Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wilkes County's George Reeves Mystery

There has recently been much speculation on the web regarding the identity of the "George Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina" who is named as a legatee in the probate records of John Epps in Halifax County, Virginia. There is a conveyance dated 6 Sep 1793 (Recorded 24 Feb 1794) in Halifax County wherein Nathaniel Epps, Moses Epps, David Powell, Sr. (m. Mary Epps), John Comer (m. Amey Epps), Edy Epps, Temperance Epps, of Halifax County; Ambrose Gresham (m. Elizabeth “Bettie” Epps) of Lunenburg County; and George Reaves of Wilkes County in North Carolina, legatees of John Epps, sell to William Epps of Halifax a 40 acre tract of land on the south side of Banister River in Halifax County. These were the grandchildren of John Epps, children of his son Joshua who predeceased him, dying in 1778. One of the three remaining daughters, Patty, Millison or Dicey, named in Joshua Epps' will had apparently married George Reeves.

View of the blue ridge from Grayson County
Grayson County Overlook
It has been theorized that this George Reeves must then be George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia who is listed on several occasions in the tax and deed records of Wilkes County, North Carolina. In George Reeves deposition for ''Beavins (Blevins) vs. Newell'', 27th September, 1805, he stated that he was present in the New River area as early as 1767. George Reeves' home was located on Peach Bottom Creek just north of the New River and there is no record that he made his home at any time on any of the other properties he was granted or purchased. This New River area was for approximately 20 years claimed by both Virginia and North Carolina with the state line repeatedly moving as many as 20 miles either side of the present state line. The land that George Reeves owned in Wilkes County and ultimately sold to his son William became part of Ashe County when it was formed from Wilkes in 1799.

The following deed recently found in the Wilkes County records may help to identify the correct George Reeves or at least put to rest any lingering speculation that the Epps' legatee must be George Reeves of Grayson. This George Reeves is located much further south than the Peach Bottom tract and is in the area where Isaac Reeves had settled in the early 1780's. Isaac Reeves had previously been located in the area of Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties of Virginia as was the Epps family.

Wilkes County, North Carolina
Deed Book B-1, p. 416
9 Dec 1794

THIS INDENTURE made this ninth day of December one thousand seven hundred and ninety four Between George Reeves of Wilkes County and State of North Carolina of the one part and William Petty Senior of the same state and county of the other part, Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds Current money to him in hand paid by the said William Petty before the Sealing and Delivery hereof the receipt whereof the said George Reeves doth hereby acknowledge and himself therewith to be fully satisfied and paid and for which Sum he hath granted Bargained sold conveyed and confirmed by these presents doth fully clearly freely and absolutely sell convey and confirm to the said William Petty his heirs and assigns for ever a tract or parcel of Land containing two hundred Acres of Land lying and being in our county of Wilkes lying on little Cub Creek BEGINNING on a pine in Thomas Rogers line adjacent to the Moravian line and running South two hundred and four poles to a maple near a branch in John Greers line thence East with said line one hundred and twenty four poles to the corner thence North twenty Degrees East seventy two poles to a pine thence North Sixty East seventy six poles to a red oak sapling in William Gilreaths line being conditional line between James Chaney and said Reeves Thence North with said Gilreaths line forty two poles to the corner Thence North seventy Eight Degrees West two hundred and sixty poles to the first Station &c - Together with all woods waters mines Minerals Hereditaments and appurtenances to the said Land Belonging or appertaining and all the whole right title and Intrust of him the said George Reeves to the said Bargained premises to have and to hold to the said William Petty his heirs and assigns for ever And the Intent and meaning of these presents are that the said William Petty his heirs and assigns may at all times forever hereafter lawfully and peaceable possess hold and enjoy the said Bargained premises with all the rights and privileges thereunto belonging free and clear of all Incumbrances and the said George Reeves doth covenant and agree well and truly to warrant and defend the same In witness whereof the said George Reeves hath hereunto set his hand and seal the day and date above written ~
James Hardgraves  }
Joshua Greer             }                          George Reeves (Seal)

(Wrote on the Back)
S. N. Carolina       }      May Term 1795 -
Wilkes County     }     The within Deed was duly
proven in open court by the oath of Joshua Greer and
ordered to be Registered.
                        C. Gordon C.C.
The 1788 and 1789 tax lists of Wilkes County record a George Reeves along with William Petty, John Greer, Joshua Greer and the adjoining property owners listed in the above deed, Hardgraves, William Gilreath and James Chaney, in Capt. Tribbles District. Also, James and John Reeves, sons of Isaac Reeves, Sr. and Alexander Holton whose daughter married James Reeves had been listed in Tribbles' district in 1787. These individuals all lived just south of Wilkesboro in an area joining the Moravian settlement along the Yadkin River.

The George Reeves of the Wilkesboro area is no longer found in Wilkes County after the recording of this deed and may have returned to Halifax County in Virginia where he appears to be the individual listed on the tax lists there in 1798. It should be noted that Asher Reaves had also returned to Halifax, Virginia after the Revolution. A George Reaves is listed repeatedly in the tax lists there until before 1830. The 1830 census records a widowed Martha Reeves around 80 years old as head of a Halifax County household. Since Patty is a nickname for Martha, this may likely be Patty Epps, granddaughter of John.

Hopefully someday descendants of Asher and George Reeves/Reaves of Halifax will participate in the Reeves DNA Project. And with the popular new autosomal DNA projects by Ancestry and Family Finder, there may be hope of one day unraveling this mystery.

UPDATE - For the latest developments in the research of George Reaves of Halifax County, Virginia and Wilkes County, North Carolina see the following posts:
The rest of the story...
Another Episode of the Epps Wife Fantasy
New Data on George Reeves of Grayson County

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