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.

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