Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Data on George Reeves of Grayson County

Blue Ridge Vista in Grayson County
After searching for a decade for the source of a very old 1999 post on the Reeves Genealogy.com forum regarding the statements by a Mrs. Helen Trent Hobbs in regard to the origins of George Reeves who settled in Grayson County, Virginia in 1767 I have finally found the answer. An Ancestry post to the page of a distant Reeves' cousin contained a portion of the statement with a clue as to the name of the book and its author. The statements were from a letter written by 86 year old George W. Reeves of Ashe County, son of John Reeves, which were included in a 1951 volume published by LeRoy Reeves, a descendant of Edward Reeves of Bladen County, North Carolina.

The book is entitled Ancestral Sketches - Ancestry of William P. and Peter M. Reeves and contains a wealth of information regarding early Reeves families in North Carolina. It is a great shame that LeRoy Reeves did not have access to the historical records currently available and the added blessing of Y-DNA results. He has done an excellent job in researching these families and attempting to find possible familial relationships. The passage quoted from George W. Reeves' letter contained the following:
In December, 1897* (sic) George W. Reeves of Jefferson, Ashe County, North Carolina, then almost 86 years of age, wrote: "My grandfather's name was George Reeves whose birthplace I am unable to give, but was principally raised in eastern North Carolina. He was born about the year 1704 or 1705 (sic) and came from Neuse River, N.C., to New River, Grayson County, Virginia, about the year 1725 (sic) bringing his wife with him. They had born to them seven daughters and four sons, the youngest of which was John Reeves who was my father. When my grandfather came to Virginia no others of the Reeves family came with him, but my recollection is that he left others of the Reeves family in eastern N. C. whose names I am unable to give. But well remember my father had two cousins, William Reeves and Jeremiah Reeves, who visited my father since my recollection. I also remember that my grandfather's family frequently visited their relatives in eastern N. C, and I am sure that my grandfather left brothers and sisters in that part of the state...My grandmother's maiden name was Jane Burton."
Finding the source of these statements by George W. Reeves has been a complete thrill and further confirms the family connection between William Reeves of Wake County, North Carolina and George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia that was discovered when descendants of both participated in the Reeves Y-DNA Project. It also should put to rest any lingering belief in the debunked theory (see posts in this blog) that the wife of George Reeves of Grayson County was a daughter of Joshua Epps of Halifax County, Virginia since George W. Reeves was obviously knowledgeable of the fact that his grandmother was Jane Burton.

I also found the remembered visit by his father's cousins, William and Jeremiah, of particular interest since two of the younger sons of William Reeves, Jr. of Wake County, North Carolina, by those names had migrated to Madison County, Kentucky with their father which would have been in relative close proximity. Any trip they would have made back to their previous home in Wake County would have taken them through the New River area of Virginia.

LeRoy Reeves speculated in his book on possible connections between George, William and Edward Reeves of Bladen based upon their arrival in the eastern portion of North Carolina at about the same time. He collected a tremendous amount of census and land records for the early Reeves of North Carolina but by not being privy to Y-DNA the majority of his proposed connections have been proven to be unfounded and to have been primarily based solely on proximity. The Reeves Y-DNA Project has no record that any descendants of Edward Reeves of Bladen County have ever participated so we aren't able to confirm any family connections. For the sake of adding more authenticity to Reeves genealogy, we'll have to hope that eventually some of those Bladen County NC Reeves' male descendants decide to participate in the DNA project.

In the meantime, I'll just continue to bask in the joy of finding the published information from George W. Reeves' letter.

* Note that the date the letter was written appears to be in error since George W. Reeves died in October of 1896 according to the inscription on his gravestone pictured at Find A Grave. George W. Reeves was born in April of 1812 and he would have been almost 86 in December of 1895, not 1897 which appears to have been a transcription error.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reeves in Early Virginia's Northern Neck

At The Reeves Project, we continue to chip away at the various Reeves' mysteries in an attempt to identify the many lineages and at times even have the benefit of Y-DNA testing to prove their connections. But when the earliest Reeves immigrants to the American colonies are concerned, it's just never easy. This week I've been searching early records of Virginia's northern neck in an attempt to find clues to several families in Lancaster and Westmoreland counties.

John Reeves' 1731 Will
John Reeves left a 1731 will in Lancaster County naming sons William, Eaton, James and daughter Elizabeth, wife of Richard Flint. This appears to be the same family whose children were referred to as "God children" and left bequests in the 1703 will of William Brightman of Lancaster County. William Brightman named his God daughter Elizabeth Reeves, the daughter of John Reeves as the primary beneficiary who was to receive the balance of his estate after other legacies were paid. He also named as his Godsons, William and John Reeves, sons of John Reeves, legatees and left his riding horse to John Reeves, Sr. as well as a cow named Cherry to Elizabeth Reeves, wife of John Reeves.

Elizabeth, wife of John Reeves, is identified in Lancaster County probate documents as the widow of William Clarke and named as Elizabeth Reeves in September of 1688 when she returned the inventory of his estate to the Lancaster court. This family connection is further confirmed by the 1718 will of Arthur Clarke which names William Reeves as his brother and John Reeves as his father-in-law, a term also used for step-father. Elizabeth Clarke Reeves was deceased sometime between the writing of her son Arthur Clarke's will in 1718 and 1731 when John Reeves wrote his will naming his wife as Phoebe. Phoebe was apparently Mrs. Phoebe Harris based upon legacies to grandchildren named in her 1732 will which was probated in 1733.

1737 Map of Virginia's Northern Neck
In this area of Virginia which includes Lancaster, Northumberland and Richmond counties there were also several other Reeves individuals present before 1700. A Robert Reeves and his future wife Frances Whilliard were both indentured servants to Peter Presley, Jr. before earning their freedom, marrying and Robert himself becoming a landowner. There were also several Thomas Reeves recorded in the area, one of whom may have been the father of George and John Reeve of Prince William County, who would therefore be the patriarch of the family identified as Group 10 of the Reeves DNA Project. Also, one of these Thomas Reeves was the father of George Reaves later of Prince William and Halifax counties who lived for a few years in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

As difficult as it is to locate the origin of these early arrivals to the colonies, it is just as difficult to track their descendants to the present day. Regardless of how many Reeves' families we have identified over the last seven years of research for The Reeves Project, other than John Reeves' daughter Elizabeth who married Richard Flint, we still have no clues as to what became of John's sons or if any of their descendants are still among us.