My Shamrock Tattoo Isn’t Because I’m Irish

Yes, I’m technically Irish. Well, I should say I am 9% Irish according to my Ancestry DNA test and I have a story handed down about my family’s immigration from Ireland. I also have a small shamrock tattoo on the back of my neck that most people naturally assume is for my heritage. However, I do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s never been the traditional jovial, happy day at the bar drinking green beer with friends nor feasting on Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage. Saint Patrick’s Day has been nothing but a constant, solemn reminder of my grandpa Curtis Lemaster’s death thirty years ago. It’s not that I don’t remember my other grandparent’s dates of death nor feel their loss any less, but his is just emblazoned in my brain (and on my heart) because he was the first one I lost as a child.  

Lemaster & Cordle Family Resemblances

I have been quite unfortunate to have not found many genealogy references to the Lemaster or Cordle families from Lawrence and Boyd counties in Kentucky during the course of my research. They’ve been notoriously hard to document as many were born or died at home and no probate record of their births or deaths exists.  This is the case with my great-grandmother Tabitha Caudial (Cordle) and her husband Jacob Lemaster who I’ve written about before. Though I have their dates of death and an obituary for each, Kentucky has no death certificate on file for either.  The quickness in which they were buried suggests to me that they might not have been embalmed and hastily buried in the family plot, likely not even seeing a coroner or doctor for a death certificate to be officially filed. Such has been my luck with documenting my Lemasters and Cordles in that area, so when I do find something interesting, I’m happy to talk about them.

A Long Awaited Record Arrives

Image of 1881 Marriage Certificate for Jacob "Jake" Lemaster and Tabitha "Bitha" Caudil.

1881 Marriage Certificate for Jacob “Jake” Lemaster and Tabitha “Bitha” Caudil.

That moment when you finally, finally find a record you’ve been searching for after months of endless research and dead ends…. JUST HAD IT!

I opened my mailbox today and found an envelope from the KY Historical Society and held my breath.  A few months ago, I’d sent away for two death certificates from Kentucky that came back returned with no records found.  So opening this one, I was prepared to be disappointed but there it was, check marked as “Information Enclosed.”  I anxiously flipped through the pages and there it was – the marriage certificate for my second great grandparents, Jacob Lemaster & Tabitha Cordle of Johnson County, KY on Valentine’s Day in 1881.¹  I think I must have stared at it for over fifteen minutes straight with this silly grin on my face.  It validated so many things about them while simultaneously opening a few new puzzles to ponder as well.

This perfectly illustrates the point I made on my FAQ page that while there are so many free records online, there are still mountains of documents that haven’t been uploaded or transcribed yet. You can’t give up when you can’t find it online. You have to do the leg work, look up addresses to different organizations/libraries/repositories, fill out research request forms, make calls, send emails and in some cases, really think outside of the box of where you might possibly find some hidden family gems.  This is where a genealogist’s experience can benefit those struggling to build or expand upon their family tree or even break through those frustrating brick walls.


¹ “Jacob Lemaster and Bitha Caudial,” 14 February 1881, Johnson County, Kentucky; Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Tuesday Time Travel

The Cordle Kids - 1926

The Cordle Kids – 1926

I wanted to share this absolutely *adorable* picture of my paternal grandma Gladys “Earline” Cordle (sometimes spelled Caudill) with her brothers Charles & Homer from 1926.  Her face is so cute all scrunched up and pouty looking.

The whole Cordle/Caudill family was centralized primarily in Lawrence County, Kentucky and many married into the Salyers, Wheelers, Lemasters and Sergeants.  Many branches of this tree still reside there to this very day!