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.

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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Those Places Thursday - The Cumberland Gap

The Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains section of the Appalachians located just north of the point where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet. Native Americans had used this pass through the mountains long before the American colonists became aware of it. After a team of loggers led by Daniel Boone widened the path and made it more accessible to settlers migrating westward, it became a major passageway through the lower central Appalachians and an important part of the Wilderness Road.

The Cumberland Gap Looking Toward Kentucky
Around the age of 65, my ancestor William Reves left Wake County, North Carolina which had been his home for most or possibly all of his life and migrated to Madison County, Kentucky around 1806.  His youngest sons, George and Jeremiah, had made this trip several years before along with other settlers from the Granville-Wake County area.

William Reves lived most of his life on a 400 acre tract granted to his father William Reves, Sr. in what had been Orange County in the 1750s, Johnston County in the 1760s, then Wake County and is now Durham County.  In her book Durham County - A History of Durham County, North Carolina, Jean Bradley Anderson states "Among the first to take up land in present Durham County were William Reeves, who received 400 acres where Ellerbee Creek runs into Neuse River (1746)".

In August of 1760, as William Reaves, Jr. he registered his cattle brand in Orange County.  He is found listed in the minutes of the Wake County Court from the county's inception in 1771 through 1803. He is recognized as a Revolutionary War Patriot based upon his civil service as a tax assessor in Wake County during the revolution by the DAR. From the 1770's, he served on juries, was overseer of roads, assessor and tax gatherer in Captain Woodson Daniel's district and from 1787 to 1803 was a Magistrate Justice of the Wake County Court.

Many of the documents that refer to him spell his name Reeves, but he and his sons who were all literate, always spelled their name Reves which tends to set them apart from the many other Reeves families of North Carolina.  DNA of several of his descendants also establishes that they were unrelated to the other Reeves families in the Neuse basin but to date no records have been found with clues to their origins.

His final appearance as a justice of the Wake County Court is recorded in 1803 and on Sept. 16th, 1806, his son William Jr. sold his 130 acre tract south of Ellobey's Creek. These were the last records for either of them in Wake County and by the 1810 census, both are recorded in Madison County, Kentucky.  

Several years ago my cousin and I made a trip to North Carolina by way of southern Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap into Virginia and drove a two lane highway through the Appalachians from Virginia into North Carolina. Even in a modern vehicle on modern roads, it is apparent what an accomplishment it was for my 65 year old 4th great grandfather to make such a trip through the Cumberland Gap in 1806.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Access to Family Trees on Family Search

For everyone who has longed to be able to access the LDS family trees on Family Search in order to make additions or corrections - it is now possible.  If you haven't already discovered the changes at Family Search, you will be pleased to know that these seriously flawed trees, full of duplications and undocumented connections, can now be accessed.  Many of these family trees were created long before the internet with the records that are now available or DNA testing.

Family Information for William Reaves
of Wayne County, North Carolina
Family Search has entered these family pedigrees into a wiki type database which could eventually be a wonderful source of family information but it is currently a mass of conflicting family connections and duplications.  See the image inserted at left for information retrieved on a search for William Reaves of Wayne County, North Carolina.

William Reaves, born circa 1737, is shown as the child of John Reeves, born circa 1745 who obviously could not be William's father.  This lists John Reeves as marrying in North Carolina but there are countless records from Augusta and Rockingham Counties of Virginia for John Reeves and Margaret Duncanson.   A descendant of this John Reeves has tested and been placed in DNA Group 9.

Recent DNA testing by descendants of William Reaves of Wayne County have placed this family in DNA Group 3 which connects them to William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751.  Also included among the proposed siblings in this listing are members of the family of Isaac Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina (DNA Group 6), William Rives of Prince George County, Virginia (DNA Group 8) and even one individual with the surname Rapp who was born in Germany.

This image is included simply to call attention to the errors in the information at present. In spite of all the errors, this is a tremendous step forward for online genealogy and if those of us who love genealogy all perservere in helping to correct the incorrect data and merge the duplications, it could eventually be a wonderful resource.

One of the exciting features the Family Search software provides is the ability to link a scanned copy of original documents, i.e. wills and probate documents, marriage certificates, etc., to the individual's page.  This excellent feature allows a scanned document from Family Search's collections to be added to the person's page and provide documentation with sources for the data.  Their software will also allow the addition of pictures.

There are countless "legacy issues" recorded in these records where individuals have noted errors and requested corrections in the past.  If you've always wanted to correct the information in the LDS files for your ancestors, now's your chance.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Interesting New Developments

In the earliest days of this blog, I added a post regarding the Reaves family of Wayne County, North Carolina whose origins prior to their arrival in Old Dobbs County have been a mystery. Thanks to DNA, that mystery may finally be solved. Two participants in the Reeves DNA Project who descend from William Reaves of Wayne County have now matched DNA Group 3. DNA Group 3 includes the descendants of William Reeves who died in Granville County, North Carolina in 1751.

Wayne County, North Carolina Area
The fact that their origins have previously been unknown probably stems from the 1878 courthouse fire at Kinston in Lenoir County which destroyed all the records housed there. Dobbs County had been formed from the eastern portion of Johnston County in 1758 and in 1791, Wayne County from the western portion of Dobbs. The records of early Johnston and other counties formed from Johnston - Wayne, Greene and Lenoir Counties, were placed at the courthouse there and all were lost in that fire. The only exception was the original grantee deed index from Old Dobbs County.

With this new DNA evidence, we are presented with the question of how the Reaves of Wayne County are related to the family of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751. Previously William Reeves, Jr. of that family was believed to have been the individual by that name who died in 1821 in York County, South Carolina. However, the William Reeves who died in South Carolina would have been well past 100 years old if that were the case since he must have been born about 1710. It is far more likely that a generation has been missed and the William Reeves with wife Elizabeth who died in York, South Carolina was the son or nephew of William Reeves, Jr. Recent research of the probate, tax and deed records of Granville County has established that the William Reeves who was present in the records of Granville County from around 1755 as a tithe of Malachi Reeves was undoubtedly Malachi's son. From 1755 when he is first listed, until November of 1796 when he is recorded in a deed transaction wherein he sold 257 acres on Tabbs Creek to John Hall (Deed Book P, p.342) before leaving for South Carolina, he is the only William Reeves in the records of Granville County.

William Reeves, Jr. along with his wife Hardy was often recorded in the deed records of Edgecombe County from at least 1740 and continued to be found in deeds there until the 1750's. As William Reeves of Edgecombe County, he was last found in the records of Granville County in May of 1753 when he sold 525 acres on Fishing Creek (Deed Book B, p.243-244) to his brother Malachi. His absence in the Granville and Edgecombe County records coincides with the appearance of William Reaves in the records of Old Dobbs County around 1758 based upon the extant deed indexes of Old Dobbs.

1790 Will of William Reaves of Wayne County

 These recent DNA results may indicate that some of the Reaves' individuals found in Old Dobbs and later in Wayne County were descendants of William Reeves, Jr., previously of Edgecombe County and that William Reaves may even have been his son. Hopefully records in the surrounding counties that were not destroyed in the Lenoir courthouse fire can be found to provide more documentation for this family.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Update on the Reeves of Wayne County Tennessee

DNA testing is helping to unravel yet another Reeves mystery. Over a year ago, I wrote a post titled Yet Another George Reeves.  At the end of the post, I opined that DNA testing might help identify this mystery George of  Wayne County.

I’ve long been interested in the numerous Reeves families of Wayne County, Tennessee. Most of my paternal ancestors came from Wayne County, Tennessee, but my Reeves line is maternal. I was very curious – were my mother’s relatives living next door to my father’s ancestors 100 years or more before my parents met in Arkansas? And there were so many Reeves there -- surely they couldn’t possibly all be the same line. Most of them came out of nowhere and moved on elsewhere, but a combination of paper trails and DNA testing is starting to bring them into a sharper focus.

One such Reeves is George W Reeves who sold land on Hardin’s Creek in Wayne County, Tennessee in 1833 as "George Reeves of Hickman County, Kentucky." I found him in the 1830 Wayne County census and then in 1840 in Hickman County, Kentucky and in 1850 in Ballard County, Kentucky.  I was able to identify his first wife as Nancy Elizabeth McClure as well as their children and his second wife as Mary Polly Boone.

Then the trail went cold until my Reeves cousin Laverne got her results from the Family Finder test.  Laverne’s test confirmed, as she always knew, that she is part of the Reeves Group 8 DNA family.  But among her matches was a real gem of a find:  two descendants of "George W Reeves of Hickman Kentucky.”

Having identified his line, I knew a little better where to look for more traces of him.  I found his wife’s family, the McClures, living in Humphreys County Tennessee near several Reeves dwellings including that of Jordan Reeves . Further supporting the family relationship, these McClures migrated to Wayne County with George and Nancy and then on to Kentucky. And finally, an 1820 census record of a George Reeves in Perry County TN that had long stumped Group 8 Reeves researchers fits the family structure of our now less mysterious George W Reeves.

We still don’t know who George W Reeves’ father was, but he could very well be one of the Reeves men who migrated to Humphreys and Hickman County Tennessee between 1808 and 1816/17, sons and grandsons of George Reeves and Mary Jordan. 

Updated to add: I now also have a DNA match to a descendent of George W Reeves and Nancy McClure.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sarah Reeves Dickey of Leon County, Texas

Although no document has yet been found stating absolutely that Sarah Virginia Reeves was the daughter of Avery Reeves of Franklin County, Tennessee, there is ample evidence to support the belief. Several posts to this blog have listed the various records that have been found pertaining to Avery Reeves. Just as his parents are still undocumented, so are his children but it is fairly certain that William Reeves, Jonathan Reeves, Nancy Reeves who married William Claiborne Handley, Sarah Reeves who married James C. Dickey and Hance Henderson Reeves of Franklin County, Tennessee are some of those children.

In 1850 before they left for Texas, the household of James C. Dickey is recorded in Franklin County in the census of that year. Sometime after the birth of their youngest child, Claiborne in 1854, James and Sarah left Tennessee for the state of Texas which had been annexed to the United States in 1845. They're found in Leon County, Texas in the 1860 census. During the early years following Texas' annexation, it was an extremely popular destination for settlers migrating from the eastern United States and east Texas counties were filled with families from Kentucky and Tennessee.

On a recent visit to east Texas, we spent a pleasant fall afternoon locating the Pleasant Grove Cemetery where most of the members of the Dickey family are buried. It is east of the small town of Leona in Leon County on Farm Road 1119 close to the area where Leon and Madison counties join just west of the Trinity River. The area is said to have once been called the "Dickey community". It probably hasn't changed substantially since these early pioneers arrived and is still not heavily populated.

Most of the older sons of James and Sarah Dickey served in Texas Regiments of the Confederacy and returned to Leon County following the end of the Civil War.

Both James and Sarah Dickey were deceased by 1885, but many of their descendants still live in this area of east Texas where they settled back in 1855.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wilkes County's George Reeves Mystery

There has recently been much speculation on the web regarding the identity of the "George Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina" who is named as a legatee in the probate records of John Epps in Halifax County, Virginia. There is a conveyance dated 6 Sep 1793 (Recorded 24 Feb 1794) in Halifax County wherein Nathaniel Epps, Moses Epps, David Powell, Sr. (m. Mary Epps), John Comer (m. Amey Epps), Edy Epps, Temperance Epps, of Halifax County; Ambrose Gresham (m. Elizabeth “Bettie” Epps) of Lunenburg County; and George Reaves of Wilkes County in North Carolina, legatees of John Epps, sell to William Epps of Halifax a 40 acre tract of land on the south side of Banister River in Halifax County. These were the grandchildren of John Epps, children of his son Joshua who predeceased him, dying in 1778. One of the three remaining daughters, Patty, Millison or Dicey, named in Joshua Epps' will had apparently married George Reeves.

View of the blue ridge from Grayson County
It has been theorized that this George Reeves must then be George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia who is listed on several occasions in the tax and deed records of Wilkes County, North Carolina. In George Reeves deposition for ''Beavins (Blevins) vs. Newell'', 27th September, 1805, he stated that he was present in the New River area as early as 1767. George Reeves' home was located on Peach Bottom Creek just north of the New River and there is no record that he made his home at any time on any of the other properties he was granted or purchased. This New River area was for approximately 20 years claimed by both Virginia and North Carolina with the state line repeatedly moving as many as 20 miles either side of the present state line. The land that George Reeves owned in Wilkes County and ultimately sold to his son William became part of Ashe County when it was formed from Wilkes in 1799.

The following deed recently found in the Wilkes County records may help to identify the correct George Reeves or at least put to rest any lingering speculation that the Epps' legatee must be George Reeves of Grayson. This George Reeves is located much further south than the Peach Bottom tract and is in the area where Isaac Reeves had settled in the early 1780's. Isaac Reeves had previously been located in the area of Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties of Virginia as was the Epps family.

Wilkes County, North Carolina
Deed Book B-1, p. 416
9 Dec 1794

THIS INDENTURE made this ninth day of December one thousand seven hundred and ninety four Between George Reeves of Wilkes County and State of North Carolina of the one part and William Petty Senior of the same state and county of the other part, Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds Current money to him in hand paid by the said William Petty before the Sealing and Delivery hereof the receipt whereof the said George Reeves doth hereby acknowledge and himself therewith to be fully satisfied and paid and for which Sum he hath granted Bargained sold conveyed and confirmed by these presents doth fully clearly freely and absolutely sell convey and confirm to the said William Petty his heirs and assigns for ever a tract or parcel of Land containing two hundred Acres of Land lying and being in our county of Wilkes lying on little Cub Creek BEGINNING on a pine in Thomas Rogers line adjacent to the Moravian line and running South two hundred and four poles to a maple near a branch in John Greers line thence East with said line one hundred and twenty four poles to the corner thence North twenty Degrees East seventy two poles to a pine thence North Sixty East seventy six poles to a red oak sapling in William Gilreaths line being conditional line between James Chaney and said Reeves Thence North with said Gilreaths line forty two poles to the corner Thence North seventy Eight Degrees West two hundred and sixty poles to the first Station &c - Together with all woods waters mines Minerals Hereditaments and appurtenances to the said Land Belonging or appertaining and all the whole right title and Intrust of him the said George Reeves to the said Bargained premises to have and to hold to the said William Petty his heirs and assigns for ever And the Intent and meaning of these presents are that the said William Petty his heirs and assigns may at all times forever hereafter lawfully and peaceable possess hold and enjoy the said Bargained premises with all the rights and privileges thereunto belonging free and clear of all Incumbrances and the said George Reeves doth covenant and agree well and truly to warrant and defend the same In witness whereof the said George Reeves hath hereunto set his hand and seal the day and date above written ~
James Hardgraves  }
Joshua Greer          }                          George Reeves (Seal)

(Wrote on the Back)
S. N. Carolina       }      May Term 1795 -
Wilkes County     }     The within Deed was duly
proven in open court by the oath of Joshua Greer and
ordered to be Registered.
                        C. Gordon C.C.
The 1788 and 1789 tax lists of Wilkes County record a George Reeves along with William Petty, John Greer, Joshua Greer and the adjoining property owners listed in the above deed, Hardgraves, William Gilreath and James Chaney, in Capt. Tribbles District. Also, James and John Reeves, sons of Isaac Reeves, Sr. and Alexander Holton whose daughter married James Reeves had been listed in Tribbles' district in 1787. These individuals all lived just south of Wilkesboro in an area joining the Moravian settlement along the Yadkin River.

The George Reeves of the Wilkesboro area is no longer found in Wilkes County after the recording of this deed and may have returned to Halifax County in Virginia where he appears to be the individual listed on the tax lists there in 1798. It should be noted that Asher Reaves had also returned to Halifax, Virginia after the Revolution. A George Reaves is listed repeatedly in the tax lists there until before 1830. The 1830 census records a widowed Martha Reeves around 80 years old as head of a Halifax County household. Since Patty is a nickname for Martha, this may likely be Patty Epps, granddaughter of John.

Hopefully someday descendants of Asher and George Reeves/Reaves of Halifax will participate in the Reeves DNA Project. And with the popular new autosomal DNA projects by Ancestry and Family Finder, there may be hope of one day unraveling this mystery.

UPDATE - For the latest developments in the research of George Reaves of Halifax County, Virginia and Wilkes County, North Carolina see The rest of the story...