Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Just Supposin'

Lately I've been working on background stories for some of the different DNA Groups in The Reeves Project. DNA Group 9 is made up up five individuals, three of whom are descendants of Henry Reeves of Essex County, Virginia with documented paper trails while the two other participants descend from John Reeves of Taylor County, Kentucky who was born circa 1770 in North Carolina. John Reeves doesn't appear to have any link to Essex County or Henry Reeves, Sr., but his descendants' Y-DNA says he does!

Over the course of the last six months I've spent time weekly at my local Family History Center searching Virginia records to find more information in the extant records of Essex and Spotsylvania counties in Virginia to fill in all the gaps in the family of Henry Reeves. I've found that some of Henry's descendants did migrate to Kentucky, but not to Taylor County nor did any of them appear to have made a detour through North Carolina on their way west.

After a thorough search of all the available records in Essex County, it is clear that there are only a very few male descendants with the Reeves' surname who could be the ancestor of John Reeves of North Carolina and Taylor, Kentucky. By 1800 there were no male Reeves' individuals left in either Essex or Spotsylvania so we have to widen the search.

Jackson Reeves born around 1790-1800 was a son of Joseph Reeves, son of Henry Reeves, Sr. He has never been located after he left Essex County. He left no trail and there are no records of a Jackson Reeves of that generation who could be the son of Joseph Reeves of Essex. He was also probably too old to be the father of a child born circa 1770 although it would not have been impossible. The next possibility is Henry Reeves, son of the third Henry Reeves and probably born before 1740. When his father died in 1745 he didn't require a guardian so he may have been an adult by that time. He may have died young or simply migrated elsewhere, but he has currently not been located. Finally, Thomas Reeves, grandson of Thomas Reeves, Sr., born in 1753, was serving an apprenticeship in Spotsylvania County that began in 1768 and was only about 15 years old at the time. He was obviously not married or living in North Carolina by 1770.

That leaves only one Reeves' male outstanding from the Essex Reeves' family and he brings us full circle back to George, the son of Thomas Reeves, Sr. who was named as a legatee in the will of his uncle George Reeves in 1754. For many years Reeves' family researchers believed that this George Reeves was the individual of that name who arrived in the New River area along the border of Grayson County, Virginia and Ashe County, North Carolina in 1767, until the theory was proven incorrect by Y-DNA. Three descendants of George Reeves of Grayson, Virginia have matching Y-DNA to descendants of William Reeves of Wake County, North Carolina in addition to an abundance of documentation of their connections in the Neuse River basin before George Reeves migrated to the New River area. These descendants of George Reeves and William Reeves of Wake County are participants in DNA Group 6A of the Reeves DNA Project. Two other descendants of George Reeves of Grayson County do not match these six individuals, but neither do they match DNA Group 9 where the documented descendants of Henry Reeves are located.

Oddly, I recently realized that there is one more George Reeves who is a possibility as the father of John Reeves of Taylor County, Kentucky. When I initially became aware of this George Reeves, based upon proximity and the fact that the individuals his children were apprenticed to, Woodson Daniel and Reuben Allen, were both close associates of William Reeves, I assumed he was a member of that family of Wake County.
September 1778 Court
[213]-75
Ordered that Mary Reeves orphan of George Reeves deced. be bound unto Reuben Allen unto She come to age at this time being Eight Years of Age.
Ordered that John Reeves orphan of George Reeves deced. be bound an Apprentice unto Woodson Daniel untill he come to the Age of twenty one Years being about this time the Age of three Years.
The only other information to be found in this area of the Neuse basin is from the records of the 1778 Granville County Militia. A George Reaves served in Captain James Langston's Company No. 7. He was described as 29 years old (born circa 1749), 6 feet high, thick made; of a ruddy complexion & dark hair; a Planter.

Although at the time it did seem strange that these children would have been apprenticed to neighbors rather than cared for by family members and that no tidbits of information linking John and Mary Reeves, orphans of this George, to the family of William Reeves of Wake County had ever been found. It also became increasingly more apparent that it was George Reeves of Grayson County, due to both genetic and documentary evidence in Orange and Johnston counties who was a member of the William Reeves' family, not the George Reeves who died in 1778.

Once the theory that this individual could possibly have been George Reeves, son of Thomas Reeves, Sr. of Essex and Spotsylvania counties began to develop, the one major obstacle to this line of thinking was why. I was plagued by the question of what would prompt George Reeves to leave the Rappahannock area and migrate to North Carolina when his siblings had all settled in the Shenandoah Valley's Augusta and Rockingham counties until I recalled that his Gatewood cousins had settled in Pittsylvania County, Virginia along the border just north of this area of North Carolina. Peter and Elizabeth Gatewood Copeland are said to have even settled in North Carolina for a brief time and Peter is listed on the 1767 tax lists of Cumberland County. This was apparently the same year they returned to Virginia where they are found in Pittsylvania County by 1767 and Peter Copeland is documented as one of the first justices of the county. Elizabeth's sisters Sarah Gatewood Dunn and Patience Gatewood Farguson with their families also settled in Pittsylvania County around this time. Elizabeth Copeland, like George, was also named as a legatee in the 1754 will of their uncle George Reeves. These Gatewood daughters were first cousins to George and have helped to resolve doubts as to whether George might have found his way to this locale.

Obviously, this theory still needs much more research before John Reeves of Taylor County, Kentucky could be declared a child of George Reeves, son of Thomas Reeves, Sr. of Essex and Spotsylvania counties in Virginia. For now, it's just something to ponder while we dig deeper into the historical records to solve this puzzle.

The most current listing of the descendants of Henry Reeves of Essex County, Virginia can be found at The Reeves Project.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Settlers in Kansas Territory

After the death of their father, Terrell and Gaston Reves settled in the new Kansas Territory as soon as it was opened for settlement. Their father William was one of the sons of George Reeves (Reves) of Grayson County, Virginia. This extended family had settled in Arkansas by about 1840 where William and these sons along with their brothers Lenoir and John were recorded in census and tax records. After William's death sometime between 1840 and 1850, various members of the family are recorded on the tax lists of Independence County, Arkansas throughout the 1850's along with another brother, William H. Reves, who was a Baptist minister.

Excerpt from 1866 Map of Kansas
Gaston Reves along with his oldest sons Albert and Moses (Mack) were listed on the tax lists of Independence County in 1854 which was the final record for members of Gaston's family in Arkansas. The History of Verdigris Township in Historical Atlas of Wilson County Kansas records that "Gaston Reeves and his son Max (sic Mack) took claims in the spring of 1857".

Terrell Reeves was recorded on the 1856 tax lists of Independence County which apparently preceded his migration to Kansas for the history of Greenwood County, Kansas lists the Pleasant Grove township as being established in 1856 by Terrill Reeves.

In those early years of Kansas' history, besides indian attacks, there was also great political unrest involving guerrilla warfare as the debate over the expansion of slavery led to violence in Kansas. The bad weather, bad crops and destruction of crops and property by the opposing forces often offset the sense of prosperity that had fueled the rush of settlers to the newly opened territory. A large number of settlers left the territory after the bitter winter of 1856 and many experienced starvation effecting themselves and their animals caused by a severe drought in 1860.

Bill for coffin of Gaston Reves son of Terrell
The records do not reveal the causes of their deaths, but over the next five years, Terrell and three of his sons as well as his brother Gaston and his oldest son Albert were deceased. Terrell and his 21 year old son Gaston both died on the 4th of May, 1859 but the probate documents give no clue as to the cause. Although no probate documents have been discovered for his brother Gaston, all of his children were orphans living in the home of A. Venard, a probate court judge in Greenwood County in the 1860 census. Over the next decade the majority of the rest of the children from both families had also died.

Although I never doubted that pioneer life was hard and extremely dangerous, researching the story of these young families and their westward migration which ended so soon after their arrival in southeastern Kansas Territory has both surprised and saddened me. Even as my various families migrated out of Virginia and North Carolina into the wilderness that existed in early Kentucky, Tennessee and other newly formed states, I had just never discovered such hardship and death.


See post in this blog about William Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia and Ashe County, North Carolina

Monday, June 4, 2018

Essex County's Henry Reeves Family

Back in November of 2011 in the early days of this blog, I wrote a post titled Who really are the descendants of Henry Reeves? In that post, I addressed the issue of misinformation regarding the lineage of George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia who had been believed to be descended from Henry Reeves. A George Reeves, son of Thomas Reeves (Sr.) of Spotsylvania County who was a grandson of Henry Reeves, was named as a legatee in the will of Thomas' brother George Reeves who died in 1754 and the internet was full of the theory that George Reeves who settled in Grayson County's New River area in 1767 was that individual. Y-DNA tests of individuals in the Reeves DNA Project established that participants who were documented as descending from Henry Reeves were found in DNA Group 9 of the project while three descendants of George Reeves of Grayson County were in DNA Group 6 (now Group 6A) matching descendants of William Reeves of North Carolina's Neuse Basin.

With the recent addition of images of scanned historical documents to Family Search's online catalog, it is now possible to do indepth research without traveling to a courthouse in Virginia. Over the last six months I have spent an afternoon each week at my local Family History Center browsing the deed, will, court and tax records of Essex County in an attempt to find all of the extant information regarding Henry Reeves heirs. Amazingly, there is an abundance of early records for Essex County that are available.

The family of Henry Reeves becomes more and more complete as the records are searched with numerous tidbits of information found to solve what have previously been mysteries. The surname and family of Sarah, the wife of Thomas Reeves, Jr. of Spotsylvania County can be found on an Essex Deed. Sarah was found to be Sarah Attwood, daughter of Ann Reeves and Francis Attwood, who was a cousin to Thomas. The 1766 deed states that the land being sold was devised to Sarah by her mother Ann Reeves Attwood who inherited it from her deceased brother John Reeves.

Essex County Court Minutes of 1708 provided proof that Elizabeth Reeves, the daughter of Henry Reeves, Sr. was the wife of Thomas Sthreshly. Although Sthreshly descendants had believed that to be the case, most Reeves' researchers had never included that marriage in their family records. A court record from April of 1708 concerns a case where Thomas Sthreshly and his wife Elizabeth had brought suit against the administrators of the estate of James Reeves seeking to have the court order a division of the estate with the legatees. The court minutes clearly state that the petitioner Elizabeth was a sister of the said James Reeves deceased.

1729 Essex County Courthouse
Currently most of the male descendants with the Reeves' surname have been found, with a few exceptions. Henry, the son of Henry Reeves III, son of Henry Reeves, Jr., and his wife Jochebed has never been located after he reached maturity. Two of the other male children of Henry and Jochebed died as infants, which simply means that they did not live to adulthood, but their son Henry, born after 1727, apparently left Essex County as a young adult and has not been located elsewhere. Jackson Reeves, born circa 1690, was named in the 1717 will of Joseph Reeves, Sr. but there is no further record of him in Essex County. Likewise, George Reeves son of Thomas Reeves, Sr., apparently left the area and has not been identified. This is the same George who had previously been believed to be the George Reeves of Grayson County, but DNA has now established that is not possible.

There is still much research to be done in Essex County, particularly as it pertains to the daughters of Henry Reeves, Sr. Their spouses have all been identified but not their children. I'll be heading back to the Family History Center later this week to see what else I can find. In the meantime, The Reeves Project has created this listing of the descendants of Henry Reeves, Sr. of Essex County which links to each individual's page in the wiki.

(Photo from the website of Essex County Museum & Historical Society at Tappahannock)


Other posts in this blog about the Henry Reeves family of Essex County
Thomas Reeves of Woodford County, Kentucky
Who really are the descendants of Henry Reeves?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Reeves Project (TRP) Wiki is back online!

As previously announced The Reeves Project (TRP) Wiki came back online on 27 March and its content is available to browse via https://thereevesproject.org/data/tiki-index.php?page=HomePage_Wiki.

In the month since The Reeves Project (TRP) came back on line, we've been progressively reaching out to our community members. We initially sent a generic e-mail via our Google Group on 27 March (to which about half of our members have opted to subscribe to). We've subsequently sent a personal e-mail to over 260 of our existing community members. (My apologies to the handful of you that received two personal e-mails; I initially started by contacting those who had most recently used TRP before we suspended the service, but quickly realised that was more complex than simply working alphabetically through the list of community members). A handful of those personal e-mail messages have bounced straight back where the e-mail address or domain we have for you is no longer in use. If you've changed your e-mail address since you first registered with The Reeves Project, you'll need to contact us. We've also had a couple of minor ISP's block our out-bound e-mail but we've resent those messages via our Gmail account to step round that issue.

The response rate to our e-mail has been somewhat disappointing. If you've been putting off replying, today would be a good day to do so. If you've misplaced the e-mail "The Reeves Project - Invitation to Rejoin" and would like another copy, please contact TRP127(at)TheReevesProject(dot)org

If you've already requested and received details of your new User Name / Membership ID but are having issues logging back into to TRP, please do let us know. Some users seem to have been able to regain access without much pain, but we suspect others are having issues. In particular, we suspect that in some circumstances the password reset function may not be sending the e-mail you need. Please let us know your problem(s) and we'll work with you to get it sorted.

We are also aware that some new users have experienced issues working through the enrolment process with us. We apologise for that. We had finessed the new user registration process over the previous seven years that TRP had been in existence before our service suspension in December 2017. The upgrade to the wiki software underpinning TRP that we've recently undertaken necessitated a change to how we handled new user registrations. We're sorry that the rough edges have been too visible during the past month. If you need help completing your enrolment, please contact Martin via TRP123(at)TheReevesProject(dot)org explaining your issue(s) and we'll work with you to get your enrolment completed.

We think we've identified the major issues that have been encountered with new user enrolment over the past month and made changes on 26 April to both the Join Us form and the process which will hopefully make life easier for future new users.

We will continue to post updates at https://sites.google.com/site/thereevesproject123/

Thank you

Monday, March 19, 2018

Thomas Reeves of Woodford County, Kentucky

The family of Henry Reeves who settled in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia by 1666 when he was granted 600 acres on Tignor's Creek has been the subject of much interest and speculation. Thankfully the early records of Essex County, Virginia are extant for the most part. Some of the earliest record books are fragmented, but there is still a wealth of information there regarding this family.

North Central Kentucky in 1827
As Henry Reeves' descendants, beginning with his grandchildren, began to leave Essex County for other parts of Virginia and beyond, much less is known of the family. His grandson George left a Spotsylvania County will in 1754 naming as legatees the children of his brother Thomas Reeves, Sr. in addition to his siblings and other family members. That will has been an extremely beneficial document insofar as identifying many members of the family of Henry Reeves, Jr.

After leaving Spotsylvania, the sons of Thomas Reeves, Sr. were recorded in Augusta and Rockingham counties in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Another son, unlisted in George Reeves' will, is Brewer who is named as a brother to Thomas, Jr. in Augusta County court documents. Other than in the will of George Reeves, there is no mention of Thomas, Sr.'s son George and it may be that he and Brewer are the same individual. This George was previously believed to be George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia but DNA has proven that to be incorrect.

John Reeves remained in Augusta County but his brothers Brewer and Thomas, Jr. migrated to Kentucky. Their brother Henry died in Spotsylvania County in 1760 and his estate was recorded at the same time as that of their father Thomas Reeves, Sr. Brewer Reeves is documented as one of the earliest residents of Christian County, Kentucky where he was one of the first justices of the court. Until recently there was very little record of Thomas Reeves, Jr. once he disappeared from the records of Augusta and Rockingham counties but a posting to an online forum provided a clue to Thomas, Jr.'s presence in Woodford County, Kentucky.

1792 Survey for Thomas Reeves in Woodford County
It wasn't until the Woodford County records were discovered that the children of Thomas Reeves, Jr. were identified. His wife Sarah was named in numerous Spotsylvania County deeds and court records of Augusta County, but their children were a mystery. The appraisal of the Estate of Thomas Reeves is recorded in February 1799 in Woodford County Will Book B on pages 83-86. On the 4th of June in 1803, the heirs of Thomas Reeves executed a deed to James Reeves of Henry County, Kentucky for all lands belonging to Thomas Reeves in the state of Virginia and all lots in the town of Versailles in Woodford County which were taken off the land of Thomas Reeves when the town was being laid off. This deed was for compensation to James for his services in transacting and closing the business relative to the estate of Thomas Reeves decd.

Reeves Heirs to James Reeves
Those heirs of Thomas Reeves named in addition to James, were his widow Sarah, David Willson who had married daughter Milley, Elizabeth Reeves, John Samonie who married Delilah Reeves, George Cotter husband of Mary Reeves, Joseph Reeves and son Thomas Reeves.

Over the following ten years there are numerous deeds by these heirs disposing of the property they had inherited from Thomas and by around 1810 most of the family members, Joseph, Thomas and their brother-in-law David Wilson, were recorded in neighboring Gallatin County.


Newly discovered identity of Sarah, the wife of Thomas Reeves, Jr.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Surveyor's Book

Most of the time a surveyor's book is just about land, but today in the course of doing research for a Reeves' family who migrated to Woodford County, Kentucky, I happened upon some wonderful early American doodles. The book is dated around 1850 and the surveyor's name appears to be Herman Bowman. Just thought I'd share his artwork.