Friday, September 14, 2012

A Surprising Connection

Some time ago, I discovered a John Reeves, Revolutionary soldier of Columbia, Georgia that I was previously unfamiliar with and added a post here with what information was available. Shortly after writing that post, I noticed the grave of Nannie Hazel Reeve in the cemetery at Boerne, Texas and wrote another post about this mysterious Reeve family who came to Texas around 1880.

Gravestone of Randolph Reeve in Rusty Creek Cemetery, Johnson City, Blanco County, TexasIn the course of doing some research to learn more about the family of Nannie Hazel Reeve, I found that her grandfather Randolph Reeve had come to Texas by 1880 where he died in 1891 in Blanco County. Prior to the family's arrival in Texas, they were living in Grant Parish, Louisiana at the time of the 1870 census and in the 1860 census were recorded in Rapides Parish.

Randolph Reeve married Clementine Ewell in Amite County, Mississippi on the 17th of May, 1846 and they were living there in the 1850 census. Their three children - John R., Mary Elizabeth and William Thomas Reeve were born in Amite County.

Also living in Amite County from around 1830 was a John Reeve, born 1789 in Georgia. John appeared to be a likely candidate for the father of Randolph Reeve so I began to search the probate records of Amite County. Probate documents show that John Reeve died on the 20th of February 1867 and there are numerous petitions and filings in regard to his very large estate. A last will and testament is eluded to numerous times but doesn't appear to be extant in the records. Amite County only has two will books that do not appear to be complete.

John Reeve's third wife Elizabeth Dunn appears to have died before 1860 and the probate documents state that John Reeve had no family. The only legatees named are the heirs of his deceased sisters and those of a half-brother and half-sister. As I began to read the documents, I immediately recognized the names as being the heirs of John Reeves who died in Columbia County, Georgia in 1833 - Susannah Baggett, Sarah Englett (Inglett), Rebecca Hardin and Thomas Reeve. Thomas was named as a half-brother and a half-sister, Polly Hardin was also named.

The Amite County MS census of 1830 lists John Reeve's household as including 2 males under 5 years old, 1 male 5-9 and one female under 5. Did all of these children die before 1867? The missing will might have contained explanations regarding his children but the probate books do not. A Thomas Reeve, born 1822, and found in Amite in 1850 was very likely his son but he can't be found in records after 1850 so he may have been deceased before 1867, possibly dying in the Civil War. But Randolph was not deceased in 1867.

It is currently not possible to define it, but there must be some connection between John and Randolph Reeve even though he is mentioned nowhere in the probate records. In 1850, John Reeve's next neighbor was William Ewell, Randolph's wife Clementine's brother. William Ewell was also an executor of John Reeve's will. Could it be that Randolph was John's son and a disagreement caused their relationship to be severed and Randolph was excepted from receiving any legacies from the estate? Unless the will of John Reeve is eventually found, the questions of Randolph's parentage may never be resolved.

UPDATE: In the course of further research of this family, it seems more probable that Randolph was the child of Spencer Reeves who was also living in Columbia County, Georgia at the time of Randolph's birth and had several sons who are as yet unidentified. The 1820 census of Columbia County, Georgia lists Spencer Reeves' household with 4 males ‹10, 1 male ›45, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 16-25 and 1 female 26-44. There are also several instances of the use of the name Randolph among Spencer's descendants. Spencer was likely a brother to John Reeves, but there is currently nothing to support that theory other than proximity.

(Gravestone photo by Wendy Johnson for FindaGrave.)

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