Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Wives of Jordan Reeves

According to census records, Jordan Reeves Sr, born 1747 in North Carolina, had as many as ten sons and three daughters born over a period of 31 years (approximately between 1773 and 1804). Some have speculated that he also had a daughter Sarah, born 1767, who married Jesse Garland, which would bring the total to ten sons and four daughters over 37 years.

Some of the sons, none of the daughters, and none of the mothers of these children have ever been identified.

Though some of the young adults living with Jordan in the 1820 Humphreys County Tennessee census could turn out to be step-children, or less likely, grandchildren, this is still a lot of children to be borne by one woman over a long time period. Yet, no wife of Jordan’s has ever been found.

In the almost complete absence of clues, what does one do? Well, Jordan moved a good bit, leaving Johnston County, North Carolina about 1771 for the Watauga settlements in Washington County, Tennessee. Sometime in the mid to late 1780s he decamped with the rest of the family for South Carolina where we find him in both Pendleton District and Spartanburg records. Ever on the move, he turns up in middle Tennessee by 1797. Though he sold land starting in the 1790s in South Carolina and later in Tennessee, no wife ever relinquished her dower. No marriage records for Jordan have ever been found in any location. No wills that might yield clues appear to exist. If there ever were bible records, they have long since vanished. Not a single document with reference to a wife has materialized to help with the search.

Where to begin?

One path taken was investigating German families at the Watauga settlements. After all, in the 1779 Washington County, Tennessee tax list, Jordan is shown as a “dunkerd by profeshun,” a description not used for the other Reeves in this list – father George and brother William. The term “dunkerd” refers to members of a certain religious sect of German origin. Only two other families appeared on any tax lists with a similar designation, but investigation did not produce any marriageable daughters.

Next, I looked for neighbors and friends who were nearby in all or most of the places that Jordan lived, starting with Johnston County, North Carolina. The name that shows up more than any other is Jacob Chamberlain/Chamblee/Chambers, but no Chamblee sister or cousin has surfaced who might have married Jordan. Other families making the cut include Houghton, Robertson, Cunningham, Garland, Sevier, Russell, and Brown. I’ve just about ruled out a Robertson or Cunningham woman, but the jury is still out on the other families.

Out of all this effort, not a single candidate wife has emerged. Are there other options for furthering the quest? One possibility I’ve considered is the ftDNA Family Finder test. Unexpected cousins might be revealed by the results that would take me in more fruitful directions.

This situation points to the extreme difficulty of tracing female ancestors before 1850. Women (except for widows) were not named in census records, and only occasionally were named in other documents.

Yet, I keep working to identify my foremothers, who were every bit the trailblazers that their husbands were, so that they, too, can have their place in history.

1 comment:

  1. Carolyn,
    You are a great researcher.

    You of course are speaking of these citations in TN when it comes to Jacob Chamlee:

    MARCH 3, 1775, TN
    "This office to JACOB CHAMBERLAIN 280 a. Bleavens Branch of Watauga Riv adj George Rives" (Old Book A p 28-29)

    March 19, 1775 Petition of Washington District (TN) to become part of NC,
    signed, Joshua Houghton, Jordan Reeves, Tho Houghton, JACOB CHAMLEE...(Raleigh Archives)

    1778, East Tennessee
    JACOB CHAMBLE listed as taxpayer, 191L 4 shillings (amount of estate); 1L 9 shillings 4 pence (to pay). Joshua and Thomas Houghton and Jordan and George Reeves also on list.

    Jacob Chamlee received a military warrant for land in Tennessee from Revolutionary War service. Yes, he was living in and around the Wake Co, NC area earlier. The Chamblee land was near and on the Wake Co/Johnston Co lines. Only one reference to Jacob has surfaced in the records in the NC area actually.

    JACOB CHAMBLEE mentioned in guardian accounts for Rowena Arendal, Elizabeth Arendal, orphans of Bridges Arendal.Examined in court 11/19/1809 (Franklin Co Will Book C p.35).

    Jacob left Tennessee Jacob migrated down to Ole Pendleton Co SC (Anderson) to joined other relatives and nephews and area residents in and around Wake and Johnston Co NC.

    This is the first citation in SC regarding Jacob:

    Oct 23, 1782, TN
    N.C.#94 to Joshua Houghton, 350 a. north side Watauga adj JACOB CHAMBERLAIN'S line. (Deed Bk____ p. 169-71) [This is our Jacob]

    Jacob was referred to as Chamberland, Chamberly, Chamblee, Chamle, etc in TN and SC. Jarred Chamblee was referred as "Chamberlain" in Wake Co NC tax records. I am surmising it might be the dialect of the day from speaker to recorder which accounts to t his.

    After Jacob had land in Sc he was still referred to in records in TN as you probably know.

    We have researched the Rives/Reeves families a great deal to figure out if there was a family connection. Jacob left a bible but some of it is very faint. Not "wives" of sons are given in the bible.

    This is what we DO know as proven:

    Jacob Chamlee b. 25 Jan 1752 prob in NC, died after 1833, probably in SC.
    Children per the bible:
    Lotta Chamlee (no info, probably Charlotte)
    Octavia Chamlee (no info)
    Joshua or Jonas or John Chamlee (no info)
    George Washington Chamlee, he had three wives
    William Chamlee/Dorcas Sego
    Jacob Chamlee, Jr/Juda Chastain

    I understand an Edward Freeman ca 1730-aft 1811 who was b. in Surry VA and d. in Franklin Co NC probably married William Rives. I assume you know this William Rives and if he lived near the four corners of Franklin/Nash/Johnston/Wake or close to it, the Chamblees and their large family and land holdings were probably involved with the family.

    Who is the father of Jordan Rives? Was it George Rives and Mary Charlotte Jordan per some compiled genealogy sites? And was his sister Charlotte who married James Robertson? What has been proven? It has been 15 years since I have dug into the Rives v. Chamlee connection (if any).

    Just thought I'd touch base.