Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hannah Smith's Husband - William Rives

Countless family trees list the wife of William Reeves who died in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1816 as Hannah Smith, most of them using the Reeves Review II as a source. In an effort to prove or disprove this connection, I found the marriage license of Hannah Smith to William RIVES in Mecklenburg County recorded on 14 Dec 1820 which I mentioned as Myth #7 in a previous post about the numerous myths circulating in Reeves' genealogy especially in regard to the Reeves' family of Granville County, North Carolina. Since this marriage took place four years after the 1816 death of William Reeves, it is obviously incorrect. This data was apparently submitted to the Reeves Review by someone who did not properly research the individuals involved.

A search of the deed records of Mecklenburg County produced a quit claim deed by the heirs of Daniel Smith of that county assigning their rights to any legacies from his estate to their mother Elizabeth (Deed Book 24, page 133). Additionally that 1822 Quit Claim Deed named William "Reaves" as the husband of Hannah Reaves, daughter of Daniel Smith. From that quit claim deed, the parents of Hannah Smith were confirmed as Daniel Smith and Elizabeth Darnall, but even though William Rives appeared many more times over the course of the next 25 years in the deed records of Mecklenburg County, there was no clue to his origins.

William's name was recorded as Rives, Reaves and at times Reeves over those 25 years but since he was the only William with any variation of the Reeves name in Mecklenburg County during those years, it can be assumed that all of these references refer to the husband of Hannah Smith. It appears that Hannah died before the 20th of July 1824 for on that date, William Rives married Jane Cunningham in Mecklenburg County. He apparently continued to have a relationship with the Smith family for he was the witness in further documents filed by the heirs of Daniel Reeves regarding his estate in 1835.

There were no deeds in the Mecklenburg records listing William Rives as either a grantor or grantee after 1847 which created the impression that he was deceased before 1850. Estate Settlement Book 6 on page 358-359 lists the inventory of the estate of William Rives decd and a continuation on Page 451 of that book makes a reference to the estate of William & Mary Rives deceased, formerly residents of the state of North Carolina. There was nothing to indicate the nature of the connection, just their names.

Because the surname "Rives" had been the most consistently used in the Mecklenburg records for William's transactions, I began to research other Rives' families of North Carolina in hopes of finding a missing child, William. For once, I found the answer to the mystery in the first place I looked - the estate file of William McGuffey Rives of Warren County, North Carolina. In his 39 page estate file there were documents from the executors of the Mecklenburg, North Carolina estate of William Rives, deceased, regarding distributions from the estates of William McGuffey Rives and his deceased wife, Mary Catherine Turner Rives. William, the son of Mary C. Turner and William McGuffey Rives was previously believed to have died in South Carolina circa 1845, but then that's not too far off since Mecklenburg County is on the border between North and South Carolina.

It's a shame that all genealogical mysteries can't be solved this quickly and painlessly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to Christian County, Kentucky

Previously Carolyn and I collaborated on a three part series of posts regarding the various Reeves' families who were early settlers to Christian County, Kentucky. Part 2 of that series discussed James Reeves, John Reeves, a somewhat older Reeves' individual, William Reeves, and William Reeves with wife Susan Hunter who was said, by her descendants, to be full-blood Cherokee.


There is no documentation in Christian County to connect these Reeves' families but James Reeves is known to have married Nancy Goodwin, daughter of Jesse Goodwin previously of Pendleton, South Carolina whose origins are said to be in Greenville. Both a James Reeves and a John Reeves are recorded in the 1790 census of Greenville County, South Carolina. They appear to have lived in an area claimed by both Spartanburg and Greenville since some deeds state the land was in Spartanburg yet were recorded in Greenville County deed records. Also in Spartanburg in the 1790 census are two William Reeves.

In the Greenville County deed records, John Reeves or Reaves (listed both ways in the deed book) sold 58 acres on George Woolf's Creek on the waters of the Saluda River in Spartanburg to George Woolf in June of 1793. One of the witnesses to this deed was William Reaves. Also in the Greenville County land records in Grant Book C, at page 291, James G. Reaves was awarded a 1794 grant (pictured above) for 237 acres on both sides of Beaver Dam Creek in Spartanburg County.

I subsequently discovered the 1812 will of this George Woolf in Greenville County. He named his three nephews William, Ewel and John Reaves among the legatees. These nephews were described as the sons of "his brother" (presumably his brother-in-law) John Reaves. The will creates the impression that John Reeves was deceased by 1812 but does not specifically state that.

John Reeves' sons appear to have been living with George Woolf at the time of his death in 1813. The only other members of his household had been a wife and two daughters in the 1790 census, but in the 1810 census of Greenville County he is listed with 3 Males 16-25 and 1 Female 16-25 (probably Elizabeth, wife of Ewel) in addition to George Woolf himself.

Several members of the family of George Woolf also migrated to Christian County, Kentucky in the early 1800's. Another nephew and legatee in the will of George Woolf, Henry Woolf, Jr., migrated to Kentucky where he was granted 200 acres in Christian County on the Muddy Fork of the Little River. Land was surveyed on January 24, 1799 (Kentucky Land Warrants Bk. 17 p.305). Henry Woolf, Jr. appeared on the Christian County, Kentucky tax rolls for years 1798-1801 but moved back to South Carolina in 1802.

It appears that John Reeves joined these Woolf family members in the migration to Kentucky but died shortly thereafter and his children returned to South Carolina possibly with Henry Woolf, Jr. in 1802.

We still don't have definitive proof of the extended family of any of these Reeves' individuals, but thanks to the will of George Woolf and other Greenville/Spartanburg County records, we are beginning to have a better idea as to their origins prior to their arrival in Christian County, Kentucky.

Once again - it would be wonderful if more male Reeves' descendants from these families would participate in the Reeves' DNA Project.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bennett Reeves of Wilkes County, Georgia

Gravestone of John D. Reeves, Jr. in Stewart County, GeorgiaIt wasn’t my intention to write another post about the Maryland Reeves family but in the course of researching Reeves in Georgia, I have recently found several interesting items in regard to Bennett Reeves who left Charles County, Maryland after 1790 and relocated to Wilkes County, Georgia. On 2 Nov 1791, Joshua Hill and his wife Amey sold 300 acres on the waters of Newford creek in Wilkes County to Bennett Reeves. One of the testators to that deed was John Dyson, Bennett's cousin who was also from Charles County, Maryland.

Previously, Thomas Reeves who married Bethany Stinson in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1808 was believed to have been the son of Thomas Reeves the son of Malachi and Fortune Reeves of Guilford County, North Carolina, but the statements by three of his children who lived until the 1880 census contradict that theory. This supposition appears to have been based upon proximity due to the fact that other members of the family of Malachi Reeves had relocated to Wilkes County.

In the 1880 census, Hickerson Reeves, Thomas Reeves and Caroline Reeves Yeager, children of Thomas Reeves and Bethany Stinson, as well as Bennett F. Reeves and John D. Reeves, Jr., sons of John D. Reeves, each gave information that their father was born in Maryland. This confirms that they were grandchildren of Bennett Reeves, son of Thomas Reeves and Mary Murphy of Charles County, Maryland and identifies both Thomas Reeves and John D. Reeves as his sons. Bennett Reeves also had at least two daughters according to the census of 1820, but neither has been identified.

Gravestone of Thomas Reeves in Herring Cemetery, Morgan County, AlabamaAdditionally an 1816 deed for 33-3/4 acres in Guilford County on Mairs Fork of the Haw River from Thomas Reeves to Leven Covey describes Thomas Reeves as "of the State of North Carolina & County of Guilford". This indicates that as late as 1816, Thomas Reeves was still living in Guilford County on Mairs Fork of Haw River. This was undoubtably the same land willed to him by his grandfather Richard Burton in his 1799 will.

Following Bennett Reeves death sometime after 1820, both of his sons left the Wilkes County area. John D. Reeves is next found in the western portion of Georgia in Meriwether County where his descendants eventually migrated further southwest into Stewart County. Thomas and Bethany Stinson Reeves along with their children were found in Morgan County, Alabama after leaving Wilkes County.

Again, this is another instance of the “perils of proximity”. In the course of Reeves research, we repeatedly find two or even three different Reeves families and lineages living in the same county so it should never been assumed that all the families in a particular county are related.


(Gravestone photos by Barbara Parks of the Herring Cemetery in Morgan County, Alabama and Christine Thacker of Red Hill Christian Church Cemetery in Stewart County, Georgia for Find a Grave.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

John A. & Nancy Reves Remembered

Recently, I happened upon an online book of "acrostics" by Robert Blackwell published in 1861 which contained verses written about John A. Reves and Nancy Cole Reves. John A. Reves was the son of George B. Reves and Mary Farmer who had left Stokes County, North Carolina, migrating to Carroll County, Mississippi sometime between 1840 and 1850.

According to the dictionary, an acrostic is "a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc."

John A. Reves
Of Carroll County, Miss.

JUST and true, thy course pursue,
Offending none, from errors free,
Helping all who on thee call,
Now listen what we say to thee:
All love thee well who round thee dwell,
Regarding all thy actions true;
Extending light, each day and night,
Victorious on thy course pursue;
Encouraged by each motive high,
Still serve the Lord who rules the sky.

Nancy Reves
Of Carroll County, Miss.

NEATER by far, than a precious gold ring,
And once on a time, hearing her sing,
Nightingales came, her presence to greet;
Conscious that they, her music could beat,
Yet failing in this, did quickly retreat,
Resolving no more, in the land to be heard.
Excelled at last, by a mortal endeared,
Visions of glory, all vanished away;
Each fearing to speak, did secretly say
She sang more sweet, than an angel to-day.

From:
''Original Acrostics on all the States and Presidents of the United States,''
''and Various Other Subjects, Religious, Political, and Personal''
by Robert Blackwell
Pub. 1861 in Nashville TN, pg 157
IBID, pg 188

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Letter from a Reeves' Grandson

It's a shame so few family personal letters have survived over time. When the occasional letter does appear, it is such a delight to read that person's thoughts rather than just what a census enumerator or county clerk wrote about them. William B. Roberts was the grandson of Frederick Geer and Sarah Reeves, daughter of William Reeves of Wake County, North Carolina.

The following letter by William was preserved in the probate records of Orange County, North Carolina in regard to the administration of the estate of his father Willis Roberts. The affectionate letter was addressed to his brother-in-law, John Barbee, the other executor named in Willis Roberts' will. On first reading the letter, I was immediately struck by the kindness and concern for his unmarried younger siblings who were still living in his father's home at his death in 1857.

I think I would have liked my cousin William Roberts.

Georgia Newton Cty July the 27th 1857

Dear Brother,
It is with a sad heart I take my pen to inform you that I Recd your letter informing me of the death of my last Earthly parent, the mournful inteligence fell heavily on one Who has Ever cherished the most tender Regard for a kind and affectionate Father but we all must Die and the best of friends have to part and if we can be prepared it will be a happy Exchange for the affliction and cares of this world. It is a great consolation to believe that our Father is Done with the suferings and is now happy in the presence of his Redeemer and all those happy Spirits that have gone before we should all make it our chief consern to be prepared to meet our Friends in that blessed World. I feel a deep concern for Jane and Winefred, they are in a helpless condition. Willis cant make a suport for them all and I think it would be best for them to break up. You Did not say anything about Debts of corse I k(n)ow nothing about the condition of the Estate or what the children Intend Doing if they Determine on staying thare and thare is any Debt you must sell such property as they can do best without and pay the Debts. If they think it best to brake up I want them to come to georgia they can get a home with me and Richard as long as we have a home. I want some of you to write soon and let me know what they intend Doing and let me know all the perticulars of their Situation and then I will be better prepared to give them advice. The ("that" crossed out in original) Will that was not signed of course cannot be Executed. It is out of my power to go thare at present and it is also unnessessary for me to act, it will be your Duty to carry out the Will. As for whats left me if they Determine to Remain thare, they can keep it until I call for it and Richards the same. If they Don’t want Richards mare sell her and keep the money or use it if they need it. If they wish to come to georgia Richard or myself or both will go thare and accompany them out here. So you need not wait for me in the management of the Estate but Just carry out the Will acording to law. We have a gloomy prospect out here for living, our corn crops are Ruined thare is a great many that wont make corn enough to bread them much less feed stock I shant make a third of a crop I am confident
John you must write to me as soon as you get this and give me all the perticulars. My family are all Well at present and hoping these liens (sic lines) may find yourself and family and all the family conexion well with my love to all I Remain your affictionate brother

W. B. Roberts

to John Barbee

[Postmark] Covington Ga. 29 JUL

Mr John Barbee
Prattsburg
Orange County
N Carolina


(Note - Some punctuation added to make the letter more easily readable.)

Episode 2 - more of the Reeves Gang

The following is a passage from Spencer Elsworth's Records of the olden time; or, Fifty years on the prairies. Embracing sketches of the discovery, exploration and settlement of the country, the organization of the counties of Putnam and Marshall, incidents and reminiscences connected therewith, biographies of citizens, portraits and illustrations, Lacon, Illinois pub. by Home Journal Steam Printing Establishment, Page 532. This version of the story of the Reeves Gang provides much more information and a background to the family's history before arriving in Iowa which was the basis for a prior posting.

Information contained in this and several other histories of this area of Illinois suggest that George was the son of William Reeves rather than his brother Jesse; however, that doesn't appear to be possible based upon the ages of male children in William Reeves household in census of 1800 and 1810. George Reeves also did not leave the New River area in the early 1820's as did William Reeves and his sons. George left Ashe County in the mid 1830's which would coincide with the death of Jesse Reeves.

Reeves the Outlaw
The frontier settlements of a new country are usually the resorts of desperadoes. The law has fewer restraints, and men fleeing from the consequences of crimes go where they are unknown and unsuspected some to grow up respectable, law-abiding citizens, oftener to ply their nefarious business and prey upon society with less fear of detection. Among old settlers Geo. Reeves possesses an unenviable notoriety by reason of his connection with the well known Bandits of the Prairie, an association of desperate men extending over the then entire West.

Illinois 1832Previous to his removal here in 1833-4, he lived a while in Senachwine Township, where his brothers had made claims, and where so far as known he conducted himself inaccordance with the strict principles of justice and right. He was a kind neighbor, scrupulously just in his dealings, ever ready to accommodate, and kind in sickness. At this time he was about forty-five or fifty years of age, suave and gentlemanly in appearance, seldom excited or thrown off hisguard, and prompt to repair an injury or accommodate a neighbor.

Of his previous history little was known, except that he came of a respectable family in North Carolina, where he had led a wild life and was connected with dissolute fellows of whom no good could be said. A murder had been committed by the gang, and though it could not be proven that Reeves was directly implicated, he was detained in prison a long time, and only escaped by strenuous exertions on the part of his friends, and the expenditure of much money. After his liberation he started for Illinois, and is believed for some time to have conducted himself with strict propriety, but bad habits are stronger than good intentions, and it is probable his old associates sought him out in the West and tempted him to his downfall.

The Reeves family consisted of himself, wife, four sons and one daughter, the latter a young lady of more accomplishments than might be expected under the circumstances of her education. The children, if we may believe a neighbor, were systematically trained to steal. The old lady claimed all the eggs about the premises as her personal perquisite, and the old man, under the plea of wanting them for his bitters, used to hire his son George, termed the "General," to steal them from his mother. Sophronia had many friends in Henry and was much thought of. Mrs. Reeves was a Dowton, and connected with the Harts, a disreputable, thieving set, living in the timber across from Henry. She was the ruling spirit of the family, and its evil genius. She encouraged her sons in idleness and secreted their plunder. It is probable the point selected for their new home was chosen as a safe retreat for the nefarious end in view. It was far away from the settlements, and situated in the mouth of a deep ravine, into whose dim recesses the sun seldom penetrated. Its precipitous sides and center were covered with brush, there were lateral branches extending on either side, affording admirable chances for concealment, while the main hollow opened on the prairie a couple of miles or more westward.

Reeves had several cabins or outhouses on the premises fitted up for lodging rooms, and first attracted attention by the frequent appearance of strange faces about his establishment. For some time the gang with which he was connected worked secretly and successfully. Horses stolen on Rock River were brought here to be disposed of, while those stolen here were swiftly taken abroad. By this time (1842) the country was rapidly filling up, and a long course of successful crime had made the perpetrators reckless. Numerous burglaries and much petty thieving had been going on, directly traceable to Reeves' son. Among others who frequented the place were Burch, Fox and Long, the afterward murderers of Col. Davenport. Burch was a desperado, and the hero of more than one robbery, and, as is believed, murder. He was the intimate friend of Cam. Reeves, the eldest son of the old man, now blossoming into a first class thief and desperado. Himself and associates were detected in stealing and passing counterfeit money, and Mrs. Reeves had passed counterfeit money at the stores in Henry and Lacon, which her husband redeemed when called upon. The gang operated at other places. Horses were stolen at Tiskilwa, at Princeton, Toulon, and in Peoria County, and when the perpetrators were caught, confederates bailed them out or aided their escape. A store at Hennepin was broken into about this time, and the robbery was traced to Reeves' son, Cameron, and a young man named Allison. The parties were arrested near Pekin, and the goods found in their possession, but through the aid of a sharp attorney, of Peoria, they managed to escape.

Frederick Rheinbeck's house in Whitefield was broken into, and a party stopping there robbed of cash and valuable papers, which circumstance so wrought upon the community that a spontaneous and universal determination was reached to rid themselves of the presence of the offenders without waiting the forms of law. At this date it cannot be told who were mainly instrumental in bringing the parties to merited punishment, through Dr. Swanzy and J. S. Taliaferro, of Bureau County, were active participants. It was one of those risings when the whole community was ripe for action, and leaders were not necessary. A committee was sent to notify Reeves and request his attendance the next day, at a place on the prairie since called Council Grove, and found him conveying provisions to his son, known to be hiding from the officers in the bottoms above Henry. The old man took the matter quietly, but Mrs. Reeves raved like an enraged tigress. The next day some 300 men assembled. They came riding in from twenty to thirty miles distant from Stark, Bureau and Peoria Counties, with twenty men from the vicinity of Tiskilwa, headed by Dr. Swanzy, determined to deal out Rock River fare; in other words, extermination. Prompt to the time came Reeves on horseback, with old-fashioned saddle bags packed as for a journey. The meeting was organized by appointing Hall S. Gregory to preside. Dr. Swanzy led off with a speech, in which he recounted the crimes of Reeves and his gang, and urged the extermination of the whole tribe...Dr. Boal replied, advising moderation, and giving Reeves time to settle up his business,etc...Dr. Temple, of Chillicothe, replied to Dr. Boal, advising a middlecourse, and the appointment of twelve persons to take Reeves in charge and send him and his family out of the country. A majority of the company endorsed this action.

...Dr. Temple, of Chillicothe, replied to Dr. Boal, advising a middlecourse, and the appointment of twelve persons to take Reeves in charge and send him and his family out of the country. A majority of the company endorsed this action. When Swanzy spoke a rush was made for Reeves, and he would have been shotdown like a dog, but the chairman shielded him. Mrs. Reeves and children cried and begged for mercy. Reeves assented to the decision, and when he found his life was to be spared, seemed the happiest man there.

The party, led by the committee, went to Reeves' house, where arrangements decided on were carried out. Purchasers were found for the stock, and household property of value was quickly loaded on to wagons. When ready for a start, Mrs. Reeves went to the rear of the fire-place, and removing abrick, took therefrom a purse of money, and secreting it about her person, mounted the wagon with her family and were driven off. As the last finale of the tragedy, a coal was applied to the house and outbuildings, and the burning ruins lighted the self-appointed ministers of justice on their way.

The party was conducted to the river and kept under guard until the arrival of a steamer from above, when they were placed on board and warned never toreturn as they valued their lives. Cameron Reeves was captured that night and placed in the Hennepin jail, but escaped and left the country. The party proceeded down the river, and subsequently went up the Missouri and settled a mile and a half from Cameron, where they remained a short time and then migrated to Adair County,Iowa, where the old man died in 1852. He became much dissipated in his later days and died in poverty. George Dent speaks of meeting him once while passing through the state. He came to a camp fire around which the party was gathered, and when he left a particularly fine hunting knife disappeared also.

The lesson so sternly administered had good results. Of the family history for some years we have no data, but the younger members were among the earliest settlers of Omaha, and Cameron Reeves was the first Sheriff of the County. It is on record that he made a very good officer. During his term of service three men were taken by the vigilantes from the jail and hung. He married a very good woman, who has raised a respectable family. His two failings were a love of drink and women, and he is now living with one not his wife and principally supported by her labor, having separated from his lawful spouse.

Preston Reeves lives fifteen miles from Omaha, wealthy and respected and has raised a fine family. Jesse, the third son, died six years ago. He was well-to-do and raised a respectable family, but was given to drinking. George, the youngest, died of dissipation. He was a man of bad repute and was supported by a woman of the town. Sophronia is wedded to A. D. Jones, the founder of Omaha. He laid out the town and was its first postmaster. She is wealthy and respected, and moves in the first society.

Mrs. Reeves still lives (November, 1879), and resides with her daughter. Her life is above reproach, and she is a noted mid-wife and doctress.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Be Careful with Family Histories!

Every Saturday morning, I receive by email the latest newsletter from Alabama Pioneers. Many of these newsletters contain great advice for anyone researching their family. Today was another of those days so I am sharing that advice here since there are numerous Reeves' family histories, some of which include theories and family connections which have been proven to be incorrect along with other questionable information.

Alabama Pioneers Newsletter of Saturday, 2 June 2012

Have you discovered a family history has already been written about your family? Don't assume your job is done. While the history book is a good source of information, many family genealogies contain errors, especially if it was written before computers. Research up until 20 years ago was different from today. Family historians pursued their hobby by writing to other family members and requesting information. Most of the data came from memory or a few documents. Censuses, indexes, and vital records were usually unavailable. Memories were helpful with families that remained in one area for many generations but difficult if they moved and searching documents locally was much easier than traveling.

You still need to be careful if a professional genealogist researched and published the book, even with citations. In the 19th and 20th century, many family genealogies were produced to prove descent from founding fathers. Since genealogy was a source of income, sometimes, if a black sheep was discovered, a genealogy history might have been improved and information dropped on the errant ancestor. Many fraudulent pedigrees were done during this time. Beware of any work completed by Gustave Anjou (1863-1942). He forged many bogus genealogies according to the Genealogical Journal of the Utah Genealogical Association (vol. 19, nos. 1&2, 1991).

But don't abandon that family genealogy book. The information will usually provide a good starting point with leads to be checked and verified by finding primary records. Many original sources are now available online or on microfilm. Look for citations and use them to obtain copies of the original document and your family genealogy will be much more accurate.