Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reeves' Migration to the Louisiana Purchase

The French had ceded the vast Louisiana territory that lay west of the Misssissippi River to Spain before it became the property of France again and was purchased by the United States in 1803. The French had made few settlements in Louisiana, primarily establishing trading posts from which trappers and hunters explored the wilderness. Spanish authorities, however, encouraged migration. They offered land grants to all who could prove they had cleared and improved the land with the intention of making permanent settlement.

This migration was accelerated by the arrival of Daniel Boone in Missouri in 1795. He established a claim in St. Charles county and within a few years signed an agreement with the Spanish authorities to bring one hundred families from Kentucky and Virginia to Upper Louisiana.

John Reeves, Revolutionary War soldier, who was subject of a previous post left South Carolina within a few years of his 1796 marriage to Rachel Barnes and was present in the area south of the Missouri River that became Madison County, Missouri by around 1801. On 26 Dec 1833, he gave a statement in regard to the land claim of Benjamin Pettit, Jr. where he was recorded as saying that he was well acquainted with Benjamin Pettit, Jr. the original claimant; that he (Benjamin Pettit, Jr.) came to this country, then the province of Upper Louisiana, in the year 1802 or 1803. John Reeves is also documented as making a statement that in 1804 on account of the Osage Indians, the inhabitants were driven together for a common defense, and that they raised a common crop in that year.

In the course of recent research of the Reeves of Patrick County, Virginia, I found that after the removal of all that family from Virginia around 1820, two of the presumed sons of George Reeves of Patrick County, had migrated to Missouri after leaving Virginia. Thomas Reeves and his brother Josiah were present in Franklin County, Missouri shortly after leaving Virginia.

The State Historical Society of Missouri gives the following information regarding the Harrison-Reeves Bloomery in Crawford County: Thicketty Creek, in the northeastern part of the county close to the Washington County line, three miles south of Bourbon. It is the second earliest record of the mining and smelting of iron ore in Missouri. It was probably erected in 1819 or 1820 by William Harrison, one of the earliest settlers of Crawford County, and Josiah Reeves, with Thomas Reeves as forgeman. Early bloomeries in Missouri usually consisted of a forge which resembled a smith's forge and a furnace. This crude furnace, known as Harrison's Furnace, Harrison's Forge, Harrison's Bloomery, or Harrison's Iron Works, continued in operation for several years.

Around the same time the Reeves of Patrick County settled in Franklin and Crawford Counties, two of the sons of Samuel Reeves of Rowan County left North Carolina and by 1830 were recorded in the census of St. Francois County, Missouri. Bennet Abner Reeves and his brother William were then listed in the 1840 census of Cape Girardeau, County. The Bureau of Land Management issued land warrant #2707 for 40 acres in Cape Girardeau County on 20 Jan 1827 to Bennet A. Reeves as well as another warrant #5740 for 40 acres in the same county on 1 Aug 1838.

In Crawford County by 1840, Josiah Reeves and his descendants were joined by Jesse Jefferson Reeves of Buncombe County, North Carolina, who was probably a son of James Reeves. Jesse J. Reeves' sisters, Mary and Sarah, who had married into the Eaton family, also migrated to the area of Missouri south of the Missouri River.

Reeves' families were not only settling in the Missouri River area of the Louisiana Purchase, others like Jordan Reeves were migrating across the Mississippi River into Arkansas. Jordan had settled in Independence County, Arkansas by 1825 and numerous other Reeves' families followed within a very few years.

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