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I became “aware” of my name in January, 1988. I was at my grandmother’s house and was looking through my deceased paternal great grandfather’s bible. He had written on a page in front of his bible “the names of my brothers and sisters.” Above this title he had put his initials G. W. T. (George Washington Tackett) as if it were an after thought.

Now listing family names in a bible was common place when my great grandfather was living. What struck me as being unusual were the names. There were nine, four of which were female. All of the listings had the surname “Adams”, except for one female and he crossed “Adams” out and wrote “Tackett,” as if he had made a mistake.

I asked my grandmother, who was sitting on the couch with me, about why these names were “Adams” and she, very coldly, said, “That’s something we don’t talk about in this family.” That was the end of that conversation.

Amazingly enough, a few weeks prior to finding out this information, I had received a post card from an organization called “The American Pioneers, Tackett-Tacket-Takitt Families of America” requesting information on my family. I laid it aside thinking they just wanted me to buy something. I remembered there was a place for a query on this card. After searching a while, I found the post card and filled out the query asking if they had information on a George Washington Tackett and his ancestors and explained my relationship to him. I never mentioned the name Adams.

About two weeks later I received a two page letter from the president of the Tackett families of America, a Mr. James Wm. Tackitt. He apologized right up front because he had information that might be disturbing to me. He talked about my great grandfather’s church, The Little Mary Church of The Old Regular Baptists in Ashland and I knew he had the right person. His records showed that George Washington Tackett was one of three known children of Wiley Adams and Eliza Jane Hunley Adams. And that Wiley probably had died and Eliza Jane remarried to a William Tackett. He then stated that George probably liked William so much, that he took the Tackett name.

I was thirty six years old at the time and had just discovered something that unknowingly had an effect on my entire life. How would having had the surname “Adams” have changed my life? I reflected back on my grade school days remembering how your last name determined where you sat in class, and even the order that you ate lunch in the school cafeteria. In high school I knew I could procrastinate because my surname started with a “T” and the teacher could not possibly get to my class presentation on the day it was due. (I am trying to correct this habit!)

In the military it was just the opposite. You had less time to eat because you were the last in line at the mess hall. As bad as the army food was, I was always hungry because by the time I got into the mess hall the “Drill Sergeant” was yelling “Let’s go, let’s go.” I remember thinking I was glad my name didn’t start with “Z” like the guy who bunked above me, whose name was Zewkowski. He was always running!

Once I entered the job force, life became easier, because your name didn’t seem to matter as long as you did your job.

Ten years after I read the page in my great grandfather’s bible, my wife and I had time to do research and discovered another reason for the surname change. My great-great grandfather Wiley Adams had fathered a child out of wedlock, and my great-great grandmother divorced him. On the day the divorce became final, she married William Tackett. In the year 1900 when this took place all of these events would have been shameful for my great grandfather and he, along with two of his sisters, took their stepfather’s surname.

So, what’s in a name? I will never know how my life may have evolved if I were born with another name. I may have been more aggressive, less prone to procrastination, better fed (?).
Don and Chlotene Tackett of Boyd County Kentucky
Updated December 5, 2005


Donald Ray Tackett
11411 State Route 5
Ashland, KY 41102
United States

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    Our House was built around the end of the Civil War. We have lived there for twenty years.
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