Mastering Those Lemasters…

One thing leads to another… and another…

After my last blog posting, highlighting my researches into the extended Tackett family, I heard from researcher Annette DeCourcy Towler, who has been researching the descendants of Eleazer “Ealy” Lemaster (1760-1859) for decades. One of Eleazer’s two wives was Machell Tackett (1762-1792); his second wife was Rachel Remy/Ramey ( – ca 1850). Eleazer’s descendants intermarried with Tacketts in the Kentucky counties of Floyd, Johnson, Lawrence, Magoffin, and Pike over several generations.

Annette generously offered to share her data with me so that users of this site/database can learn more about the role of Lemasters in the early settlement of eastern Kentucky — particularly the Big Sandy and Upper Licking River basins. Now, after more than a month of “tweaking” Annette’s contributions through intensive cross-checking against FamilySearch and Find-a-Grave resources, we have a solid beginning on the documentation of the settlement of that geographical location. I am delighted to have — in a manner of speaking — this new geographic territory opening to deeper exploration.

The Lemaster family data that Annette supplied includes links to several other important collateral lines — in addition to Tackett, other surnames that show up with frequency include: Caudill (and variant spellings common in Northeastern Kentucky such as Cordle and Cordial); Hughes; McKenzie; Pack; Pelphrey; Picklesimer; Ramey; Rice; Stapleton; and Wheeler.

All these names — and more — reawakened some memories of my early working life. In 1973, fresh out of the University of Kentucky, I worked for a year with three other people as a field research crew performing the “socioeconomic impact” portion of two Environmental Impact Studies — the first two that the Army Corps of Engineers ever had to conduct in connnection with flood-control (i.e. “dam-building”) projects.

We spent six months driving through every road, logging path, and even a few creekbeds, within the watersheds that were to be impounded for the Paintsville and Yatesville reservoirs.  We became thoroughly acquainted with large parts of Morgan, Johnson, and Lawrence counties — particularly those sections that were not on paved highways.

We attempted to “map” every occupied dwelling and, if possible, interview the householders. More than once, we got stuck and had to winch our old International Travelall (remember them?) out of creeks, ruts, and bogs.

The place names will be forever etched into my memory — tiny post offices like Win, Relief, and Volga (pronounced “Vawl-gie” by most folks); Paint and Little Paint Creeks, Blaine. I particularly remember Burchett Flats, a hilltop “settlement” of 3-4 houses accessible only by a dirt road,where the mail was still being delivered on muleback — as I recall, that was possibly the last such route in Kentucky.

And, deep in the woods in the narrow “gorge” of Paint (or was it Little Paint) was the home of an elderly African-American man — who claimed strong Cherokee blood relations — who almost had to hitch his mules to help pull our vehicle out of a deep dry creekbed after the old logging bridge collapsed on us — a good two miles from his, or anyone else’s house. That was one time a 5,000 pound Tulsa winch served creatively as more than a macho front bumper ornament! I always wanted to work that little experience into a job resume…

So, to Annette, I say a big “Thanks for the memories!” Your family stories intermesh very nicely with my own. And it reinforced the connections we all have — through blood ties, and through life experiences, that make our Appalachian roots so strong.

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