Tackling Those Tacketts

With my latest massive update of my database to my website, I have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on my Appalachian TACKETT/TACKITT antecedents.

I have direct connections to the Tackett/Tackitt surname through my maternal ggg-grandparent, Sarah “Sallie” Tackett (1813-1904), who married Richard Hall (1810-1855), my main maternal Hall bloodline.

Sallie Tackett was a daughter of William “Preacher Billy” Tackett and Anna (or Amy) Johnson, early settlers on Long Fork of Shelby Creek in present-day Pike County, KY. Her husband Richard Hall was a son of Masias Hall and Unisiah Branham-Smith, who were also part of the original group to settle Long Fork.

While this is my most direct blood connection, it is also worth noting that as recently as my great-grandfather, Brother Joseph Leonard Hall (1865-1928), son of Enoch Mahlon “Red” Hall, there was a marriage into the Tackett family. He took as his fifth wife, Martha Ann Tackett (1897-1967), daughter of Wilson and Rhoda (Hampton) Tackett.

My methodology for exploring these Tackett connections was very simple…

Out of my total database of 125,000 people, some 1,065 bear the Tackett/Tackitt surname. I have spent the good part of a month attempting to review each individual Tackett record with on-line data resources from FamilySearch in order to discover whether birth, death, burial, and/or marriage records exist in the hundreds of transcribed public record databases on FamilySearch. (There are simply so many census record entries, I have not delved deeply into each decennial record yet!) Whenever I could find a reasonably-reliable match, I have updated my own database and linked citations to the underlying public-record transcriptions.

As part of this process, I would uncover duplicate entries — for example, an individual entered along with a spouse, who was also entered as a child in a family. If I could confirm that the records were duplicates, they were merged. Similarly, I uncovered numerous sibling relationships among folks who had not previously been linked as part of a single family unit in my database.

While this approach does not guarantee perfect matching and, therefore, complete accuracy of my revised database, it will offer other researchers suggestions about where to start pursuing confirmation of links, facts, and dates. As always, I rely on the “crowd-search” wisdom of others to test and verify — or reject — assumed links to people, places, and events. Therefore, I will respect and strongly consider your comments, evidence, and alternate analyses of the extant on-line data!

Now that I have built stronger linkages among the individuals with Tackett surnames or married names, I will begin to do the data analysis that is nearest and dearest to my heart: “When, where, and why did they move into and out of the Southern Appalachian Highlands?” If you happen to be a Tackett family member, directly or indirectly, and if you have documents that trace the perambulations of your branch of the family throughout this country, please contact me.  And feel free to recommend this site and database to others!

ONE FINAL COMMENT: If you, too, have Tackett/Tackitt connections, I encourage you strongly to connect to the “Tackett Family Association” Facebook group moderated by Jim Tackitt of Rio Vista, CA, a native of Pike County, KY who has performed outstanding service to Tackett family researchers for years. This “private” (or membership) group is a wonderful resource.

We’re All In This Together

Forget the Adam-and-Eve story. Ignore the Darwinian “common ancestor” (or “missing link”, if you prefer). You can disbelieve either of those narratives, and yet — if you are Appalachian — you still cannot deny that we are all related to one another!
When I first began to delve into Appalachian history and genealogy, I already knew that certain surnames were prominent in every community and every family’s background. It was that awareness that spurred my interest in documenting the interwoven stories of “the pioneers”.
Now I have compelling evidence of the interconnectedness of our Appalachian family experiences. Continue reading We’re All In This Together

RootsMagic 6 and FamilySearch Central: A Review

For many years I have been a user of genealogy software to collect, collate, and analyze information on my own ancestors and the other families who early settled in the central Appalachian highlands.  My product of choice is RootsMagic, currently in version 6.  RootsMagic is the successor to a program I used back in the late ’90s called Family Origins.

The current release of RootsMagic offers some very impressive functionality that any researcher would deem valuable.  First, it is scaleable to very large databases — mine is more than 87,000 records, plus image files, etc.  Second, it can compile very attractive reports and charts for publishing, either in print or as web resources.

However, the most significant new tool in RootsMagic 6 is its integration with the totally-redesigned FamilySearch Central,

sponsored by the Latter Day Saints.  The LDS has the largest collection of genealogical records in the world,  and much of it has been digitized — including online images of records for many collections.  RootsMagic is the first software product that has been “certified” to directly link with, and exchange data with records in the FamilySearch Central files.

While I have to acknowledge that there are regular database-error messages that can crash the connection linkages, the folks at RootsMagic have aggressively dealt with bugs and posted fixes that will automatically update to the user’s system.  In reality, one can expect a few such problems due to the complexity of the interface between the two services.  And, in my opinion, it is worth the occasional error message to be able to fully integrate facts from an individual record on FamilySearch Central into a specific record on my database.

As any frequent visitor to my online database knows, I disclaim any guarantee of accuracy of the data presented therein — that is because so many records have been contributed by others whose diligence in fact-checking and documentation may be somewhat lacking.  The same can be said for many of the family trees submitted to FamilySearch Central, so a user needs a discerning eye (and suspicious nature) to filter through the wealth of “stuff” there.  However, one can quickly see many of the contradictions that are so common — such as children whose birthdates are a hundred years earlier that the birthdates of their parents — an error resulting from similarities/repetitions of names over generations and frequent intermarriages among a handful of families.

RootsMagic 6 helps the user manage these inconsistencies, using logical tests to flag “problem records”.  In the family view or tree view, a warning icon is affixed to any record that seems logically impossible or unlikely.  Therefore it is easy to visually scan through one’s most immediate ancestry tree to locate and fix problems.  And the same logic can be used to generate a problem list for the entire database that can be saved or printed out for extended troubleshooting efforts.

RootsMagic 6 also provides the capability to automatically query the full collection of public and church records (census, marriages, deaths, births, baptisms, etc.) that have been digitized in FamilySearch Central.  I have been able, for example, to access online transcriptions of the 1900 census of Letcher County, Kentucky (my home county) for any person with surname of Hall (my maternal line), and (1) quickly put each individual into context with his/her family, (2) document the census entry as a unique fact on each personal record, and (3) affix a clear citation to support the quality of the research.

RootsMagic can also automatically query a variety of other online resources — Find-a-Grave, Ancestry, RootsWeb, and more.  However, “hits” to these sites do not provide a means to “click and import” pertinent facts.  The user will have to transcribe the newly-found or verified information into the RootsMagic individual record.  That is still a small price to pay for quick access to phenomenal quantities of captured data from original sources.

As a result of these tools, I am now focusing much more energy on improvement of the quality of data in the records on my website.  Rather than simply “acquiring names” to enlarge the headcount, I can serve you — my users and research colleagues — by more fully testing and validating the connections among our shared ancestral pioneers!

Disclaimer:  I have no business connection with RootsMagic or its owners.  I am just a satisfied customer who wanted to acknowledge how helpful their integration with FamilySearch Central has been for me.