Thursday, November 22, 2012

More Curious Things

In a previous post from February of 2012, I reprinted the biography of John Reeves who was born in Mason County, Kentucky in 1802 and died in Brown County, Ohio. There were several curious statements in his biography published in a history of Brown County in 1884. That biography names an Isaac and Margaret Reeves as the parents of John's father, James Reeves which introduced the possibility that James Reeves might have been the son of Isaac Reeves and his wife Margery of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Marriage Bond - Sarah Reeves to William Holton
1798 Marriage Bond for
Sarah Reeves and William Holton
James Reeves was listed in the 1790 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina with 1 male over 16, 1 male under 16 and 3 females which would indicate that had married around 1780 in North Carolina. Sarah Holton's father is believed to have been Alexander Holton and there was an Alex Holton recorded in the 1790 census of Wilkes County but in no subsequent census there.

It had previously been believed that the James Reeves who settled in Wayne County, Tennessee was the son of Isaac Reeves of Wilkes County because a few years after James arrived there, Isaac's son Peter migrated to Wayne County. But based upon the data from the 1790 census, it is unlikely that the James Reeves of Wayne County, with wife Rachel was the son of Isaac and Margery Reeves. James Reeves of Wayne County would have been born after 1776 according to the 1820 census and far too young to have been the father of the 1790 Wilkes County household. That Wayne County census lists James Reeves' household as 1 male ‹10, 1 male 26-44, 2 females ‹10, 1 female 10-15 and 1 female 26-44. In the 1830 census Rachel's age is given as 40-49 or born 1781 to 1790 indicating she could not have been the mother of the children listed in the 1790 census when she would have been approximately 9 years old. Rachel's household in the 1830 census of 1 male ‹5, 2 males 5-9, 1 male 10-15, 1 female 10-14, 1 female 15-19, 1 female 40-49 and 2 slaves is far more consistent with the household of the younger James Reeves of the 1820 census.

No marriage record has been found for James Reeves and Sarah Holton, but recently in the Kentucky County Marriage records at Family Search, I found a 1798 Madison County marriage bond for Sarah Reeves and William Holton with James Reeves as bondsman. When I initially found the document, my first thought was that it pertained to the marriage of James Reeves and Sarah Holton, but then realized that James Reeves was bondsman, not the groom. In comparing the signature of the James Reeves from this marriage bond to that of James of Wilkes County on the marriage bond of his sister, Bettie, to John Wilson in 1784 for which he was bondsman, the signatures are very similar. The signature from the Wilkes County document is not as clear as that of the Kentucky document because the pen or quill was making large ink smudges which makes a comparison of the name "Reeves" more difficult, but the given name "James" is very much like the Madison County signature. There were several unidentified daughters listed in Isaac Reeves, Sr.'s household in the 1790 census of Wilkes County. Could this Sarah Reeves who married William Holton be James' sister? And William Holton possibly be the brother of Sarah Holton?

Another curious bit of information found regarding this family pertains to Lazarus Reeve, son of Isaac B. Reeve, who left Wilkes County around 1815 and by 1820 had settled in Morgan County, Illinois. In every census from 1850 to 1880, Lazarus Reeve gives his place of birth as Kentucky, yet his father is recorded in the 1800 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina. One undocumented reference to Lazarus Reeve online gave his place of birth as Madison County, Kentucky. This raises a question as to whether Isaac B. Reeve may have moved to Kentucky in the late 1790's when his brother James did but returned to Wilkes County before 1800 and did not permanently leave there until after 1815 when he migrated to Morgan County, Illinois.

These bits of information provide more questions than answers to the mystery of the origins of James Reeves of Mason County, Kentucky. As we continue to search the extant records of Wilkes County, North Carolina in addition to Kentucky and Illinois, hopefully we will eventually find answers.


  1. Beverly, I believe I can answer most of your questions regarding the 1790 census of Wilkes County, and can state with some certainty that "your" James was not the child of Issac and Margery Reeves of Wilkes Co NC.

    I am a direct descendant of Issac and Margery Reeves' son, Issac, of St. Clair and Morgan Co. Illinois, and his brother, Lazarus, of Bureau Co. Illinois.

    Please contact me at your earliest convenience at

    Kellie Reeve Griffith

    1. Kellie, I'll drop you an email at your address above because I'm interested in any information you have about James Reeves. All that has available online has been seriously flawed.

      Actually just this week I came across another piece of the puzzle proving that James Reeves of Mason County, Kentucky came from North Carolina. His son Bartley, born circa 1793, gives his place of birth as North Carolina in every census.