Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who was Eli Reeves?

Eli Reeves origins are unknown as well as the date of his arrival in Johnston County, North Carolina, but by 1778 he was recorded there in the following deeds:
Deed from William Pitman to Eli Reves, 50 acres on south side of the Neuse River, April 25 1778. A second deed, dated the same day, conveyed 60 acres to Eli Reves on the Neuse River, beginning at the Neuse to Watery Branch down to the mouth of the River.

Eli Reves sold 40 acres on the south side of the Neuse River, to James Lockhart on February 22, 1779, beginning at the mouth of the first small branch.

Eli Reves, planter, sold 50 acres on the Neuse River, part of 2 tracts, to James Lockhart, January 10, 1780. The land began at the mouth of Wartery Branch on the Neuse, up the Branch and then due east to Deep Branch. Eli Reaves signed by a mark.

(Source: ''Weynette Parks Haun, Johnston County, North Carolina, Abstracts: Deed Books H-1, I-1, K, L-1, 1771-1782, vol. 13, Durham, NC'')
Early in 1781, Eli died in Montgomery County, North Carolina at the home of a Capt. Chiles. On the 25th of February 1781, Capt. Chiles gave a statement regarding Eli's death and his final wishes regarding his estate which was recorded in Johnston County as a nuncupative will in May of 1781. Capt. Chiles' statement includes no explanation of Eli's presence in Montgomery County, but considering the date, it's possible that Eli was serving in a militia unit during the Revolution.

Statement of Capt. Chiles Recorded as Eli Reeves' Nuncupative Will
Nuncupative Will of Eli Reeves
Original in NC Archives, Raleigh
A search of the extant Johnston County records has produced no guardian records for the children Eli mentioned in his spoken will. The only information regarding his wife is the given name Elizabeth which was recorded in the Johnston County Court Orders when she presented the will for probate in May of 1781.

Back Page of Original of Eli Reeves Nuncupative Will
Reverse Side of Will
Since there were no other Reeves' families living in Johnston County at the time of Eli's death, it is very probable that the Elizabeth Reeves who married Samuel Baldwin on 13 Jan 1783 was his widow. It is also likely that the following Reeves children recorded in marriage records of Johnston County were his children - Molley Reeves who married William Rainwater on 16 Nov 1787; Betsy Reeves who married William Roberts, Jr. on 12 Oct 1793; and Levi Reeves who married Elizabeth "Betsy" Norris nee Britt on 23 Aug 1802.

A large portion of the records of Johnston County were destroyed in a fire at the Lenoir County Courthouse along with the records of Dobbs County, making it doubtful that any of these assertions could ever be proven but hopefully someday a few more tidbits of information will be found to fill in some of the missing details of Eli Reeves' life and the lives of his children.

(Photos of original statement of Capt. Chiles recorded as Eli Reeves' will in North Carolina Archives in Raleigh.)

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