulation and shows that the DNA that Paul and I share in brown should be in yellow for George McMaster.

I went in and edited the segment that I share with Paul:

It doesn’t look llke a big change, but I would rather have a short specifically identified segment than a longer more vague segment.

Splitting Out My Hartley/Snell Great-Grandparents

I have a lot of interest in splitting out my Hartley and Snell great-grandparents. That is because my Hartley great-grandfather was born in Bacup, Lancashire and my Snell great-grandmother has ancestry going back to SE Massachusetts in Colonial times. I have brick wall issues on the Hartley family in Lancashire.

Here is my Chromosome 9 from DNAPainter. I got all my paternal DNA from my paternal Hartley grandfather on Chromosome 9. Here are my second cousin (and 1C1R) matches that I have mapped so far:

These two areas look suspiciously like crossovers:

These are likely areas where my DNA switched from Snell to Hartley, or from Hartley to Snell. The first circle is at 81M. The second circle is at 126M. If I were to look at all my Chromosome 9 paternal matches, I may be able to figure out which ones have Colonial Massachusetts ancestry and which ones have Lancashire ancestry.

Adding More Matches to DNAPainter

I’ll add Michael. We have a common ancestor going back to the 1700’s.

Our common ancestor is Richard Frazer. I don’t know his exact birth year or his wife’s name. However, the red DNA that we share could be from Richard Frazer or his wife. So I indicated that in the key. I also notice that on Chromosome 17, there are a few hash marks. This indicates a common pile-up area within the area of the match that I have with Michael.

Adding Nigel

Nigel is a maternal match and our common ancestors also go way back to Sheffield, England.

This yellow match on Chromosomes 1 and 3 goes back to 1765. When I hit the orange refresh button, I see that my mapping has increased from 28% to 29%:

It also shows that I added 4 segments.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I was most impressed with the individual segment look underneath the map. This is what Roberta Estes calls the self-triangulating feature. I think of it as the under the hood look.
  • Using the under the hood look and known cousins, I was able to assign DNA to a specific ancestor in two cases. This requires multiple known matches in overlapping segments.
  • I’m sure that this feature will have more applications for me with unknown matches in the future.
  • I would like to try to use DNAPainter to separate out my Hartley and Snell sides going back to my great-grandparents.
  • Next up, I’ll map more DNA from MyHeritage, FTDNA and/or 23andme.


2 Replies to “Playing with DNAPainter”

  1. Useful blog post.
    I was born in Lancashire and so were a lot of my ancestors., but I do not see any surnames in common with you.

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