Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Tale of Adventuring in Chowan Country

Actual historical documents that detail the history of early settlers to the American colonies always fascinate me and the story told by one Thomas Osman in a deposition for a court case in Southold Town, Long Island in 1658 is particularly interesting. The Reeve families who settled in Long Island, New York are mentioned in the 1658 deposition that was transcribed as follows:

A copy of the transcription of the deposition was included in the Southold Town 1636-1939 Commemorative Book. The book noted that the original of the deposition was in the possession of a member of the local Long Island Historical Society. That individual died in 1944 and the location of the original deposition is unknown, if in fact it does still exist. In 1969 the 50 page Study of the 1658 and 1686 Depositions of Thomas Osman compiled by Wesley L. Baker was published chronicling the search by Baker and other individuals for the original document.

According to English emigration records, in 1635 a Thomas Reeve, age 24, sailed from London for St. Christopher, in the West Indies along with William Salmon, 25, and Thomas Terrill, 18.

Thomas Osman's deposition tells the story of his journey in 1636, along with a group which included James Reeve and his father-in-law William Purrier, from the "Summer Isles" in the Caribbean to the Chowan Country in what is now North Carolina for the purpose of distilling "spirits of resin" for the production of turpentine. After arriving in the Chowan country, they found that the area abounded with other parties of Englishmen with similar plans. One of the parties they met while there who had also come from the Summer Isles included a Thomas Reeve who has been described in some accounts as the brother of James Reeve. Because of the excessive competition in North Carolina they set sail up the coast to the Hashamomock Neck in Long Island, New York where one of the party already owned land.

Both Thomas Reeve and James Reeve lived on Long Island for the rest of their lives and raised their families there. Thomas appears to have died sometime around 1665 when he ceased to be listed in land records and a "widow Reeve" appeared. James Reeve died in 1698 leaving a will which was probated in Southold, Long Island.

Although the Study of the 1658 and 1686 Depositions of Thomas Osman did not conclude that Thomas and James Reeve were related based upon available evidence in 1969, recent DNA results for a descendant of James Reeve match several descendants of Thomas Reeve which establishes that they probably were brothers as previously believed.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Reaves' Chapel Church

Today I happened upon this great photo of the Reaves' Chapel Church which was shared by Gene on his Facebook page Eugene's Carolina Reflections. I asked Gene if I might share it here since we try to share all things Reeves, Reaves and Rives along with other misc. variations and he graciously agreed.

Besides having his own Facebook page, Gene also shares his photos on one of my favorite FB pages Abandoned, Old & Interesting Places - North Carolina.

The chapel was built by former slaves of the Cedar Hill Plantation in Brunswick County, North Carolina after the Civil War. People from other plantations also began to worship at the chapel after the war and sometime around 1909 it was decided to move the church. Witnesses recalled seeing the congregation move the chapel with a team of oxen on logs. The chapel was then named after the man who donated the land, Edward Reaves.

The people of this community are the descendants of West African slaves and known as the Gullah-Geechee people. The Gullah-Geechee developed their own language which was a combination of at least three African languages and English, and is still spoken today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another Reeves' Mystery Solved?

The origins of John Reeves who died in Craven County, North Carolina in 1790 have previously been a mystery but recent Y Chromosome DNA tests of a direct descendant have identified another Reeves with whom he shares 37 of 37 markers indicating a close family connection. See previous post Craven County's John Reeves from 2012. Not only is it exciting to finally find the origins of John Reeves of Craven County, but also to identify the DNA of the Reeves of Charles and St. Mary's Counties in Maryland. There was a large Reeves' presence in those counties during the 18th century yet this is the first time a descendant from that lineage has tested.

Southern Maryland
Charles and St. Mary's Counties
The Reeves' individual who is a 37/37 match to the descendant of John Reeves of Craven County descends from Josias Reeves who migrated to Ohio where he died in Pickaway County in 1841. Josias was the son of Thomas Reeves and Mary Murphy of Charles County, Maryland. This individual has not joined the Reeves DNA Project but when FtDNA's complete database was searched they were found to have the previously mentioned 37/37 match to the descendant of John Reeves' of Craven County NC.

John Reeves' will was written on the 13th of July in 1790 and he was deceased by September of that year when it was probated, leaving his wife Courtney, their two small children, Jestenon, Francis and another child that would be born after his death, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Reeves. Older children by a first wife are named in that will as Elizabeth Cheshire, Jean Reeves and Mary Wilson. The identity of his first wife is unknown but he married a second time to the widow Mrs. Courtney Taylor Reed sometime after 10 July 1783 when she made a purchase at the estate sale of Frederick Foster in Craven County, North Carolina as "Courtney Reed".

A St. Mary's County deed of 16 Nov 1772 between John Reeves and Justinian Jordan refers to John Reeves as “of Halifax County in the Colony of North Carolina but now in St. Mary's County in Maryland” has interested me since I happened upon it some years ago. The use of the unusual name "Jestenon" (sic Justinion ?) for his child seemed to be another indication of a connection between the John Reeves of Craven NC and John Reeves of Halifax NC/Charles MD. John Reeves was the son of Ubgate Reeves of Charles County and is found in numerous other documents along with Justinion Jordan. There is, however, no known family connection between the two individuals. The identity of John Reeves' first wife and children, if any, is also unknown. He had obviously removed from Charles County sometime after 1760 and was living in Halifax County in North Carolina. This deed appears to be one of the last references to John Reeves in the records of St. Mary's or Charles counties which may suggest that he returned to North Carolina where he died.

The 1763 St. Mary's County will of James Mills leaves the “plantation whereon John Reeves now lives” to his grandson John Jordan. James Mills also left 5000# of tobacco to Lydia Reeves but no relationship is stated. It is unknown whether this could be another daughter of James Mills who was married to John Reeves, possibly his first wife and the mother of the older children named in his will. John Reeves is found in numerous transactions with both the Mills and Jordan families in Charles and St. Mary's Counties.

Once again, DNA is a thrilling compliment to traditional genealogical research.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Few More Reeve(s) Signatures

The signatures of today's post are from various Reeves' individuals of several different surname variations and lineages. The excerpts of these pictured documents have come from collections of original documents scanned from archived records in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Over the last decade numerous collections of scanned original documents, not copies of pages from deed and will books that were written by county clerks, but documents written by or at the least signed by the parties executing the documents. Collections by Family Search, the Library of Virginia and other sites have put these documents online helping family researchers to make great advances in genealogy. These scans of original documents have also allowed us to see the actual signatures of our ancestors which is a tremendous help in differentiating between all the Reeves of the same given name.

Will of William Reaves of Wayne County NC
also includes signature of William Reaves, Juner as witness
The document on the left is from a scanned copy of the original 1790 will of William Reaves, Sr. of Wayne County, North Carolina. The document includes the signature of William Reaves, Sr. as well as the signature of his son William, Jr. as one of the witnesses. The origins of this family who appeared in now extinct Old Dobbs County in the late 1750s have been a mystery but recent DNA tests of several descendants from this family have now established that their DNA matches that of descendants of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751.

Promissory Note by H. I. (Hezekiah) Reeves
On the right is a promissory note given by Hezekiah I. Reeves of Fauquier County, Virginia to William H. Tilley in 1819 which was the basis of a Chancery Case brought by Wm H. Tilley against Hezekiah Reeves, William and Daniel Thornberry. Hezekiah may have been a member of the Reeves family of Charles County, Maryland which is just across the Potomac River from Prince William County, Virginia where Hezekiah is also recorded. His signature is quite unique and should help to identify him. Sadly, there have been no participants from this lineage or other Reeves of southern Maryland in the DNA project which would greatly benefit Reeves' research.

Thomas Reeves' Signature as Witness
The witnesses to the above document include Thomas Reeves of Augusta, Virginia, previously of Spotsylvania County. The document is found in an Augusta County chancery case entitled Brewer Reeves vs. Aaron Hughes whose first pleadings are dated 1792. The witnesses signatures appear to be original as they are not similar to the body of the document which was written by a clerk or attorney with excellent penmanship - note the surname Reeves as written by the clerk is far more skillfully written than that of Tho. Reeves' signature. Brewer Reeves of this case was identified in other court documents as the brother of Thomas Reeves.

Signature by Edward Reavis on
1752 Northampton County NC Will
Edward Reavis is first found in Henrico County, Virginia, later migrating to northeastern North Carolina. He clearly wrote his name as Reavis differentiating it from the various other individuals of that area of North Carolina who used the Reeves and Reaves variations of the surname. Descendants of Edward Reavis are also totally different genetically to other inhabitants of Northampton and Halifax counties based upon DNA testing.

Signature of William Reeve, Soldier of the Revolution
on his 1833 RW Pension Application
Affidavit and Signature of James W. Reeve
son of William Reeve above

In April of 1833 William Reeve gave a statement in support of his application for a Revolutionary War pension. Appearing in court in Abbeville, South Carolina he gave a declaration regarding his service. He stated that he had entered the service in the summer of 1776 in Prince William County, Virginia as a drafted militia man serving in troops commanded by Colonel Henry Lee. That initial tour was followed by several others under different commanders.

William Reeve was originally from Prince William County, Virginia where his father, grandfather and other extended family consistently used the Reeve surname variation. However, within a few generations most of his descendants began to use the more common Reeves surname.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Reeves' Research of Mrs. Helen Trent Hobbs

Map with Indiana Counties
 Greene and Lawrence
Some years ago, I happened upon a posting to the Reeves Forum at Genealogy.com which referred to biographical statements made by George Washington Reeves of Ashe County, North Carolina. George was the son of John Reeves and Phoebe Osborne of Grayson County, Virginia and grandson of George Reeves of that county.  The message contained the following:
From: Smithb13@aol.com
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 04:23:47



The statement that Edward Reeves of Bladen County was named as a son of William Reavis in his will is completely incorrect since the two were approximately the same age and William named no son Edward in his 1784 will. Although there are numerous errors especially the parentage of Edward Reeves of Bladen and most of the dates mentioned, it still has merit and contains many true statements. I have been intrigued by the post primarily because the Y-Chomosome DNA of descendants of George Reeves of Grayson VA is a genetic match to that of the descendants of my ancestor William Reeves of the Neuse River basin.  At the time I happened upon this post, I had previously never found statements eluding to George Reeves' origins in eastern North Carolina. This theory is supported by deed and court records of Orange and Johnston counties of North Carolina which have numerous references to George Reeves and Richard Burton who is believed to have been George's father-in-law. Previously it was believed that George Reeves had come from Chesterfield County, Virginia based upon Dr. A. B. Cox's book Foot Prints on the Sands of Time: A History of Southwestern Virginia and Northwestern North Carolina published in 1900. I have personally been unable to locate any historical record that would place this Reeves' family in Chesterfield County prior to their arrival in the New River area.

Attempts to locate the individual who had submitted this post to the Reeves Genforum list were unsuccessful. Emails to their address as well as to the list administrator were fruitless. I did eventually find that Mrs. Hobbs was Helen Trent Hobbs of Indianapolis, Indiana, the wife of Henry W. Hobbs. Since Mrs. Hobbs included the Grayson County VA and Ashe County NC Reeves in her research, I assume that she had a family connection to them through descendants of George Reeves of Grayson's son William who migrated to Indiana after leaving North Carolina. Most of William's older daughters married and settled in Lawrence and Greene counties in Indiana raising their families there.

Mrs. Hobbs reportedly submitted all of her genealogical research to the Indiana State Library which was said to include a family bible for one of the families included in her research. Most of the individuals who posted to the Reeves Genforum and were searching for Mrs. Hobbs research were unsuccessful in locating it at that library. Hopefully at some point in the future, her research that pertains to the Reeves' family will be located and shared.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hardy, wife of William Reeves, Jr.

Early North Carolina deeds recorded primarily in Edgecombe County from before 1740 include Hardy as the wife of William Reeves, Jr. of the Reeves' family of Granville County. Hardy has long been a complete mystery with no clues to her maiden name or family but recently another researcher who descends from the Merritt family of Chowan, Bertie and Halifax counties called to my attention that Charles Merritt's 1718 Chowan County will named a daughter Hardy. Hardy was not married at the time the will was written and it is assumed she was still underage.
Scan of Charles Merritt's Original 1718 Will
This Reeves' family lived in the same areas of North Carolina where Charles Merritt and family were found. After Bertie was formed from Chowan in 1722, William Reeves continued to engage in land transactions in the same area on the Roanoke River where Nathaniel Merrit, son of Charles, appears. After Edgecombe County was formed from Bertie in 1732, William Reeves, both Sr. and Jr., along with Merrit family members are found there. The following deeds document the close ties of these two families:
William Reeves, Robert Long, Joseph Sewards, and Franis Varnums were adjacent landowners referenced in a deed from Nathaniel Meriot to Joseph Ballard on February Court 1723. The land was on the Roanoaky River on Plumtree Island.

Ralph Mason Sr., of Bertie, to Phillip Smith, land on the south side of the Morratock River on Plumb Tree Island between the lands of Buckley Kimbrough (late of Joseph Calvert and Amy Besnon Vernon), adjacent Robert Lang, John Gray, Thomas Witmell and the Goose pond (being land said Mason and Ralph Jr., his son, formerly lived on and was purchased from William Reeves and Nathaniel Merrit). Witnessed by Robert Harris, Richard Moore, Ralph Mason, Edgcombe County, August 20, 1739.

William Reeves, Jr. and Hardy his wife of Edgecombe County to Mary Merritt (county not identified). For 12 pounds sterling money of England, 220 acres more or less in the fork of Chockeyott creek joining John Muston, the Spring meadow and the Wolf Trap branch, including all houses, orchards, gardens. Wits.: Robert Harris, Richard Cuerton (sic Cureton), Nathaniel Merritt (X his mark). Registered: Robert Forster C. Ct. 23 Sept 1741

Although there is no extant marriage record or other documentation that has been found to date, there are ample records involving William Reeves, Jr., his wife Hardy and the Merritt family to suggest a connection and support the belief that Hardy Reeves was the daughter Hardy named in Charles Merritt's 1718 Cowan County will. Much more in depth research of the Reeves and Merritt families in Chowan and Bertie counties is needed.

This William Reeves, Jr. was previously believed to be the same William Reeves who died in York County, South Carolina in 1821; however, it is unrealistic to conclude that based upon current documentation. The William Reeves who died in South Carolina in 1821 would have been well past 100 years old if that were the case. It is far more likely that a generation has been missed and the William Reeves with wife Elizabeth who died in York, South Carolina was a nephew of William Reeves, Jr., born circa 1710.

The results of DNA testing for two recent new participants in the Reeves DNA Project who descend from William Reaves who died in Wayne County, North Carolina in 1793 have revealed that they belong to DNA Group 3 and are genetic matches to descendants of William Reeves of Granville. This suggests that the children of William Reeves, Jr. may be the individuals who appear in the deed indexes of Old Dobbs County, North Carolina beginning in the late 1750s.

Thanks to my Yancey cousin, Charlie Rathbun, for calling Charles Merritt's will to my attention.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

More Myth Bustin' - Mrs. Harriet E. Bedingfield

John T. Reeves son of Jeremiah Reeves and Jane Brazile is said to have married widow Mrs. Harriet E. Bedingfield on the 6th of December 1812 in Baldwin County, Georgia according to page 92 of The Reeves Review II. As a result countless Reeves' descendants have copied this incorrect marriage to their family trees and list Harriet Elizabeth Bedingfield as the mother of John T. Reeves' children.

A more accurate narrative of Harriet E. Bedingfield's story begins with a marriage record for Harriet Eliza Hargrove's marriage to John Bedingfield on 27th of May 1807 in Richmond County, Georgia. By the 7th of January 1811, John Bedingfield was deceased and his will was presented for probate in Baldwin County, Georgia. That abstracted will is as follows:
Will of JOHN BEDINGFIELD of Baldwin and Richmond Co.'s, 10/5/1810:1/7/1811, Wife: mentioned, not named. Exrs: Wife, and George R. Clayton. Son: John. Niece: Harriett Pegram Fox, dau. of Colonel James Fox, decd. Testator to be buried in St. Paul's Churchyard near son, John. Wits: F. Walker, Thomas Watkins, Robert Watkins, Vas Walker. Baldwin Co. WB A p. 31
The next year, Harriet married John T. Rives, son of Timothy Rives of Richland County, South Carolina originally from Prince George County, Virginia. The Georgia Journal of Baldwin County, Georgia published this notice - 23 Dec 1812 - Turner Reeves of Washington Co. married to Harriet Bedingfield of this place. After his marriage to Harriet, John T. Rives served as guardian for Harriet's son John Bedingfield.

Further proof that the husband of Mrs. Harriet Bedingfield was not the son of Jeremiah Reeves, is found in the 1820 Will of Timothy Rives of Richland County, South Carolina. The will recorded in Will Book G, page 180-183 includes the following:
Whereas there now unhapily exists a Suit and controversy either in Law or Equity in the County of Washington in the State of Georgia between Harriet Rives Widow & relect of my deceased son John Turner Rives as Administratrix of her Said deceased husband Plaintiff and my son Thomas Rives (who is in this suit acting as my agent) Defendant...
John Turner Rives died between 1816 when he was recorded as the guardian of John Bedingfield, Jr. in Baldwin County and the 5th of February, 1820 when his father Timothy wrote his will. Harriet Hargrove Bedingfield Rives had lost two husbands in less than a decade and by August of 1828 was deceased when her own estate was probated in the records of Baldwin County.

John T. Reeves, son of Jeremiah and Jane Brazile Reeves, married an Elizabeth, born circa 1797, whose maiden name is still unknown sometime around 1810. They are recorded in Jasper and Muscogee counties in Georgia but by 1860 are listed in the census of that year in Gadsden County, Florida and were still there in 1870. Based upon all the documentation presented here, it is completely impossible for Harriet E. Bedingfield to have been the wife of this John T. Reeves as proposed by The Reeves Review.

Thanks so much to Reeves' researcher Joan Chase who found the will of Timothy Rives of Richland SC while searching for her Thomas Reeves and let me know that Harriet had been mentioned in the will as the widow of his son John Turner Rives.