Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The rest of the story...

Since the previous posting regarding the mysterious George Reaves referred to in a Halifax County deed of September 1793 by the heirs of John Epps, much new information about his identity has been discovered.

Revolutionary war soldier Asher Reaves' pension statement recounts that he was born in Prince William County, Virginia and joined the revolutionary forces from Halifax County, Virginia in 1778. He states that he lived in Halifax County, Virginia prior to the Revolution from where he originally enlisted, then his father relocated to Wilkes County, North Carolina, from there he was recruited for subsequent tours of service. Asher stated that he moved with his father to Wilkes County in the State of North Carolina about 2 miles from Wilkes Court House on the Yadkin River where he lived until the fall of 1789.

Asher's parents have previously been unidentified, however the following appear to be some of the earliest references to Reeves or Reaves in Halifax, Virginia:
On 27 Dec 1771, George Reeves witnessed (signed with his mark) a deed from Luke Williams, carpenter, and Catherine his wife of Halifax County to James Ingram, gentlemen of Accomac County for 500 acres near Sandy Creek. Halifax County Deed Book 8, p. 295.

On 18 Jun 1773, Luke Williams of Halifax County executed a deed of trust to John Lewis, Jr. of Halifax County for 986 acres adjoining William McDaniel, James Henry, Charles Wormack, George Reaves, Joseph Morrosson, George Curry. Halifax County, Virginia Deed Book 9, p. 202

On 15 Oct 1778, Luke Williams of Halifax County deeded 100 acres on Court house branch to George Reaves of same county. Halifax County, Virginia Deed Book 11, p. 128-129.
Wilkes County, North Carolina
The only older Reeves' individual living in Wilkes County, North Carolina during the Revolution was an Isaac Reeves with wife Margery. Isaac Reeves did not name any of his children in his 1807 will, but they have been identified through tax and deed records of Wilkes County and do not include Asher. Although at times George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia was listed in the records of Wilkes NC, it should be noted that the state line between Virginia and North Carolina was in dispute for approximately 20 years. Areas along that boundary were constantly being shifted back and forth between the two states. The area where George Reeves lived along the New River was along that boundary so the state and county changed repeatedly. From 1767 when he arrived on the Peach Bottom Tract until his death in 1811, George Reeves lived on the north side of the New River. The Peach Bottom Tract on the New River is approximately 40 miles from the Wilkes County Courthouse and the Yadkin River as described by Asher Reaves in his RW pension statement and Little Cub Creek adjacent to the Moravian line mentioned in George Reaves' Wilkes County deed of 1794. (See above map with the New River at the top and the Wilkes Courthouse "CH" much further south.) This George Reaves is the only individual who was both a resident of Halifax County, Virginia and Wilkes, North Carolina who could be the father to which Asher referred.

George Reaves origins are undocumented but the statement of Asher Reaves in his Revolutionary War pension that he was born in Prince William County, Virginia suggests that George came from Virginia's northern neck. In Northumberland County, Virginia, Margaret and William Scurlock administered the estate of a Thomas Reeves who died about 1729. This suggests that Margaret was Reeves's widow and that she married William Scurlock as her second husband. One Margaret Scurlock later married Joseph Morrison in North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia, on 9 December 1739. This Margaret appears to have been the widow of both William Scurlock and Thomas Reeves.

Joseph and Margaret Scurlock Morrison were taxed in Dettingen Parish, Prince William County, Virginia in 1747 with Joseph Scurlock and George Reves as tithables in their household, indicating that they were young men aged 16-21 years (and thus born between 10 June 1726 and 10 June 1731). This appears to suggest that Margaret (MNU) married first Thomas Reeves, second William Scurlock, and third Joseph Morrison, and that George Reves and Joseph Scurlock were her sons.

The following appears in Prince William County, VA, Order Book 1759-1761, 25 March 1760, p. 69: Nathaniel Chapman vs. Joseph Morrison, Fortunatus Legg and George Reeves. In debt. the defendants filed their plea to which the plaintiff demurred generally and time is allowed the defendants untill next Court to consider the same. (Published in The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 20, p. 38.)

Margaret and Joseph Morrison were both still alive on 4 December 1762, when they were dismissed from Broad Run Baptist Church in Fauquier County to join Birch Creek Baptist Church in Halifax County, Virginia. Joshua Scurlock, a proven son of William Scurlock, was dismissed from Broad Run "to Halifax" on 10 June 1763. Joseph Morrison and Joshua Scurlock are found in Halifax County during the 1760s. A 1778 Halifax County deed identifies Joseph Morrison as a neighbor of George Reeves. Additionally, he is recorded in the Halifax tax lists through 1788.

1780 Joshua Scurlock Survey
Wilkes County, North Carolina
Other members of the extended Scurlock/Morrison family also migrated to Wilkes County, North Carolina about the time that George Reaves did. The following excerpt from Michael Scurlock of the Northern Neck and Some of His Descendants refers to Joshua Scurlock who is very likely the half brother of George Reaves:
"Sometime after 1762, like so many Virginians of the era, Joshua (Scurlock) and his family migrated from their home state, going first to Wilkes Co., N.C., where he received a North Carolina land grant of 300 acres on both sides of Moravian Creek on 1 March 1780. On 27 October 1788, Joshua, now, 'of the State of Georgia,' sold this land and the deed was recorded in Wilkes Co., N.C."
George Reaves described as "of Wilkes County, North Carolina" is named in a Halifax deed dated September 6, 1793 as one of the legatees of John Epps, deceased. The deed refers to the heirs of a deceased son Joshua, as being: Nathaniel Epps, Moses Epps, David Powell, Sr., John Comer, Edy Epps, and Temperance Epps of Halifax County, Virginia; Ambrose Gresham of Lunenburg County, Virginia; and George Reaves of Wilkes County, North Carolina. According to Joshua Epps' Will of 1778 (Halifax Co. Will Bk. 1, 1773-83, p 216) his children were: John, Nathaniel, William, Isham, Moses, Mary (m. David Powell, Sr. before 1767), Elizabeth “Betty” (m. Ambrose Gresham on 24 Mar 1787 in Halifax VA), Millison (m. John Clay), Dicy (m. Elisha Lacy), Amey (m. John Comer before 10 Sept. 1775), Temperance (unmarried in 1793), Edy (unmarried in 1793) and Patty (a nickname for Martha) who must then be the daughter who married George Reaves. This is further confirmed by the appearance of a widowed Martha Reaves listed as head of household beginning on the 1816 tax lists and in the 1830 Halifax census after the death of George Reaves around 1815.

Asher Reaves was Surety on a Halifax County, Virginia marriage bond dated 25 November 1785 for the marriage of Joseph Morrison to Margaret Raney establishing another connection between Asher and George Reaves. Joseph Morrison was the probable step-father of George Reaves and therefore step-grandfather of Asher.

George Reaves reappears on the Halifax County, Virginia tax lists in 1796 after selling his property in Wilkes County in 1794:
9 Dec 1794 Deed - George Reeves deed to William Petty, Sr. for 200 acres on Little Lick Creek adjacent to the Moravian line. Wilkes County, North Carolina Deed Book B-1, p. 416
Excerpt from 1796 Halifax County Personal Tax List
At the time George Reaves returned to Halifax County, he was apparently over 65 years of age for he was listed as exempt on the 1796 personal property tax list which coincides with the birth date of George Reeves, probable son of Thomas in the Dettingen Parish tax listing of 1747. George and his sons Elijah and George, Jr. are listed in the tax records of Halifax through 1815 when George appears to have died. The following year, a widowed Martha Reaves is listed as head of household in the place of George on the tax list.

This extensive additional information regarding George Reaves of Halifax County, Virginia and Wilkes County, North Carolina was located as part of an effort to learn more about the Reeve(s) families of Virginia's northern neck. The collaboration of several Reeves' researchers, especially Dan Knight, has helped to link George and Asher Reaves to each other as well as their roots in northern Virginia. Hopefully more information will be found and possibly a descendant will someday participate in the Reeves DNA Project adding further to our knowledge of George Reaves.

Other posts in this blog on the Epps wife theory:
Wilkes County's George Reeves Mystery
New Data on George Reeves of Grayson
Another Episode of the Epps Wife Fantasy