Thursday, May 30, 2013

Those Places Thursday - The Cumberland Gap

The Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains section of the Appalachians located just north of the point where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet. Native Americans had used this pass through the mountains long before the American colonists became aware of it. After a team of loggers led by Daniel Boone widened the path and made it more accessible to settlers migrating westward, it became a major passageway through the lower central Appalachians and an important part of the Wilderness Road.

The Cumberland Gap Looking Toward Kentucky
Around the age of 65, my ancestor William Reves left Wake County, North Carolina which had been his home for most or possibly all of his life and migrated to Madison County, Kentucky around 1806.  His youngest sons, George and Jeremiah, had made this trip several years before along with other settlers from the Granville-Wake County area.

William Reves lived most of his life on a 400 acre tract granted to his father William Reves, Sr. in what had been Orange County in the 1750s, Johnston County in the 1760s, then Wake County and is now Durham County.  In her book Durham County - A History of Durham County, North Carolina, Jean Bradley Anderson states "Among the first to take up land in present Durham County were William Reeves, who received 400 acres where Ellerbee Creek runs into Neuse River (1746)".

In August of 1760, as William Reaves, Jr. he registered his cattle brand in Orange County.  He is found listed in the minutes of the Wake County Court from the county's inception in 1771 through 1803. He is recognized as a Revolutionary War Patriot based upon his civil service as a tax assessor in Wake County during the revolution by the DAR. From the 1770's, he served on juries, was overseer of roads, assessor and tax gatherer in Captain Woodson Daniel's district and from 1787 to 1803 was a Magistrate Justice of the Wake County Court.

Many of the documents that refer to him spell his name Reeves, but he and his sons who were all literate, always spelled their name Reves which tends to set them apart from the many other Reeves families of North Carolina.  DNA of several of his descendants also establishes that they were unrelated to the other Reeves families in the Neuse basin but to date no records have been found with clues to their origins.

His final appearance as a justice of the Wake County Court is recorded in 1803 and on Sept. 16th, 1806, his son William Jr. sold his 130 acre tract south of Ellobey's Creek. These were the last records for either of them in Wake County and by the 1810 census, both are recorded in Madison County, Kentucky.  

Several years ago my cousin and I made a trip to North Carolina by way of southern Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap into Virginia and drove a two lane highway through the Appalachians from Virginia into North Carolina. Even in a modern vehicle on modern roads, it is apparent what an accomplishment it was for my 65 year old 4th great grandfather to make such a trip through the Cumberland Gap in 1806.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Access to Family Trees on Family Search

For everyone who has longed to be able to access the LDS family trees on Family Search in order to make additions or corrections - it is now possible.  If you haven't already discovered the changes at Family Search, you will be pleased to know that these seriously flawed trees, full of duplications and undocumented connections, can now be accessed.  Many of these family trees were created long before the internet with the records that are now available or DNA testing.

Family Information for William Reaves
of Wayne County, North Carolina
Family Search has entered these family pedigrees into a wiki type database which could eventually be a wonderful source of family information but it is currently a mass of conflicting family connections and duplications.  See the image inserted at left for information retrieved on a search for William Reaves of Wayne County, North Carolina.

William Reaves, born circa 1737, is shown as the child of John Reeves, born circa 1745 who obviously could not be William's father.  This lists John Reeves as marrying in North Carolina but there are countless records from Augusta and Rockingham Counties of Virginia for John Reeves and Margaret Duncanson.   A descendant of this John Reeves has tested and been placed in DNA Group 9.

Recent DNA testing by descendants of William Reaves of Wayne County have placed this family in DNA Group 3 which connects them to William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751.  Also included among the proposed siblings in this listing are members of the family of Isaac Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina (DNA Group 6), William Rives of Prince George County, Virginia (DNA Group 8) and even one individual with the surname Rapp who was born in Germany.

This image is included simply to call attention to the errors in the information at present. In spite of all the errors, this is a tremendous step forward for online genealogy and if those of us who love genealogy all perservere in helping to correct the incorrect data and merge the duplications, it could eventually be a wonderful resource.

One of the exciting features the Family Search software provides is the ability to link a scanned copy of original documents, i.e. wills and probate documents, marriage certificates, etc., to the individual's page.  This excellent feature allows a scanned document from Family Search's collections to be added to the person's page and provide documentation with sources for the data.  Their software will also allow the addition of pictures.

There are countless "legacy issues" recorded in these records where individuals have noted errors and requested corrections in the past.  If you've always wanted to correct the information in the LDS files for your ancestors, now's your chance.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Interesting New Developments

In the earliest days of this blog, I added a post regarding the Reaves family of Wayne County, North Carolina whose origins prior to their arrival in Old Dobbs County have been a mystery. Thanks to DNA, that mystery may finally be solved. Two participants in the Reeves DNA Project who descend from William Reaves of Wayne County have now matched DNA Group 3. DNA Group 3 includes the descendants of William Reeves who died in Granville County, North Carolina in 1751.

Wayne County, North Carolina Area
The fact that their origins have previously been unknown probably stems from the 1878 courthouse fire at Kinston in Lenoir County which destroyed all the records housed there. Dobbs County had been formed from the eastern portion of Johnston County in 1758 and in 1791, Wayne County from the western portion of Dobbs. The records of early Johnston and other counties formed from Johnston - Wayne, Greene and Lenoir Counties, were placed at the courthouse there and all were lost in that fire. The only exception was the original grantee deed index from Old Dobbs County.

With this new DNA evidence, we are presented with the question of how the Reaves of Wayne County are related to the family of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751. Previously William Reeves, Jr. of that family was believed to have been the individual by that name who died in 1821 in York County, South Carolina. However, the William Reeves who died in South Carolina would have been well past 100 years old if that were the case since he must have been born about 1710. It is far more likely that a generation has been missed and the William Reeves with wife Elizabeth who died in York, South Carolina was the son or nephew of William Reeves, Jr. Recent research of the probate, tax and deed records of Granville County has established that the William Reeves who was present in the records of Granville County from around 1755 as a tithe of Malachi Reeves was undoubtedly Malachi's son. From 1755 when he is first listed, until November of 1796 when he is recorded in a deed transaction wherein he sold 257 acres on Tabbs Creek to John Hall (Deed Book P, p.342) before leaving for South Carolina, he is the only William Reeves in the records of Granville County.

William Reeves, Jr. along with his wife Hardy was often recorded in the deed records of Edgecombe County from at least 1740 and continued to be found in deeds there until the 1750's. As William Reeves of Edgecombe County, he was last found in the records of Granville County in May of 1753 when he sold 525 acres on Fishing Creek (Deed Book B, p.243-244) to his brother Malachi. His absence in the Granville and Edgecombe County records coincides with the appearance of William Reaves in the records of Old Dobbs County around 1758 based upon the extant deed indexes of Old Dobbs.

1790 Will of William Reaves of Wayne County

 These recent DNA results may indicate that some of the Reaves' individuals found in Old Dobbs and later in Wayne County were descendants of William Reeves, Jr., previously of Edgecombe County and that William Reaves may even have been his son. Hopefully records in the surrounding counties that were not destroyed in the Lenoir courthouse fire can be found to provide more documentation for this family.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Update on the Reeves of Wayne County Tennessee

DNA testing is helping to unravel yet another Reeves mystery. Over a year ago, I wrote a post titled Yet Another George Reeves.  At the end of the post, I opined that DNA testing might help identify this mystery George of  Wayne County.

I’ve long been interested in the numerous Reeves families of Wayne County, Tennessee. Most of my paternal ancestors came from Wayne County, Tennessee, but my Reeves line is maternal. I was very curious – were my mother’s relatives living next door to my father’s ancestors 100 years or more before my parents met in Arkansas? And there were so many Reeves there -- surely they couldn’t possibly all be the same line. Most of them came out of nowhere and moved on elsewhere, but a combination of paper trails and DNA testing is starting to bring them into a sharper focus.

One such Reeves is George W Reeves who sold land on Hardin’s Creek in Wayne County, Tennessee in 1833 as "George Reeves of Hickman County, Kentucky." I found him in the 1830 Wayne County census and then in 1840 in Hickman County, Kentucky and in 1850 in Ballard County, Kentucky.  I was able to identify his first wife as Nancy Elizabeth McClure as well as their children and his second wife as Mary Polly Boone.

Then the trail went cold until my Reeves cousin Laverne got her results from the Family Finder test.  Laverne’s test confirmed, as she always knew, that she is part of the Reeves Group 8 DNA family.  But among her matches was a real gem of a find:  two descendants of "George W Reeves of Hickman Kentucky.”

Having identified his line, I knew a little better where to look for more traces of him.  I found his wife’s family, the McClures, living in Humphreys County Tennessee near several Reeves dwellings including that of Jordan Reeves . Further supporting the family relationship, these McClures migrated to Wayne County with George and Nancy and then on to Kentucky. And finally, an 1820 census record of a George Reeves in Perry County TN that had long stumped Group 8 Reeves researchers fits the family structure of our now less mysterious George W Reeves.

We still don’t know who George W Reeves’ father was, but he could very well be one of the Reeves men who migrated to Humphreys and Hickman County Tennessee between 1808 and 1816/17, sons and grandsons of George Reeves and Mary Jordan. 

Updated to add: I now also have a DNA match to a descendent of George W Reeves and Nancy McClure.