Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another Reeves' Mystery Solved?

The origins of John Reeves who died in Craven County, North Carolina in 1790 have previously been a mystery but recent Y Chromosome DNA tests of a direct descendant have identified another Reeves with whom he shares 37 of 37 markers indicating a close family connection. See previous post Craven County's John Reeves from 2012. Not only is it exciting to finally find the origins of John Reeves of Craven County, but also to identify the DNA of the Reeves of Charles and St. Mary's Counties in Maryland. There was a large Reeves' presence in those counties during the 18th century yet this is the first time a descendant from that lineage has tested.

Southern Maryland
Charles and St. Mary's Counties
The Reeves' individual who is a 37/37 match to the descendant of John Reeves of Craven County descends from Josias Reeves who migrated to Ohio where he died in Pickaway County in 1841. Josias was the son of Thomas Reeves and Mary Murphy of Charles County, Maryland. This individual has not joined the Reeves DNA Project but when FtDNA's complete database was searched they were found to have the previously mentioned 37/37 match to the descendant of John Reeves' of Craven County NC.

John Reeves' will was written on the 13th of July in 1790 and he was deceased by September of that year when it was probated, leaving his wife Courtney, their two small children, Jestenon, Francis and another child that would be born after his death, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Reeves. Older children by a first wife are named in that will as Elizabeth Cheshire, Jean Reeves and Mary Wilson. The identity of his first wife is unknown but he married a second time to the widow Mrs. Courtney Taylor Reed sometime after 10 July 1783 when she made a purchase at the estate sale of Frederick Foster in Craven County, North Carolina as "Courtney Reed".

A St. Mary's County deed of 16 Nov 1772 between John Reeves and Justinian Jordan refers to John Reeves as “of Halifax County in the Colony of North Carolina but now in St. Mary's County in Maryland” has interested me since I happened upon it some years ago. The use of the unusual name "Jestenon" (sic Justinion ?) for his child seemed to be another indication of a connection between the John Reeves of Craven NC and John Reeves of Halifax NC/Charles MD. John Reeves was the son of Ubgate Reeves of Charles County and is found in numerous other documents along with Justinion Jordan. There is, however, no known family connection between the two individuals. The identity of John Reeves' first wife and children, if any, is also unknown. He had obviously removed from Charles County sometime after 1760 and was living in Halifax County in North Carolina. This deed appears to be one of the last references to John Reeves in the records of St. Mary's or Charles counties which may suggest that he returned to North Carolina where he died.

The 1763 St. Mary's County will of James Mills leaves the “plantation whereon John Reeves now lives” to his grandson John Jordan. James Mills also left 5000# of tobacco to Lydia Reeves but no relationship is stated. It is unknown whether this could be another daughter of James Mills who was married to John Reeves, possibly his first wife and the mother of the older children named in his will. John Reeves is found in numerous transactions with both the Mills and Jordan families in Charles and St. Mary's Counties.

Once again, DNA is a thrilling compliment to traditional genealogical research.


  1. Beverly are you saying that you think the John Reeves referenced in the 1772 St. Mary's County deed is the same John Reeves who died in Craven County N.C.?

  2. No Aaron, I don't think that John Reeves who died in Craven County is necessarily the same individual but he may have been a child of the John Reeves of Charles County. After this post was published, another descendant of this family came upon a notice published in a Maryland paper regarding the estate of the elder John Reeves and indicating that he had died in 1786 so he could not possibly be the same person.

    However, a descendant of John Reeves of Craven County's Y-DNA is a match to a descendant of the Reeves' family of Charles County, Maryland. Luckily several more descendants of this lineage are in the process of participating in the Reeves Y-DNA Project and are currently sending off their DNA kits. One of those individuals appears to be a descendant of the Charles County MD family through Bennett Reeves who migrated to Wilkes County, Georgia.

    Over the next month to 6 weeks, these questions should be resolved although the exact identity of the father of John Reeves who died in Craven County in 1790 will probably still require traditional documentation to prove his exact lineage.