Sunday, August 26, 2012

Orange County's Rev. Thomas Reeves

The Reeves family of Orange County, North Carolina is something of a mystery. They are surrounded by other Reeves' lineages in the neighboring counties of Wake, Granville, Guilford and Chatham but the DNA of a descendant of Willis Reeves who was in some way related to Thomas, does not match any of these other Reeves' lines.

Letter from Thomas Reeves to cousin Mary Lynch in Orange CountyThomas Reeves was the son of Revolutionary soldier John Reeves and Mary Lynch. John Reeves died on March 12th, 1834 according to documents in his pension file. His health was so frail at the time of his pension application that the court officials taking his statement went to his home because he was unable to attend court. Sadly, John's statement includes no biographical information and relates only to details of his military service.

The documents regarding his pension refer to Thomas Reeves as his son and only surviving heir but there is a large amount of circumstantial evidence that Willis Reeves was a member of this family. Whatever the family relationship, Thomas, John and Willis Reeves appear to be of the same family. An 1845 letter from Thomas to his cousin Mary Lynch tells of a trip up the Platt River with cousin John C. Reeves (John Claiborne Reeves, son of Willis).

Thomas Reeves married Martha Davis, daughter of Jonathan Davis, on the 24th of January 1810 in Wake County. According to a biography of his son, Columbus Palestine Reeves, Thomas and Martha were the parents of eleven children but no documentation has yet been located to name all of the children.

Thomas was both a minister and the owner of a large plantation. In the 1840 census of Orange County, he is listed with 18 slaves. Sometime around 1845, Thomas Reeves moved to Ray County, Missouri. Biographical information for Ishmael Reeves born circa 1830 in North Carolina who was a slave in Ray County, Missouri by 1845 indicates that he may have belonged to Thomas Reeves. The Ray County, Missouri Slave Schedule of 1850 lists Thomas as owning 20 slaves.

Obituary published in the Raleigh Register, Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday, 2 Oct. 1846:
DIED - In Missouri, on the 24th of August last, Mrs. Martha Reeves, a native of Wake County, and wife of Elder Thomas Reeves. Also, on the next day, their daughter, Ephrata, aged about 17 years.
On the 1st of January 1850, he married Mrs. Winifred Phillips. Thomas Reeves died in 1855 in Ray County, Missouri. His estate was contested by the widow, Winifred, who remarried to Jacob Darneal on 20 Jun 1855. Winifred Darneal filed suit against the estate for payment of certain specific legacies bequeathed by Thomas Reeves. The suit was eventually argued and determined in the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri.

(1845 letter from Thomas Reeves in Crab Orchard, Missouri to Mary Lynch in Orange County, North Carolina from the Lynch Family Papers in the Historical Collections of UNC.)

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