Thursday, May 30, 2013

Those Places Thursday - The Cumberland Gap

The Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains section of the Appalachians located just north of the point where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet. Native Americans had used this pass through the mountains long before the American colonists became aware of it. After a team of loggers led by Daniel Boone widened the path and made it more accessible to settlers migrating westward, it became a major passageway through the lower central Appalachians and an important part of the Wilderness Road.

The Cumberland Gap Looking Toward Kentucky
Around the age of 65, my ancestor William Reves left Wake County, North Carolina which had been his home for most or possibly all of his life and migrated to Madison County, Kentucky around 1806.  His youngest sons, George and Jeremiah, had made this trip several years before along with other settlers from the Granville-Wake County area.

William Reves lived most of his life on a 400 acre tract granted to his father William Reves, Sr. in what had been Orange County in the 1750s, Johnston County in the 1760s, then Wake County and is now Durham County.  In her book Durham County - A History of Durham County, North Carolina, Jean Bradley Anderson states "Among the first to take up land in present Durham County were William Reeves, who received 400 acres where Ellerbee Creek runs into Neuse River (1746)".

In August of 1760, as William Reaves, Jr. he registered his cattle brand in Orange County.  He is found listed in the minutes of the Wake County Court from the county's inception in 1771 through 1803. He is recognized as a Revolutionary War Patriot based upon his civil service as a tax assessor in Wake County during the revolution by the DAR. From the 1770's, he served on juries, was overseer of roads, assessor and tax gatherer in Captain Woodson Daniel's district and from 1787 to 1803 was a Magistrate Justice of the Wake County Court.

Many of the documents that refer to him spell his name Reeves, but he and his sons who were all literate, always spelled their name Reves which tends to set them apart from the many other Reeves families of North Carolina.  DNA of several of his descendants also establishes that they were unrelated to the other Reeves families in the Neuse basin but to date no records have been found with clues to their origins.

His final appearance as a justice of the Wake County Court is recorded in 1803 and on Sept. 16th, 1806, his son William Jr. sold his 130 acre tract south of Ellobey's Creek. These were the last records for either of them in Wake County and by the 1810 census, both are recorded in Madison County, Kentucky.  

Several years ago my cousin and I made a trip to North Carolina by way of southern Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap into Virginia and drove a two lane highway through the Appalachians from Virginia into North Carolina. Even in a modern vehicle on modern roads, it is apparent what an accomplishment it was for my 65 year old 4th great grandfather to make such a trip through the Cumberland Gap in 1806.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Access to Family Trees on Family Search

For everyone who has longed to be able to access the LDS family trees on Family Search in order to make additions or corrections - it is now possible.  If you haven't already discovered the changes at Family Search, you will be pleased to know that these seriously flawed trees, full of duplications and undocumented connections, can now be accessed.  Many of these family trees were created long before the internet with the records that are now available or DNA testing.

Family Information for William Reaves
of Wayne County, North Carolina
Family Search has entered these family pedigrees into a wiki type database which could eventually be a wonderful source of family information but it is currently a mass of conflicting family connections and duplications.  See the image inserted at left for information retrieved on a search for William Reaves of Wayne County, North Carolina.

William Reaves, born circa 1737, is shown as the child of John Reeves, born circa 1745 who obviously could not be William's father.  This lists John Reeves as marrying in North Carolina but there are countless records from Augusta and Rockingham Counties of Virginia for John Reeves and Margaret Duncanson.   A descendant of this John Reeves has tested and been placed in DNA Group 9.

Recent DNA testing by descendants of William Reaves of Wayne County have placed this family in DNA Group 3 which connects them to William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751.  Also included among the proposed siblings in this listing are members of the family of Isaac Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina (DNA Group 6), William Rives of Prince George County, Virginia (DNA Group 8) and even one individual with the surname Rapp who was born in Germany.

This image is included simply to call attention to the errors in the information at present. In spite of all the errors, this is a tremendous step forward for online genealogy and if those of us who love genealogy all perservere in helping to correct the incorrect data and merge the duplications, it could eventually be a wonderful resource.

One of the exciting features the Family Search software provides is the ability to link a scanned copy of original documents, i.e. wills and probate documents, marriage certificates, etc., to the individual's page.  This excellent feature allows a scanned document from Family Search's collections to be added to the person's page and provide documentation with sources for the data.  Their software will also allow the addition of pictures.

There are countless "legacy issues" recorded in these records where individuals have noted errors and requested corrections in the past.  If you've always wanted to correct the information in the LDS files for your ancestors, now's your chance.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Interesting New Developments

In the earliest days of this blog, I added a post regarding the Reaves family of Wayne County, North Carolina whose origins prior to their arrival in Old Dobbs County have been a mystery. Thanks to DNA, that mystery may finally be solved. Two participants in the Reeves DNA Project who descend from William Reaves of Wayne County have now matched DNA Group 3. DNA Group 3 includes the descendants of William Reeves who died in Granville County, North Carolina in 1751.

Wayne County, North Carolina Area
The fact that their origins have previously been unknown probably stems from the 1878 courthouse fire at Kinston in Lenoir County which destroyed all the records housed there. Dobbs County had been formed from the eastern portion of Johnston County in 1758 and in 1791, Wayne County from the western portion of Dobbs. The records of early Johnston and other counties formed from Johnston - Wayne, Greene and Lenoir Counties, were placed at the courthouse there and all were lost in that fire. The only exception was the original grantee deed index from Old Dobbs County.

With this new DNA evidence, we are presented with the question of how the Reaves of Wayne County are related to the family of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751. Previously William Reeves, Jr. of that family was believed to have been the individual by that name who died in 1821 in York County, South Carolina. However, the William Reeves who died in South Carolina would have been well past 100 years old if that were the case since he must have been born about 1710. 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 the son or nephew of William Reeves, Jr. Recent research of the probate, tax and deed records of Granville County has established that the William Reeves who was present in the records of Granville County from around 1755 as a tithe of Malachi Reeves was undoubtedly Malachi's son. From 1755 when he is first listed, until November of 1796 when he is recorded in a deed transaction wherein he sold 257 acres on Tabbs Creek to John Hall (Deed Book P, p.342) before leaving for South Carolina, he is the only William Reeves in the records of Granville County.

William Reeves, Jr. along with his wife Hardy was often recorded in the deed records of Edgecombe County from at least 1740 and continued to be found in deeds there until the 1750's. As William Reeves of Edgecombe County, he was last found in the records of Granville County in May of 1753 when he sold 525 acres on Fishing Creek (Deed Book B, p.243-244) to his brother Malachi. His absence in the Granville and Edgecombe County records coincides with the appearance of William Reaves in the records of Old Dobbs County around 1758 based upon the extant deed indexes of Old Dobbs.

1790 Will of William Reaves of Wayne County

 These recent DNA results may indicate that some of the Reaves' individuals found in Old Dobbs and later in Wayne County were descendants of William Reeves, Jr., previously of Edgecombe County and that William Reaves may even have been his son. Hopefully records in the surrounding counties that were not destroyed in the Lenoir courthouse fire can be found to provide more documentation for this family.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Update on the Reeves of Wayne County Tennessee

DNA testing is helping to unravel yet another Reeves mystery. Over a year ago, I wrote a post titled Yet Another George Reeves.  At the end of the post, I opined that DNA testing might help identify this mystery George of  Wayne County.

I’ve long been interested in the numerous Reeves families of Wayne County, Tennessee. Most of my paternal ancestors came from Wayne County, Tennessee, but my Reeves line is maternal. I was very curious – were my mother’s relatives living next door to my father’s ancestors 100 years or more before my parents met in Arkansas? And there were so many Reeves there -- surely they couldn’t possibly all be the same line. Most of them came out of nowhere and moved on elsewhere, but a combination of paper trails and DNA testing is starting to bring them into a sharper focus.

One such Reeves is George W Reeves who sold land on Hardin’s Creek in Wayne County, Tennessee in 1833 as "George Reeves of Hickman County, Kentucky." I found him in the 1830 Wayne County census and then in 1840 in Hickman County, Kentucky and in 1850 in Ballard County, Kentucky.  I was able to identify his first wife as Nancy Elizabeth McClure as well as their children and his second wife as Mary Polly Boone.

Then the trail went cold until my Reeves cousin Laverne got her results from the Family Finder test.  Laverne’s test confirmed, as she always knew, that she is part of the Reeves Group 8 DNA family.  But among her matches was a real gem of a find:  two descendants of "George W Reeves of Hickman Kentucky.”

Having identified his line, I knew a little better where to look for more traces of him.  I found his wife’s family, the McClures, living in Humphreys County Tennessee near several Reeves dwellings including that of Jordan Reeves . Further supporting the family relationship, these McClures migrated to Wayne County with George and Nancy and then on to Kentucky. And finally, an 1820 census record of a George Reeves in Perry County TN that had long stumped Group 8 Reeves researchers fits the family structure of our now less mysterious George W Reeves.

We still don’t know who George W Reeves’ father was, but he could very well be one of the Reeves men who migrated to Humphreys and Hickman County Tennessee between 1808 and 1816/17, sons and grandsons of George Reeves and Mary Jordan. 

Updated to add: I now also have a DNA match to a descendent of George W Reeves and Nancy McClure.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sarah Reeves Dickey of Leon County, Texas

Although no document has yet been found stating absolutely that Sarah Virginia Reeves was the daughter of Avery Reeves of Franklin County, Tennessee, there is ample evidence to support the belief. Several posts to this blog have listed the various records that have been found pertaining to Avery Reeves. Just as his parents are still undocumented, so are his children but it is fairly certain that William Reeves, Jonathan Reeves, Nancy Reeves who married William Claiborne Handley, Sarah Reeves who married James C. Dickey and Hance Henderson Reeves of Franklin County, Tennessee are some of those children.


In 1850 before they left for Texas, the household of James C. Dickey is recorded in Franklin County in the census of that year. Sometime after the birth of their youngest child, Claiborne in 1854, James and Sarah left Tennessee for the state of Texas which had been annexed to the United States in 1845. They're found in Leon County, Texas in the 1860 census. During the early years following Texas' annexation, it was an extremely popular destination for settlers migrating from the eastern United States and east Texas counties were filled with families from Kentucky and Tennessee.

On a recent visit to east Texas, we spent a pleasant fall afternoon locating the Pleasant Grove Cemetery where most of the members of the Dickey family are buried. It is east of the small town of Leona in Leon County on Farm Road 1119 close to the area where Leon and Madison counties join just west of the Trinity River. The area is said to have once been called the "Dickey community". It probably hasn't changed substantially since these early pioneers arrived and is still not heavily populated.

Most of the older sons of James and Sarah Dickey served in Texas Regiments of the Confederacy and returned to Leon County following the end of the Civil War.

Both James and Sarah Dickey were deceased by 1885, but many of their descendants still live in this area of east Texas where they settled back in 1855.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wilkes County's George Reeves Mystery

There has recently been much speculation on the web regarding the identity of the "George Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina" who is named as a legatee in the probate records of John Epps in Halifax County, Virginia. There is a conveyance dated 6 Sep 1793 (Recorded 24 Feb 1794) in Halifax County wherein Nathaniel Epps, Moses Epps, David Powell, Sr. (m. Mary Epps), John Comer (m. Amey Epps), Edy Epps, Temperance Epps, of Halifax County; Ambrose Gresham (m. Elizabeth “Bettie” Epps) of Lunenburg County; and George Reaves of Wilkes County in North Carolina, legatees of John Epps, sell to William Epps of Halifax a 40 acre tract of land on the south side of Banister River in Halifax County. These were the grandchildren of John Epps, children of his son Joshua who predeceased him, dying in 1778. One of the three remaining daughters, Patty, Millison or Dicey, named in Joshua Epps' will had apparently married George Reeves.

View of the blue ridge from Grayson County
It has been theorized that this George Reeves must then be George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia who is listed on several occasions in the tax and deed records of Wilkes County, North Carolina. In George Reeves deposition for ''Beavins (Blevins) vs. Newell'', 27th September, 1805, he stated that he was present in the New River area as early as 1767. George Reeves' home was located on Peach Bottom Creek just north of the New River and there is no record that he made his home at any time on any of the other properties he was granted or purchased. This New River area was for approximately 20 years claimed by both Virginia and North Carolina with the state line repeatedly moving as many as 20 miles either side of the present state line. The land that George Reeves owned in Wilkes County and ultimately sold to his son William became part of Ashe County when it was formed from Wilkes in 1799.

The following deed recently found in the Wilkes County records may help to identify the correct George Reeves or at least put to rest any lingering speculation that the Epps' legatee must be George Reeves of Grayson. This George Reeves is located much further south than the Peach Bottom tract and is in the area where Isaac Reeves had settled in the early 1780's. Isaac Reeves had previously been located in the area of Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties of Virginia as was the Epps family.

Wilkes County, North Carolina
Deed Book B-1, p. 416
9 Dec 1794

THIS INDENTURE made this ninth day of December one thousand seven hundred and ninety four Between George Reeves of Wilkes County and State of North Carolina of the one part and William Petty Senior of the same state and county of the other part, Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds Current money to him in hand paid by the said William Petty before the Sealing and Delivery hereof the receipt whereof the said George Reeves doth hereby acknowledge and himself therewith to be fully satisfied and paid and for which Sum he hath granted Bargained sold conveyed and confirmed by these presents doth fully clearly freely and absolutely sell convey and confirm to the said William Petty his heirs and assigns for ever a tract or parcel of Land containing two hundred Acres of Land lying and being in our county of Wilkes lying on little Cub Creek BEGINNING on a pine in Thomas Rogers line adjacent to the Moravian line and running South two hundred and four poles to a maple near a branch in John Greers line thence East with said line one hundred and twenty four poles to the corner thence North twenty Degrees East seventy two poles to a pine thence North Sixty East seventy six poles to a red oak sapling in William Gilreaths line being conditional line between James Chaney and said Reeves Thence North with said Gilreaths line forty two poles to the corner Thence North seventy Eight Degrees West two hundred and sixty poles to the first Station &c - Together with all woods waters mines Minerals Hereditaments and appurtenances to the said Land Belonging or appertaining and all the whole right title and Intrust of him the said George Reeves to the said Bargained premises to have and to hold to the said William Petty his heirs and assigns for ever And the Intent and meaning of these presents are that the said William Petty his heirs and assigns may at all times forever hereafter lawfully and peaceable possess hold and enjoy the said Bargained premises with all the rights and privileges thereunto belonging free and clear of all Incumbrances and the said George Reeves doth covenant and agree well and truly to warrant and defend the same In witness whereof the said George Reeves hath hereunto set his hand and seal the day and date above written ~
James Hardgraves  }
Joshua Greer          }                          George Reeves (Seal)

(Wrote on the Back)
S. N. Carolina       }      May Term 1795 -
Wilkes County     }     The within Deed was duly
proven in open court by the oath of Joshua Greer and
ordered to be Registered.
                   Test
                        C. Gordon C.C.
The 1788 and 1789 tax lists of Wilkes County record a George Reeves along with William Petty, John Greer, Joshua Greer and the adjoining property owners listed in the above deed, Hardgraves, William Gilreath and James Chaney, in Capt. Tribbles District. Also, James and John Reeves, sons of Isaac Reeves, Sr. and Alexander Holton whose daughter married James Reeves had been listed in Tribbles' district in 1787. These individuals all lived just south of Wilkesboro in an area joining the Moravian settlement along the Yadkin River.

The George Reeves of the Wilkesboro area is no longer found in Wilkes County after the recording of this deed and may have returned to Halifax County in Virginia where he appears to be the individual listed on the tax lists there in 1798. It should be noted that Asher Reaves had also returned to Halifax, Virginia after the Revolution. A George Reaves is listed repeatedly in the tax lists there until before 1830. The 1830 census records a widowed Martha Reeves around 80 years old as head of a Halifax County household. Since Patty is a nickname for Martha, this may likely be Patty Epps, granddaughter of John.

Hopefully someday descendants of Asher and George Reeves/Reaves of Halifax will participate in the Reeves DNA Project. And with the popular new autosomal DNA projects by Ancestry and Family Finder, there may be hope of one day unraveling this mystery.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reuben A. Reeves of Todd County, Kentucky


Gravestone of William O. Reeves, son of Reuben, at the city cemetery in Palestine Texas
Reuben A. Reeves was the son of Ottway Curry Reeves and Mary Ann Mansfield, the grandson of Brewer Reeves who was one of the earliest settlers of Christian County, Kentucky. The act creating Christian County was passed in 1796 and specified "that the Justices to be named in the commission of the peace for said county" should meet at the house of Brewer Reeves and organize for business. Brewer, his wife Martha and their family had immigrated to Kentucky from Augusta County, Virginia.

In January of 1846, Ruben married Sarah Mills in Todd County and soon afterward left Kentucky for Texas which had just been admitted to the United States. Anderson County was a popular destination for the stream of immigrants flowing into Texas from various U.S. states. By 1848, Reuben had established a law practice in Palestine, the county seat of Anderson County. He and his young family are found there in the 1850 U.S. census and by 1857, Reuben had been elected a district judge in Palestine.

After the civil war began, he enlisted on the 11th of April 1863 in Terrell's Regiment of Texas Cavalry of the CSA and became captain of Company E. A year later when the term of James H. Bell, associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court expired, Ruben Reeves ran for and was elected to that office in August of 1864. The resignation of his commission from the CSA was written on the 19th of September 1864 in Tyler, Texas.

Letter by Capt. Reuben A. Reeves Resigning his Commission
Reuben Reeves served as associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court until the war's end and participated in the Constitutional Convention of 1866. He was then elected district court judge for the Ninth Judicial District but on November 30, 1867 when Texas came under federal military control, he was among the officials removed from office as "impediments to Reconstruction". When Governor Richard Coke was elected, Reuben Reeves was reappointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of Texas on January 30, 1874 and served until April 18, 1876 when he returned to Palestine to practice law. At one time his son William also held the office of district judge in Anderson County.

President Grover Cleveland appointed Reuben Reeves to the Supreme Court of New Mexico Territory in the 1880's, and he served in that office until 1889. He died in Dallas at the home of his daughter on January 30, 1908, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Read more about Reuben A. Reeves at The TSHA Handbook of Texas Online