Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Reeves' Fiction - Fortune Rhodes

The myth that William Reeves, the son of James Reeves of Guilford County, North Carolina, married a "Fortune Rhodes" seems to have begun with Reliques of the Rives (Ryves) by James Rives Childs and published in 1929. In Reliques Part II Appendix A on Page 704, William Reeves, ID 4212, is listed as marrying Fortune, daughter of John Rhodes.

1784 Deed from William & Hannah Reeves to MulloyWhen the Reeves Review II by Mrs. Emma Barrett Reeves was published in 1982, the folly escalated and William Reeves, the son of James, was listed with Fortune Rhodes as his first wife and a Milly whose maiden name was unlisted as a second wife. This William Reeves was supposedly the same person of that name who died in Madison County, Kentucky in 1821. The William Reeves of Madison County, Kentucky was, in fact, from a completely different family and DNA lineage.

The Reeves Review also included another William Reeves in the Reeves family of Guilford County, North Carolina and listed him as a son of James Reeves' son Malachi and his wife Fortune whose maiden name was incorrectly stated as "Burton". This second William Reeves, son of Malachi, with wife Hannah was said to have died in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1816 where there is a will for a William Reeves with wife Hannah recorded.

Since the family of James Reeves was not part of the same Rives family from which James Rives Childs descends, it is unlikely that the research included in Reliques for this family is his own. It is far more likely that this information was submitted to him for inclusion in his publication which may also have been the case with the Reeves Review II.

Regardless of the source of Fortune Rhodes' inclusion in these books, research of the available primary source documents of this family reveal the absurdity of this Reeves' family lore.

The truth of Fortune Rhodes -
Fortune, the wife of Malachi Reeves, was incorrectly identified as the daughter of Richard Burton of Guilford County based upon legacies left to three Reeves' grandchildren in his will. Those were, in fact, the children of Malachi and Fortune Reeves' son Thomas Reeves. When Thomas Reeves died, his widow Elizabeth Reeves was granted the administration of his estate in Guilford County, February Court 1795. On 26 Apr 1796, his widow Elizabeth Reeves married Elias Simons in Guilford County. Elizabeth Simons was named by Richard Burton as his daughter in his 1799 will and the Reeves grandchildren, Richard, Thomas and Martha Reeves, are the children of Elizabeth Burton and Thomas Reeves. Richard Burton DID NOT name a daughter, Fortune, in his will. He named Elizabeth Simons, Mary Mileham and Dorcas Bourton (Burton).

The wife of James Reeves' son William was Hannah as evidenced by a deed dated 1 Apr 1784 recorded in Guilford County, NC Deed Bk 3, Pages 95-96 which named his wife as Hannah. In another deed dated 22 Nov 1791, William and his mother Millicent sold 320 acres to Samuel Mileham. The deed noted that this was the plantation conveyed by James Reeves' Will unto his Son & wife "the said William Reeves & Milley Reeves". Hannah Reeves, wife of William, signed the deed as well. James Reeves' will had stipulated that “I will and bequeath to my son William Reeves the Plantation and Land I now live on to be his whole and sole property at the death of my beloved Wife Melissent and not before”. The terms of the will prevented William from selling the plantation without his mother's consent since it was her property as long as she lived. That deed is also signed by William's wife Hannah presumably relinguishing her dower rights. William's mother Milly's inclusion in this deed is probably the source of the confusion regarding William having had an additional wife named Milly.

James Reeves' son William was incorrectly identified in the Reeves Review as the son of Fortune and Malachi Reeves. Based upon research of the probate, deeds and other records of Guilford County, there is no record that William Reeves, ID 212.iv in the Reeves Review, with wife Hannah Smith, listed as a child of Malachiah and Fortune Reeves existed. Among all the deeds by Fortune Reeves conveying property to their sons after Malachi's death, there are NO deeds to a son, William. This William also supposedly died in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1816. The William Reeves who died in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1816 is undoubtably William Reeves, the son of James Reeves who was the only William Reeves living in Guilford County circa 1780 to 1800 with a wife Hannah. The only reference to an unidentified William Reeves was in the will of John Rhodes which then must be William, the son of James Reeves. The will lists no bequest to the wife of William Reeves and daughter of John Rhodes but neither is there a bequest to his son John Rhodes, Jr., yet both William Reeves and John Rhodes, Jr. (with their relationships stated) are named in the will as Executors.

After Malachi Reeves' death in 1784, his widow, Fortune Reeves, married John Rhodes, father-in-law of William Reeves the son of James, in 1788. Fortune is named as the wife of John Rhodes in his 1791 will which also states that Malychia (sic Malachi) Reeves was her former husband.
And thus began the incredible fiction of Fortune Rhodes which should serve as a cautionary tale in the use of abstracted documents rather than a full transcription when publishing - in print or on the world wide web.

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