Friday, May 12, 2017

Early Reeves' Families in Colonial America

Over the course of the last seven years, the members of The Reeves Project have been attempting to identify the various Reeves' lineages in this country as well as tie their members to results of DNA testing as more and more participants join the Reeves DNA Project at FtDNA. Using DNA results has had a great impact on the accuracy of the recorded lineages.

Each location identifies a different known Reeves family. There were numerous other Reeves individuals who are documented as arriving in the American colony during the early years of its settlement as detailed in Cavaliers & Pioneers which can be seen in the listing of Virginia Land Patents and Grants at The Reeves Project but this data pertains to those Reeves who raised families in the colony leaving descendants.

The map above marked with numbers represents various different family lines who were present in colonial America prior to the Revolutionary War. These families are as follows:
#1 - Thomas Reeve of Long Island, New York
Thomas Reeve and his brother James arrived here and settled on Long Island, New York in 1636 after sailing from Barbados to the Chowan area of North Carolina in search of spirits of resin. The story of that adventure can be read at the post A Tale of Adventuring in Chowan Country on this blog. Descendants of the Reeve family of Long Island NY that have participated in DNA testing are members of DNA Group 5.

#2 - George and John Reeve of Prince William County, Virginia
George Reeve and his brother John were recorded in the records of Prince William County, Virginia. The first reference to George Reeve(s) of Virginia's Northern Neck area was on 17 October 1719 in Northumberland County, Virginia when his oldest son Thomas was entered into the birth registry there. Some of the children of George Reeve migrated over the Appalachians to Kentucky and then into Ohio after the Revolution. Children of George Reeve also moved southward to Lancaster County, South Carolina prior to the Revolution as did a grandson of John Reeve after the Revolution. The connection between these families has been verified by DNA matches between Reeve(s) individuals in both areas and they are members of DNA Group 10.

#3 - Thomas Reeves of Charles & St. Mary's Counties, Maryland
The large Reeves family of Charles and St. Mary's Counties of southern Maryland appears to descend from Thomas Reeves and his wife Mary Upgate although only one individual from a member of that family who migrated to Ohio has participated in DNA testing. There is one other individual who matches this descendant of Thomas Reeves and he descends from John Reeves who died in Craven County, North Carolina in 1790. That individual's lineage had been a mystery and the connection to the Maryland Reeves' family has been an excellent clue to his origins. The probate records of Charles and St. Mary's counties are relatively extensive and most appear to be extant. Additional participants in the Reeves DNA project would be a great boon to research of this family. Other descendants of this lineage migrated to Rowan County, North Carolina, Wilkes County, Georgia and eventually as far as Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

#4 - Henry Reeves of Essex County, Virginia
Henry Reeves, Sr. was granted 600 acres on Tigner's Creek on the south side of the Rappahannock River in Virginia in what is now Essex County on 1 January 1666. Henry left a will when he died in 1687 as did the majority of his children at their deaths. There is no clear pedigree detailing an extended listing of Henry Reeves' descendants. A very few whose lineage can be documented as descending from this family are recorded in DNA Group 9. At one time it was believed that George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia was a descendant of Henry Reeves but DNA has not supported that theory.

#5 - George Reeves of Middlesex County, Virginia
In Middlesex County, Virginia was the large family headed by patriarch George Reeves of Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom. His four known sons were Thomas, Francis, George, and Charles. There was no known connection between the family of George Reeves of Lincolnshire and that of Henry Reeves, Sr. of neighboring Essex County or any other Reeves' lineages in colonial America. Middlesex probate records of the estates of Thomas, Francis or George, Jr. when he died in 1689 make no mention of any heirs left in America. The surviving brother Charles returned to England where he appears to have remained.

#6 - Timothy Ryves of Surry County, Virginia
The Rives or Ryves family who settled south of Virginia's James River is featured in James Rives Childs' 1929 book Reliques of the Rives (Ryves). Based upon the evidence now available, the patriarch of this large family appears to be Timothy Ryves, born 1625, son of Timothy and Mary Ryves of Oxford. Timothy Rives settled initially in Surry County, Virginia with his descendants spreading over most of the counties south of the James River and now across the country. Descendants of this family are represented in DNA Group 8 of the Reeves DNA Project at FtDNA.

#7 - Isaac Reeves of Mecklenburg, Virginia and Wilkes, North Carolina
The first record currently found of Isaac Reeves is the tithables list for Mecklenburg County in 1764, followed by a 1765 deed in which Isaac Reeves and wife Margery sold 100 acres in Mecklenburg County, Virginia to Ephraim Puckett. By 1784 he was recorded in Wilkes County, North Carolina where within a few years his children began to appear in the records of that county. The History of Morgan, Monroe & Brown County of Indiana, published in 1884 makes several interesting statements regarding a grandson of Isaac and Margery Reeves particularly that his father (James, son of Isaac) was a native of Ireland. That biography also states that Isaac and Margaret Reeves came from Ireland previous to the Revolutionary War. Descendants of this family who have been tested by FtDNA are found in DNA Group 6C.

#8 - George Reaves of Halifax County, Virginia
A wealth of historical data indicates that George Reaves who appeared in Halifax County, Virginia circa 1770 was the same individual by that name who was previously recorded in Prince William County, Virginia. See the blog post "The rest of the story..." which details the extensive research of this family back to George's birth circa 1726/27. This individual has been confused with George Reeves, Sr. of Grayson County, Virginia because over a period of 20 years the border between Virginia and North Carolina changed regularly and various individuals confused the two men named "George Reeves" who both appear in Wilkes County over those years. This George Reaves who came to Wilkes County from Halifax, Virginia sold his property in Wilkes County to William Petty in 1794 and moved back to Virginia where he lived the remainder of his life. He was listed consistently on the Halifax County tax lists from 1796 to 1815 and appears to have died around 1815.

#9 - William Reeves of Chowan, Edgecombe and Granville Counties of North Carolina
William Reeves was first mentioned in February 1718 as an adjoining landowner in a deed in Chowan District, North Carolina. He is recorded in numerous transactions of Edgecombe County until 1749 when he received a grant from Lord Granville for 200 acres in Granville County on both sides of Fishing Creek. It was in Granville County that his will was written and proved in December of 1751 after his death. His children remained in that vicinity of North Carolina for some years but by around 1800 most had migrated elsewhere, many to Georgia and South Carolina. Descendants of this family who have tested with FtDNA are found in DNA Group 3.

#10 - John Durdan Reeves of Halifax County, North Carolina
According to his Revolutionary War pension statement, John Durdan Reeves was born in Halifax County, North Carolina in 1759. He volunteered in 1780 from Halifax County, served several tours and had been commissioned as a Lieutenant by the end of the war. After the Revolution he lived for several years in Cumberland County where he married around 1788. By the census of 1800, he had migrated westward to Surry County where he died in 1841. Some of his descendants remained in the Surry County NC area while others migrated to Tennessee and Kentucky. The descendants of John Durdan Reeves who have participated in the Reeves DNA Project are represented in DNA Group 6B.

#11 - William Reeves of Wake County, North Carolina
William Reves (Reeves) was described as of Johnston County, North Carolina when, in 1746, he received a McCulloch land grant for 400 acres on the Neuse River in what soon became part of Orange County, then Johnston once again in the 1760's and finally Wake County at its inception in 1771. That land is now part of Durham County and just outside the city of Durham. His son, William Reves, served as a Tax Collector and Assessor in Wake County and was a Justice of the court there until at least 1803. He is named as a DAR Patriot based upon his civil service during the Revolution. Once incorrectly believed to be associated with the Reeves family in Granville County, Y-DNA testing has proven that was not the case. Descendants of this family who have tested are found in DNA Group 6A matching descendants of George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia at Location #13.

#12 - Reeves Families of Orange County, North Carolina
There were at least three Reeves families living in Orange County, North Carolina prior to the Revolutionary War. Revolutionary War soldier John Reeves who stated in his 1834 pension affidavit that he was born in North Carolina in 1747 and volunteered from Orange County in 1776. George Reeves, Sr. appears in Orange County by 1772 when a deed for 200 acres from Ruffin MacNair was proved in court there. The parents of both George and John Reeves are unknown as is whether there was any family connection between them. Also living in Orange County shortly before these individuals are recorded there was William Reeves (Reves) identified in Location #11 from 1746. There is also no historical record to suggest that there was a family attachment to that family whose DNA results are identified with Group 6A of the Reeves DNA Project. Sadly, no one whose lineage is documented from either John or George Reeves has done a DNA test which would help to identify their family connections.

#13 - George Reeves (Reves), Sr. of Grayson County, Virginia
George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia migrated from the Neuse River basin in Johnston County, North Carolina to the New River area along the border between Grayson, Virginia and Ashe, North Carolina in 1767. George Reeves is documented as a Revolutionary War Patriot by the DAR based upon his service as a Lieutenant in McDonald's Company in Montgomery County, Virginia. DNA of three descendants of George Reeves matches that of descendants of William Reves of Location #11 above. George along with his father-in-law Richard Burton can also be found in the records of early Orange and Johnston counties before leaving that area around 1765. In 1805, George Reeves gave a statement in a court case indicating that he arrived in the New River area of southwestern Virginia in 1767 which would agree with his absence from Johnston County circa 1765. George Reeves' descendants are found in DNA Group 6A.

#14 - William Reaves of Wayne County, North Carolina
The Reaves family of Wayne County, North Carolina descends from William Reaves who died there in 1793. He appears to be the person by that name who was living in now extinct Dobbs County by the late 1750's as established by deed indexes which are the only extant records for that area due to a courthouse fire. He also appears to be the individual by that name who was listed on the 1769 tax lists of Dobbs County. His will written in 1790 naming his children was presented for probate at the April Court 1793 in Wayne County. His origins had been a mystery until several of his documented descendants participated in the Reeves FtDNA Project and were found to match descendants of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751. Those descendants are found in DNA Group 3.

#15 - Reeves Families of Bladen, Cumberland and Brunswick, North Carolina
The Reeves/Reaves families of Bladen, Cumberland and Brunswick counties are very likely several different lineages. A Robert Reeves was listed on the 1742 tax lists of Bladen County and a 1750 grant for 100 acres places an Edward Reeves there. Whether he is the same Edward Reeves who was a Bladen County taxpayer in 1763 is unknown. By 1773 another Reeves' individual, Nathaniel, is recorded in Bladen County east of Harrison's Creek and again in 1779 along with a Zachariah Reeves. In the 1790 and subsequent censuses, both Nathaniel and Zachariah were listed in Cumberland County. In neighboring Brunswick County, Solomon and Mark Reaves are believed to be sons of William Reaves and Prudence Harralson. Interestingly, Prudence Harralson was the daughter of Paul Harralson of Edgecombe County who was involved in many dealings with William Reeves, Jr. of the Granville County family. No one from any of these families has participated in the Reeves DNA Project which could give some clue as to their origins and whether they were related or have connections to any of the other Reeves' families in colonial North America.

#16 - John and Moses Reeve(s) of Lancaster County, South Carolina
John and Moses Reeve(s) who were located in the area of Lancaster, South Carolina before 1780 appear to be sons of George Reeve of Prince William County, Virginia - see Location #2 above. British Mercantile Claims 1775-1803 for claims relating to Prince William County Customers and/or Residents list a John Reeves and Moses Reeves. This was from a list of debts due William Cunningham and Company, of Glasgow, Scotland, at their Falmouth Store before the Revolution. The notes indicate that John Reeves Removed about twenty years ago. John Reeves was living above Camden by July 1775 and Chester County deeds place Moses Reeves in the area as early as 1777. The Revolutionary War pension statement of Daniel Reeves has affidavits from Daniel's brother William Reeves and his cousin Jesse that provide some background on the family in South Carolina. The connection between these Reeve(s) families to those members in Prince William County, Virginia has been established by Y-DNA testing where they match descendants of George Reeve who migrated to Kentucky and Ohio as well as a descendant of his brother John who migrated to South Carolina. Participants from these families are members of DNA Group 10.

#17 - Thomas Reeves of Richmond & Washington Counties, Georgia
Thomas Reeve, the son of George Reeve and Ann Doggett of Prince William County, appears to be the individual by that name who settled in Washington County, Georgia. It is very probable that this is the Thomas Reeve who received a bounty land warrant in Washington County, Georgia in 1784 and died there around April 1787. The British Mercantile Accounts show a Thomas Reeves indebted to a British mercantile company, William Cunningham and Company, of Glasgow, at their Falmouth Store, with a bill for 6 pounds, 5 shillings, and 9 pence due in May of 1774. After the Revolutionary War, the company assigned an agent to determine the status of the company's accounts receivable in Virginia; the agent investigating the claim against Thomas Reeves whose finished report dates from 1803 concluded that the man in question had "moved to Georgia about twenty years ago, then solvent." This would suggest that Thomas Reeves left Prince William prior to 1783. It is regrettable that no one from this family has participated in the Reeves Y-DNA Project to prove the family connection.

Link to full size map showing water courses and more detail in 1733 Map of North America.


  1. I am a descendant of Lazarus Reeves who I believe to be the son of William Rives and grandson of Col. William Rives, great grandson of George Rives and great great grandson of Wm Ryves/Rives of Woodstock Oxfordshire England. I saw in my search that Lazarus was mentioned somewhere in this blog but i cannot locate where he is mentioned. Would anyone be able to tell me where I can read the info on him, please? Thank you.

    1. The only Lazarus I can find in this blog is a Lazarus Reeve believed to be a son of Isaac B. Reeve, son of Isaac and Margary Reeve(s) of Wilkes County, North Carolina. That post is titled "More Curious Things" and is from November of 2012. Use the search feature for Lazarus to find it.