Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Funny...Wrong Twin the Bride

Published in The Richmond Climax of Madison County, Kentucky on February 14, 1906:


That is What the Husband Fears
After the Ceremony is Over -
May Sue for Divorce.

Lockport, N.Y. - Was Mrs. Harold Reeves Miss Carrie or Miss Louise Merrill before her marriage is the question that is worrying Harold Reeves of Olcott Beach. Reeves is investigating, with a view toward finding just which one of the Merrill sisters, as much alike as two peas in the pod, he took for his lawful wife on the night of December 2 in the Merrill homestead at Olcott Beach. If he establishes to a certainty that Louise was palmed off upon him for Carrie he will bring suit for divorce.

Reeves is sure that it was Carrie he courted all last summer for the reason that Louise was in Buffalo, but she returned a week before the ceremony to assist in the wedding preparations. When the two girls were together in a room Reeves could not for the life of him distinguish Louise from his fiancĂ©e. Taking the girl’s word for it, he was satisfied that he was taking Carrie for his life partner when he stood up before the clergyman with one of the twins.

After his marriage he found that Carrie could not sing with her wonted sweetness. The more he has thought about it the more he has become convinced that he was the victim of a hoax. Mrs. Reeves insists that she is Carrie and explains that hubby hears her warbling through different ears now that his courting days are over. Reeves is going to sift the matter to the bottom, however.

Charlotte Reeves Robertson

Pioneer woman extraordinaire and future heroine of Fort Nashborough, Charlotte Reeves was born in Northampton, North Carolina in 1751 and moved with her family to Johnston (now Wake) County North Carolina by about 1763. There, she married James Robertson in 1768. In 1771, Charlotte and James along with several other families left Wake County for the Watauga Settlements in what is now eastern Tennessee. It is believed that Charlotte’s parents and siblings (including my ancestor Jordan Reeves), some of James Robertson’s siblings, and his uncle Charles Robertson either accompanied Charlotte and James or followed them very quickly.

The Watauga villages where James and Charlotte Robertson settled rested on lands leased from the Cherokee. A truce with the Cherokee was short-lived and land agreements were revoked. Life was difficult and dangerous. By 1779, James Robertson was ready to move west. While James Robertson led some of the men to the Cumberland settlements, where Nashville is now located, John Donelson led the so-called Donelson flotilla to the same location via the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. The women and children (including Charlotte and four of her children) and some of the men were aboard the flatboats that made the nearly 1000 mile journey in winter. During the perilous voyage Charlotte Reeves distinguished herself by fighting off Indian attackers and working the oars with the men.

Once in the Cumberland settlements, Charlotte, James, and their children lived in Fort Nashborough, which was one of several forts housing settlers for protection from Indian attacks.

Charlotte Robertson is celebrated as the heroine of the Battle of the Bluffs which was fought at Fort Nashborough in 1781. When Indians attacked the fort, she realized that they were positioned between the fort’s men, who were out in the woods, and the fort. She unleashed the hounds, creating great confusion among the Indian attackers. This diversion allowed time for the men to return safely to the fort. One of Charlotte’s sons was killed by Indians during this battle. In all, two of her sons were killed by Indians while another was scalped but recovered.

The city of Charlotte, Tennessee, and Charlotte Pike in Nashville are named for Charlotte Robertson, who lived in Middle Tennessee until her death in 1843 at the age of ninety-two. She is buried in Nashville's City Cemetery.

For more information see TN Encyclopedia and other sources.

Charlotte Reeves was the daughter of George Reeves, born 1716, and his wife Mary Jordan. She is of the Rives line documented in Reliques of the Rives James Rives Childs. Descendants of this line have tested as DNA Group 8 in the Reeves DNA Project.

Monday, October 24, 2011


A Jonathan Reeves is listed on the 1790 Wake County census as head of a household that consists of 2-5-4-0-0-11 (2 males over 16, 5 males under 16, 4 females and 11 head of cattle). The 1793 Wake County tax list shows him with 200 acres and 2 white poles. He was living in an area close to the family of William Reeves in the neighborhood of the Fish Dam on the Neuse River, but is not a member of that family since neither he nor his heirs are mentioned in the probate records for William Reeves recorded in Madison County, Kentucky in 1821.

He is undoubtably the son of Malachi Reeves for he had been listed as a tithe of Malachi's in the 1769 Granville County NC Tax records. After his marriage to Nancy Hooker in Granville County in 1769, he was listed as a taxpayer in the Tabbs Creek area along with his father in 1771, then in the 1780's he is found on the tax lists of the Beaverdam Creek District of southern Granville County just a few miles north of the Fishdam area of Wake County.

Jonathan Reeves died sometime in late 1797 or early 1798 for an estate sale and settlement of the estate is recorded in the Wake County probate records, Will Book 4 at Page 114, in March of 1798. There are no guardian records in the Wake County probate records for underage children of Jonathan Reeves after his death which would indicate that his children were all over the age of fourteen. His widow and children appear to have left Wake County shortly after his death because there is no hint of them in the 1800 census.

The three daughters and six sons of Jonathan Reeves appear to have simply vanished, leaving Wake County and blending into the countless unidentified Reeves of the southern United States in the early 19th century. The marriage records of Wake County through the 1790's provide few clues, but when Ruth Reeves married John Sanders there on 15 Sep 1795, Avery Reeves was bondsman for the marriage. Neither Ruth nor Avery are members of the other Reeves or Reavis families located in Wake County at that time.

Grave of William Reeves, born 1795After a short stay in York County, South Carolina around 1810 where other members of the Reeves' family of Granville County had migrated, Avery Reeves is found in Franklin County, Tennessee in the 1820 and 1830 census. John Sanders who married Ruth Reeves, probable sister of Avery, had also migrated to Franklin County and is only a few households from Avery Reeves in the 1830 census. Avery apparently died between 1830 and 1840 for there is no mention of him in any records after that time.

The census records above list Avery with several sons although no documentation has currently been found to positively identify them. Hance Henderson Reeves who is found in Franklin County census starting in 1840 is very likely his son as is William Reeves who is shown in census as being born in North Carolina in 1795. A descendant of Hance Henderson Reeves has been placed in DNA Group 3 of the Reeves DNA Project which identifies him as being of the same lineage as the Reeves of Granville County, North Carolina.

If Avery and Ruth Reeves are in fact children of Jonathan's, that still leaves two daughters and five sons who have yet to be identified. When you happen upon a mysterious Reeves whose origins you just can't find, don't forget to explore the records of this family, they might just be one of the missing children of Jonathan and Nancy Hooker Reeves.

(Photo of William Reeves' gravestone by Terri for Findagrave.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Robertson Bible

One Reeves researcher hit a brick wall in his Reeves research that lasted twenty-one years until, during a 1996 visit to the Tennessee archives, he discovered the James Robertson Family Bible. Prior to that discovery, he had traced his Reeves line to probable ancestor John Reeves in Tishomingo, Mississippi. He had also connected John to his brother William Steel Reeves and had photographed William's tombstone in the Georgetown Cemetery in Texas.

When he saw the Robertson bible’s hand-written family birth records, suddenly he knew he had made a huge breakthrough. Therein he found the birth of William Steel Reeves recorded with the exact same birth date as the tombstone in Texas. Along with William’s birth, he found the birth records of William’s siblings: John (his ancestor), Thomas, Betsey, and Dorinda. William’s birth was actually recorded twice, the first entry identifying his father as George Reeves.

The researcher, Gerald, soon figured out who James Robertson was as well as his wife Charlotte Reeves Robertson. James Robertson, revered in Tennessee as the father of middle Tennessee and co-founder of Nashville, married Charlotte Reeves, sister of Gerald’s ancestor George Reeves Jr (and my ancestor Jordan Reeves) and heroine of the Battle of the Bluffs.

Over a period of years, working with other researchers, and with the help of DNA testing, this discovery led to many more breakthroughs and definitively identified this Reeves family as belonging to the Rives family of Reliques of the Rives, by James Rives Childs.

In addition to the children of George Reeves Jr and the children of James and Charlotte Reeves Robertson, the bible also contains records of numerous nieces and nephews of James and Charlotte.

For more information about the Robertson Bible, see this link. Reliques of the Rives is available on

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Assorted Reeves of Halifax County, Virginia

In the course of researching my own Reeves family, I found that between 1790 and 1860 there were at least three different Reeves’ family lines and possibly a fourth in Halifax County, Virginia .

Daniel Reaves, great grandson of Asher ReavesThe spelling of the surname of the earliest Reeves' family found in Halifax County is usually "Reaves". According to the pension statement of Ashur Reaves (also spelled Asher), taken in Greene County, Ohio on 23 Nov 1832, he was born in Prince William County, Virginia in 1757. He moved from there to Halifax County, Virginia with his family (parents were unnamed) and it was from there he entered the service around 1778. When he returned from that tour of duty, his father had moved to Wilkes County, North Carolina so he then moved there to join his family. From there he served several more tours of duty and after being finally discharged, he returned to Halifax County, Virginia where he married Diana Miller and lived for approximately 16 years.

Before 1800, a George Reaves, Sr. was also recorded in the tax lists of Halifax. His wife is unknown, but George Reaves, Jr., Elijah Reaves (married Elizabeth Wilson) and Polly Reaves (married William Wilson) appear to be some of his children.

It is unknown whether he was related to Ashur or not but there is a George Reaves described as "of Wilkes County, North Carolina" in a Halifax deed dated September 6, 1793 and named as one of the legatees of John Epps, deceased. The connection to Wilkes County, NC for both Ashur and George may indicate that they were of the same Reaves family.

The second Reeves family located in Halifax before 1800 is that of Daniel Reeves who bought land in Halifax County on Deep Bottom Creek in 1797 and sold it in 1799. In Pittsylvania County on 10 Oct 1799, he married Nancy Dodson, but was back in Halifax County in 1807 when he bought 72 acres on Deep Bottom Creek. He is recorded there in the census records from 1820 until his death in 1846.

Daniel Reeves was also listed as Rives repeatedly in the records of Halifax and Pittsylania Counties. His family origins are unknown, but due to the repeated use of the Rives variation of the surname, he may have descended from the Rives in nearby Franklin, Dinwiddie or Brunswick counties of Virginia.

The third known Reeves lineage is that of my own line where three descendants have been placed in DNA Group 6 of the Reeves DNA Project. Within a few years after Peter Reves, the brother of my ggg grandfather George Reves, married Ann “Nancy” Tucker of Lunenburg County, he relocated from Wake County, North Carolina to Halifax where by 1800 he is recorded in the tax lists of that year. By 1801, his brother Charles who had also married into the Tucker family, moved from Wake County to Halifax.

There are countless records in Halifax County of the descendants of these three Reeves' lineages with their surnames constantly mispelled. Unlike many other counties, genealogists are fortunate in that most Halifax marriage records are extant from around 1790 and usually include the parents' names which has been a great benefit in differentiating between these families.

Halifax County is just one of many examples of the pitfalls of assuming that all Reeves in a particular area must be related.

(Photo by Mark Cottrell for Findagrave.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Perils of Proximity

Have you ever been tempted to assume that families with the same surname were related because they lived near each other? Well, you might want to think again before making assumptions about family relationships based on proximity.

The 1850 Federal Census for Independence County, Arkansas illustrates this pitfall very well. There were no less than 64 individuals with the surname Reeves, Reaves, or Reves, living in 11 households in the predominately rural county in 1850. Four households consisted of descendants of Jordan Reeves Jr (born about 1773 in North Carolina), four of descendants of William Reeves (born 1766 in Grayson County Virginia), and three of descendants of Miles Reeves (born about 1760-70, birth state unknown).

For years, the descendants of Miles Reeves assumed that he was a son of Jordan Reeves Sr (born 1747 in North Carolina), based on very little evidence other than the migration of his sons between 1837 and 1846 to Independence County where Jordan Reeves Jr had moved in 1825. Because of this assumption, investigation of the origins of Miles Reeves languished.

DNA analysis ultimately proved that the sons of Miles Reeves were not related to Jordan Reeves. Likewise, the William Reeves descendants are not related to either Miles Reeves’ or Jordan Reeves’ lines. Descendants of Jordan Reeves have tested in DNA Group 8 in the Reeves DNA Project while descendants of William Reeves' brothers Jesse and John have tested in Group 6. A Miles Reeves descendant who had his DNA tested did not match anyone in the DNA project.

Documentary evidence supports the DNA findings. No connections among the three families have been found other than the fact that they all lived in the same county for several years.

Similar situations abound in Reeves genealogy. Though today the surname “Reeves” is the 358th most common surname in the US, it seems sometimes that Reeves were everywhere in colonial America.

If you are researching a Reeves line, consider finding male descendants to do the Y-DNA testing. It could help narrow your research to specific families. And you will find cousins you never knew you had.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reeves' Mysteries - the Reaves of Southeastern North Carolina

There are far more Reeves' family lineages of unknown origin than those whose immigrant ancestor has been established. The Reeves DNA Project has identified many families who share a common ancestor, even though that ancestor is currently unknown. That is not the case for the Reaves families of Duplin, Wayne, Brunswick and Columbus counties of southeastern North Carolina, no records have been found of them before their arrival in this area around 1750 or to positively confirm their relationship to each other.

The first record of several of these Reaves families is in the now extinct North Carolina county of Dobbs where the deed indexes record both William Reaves and Thomas Reaves owning property in 1757. Sadly, only the deed indexes remain of the Dobbs County records. Other Reaves listed in those indexes over the span of the next 20 years include Jane (or James?), Joseph, Drury, Timothy and Reuben.

Dobbs County was 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 in Lenoir County. In 1878, a courthouse fire in Kinston destroyed almost all of these records except the original grantee index. The loss of these records is undoubtably the reason this family's origins remain an enigma.

There is a deed dated April of 1757 and recorded in the index of Book 5 (Page 638) from Andrew Bass to William Reaves. The 1790 Wayne County will of William Reaves contains a reference to land he purchased from Andrew Bass which confirms his identity as the same William Reaves recorded in this Dobbs County index. Sons of William Reaves named in that 1790 will are found in Wayne County as well as Duplin where a Hardy Reaves who appears to be related was recorded in the census of 1790 and 1800.

The families of Brunswick and Columbus counties descend from brothers Joel and Solomon Reaves whose parents are believed to be William Reaves and Prudence Harralson. Prudence Harralson was the daughter of Paul Harralson II, a resident of Edgecombe County circa 1730-50, who was associated in deeds with William Reeves, Jr. the son of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751. Whether that has any significance in establishing their ancestry is unknown.

There are currently no participants from these families in the Reeves DNA Project. Hopefully someday that will change providing clues to their origins and possibly help solve this Reeves' mystery.

(Photo by Mark Stanley for Findagrave.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Busting the Single Immigrant Myth

Did you know that hundreds of individuals with the surname Reeves (or related surname) were immigrants into the American colonies before the Revolution? Yes, in Virginia alone, one researcher documented seventy-eight Reeves who were transported to that colony before 1700, and that list was compiled from a relatively small set of sources.

The Reeves DNA project, with its 108 participants, has already identified at least fourteen genetically distinct lines of Reeves with another twenty-one participants who don’t match any of those fourteen groups.

So you see, the Reeves community form a pretty diverse group.

It is an unfortunate fact that research into the colonial origins of many Reeves families has been stymied by an unfounded assumption that there was but a single immigrant from whom most Southern Reeves descend. Many Reeves researchers, including a few book authors, have claimed descent from Robert Ryves, born 1490 in England, but genetic studies have shown that this is simply not possible. In addition, research has confirmed multiple lines of descent from multiple immigrants.

In future posts, we will identify some of the Reeves lines where more research is needed to identify family origins. In the meantime, don't let the spelling of the name limit your research. In some lines, all possible spellings appear, often in the same generation, and sometimes for the same person.