Sunday, April 29, 2012

Update on Samuel Reeves of Rowan County

As I mentioned in a previous post, Samuel Reeves who was previously believed to be a descendant of William Reeves of Granville County, North Carolina was actually descended from the Reeves family of Charles County, Maryland. Samuel and his brother William had migrated from Maryland to Rowan County after the death of their mother, Mary Murphy Reeves in 1793.

1801 Rowan County Will of Samuel ReevesThe earliest record of Samuel Reeves in Rowan County is a 1795 deed to Edward Taylor. By 1799, Samuel conveyed 91 acres of a tract he had purchased from James Dobbins in 1798, to his son Thomas Reeves. This transaction is mentioned in Samuel's 1801 will and he states that Thomas is therefore exempted from any further share of his estate. The only other children named in Samuel's will are James and Mary who was married by 1801 when the will was written and referred to as Mary Alexander. Other unnamed children are referred to in the will and were to be provided for when they reached their maturity, but there is no indication of their identity.

Samuel makes mention in his will of $50 dollars that was in his possession which had been a legacy left to his son James by his grandfather James Watson. A James Watson left a 1795 will in St. Mary's County, Maryland (adjacent to Charles County) and mentioned a daughter Margaret Reeves. Research of that family produced a letter written circa 1896 by an elderly descendant who stated that James Watson's daughter Margaret Reeves had moved to North Carolina but no further information was known. There is no proof that this is the James Watson referred to in Samuel's will and since the daughter named in James Watson's will was recorded as Margaret and Samuel Reeves' will gives his wife's name as Mary, it is unclear whether this is the grandfather of Samuel's son James.

No other probate records have currently been located in Rowan County to identify these younger children so the deed records seemed to be the only option left to pursue. This happened to have been one of those occasions when the deed records contained a wealth of biographical information.

In 1815, John C. Reeves purchased the distributive share of his brother, Samuel Reeves, in their father's estate. A deed recorded in April of 1816, from Owen Harrison and his wife Sarah, identifies Sarah Reeves Harrison as another heir of Samuel Reeves. By January of 1821, William Reeves sold his share of their father's estate to John as well. Then finally in October of 1821, John C. Reeves sold the entire four fifths of his father's estate that he had acquired from his other siblings to Bennet Abner Reeves. Each of these deeds explicitely identifies the parties as descendants and heirs of their father, Samuel Reeves.

There is no further record of these children in Rowan County. By 1830 the only Reeves remaining there was Samuel Reeves, the son of William Reeves. Both of Samuel's older sons, Thomas and James, are recorded as having served in the War of 1812 and may have been awarded bounty land further west. If Samuel's other sons John C., William, Bennet Abner and his daughters Sarah Reeves Harrison and Mary Alexander migrated further west, there is currently no information to that effect.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Margaret aka Margaret Burgess

Margaret, named as his wife in the 1751 will of William Reeves of Granville County, North Carolina is repeatedly shown as Margaret Burgess, yet always without a source for the maiden name Burgess. Very little is known of Margaret other than what is available from William Reeves' will and the Granville County court record of Jun 1754 binding her daughter Eliza to William Howlet.

William Reeves’ will, written on August 2, 1751, states “I give & bequeth to my wife Margarett Reeves one Shilling Sterling in lieu of her Dower of thirds”. The will contains no explanation of his reasons for leaving no bequest other than one shilling to the widow instead of the customary one third of the estate. On the 3rd of December 1751 when the will was presented in court, it was recorded against the objections of the widow, Margaret.

1751 Will of William Reeves Page 11751 Will of William Reeves Page 2

On 7 June 1754, Eliz'a Reeves, "supposed to be the child of Margaret Reeves," was living "at George Andersons" in Granville County when she was bound to William Howlet until she was eighteen years of age [Granville County Bastardy Bonds].
In Granville County on 16 January 1771, Patience the base born child of Eliz'a Reeves, was bound as an apprentice to Valentine White until 21 years, to become a spinster [Granville County Bastardy Bonds]. A Granville County bond of 19 December 1796 records the marriage of Patience to Augustine Anderson.
A new North Carolina tax law enacted in 1749 described taxables as all and every White Person, Male, of the Age of Sixteen Years, and upwards, all Negroes, Mulattoes, Mustees Male or Female, and all Persons of Mixt Blood, to the Fourth Generation, of the Age of Twelve Years, and upwards, and all white Persons intermarrying with any Negro, mulatto, or Mustee, or other Person of mixt Blood,...shall be deemed Taxables...[Leary & Stirewalt, North Carolina Research, Genealogy and Local History, chapter 13]. Thus, free African American and Native American households can be identified by the taxation of their female family members over 12 years of age.

In 1712 all fifteen members of the Anderson and Richards families were freed and given 640 acres in Norfolk County, Virginia, by the will of John Fulcher. In an effort to "prevent their correspondence with other slaves" Fulcher's executor, Lewis Conner, by a deed dated 20 March 1712/3, swapped their land in Norfolk County with land on Welshes Creek in Chowan County, North Carolina [Chowan DB B#1:109].

It is unknown whether George Anderson was Native American, black or mulatto but in the Granville tax lists his entire family is routinely listed as "other free persons" and includes the females of the household as in the 1754 tax list of Robert Harris - Anderson, George and his wife and son Jerh: and Daughter Kate 0 4.

William Reeves was recorded as early as February of 1718 in Chowan County, North Carolina where he and his son-in-law Robert Hicks were said to have been traders among the indian tribes in addition to being property owners. Accordingly it is not unreasonable to believe that his first wife, as well as Margaret who is believed to be a second wife, could have been Native American and therefore considered "mixed-race".

Malachi and James were two of the older sons of William Reeves and their mother is generally believed to be William Reeves' first wife. Malachi Reeves was a "Black" taxable in the 1752 Granville County tax list of Jonathan White [CR 044.701.19]. He was a white tithable with his sons William and Jonathan, John Allin, and one slave in Samuel Benton's list for Fishing Creek in 1762 [NCGSJ XIII:25]. Additionally, Malachi's brother James Reeves was also a "black" taxable with his son James Reeves and "negro" Mary Anderson in the 1758 Granville County list of Nathaniel Harris.

Hopefully someone will eventually be able to determine just exactly who Margaret Reeves was, and if there is any validity to the use of the maiden name of Burgess.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Great Advice from Alabama Pioneers

Today's weekly newsletter from Alabama Pioneers had such excellent advice for anyone researching their family's lineage that I'm reprinting it here:


There are many myths floating around out there in the world of genealogy. Don't derail your research by becoming a victim to the following myths.
You can find your whole family history online. It looks so simple when advertised on TV by A few clicks on the keyboard and you find your family history but genealogy research is a lot more complicated than that. You can find many family trees online but there are also lots of errors in them. To adequately document your family tree, you need to trace down the sources of information. Some documents can be obtained online but you often need to visit to Libraries, Courthouses and State Archives.

Your ancestor came over on the Mayflower or George Washington is your ancestor. Lots of families have these stories and they became embellished over time, so be sure to do your research and validate these claims. Not everyone with the same last name is related. DNA evidence today has disproved many long held traditional family stories about descendancy. FYI - George Washington did not have children or descendants. However, his wife did from a former marriage.

Your ancestor's name was changed at Ellis Island. Passenger lists were created at the port of departure and Ellis Island officially checked the names on the list. However, immigrants often changed their own names in an attempt to sound more American.

The Courthouse burned and all the records are gone. You may run into a courthouse fire. (and this is a good argument of why we need to digitize all court records but that's another story) If you run into this situation, remember....the vital records, naturalizations, deeds, wills and other records weren't always completely destroyed. Sometimes records survived or copies were sent to another office or agency.

You can buy your family crest. Actually, families don't have crests....individuals do. Coats of arms must be granted and you must prove descent through a male line of someone to whom arms were granted.

There were three brothers who came to America. One went north, one went south and the third went west. Often times, this is an excuse for lazy genealogists who cannot explain why the same surname exists in different places. Many times, the families were not related at all. This story is now so common that if you hear it......consider it a red flag that other data may be false or not well-researched.
Good genealogy research takes time. There is just no way around it. I wish it was possible that with a few clicks on your computer keyboard, you could find your family ancestry but that is not the case. Granted, research by others is always helpful and saves you considerable time but always remember to follow up and document with actual supporting records. It need not be expensive. Sometimes this data can be obtained for free online and many courthouses, archives and libraries provide copies of documents for a small fee.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Reeves' Descendant - Frederick C. Geer

Frederick Colbert Geer was the great grandson of William Reeves of Wake County, North Carolina. William Reeves' daughter Sarah married Frederick Geer the son of John & Martha Geer who left Brunswick County, Virginia and settled during the late 1740's in the area of present Durham, North Carolina at the time when the area was part of Orange County.

His father, Jesse B. Geer, owned a large plantation, the location of which is now within the city limits of Durham, in the northeast section of town just off the Roxboro Road several miles east of Duke University's east campus.

Frederick C. Geer was a prominent business and civic leader in early Durham County. The laying out of main street in Durham, North Carolina as described in Chapter 9 of the book ''Durham County: a history of Durham County, North Carolina'' by Jean Bradley Anderson:
The story of the laying out of Main Street in 1869 conveys the primitive state of the town in the 1870s. "There are men, strong yet," a reporter wrote in 1896, "who remember the Saturday afternoon when Robert F. Morris, M.A. Angier, Col. D.C. Parrish, Morgan Closs, Washington Duke, Soloman Shepherd, Atlas Rigsbee, J.W. Cheek, Frederick Geer, and Col. W.T. Blackwell, with Brown Jordan as ploughman, and two big mules laid out Main Street, beginning at Esquire Angier's store running east through an old field. When the work was done, the two long furrows on either side about a mile long showed where the street was to be, the less credulous of us gathered just as the sun was setting to criticize such foolishness, and to guy the "Fathers" with sarcasm as to the price of corner lots and exasperating questions as to how they proposed to people their newly made town. But they builded better than they knew, and every one of them lived to see their new laid street build on and occupied from end to end." At the town board meeting following this achievement, Morris moved that Main and Pratt street be established "as it is now plowed."

Some of the same "founding fathers of Durham" as mentioned above - Washington Duke and M. A. Angier along with Benjamin Duke and George Watts organized the Fidelity Bank in 1887. After the construction of F. C. Geer's Geer Building at the corner of Main & Corcoran Streets in 1915, Fidelity Bank was the primary tenant of that property.

F. C. Geer is also mentioned in the history of Grace Baptist Church (formerly North Durham Baptist church) as having donated the land upon which the new church was built. The property at the corner of Roxboro Road and Geer Street (now Mangum Street and Trinity Avenue) was donated to the Trustees of the “Baptist church worshipping on Mangum Street” by Fred C. Geer in 1887. Mr. Geer also gave a gift of $1,000 to begin work on the building in 1906.

Another of F. C. Geer's activities included being one of the founders of the Durham Railroad Company, incorporated in 1880 which failed to carry out its plans. He was also the owner of a mill and producer of flour. With his brother-in-law James W. Cheek he was involved in the reorganized tobacco operation "Pride of Durham".

The history of Durham, North Carolina credits Frederick Geer as being one of the many men who played an important role in Durham's past.

(Photos by Endangered Durham.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Craven County's John Reeves

A John Reeves whose origins are another of the many mysteries of Reeves' research, died in Craven County, North Carolina in September of 1790. He left a will written on July 13, 1790 naming wife, Courtney (incorrectly spelled "Coatney" in the will), older daughters from a prior marriage and the younger children born to he and Courtney after their marriage circa 1784. Courtney Taylor was the widow of James Reed who had died in 1782 in Craven County.

The will of John Reeves named his daughters Elizabeth Cheshire, Jean Reeves and Mary Wilson, in addition to Jestenon (Justinion, later called Jesse Tinion), Francis and "the child that my wife is big with now" (Lucius Reeves).

John Reeves' will signed with his markSeveral years ago a book, "The River Reeves" was written which details the descendants of John Reeves. At one time, a researcher involved with that project indicated to me that there had been some thought that this John Reeves was part of the Reeves' family of Wake County, North Carolina, but that is doubtful and seems to be based solely upon proximity. John Reeves of Craven County, unlike William Reeves of Wake County and his descendants as well as their close relatives in Grayson County, Virginia who descend from George Reeves, Sr. all spelled their names as Reves and were able to read and write. Later generations of the family began to use the more common variation "Reeves" but throughout the 18th century and until around 1850, they always spelled their name "Reves" although the same cannot be said of county clerks and census takers.

Courtney Reeves was listed in the 1790 census of Craven County, but within the next few years, she and the four children from her marriage to James Reed along with the Reeves children moved to Baldwin County, Georgia. In Georgia, Courtney drew land for her children in the land lottery. Courtney died in Hancock County, Georgia and her children eventually moved on to Alabama.

The only other Reeves found in Craven County during this time period is a Nancy Reeves for whose estate an inventory was filed in 1797. This Nancy Reeves' identity is unknown and no other Reeves are named in the estate documents.

Interestingly, in the course of my recent research of Reeves in Charles County, Maryland as discussed in a previous post, I found the 1772 deed for a tract of land referred to as Basford Manor in Charles County by John Reeves of Halifax County, North Carolina to Justinion Jordan of Charles County. John Reeves was the son of Upgate Reeves of Charles County and is found in numerous other documents along with Justinion Jordan. There is, however, no known family connection between the two individuals. The identity of John Reeves' spouse and children, if any, is also unknown. He had obviously removed from Charles County sometime after 1760 and was living in Halifax County in North Carolina where he is believed to have died although there is no documentation to that effect.

Could it be that the use of the name "Justinion" for his child indicates a connection between the John Reeves of Craven, NC and John Reeves of Halifax, NC/Charles, MD? We now have another enigma to add to the ever increasing list of mysteries to be solved.

UPDATE to the story of John Reeves of Craven County NC - Another Reeves' Mystery Solved?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Maryland Connection

Over the last several years when researching Rowan County, North Carolina in order to separate fact from fiction in regard to the Reeves’ families of that county, I was repeatedly directed to The History of Rowan County, North Carolina originally published by J.J. Bruner, Salisbury, N.C., 1881.
From Page 227: “The last wife of Michael Braun of the ''Stone House" was Mrs. Eleanora Reeves. Mrs. Reeves was a Maryland lady, named Wakefield, and was first married to William Reeves, when quite young, by whom she had four children — Thomas, Samuel, Sally, and Nancy. Samuel was the late Samuel Reeves, the father of Dr. Samuel Reeves and of Mrs. Sarah Johnston. Nancy Reeves married a Mr. Kiestler, and was the mother of Mrs. Jane Price, and the grandmother of Robert Wakefield Price and others, now of Salisbury.”

Page 230: “Joseph Hughes left one son, Hudson Hughes, who married the daughter of Col. Andrew Balfour. The daughter of this couple, Mary, became the wife of Samuel Reeves, Esq., and the mother of the late Dr. Samuel Reeves, and of Mrs. Sarah Johnston, now of Cincinnati.

Page 241: The War of 1812 – “Patriotic speeches were made, and volunteers stepped into the ranks of the recruiting officers. Barracks were erected on the eastern side of Crane Creek, on the plantation owned by the late Samuel Reeves…
There seemed no way to correlate the commonly held beliefs regarding the Reeves residents of that county with the published history. An 1801 will for a Samuel Reeves was recorded in Rowan County, as well as guardian records for Nancy and Sally Reeves above, the daughters of William Reeves who died before 1804. I have always been puzzled by these passages since it had been assumed that the Reeves of Rowan County were descendants of William Reeves of Granville County, North Carolina.

Grave of Josias ReevesSeveral members of that family had lived briefly in Rowan County in the 1760’s in an area that became Guilford in 1770. William Reeves’ son James Reeves along with his sons Jeremiah and William in addition to several other unidentified Reeves individuals – Benjamin, Samuel and a William Reeves with son George. However, from 1770 until the mid 1790’s no Reeves are recorded among the taxpayers or in the deed indexes of Rowan County.

I recently happened upon information regarding the family of Thomas Reeves of Charles County, Maryland when researching Reeves in Ohio for the Reeves Project. Josias Reeves, son of Thomas Reeves and Mary Murphy of Charles County, Maryland, had migrated to Ross County, Ohio around 1804. Josiah Reeves' obituary, as published in the Scioto Gazette, Chillicothe, Ohio, and reprinted in the Ohio State Journal, Columbus, on October 6, 1841, reads as follows:
"At his residence in Pickaway County, Ohio, on the 22nd day of September, Mr. Josias Reeves, Senr. a soldier of the War of Independence, in the 81st year of his age. Mr. Reeves was born in Charles County in the colony of Maryland and in October 1760 O.S. and after the Revolution settled in Culpeper County, Virginia, when he emigrated to the state of Ohio in 1804.
The writer of this has heard him say that he was never in debt at any time, five dollars - never had a lawsuit of any kind, either as plaintiff or defendant. He lived as far as possible, peaceably with all men and 'owing no man anything'.
He left an aged widow with whom he lived for sixty years, and many descendants who hold his memory in grateful remembrance. Mr. Reeves was for thirty-seven years a member of the Methodist Church."
As I began to search Charles County, Maryland probate records for documentation of Josias’ origins, listed among his siblings in the probate documents of Thomas Reeves estate in 1778 were Samuel, born 1749, and William, born 1770, as well as Bennett, born 1766, who had migrated to Wilkes County, Georgia at around the same time Samuel and William relocated to Rowan in North Carolina. The three siblings appear to have remained in Maryland until after their mother Mary's death which was recorded in 1793, with Samuel and William arriving in Rowan County by 1795 and Bennett in Wilkes County, Georgia by 1800.

Finally the Rowan County published history corresponds with historical documents and the Reeves in that county can now be correctly recorded. As always, I have to comment that it would be wonderful for someone from this lineage to participate in the Reeves DNA Project and further clarify their history.

(Photo by "schcrochet" for FindAGrave)