Sunday, August 23, 2020

William Reeves & Mahala Goss

According to the 1860 census of Lee County, Virginia, William Reeves was born in Ashe County, North Carolina in 1824. The Reeves' family of Ashe County as well as Grayson County, Virginia are well documented and with one or two exceptions of individuals found there briefly in marriage records, appear to all descend from George Reeves, Sr. who settled on the Peach Bottom Tract of Grayson County in 1767. Much research of Grayson and Ashe has failed to locate any Reeves' family descending from George Reeves, Sr. to which this William Reeves might belong. His parentage is currently a complete mystery.

Ashe County, North Carolina
William married Mahala Goss shortly before 1850 for they were recorded in the 1850 census of Bennett Bayou, Fulton County, Arkansas with one year old Mary Ann. On the previous page in that census, the next residence in Bennett Bayou is a Jesse Reeves born 1822 but there is nothing to connect the two families other than a child with the surname Murphy in each household.

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.

Andrew Johnson
"Jonce" Reeves

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.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Mystery of Jane Reaves

A deed from page 185 of Deed Book 6 (April 1758 to April 1765) is recorded in the index of that book from Dobbs County, North Carolina. The index lists the grantor as Jane Reaves and grantee Charles Miller. The female name Jane has been questioned in transcriptions of this index and it has been theorized that the name may have actually been James.

In 1779 Wayne County was formed from the western portion of Dobbs and in 1791, most of the remainder of Dobbs was divided into Glasgow which is now Greene, and Lenoir Counties. Dobbs County then ceased to exist and its records along with those of early Johnston and other counties formed from Johnston - Wayne, Greene and Lenoir were placed at the Courthouse in Lenoir County. In 1878, a Courthouse fire in Kinston destroyed the Lenoir County Courthouse and almost all of these records. The only record that survived for Dobbs County was the original deed Grantee Index. Due to the loss of the deeds themselves, there has been no way to study the original deed to determine whether the name of the grantor was Jane, James or some other variation.

However, a recently discovered deed dated the 8th of November 1763 which is excerpted above, was found in the early unindexed deed books of Duplin County in Deed Book 1 at pages 359 and 360. This deed is from William Richeson to Jane Reaves for a tract of 200 acres. Sadly, no watercourses are named and the only landmark listed is by "John Young's path". The deed does mention that the property was originally granted to Patrick Stewart by patton (sic patent) dated the 29th of September, 1750.

A published history discovered for the Stewart family who came to North Carolina from Perthshire in Scotland better describes the location of the tract Jane Reaves bought from later owner William Richeson. This history states "On Sep. 29, 1750, Patrick (Stewart) was granted 200 acres on John Young's path between Six Runs and Goshen swamp in Sampson [then in Duplin] County." This information places the property between the Black River and the Northeast Cape Fear River. It also decreases the possibility that Jane was part of the family of William Reaves who was initially recorded in Dobbs County but in the part that became Wayne County and his tracts of land were just to the south of Seven Springs.

We still can't positively identify Jane Reaves, but this deed has certainly added much more information than just the brief mention in the Old Dobbs County deed index. Jane may have been a spinster or she could have been the widowed mother of Hardy Reaves who was a resident of Duplin County by 1770. Descendants of Hardy Reaves are still found in the Mt. Olive area close to the location of Jane's 200 acres. If Jane had a family connection to the Richeson family it is also of interest that a Hardy Richeson was found in a deed in this same area of Duplin County. We can only hope that sometime soon more extant records come to light in Duplin County that will resolve the mystery of Jane Reaves.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Y-DNA Needed for These Reeves Families

During the years since the inception of the Reeves Y-DNA Project countless mysteries have been solved. As rewarding as that is, we still have many Reeves families for whom we have no clue as their origins and to which other Reeves' populations they may be related. Y-DNA testing by the following families would make additional great strides forward in Reeves' genealogical research.


Little is known about the origins of Sidney King Reeves. It was recently discovered that in 1824 he was a young apprentice to tailor Charles Fowler in Raleigh. The Reeves and Reavis families of Wake County, North Carolina are fairly well documented and Sidney does not belong to either of them so he was presumably from the surrounding area. After settling in Pike County, Georgia, he had several sons and we hope left sufficient male descendants to provide Y-DNA for testing. A recent blog post concerning Sidney can provide more information, see The Elusive Sidney King Reeves.


Jonathan Reeves' recent blog post James Reeves of Maine summarizes the details currently known of James Reeves' life. At this time, there are no participants in the Reeves Y-DNA Project descending from this Reeves' lineage.


John Reeves of Essex and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts. John may be the John Reeves who is recorded as coming to New England from London on the Christian in 1635 however, there is a small discrepancy in dates of birth of the two individuals. John is documented as having one son, William, who may have left descendants who could provide Y-DNA testing and information on his origins and related Reeves.

Thomas Reeves originally settled in Massachusetts but by the next generation his son Thomas had relocated to Southampton, Long Island, New York with descendants later settling in Salem, New Jersey. Much research was done by a descendant, Mrs. Emma M. Reeves (not to be confused with Emma Barrett Reeves of the Reeves Review), who self published a great amount of information for this clan. Y-DNA from members of this family would be invaluable in separating all the disparate Reeve or Reeves lineages in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

New Jersey

The Salem County, New Jersey Reeve clan descending from Mark Reeve is also not represented in the Reeves Y-DNA Project. Branches of this family will be found in Camden/Gloucester Counties and in Arkansas. Y-DNA testing by male Reeve descendants would provide needed information as to their origins and any connections to other Reeve family who also migrated to the American colonies.

North Carolina

The Benjamin Reeves recorded in early Rowan County is the individual most likely to be the son Benjamin named in the 1751 will of William Reeves in Granville County, North Carolina. This Benjamin Reeves is recorded on the 1762 and 1766 tax lists of Rowan County around the time William's son James and his family were listed there. He was a soldier of the Revolution and received a grant of 1000 acres in Davidson County, Tennessee which he assigned to James Cole in 1789. By the 1800 census, the Benjamin Reeves in Rowan County appears to be a different individual for he was age 26-44 and too young to be the son of William Reeves of Granville although he may have been the earlier Benjamin's son. The younger Benjamin is found later in Montgomery County. DNA from descendants of either Benjamin Reeves of Rowan or Montgomery counties would be extremely valuable to Reeves genealogy.

One descendant of Edward Reeves of Bladen County has tested but the DNA does not match any of the other Reeves' clans. Additional testers from this line would be a great benefit to Reeves' research besides to the descendant who has already tested.

George Reeves, Sr. of Orange County was first documented in that area in 1772 when he was the grantee in a deed from Ruffin McNair for 200 acres on New Hope Creek. Most of George Reeves' sons remained in the Orange County area although one, James, migrated to Hancock County, Indiana. DNA from male members of this lineage would be helpful in identifying all the different Reeves' lineages found in the Orange County area prior to 1800.

John Reeves also of Orange County is another mystery. Although John is only documented as having one son Thomas who had several sons and hopefully left many Reeves' male heirs. Their DNA would be helpful in understanding the diverse Reeves' lineages of early Orange County. After John's death, Thomas migrated to Ray County, Missouri where he died.

South Carolina

Drury Reaves who died in Darlington in 1792 may be the Drury Reaves recorded in the deed indexes of Old Dobbs County, North Carolina throughout the 1760's. There are no further clues to his origins and Y-DNA testing of any male descendants could prove extremely rewarding.

Ewel Reeves of Greenville County may have descended from John Reeves who migrated to Christian County, Kentucky before 1800 since the name Ewel was common in that family who has close family connections to Greenville SC. There is currently no information that provides clues to Ewel's origins other than his given name and proximity. It would be a great benefit to have someone from Ewel's family test.

John Reeves of the Colleten/Dorchester area. John was born in London in 1745 and died in Reevesville, Dorchester, South Carolina in 1798. His 3 sons left numerous descendants in South Carolina and Mississippi who can hopefully provide ample DNA testers to learn more about this lineage.

John Reeves of Union County. John's origins are currently unknown and the Y-DNA of descendants of his sons could provide answers to the mystery.

Lazarus Reeves served as a Revolutionary soldier in a South Carolina regiment however his RW pension statement provides no biographical information that can identify his origins. He later moved to Pike County, Mississippi where he was mentioned in a history of Pike County pioneer families. Lazarus had several sons who may have left enough male Reeves descendants to test and furnish more information on this lineage.


George Reeves originally of Henry and Patrick Counties in Virginia left there around 1816 and after migrating to Wilson County, Tennessee died in 1817. His descendants were found in Wilson and Campbell counties of Tennessee, in Missouri initially settling along the Missouri River and in Madison County, Arkansas. George's origins and family lineage are unknown which Y-DNA testing by his descendants could resolve as well as prove his connections to his probable sons who migrated further west.

George Reaves of Halifax County in later years was referred to as Sr. indicating he had a son George in addition to sons Asher Reaves, Daniel Reaves and Elijah Reaves, Sr.. George Reaves, Jr. was born about 1790 but disappeared from the Halifax County, Virginia records after becoming an adult. George Reaves, Sr.'s other sons had several sons and presumably left enough male Reaves descendants to provide ample candidates to test in order to identify this family line and others related to it. Asher left Virginia a few years after the American Revolution and migrated to Greene County, Ohio. Daniel remained in Virginia and his children were found in Halifax and Pittsylvania counties after his death. Elijah and his two sons continued to live in Halifax County, Virginia. Y-DNA testing by descendants of George Reaves, Sr. would be invaluable to Reeves research. Another detailed post about George Reaves, Sr. and his wife Martha "Patsy" Epps is available at this blog - The Rest of the Story.