|Ashe County, North Carolina|
Census records record the birth of Mahala, at times called Hallie, in 1831 in Lee County, Virginia and that is where the family is next recorded in the 1860 census. In the 1860 census of the Western District of Lee County, William, Mahala, Mary, another daughter listed only as M. S., Andrew Johnson "Jonce" and William Shelby Reeves are listed.
The last record of William and Mahala Reeves is in Cumberland County, Tennessee in the 1870 census and by then Julia Ann, Rebecca Jane and Lucinda Reeves have been added to the family. The last records of William Reeves are two entries for land dated 7 Mar 1873. One entry for 400 acres is located on Devil Creek and the other for 650 acres is on Meadow Creek, both are in Cumberland County.
Several undocumented theories are that Mahala died by 1878, possibly in an institution, but there is nothing to support that theory. Whether William Reeves was also deceased is unknown but he disappears from Cumberland County and the lives of his children before 1880.
By 1880 the children had disbursed and were living in various homes where they appear to have been working for the families with whom they are listed. In the 1880 census, Mary Ann "Polly" had married John Washington Welch and Andrew J. "Jonce" was living in their household and working for his brother-in-law in Cumberland County. William Shelby Reeves (listed as Shelby) was living in a boarding house in Union County, Kentucky along with other young men listed as laborers. 12 year old Lucinda was listed as a servant in the household of farmer J. H. Officer in Putnam County; 16 year old Rebecca Jane is listed as Jane Reeves keeping house in the household of Henry Watson in Overton, Tennessee; and 18 year old Julia is listed as house keeping in the residence of a Benjamin Watson also in Overton County.
Much research has been done on this family in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee but at this point, there are no viable theories as to William Reeves' family origins. However, Mahala is believed to be the daughter of John Goss and Abigail Osborne of Ashe County. John Goss was the son of Zachariah Goss who is recorded as being hung as a tory by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1781.
The history of the New River area of North Carolina and southern Virginia records the tale of at least 3 Tory loyalists who were hung by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland in 1781. There are numerous variations of the story online although none seem to have detailed documented information. The 2011 post Hanging of a Loyalist named Reeves can be found on this blog where I provided all the information I was able to find about this story. The 3 loyalists who were hung were Capt. William Riddle, Zachariah Goss and an as yet unidentified Reeves individual.
For some time I have been puzzled as to whether this Reeves was a member of my own family who are connected with the Reeves family of George Reeves, Sr. of Grayson County as proven by Y-DNA, but to date, nothing has been found to document a connection. Since there appear to be so many connections between William Reeves and Mahala Goss to the Goss and Reeves' families of Ashe and Grayson counties it seems a plausible theory that there is a connection to their family.
Anyone reading this post who descends from William and Mahala Goss Reeves and would like to help unravel the mystery, please consider taking a Y-DNA test at Family Tree DNA and joining the Reeves DNA Project. Y-DNA testing requires a male with the Reeves surname since Y-DNA is passed through the male line unchanged for countless generations with the exception of an occasional random mutation. Y-DNA is far more accurate for this purpose and provides results within about 6 weeks to accurately identify the Reeves lineage from which you descend.
Thanks to William & Hallie's descendant Heather for the use of the above photo of her ancestor Andrew Johnson "Jonce" Reeves.