Monday, May 28, 2012

Middle Tennessee: 18th Century Melting Pot

The stories of Tennessee’s earliest white settlers are well known such as the attacks by native Americans on the first stations or forts built in the Cumberland settlements. After the revolution, North Carolina soldiers were given bounty land grants along the Cumberland River in Tennessee while grants to soldiers of the Virginia line were just to the north in Logan County, Kentucky. Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee written in 1853 chronicles the struggle to settle the early Cumberland settlements. James Robertson and his wife Charlotte Reeves are famously a part of that history. Charlotte is credited with saving Fort Nashborough by turning the hounds loose in order to distract the attacking Indians and allow the men time to return to the fort from the fields where they were working.

In the course of researching several Reeves’ families who migrated into Tennessee in the early part of the 19th century, I was surprised to find such a large influx of diverse families who were recorded there by the 1830 census.

The only Reeves’ individuals listed in the census of the Cumberland Settlements 1770 to 1790 (taken from various source documents found in the records of Sumner and Davidson counties) are Charlotte Reeves Robertson and a William Reeves who is presumably Charlotte’s brother. This William Reeves is listed as arriving with the Donelson flotilla and may have accompanied Charlotte as she and other wives made the perilous trip west in flatboats on the Cumberland River. If this was William Reeves the brother of Charlotte, he did not remain long for within a short time, he is again recorded in the Watauga settlement of North Carolina. It was approximately 20 years before Charlotte's brother William made a permanent move to Tennessee. Charlotte's nephew Jordan Reeves, Jr. is also recorded in Davidson County prior to 1800 and in tax lists of Wilson County between 1800 and 1810.

Tennessee Map showing Cumberland River Settlements
A Moses Reeves, listed as having been born in Virginia in 1768, married Sarah Gibson in Greene County on 5 Nov 1796 and is recorded on the tax lists in Blount County in 1800 and Greene County in 1805. Moses and his family remained in Greene County where he is listed as deceased on the 1850 Federal Census and Mortality Schedule. A William Reeves is also included on the 1805 Greene County tax lists. Two individuals descending from Moses and from William Reeves have participated in the Reeves DNA Project but their DNA does not match any of the other 14 groups currently identified. By the 1810 census, John Reeves and Hooker Reeves, both aged 26-44, are recorded in Wilson County. They were both also named as early settlers to Wilson County in Goodspeed’s history of that area.

The 1820 census records the surge of Reeves’ families who had migrated into middle Tennessee.
James, Jonathan, Reuben and William Reeves are listed in Hickman County. The DNA of descendants of several of these individuals confirm that they also descend from the Rives family of Surry County, Virginia from which Charlotte Reeves Robertson descends and have been placed in DNA Group 8.

In Perry County, just west of Hickman, George and John Reeves are found in the 1820 census living next door to each other. There also appears to be another John Reeves of the same approximate age living in Perry County in 1820.

Jeremiah Turner Reeves is recorded in the 1820 census of Wilson County. He was the son of George Reeves who had migrated to Tennessee from Patrick County, Virginia. George Reeves died in Wilson County in 1816 leaving a will naming Jeremiah and his sister Susannah. Other children of George Reeves have been identified from the marriage records of Patrick County.

In Franklin County, Avery Reeves a descendant of William Reeves of Granville, North Carolina, is found as early as the 1812 tax lists along with an Abner Reeves. Avery's lineage has been established by DNA of a descendant who is a participant in the Reeves DNA Project and placed in Group 3. Maulden Reeves, son of Burgess Reeves of Pendleton County, South Carolina, is found there in deed records by 1818 and recorded in the 1820 census in addition to an unidentified Edward Reeves. Maulden also descends from William Reeves of Granville NC.

William Reeves who was living in Smith County by 1820 gave a deposition for the revolutionary war pension application of his brother, Daniel Reeves of Davidson County. William’s son John is also listed in the 1820 census of Smith County. According to Daniel’s revolutionary war pension statement their father was a John Reeves of South Carolina, probably living in Lancaster County. This family appears to be descended from the Reeves family of Prince William County, Virginia although more participants are needed in the Reeves DNA Project to definitely confirm the lineage.

The flood gates had opened by 1830 and within the next few years the Reeves living in Tennessee are too numerous to mention here. In addition to the families already mentioned, they included descendants of Isaac Reeves, Sr. of Wilkes County, North Carolina living in Wayne County, Willis Reeves and his children of Orange County, North Carolina were in Fayette County, and descendants of Edward Reeves of Bladen County, North Carolina are recorded in Washington County along with countless other Reeves' families throughout Tennessee.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Multitude of Myths

There is probably no other Reeves' family about whom there are more unfounded myths reverberating around the world wide web than that of William Reeves who died in Granville County, North Carolina in 1751. Whether all of these myths and the associated misinformation were solely the products of The Reeves Review, is unknown. Many of them can be traced to that publication but may have been submitted to Mrs. Emma Reeves by others and are not based upon her own research.

Roanoke Rapids area of North Carolina
William Reeves is recorded in the area of Chowan County, North Carolina prior to 1720. He had lived in Chowan, Bertie and Edgecombe counties, dying in Granville County in 1751. His descendants spread to Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and countless other states across the United States. The participants included in Group 3 of the Reeves DNA Project are descended from this family. The following are just a few of the incorrect beliefs associated with this family.

Myth #1
That William Reeves name was William Rives, William Cabell Rives or William Cabell Reeves - Nowhere in the historical documentation of this individual's life is there any record of a middle name or initial, much less the middle name Cabell. William Cabell Rives (1793-1868) was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France. That family is a completely different DNA lineage and is not related to the Reeves family of Granville, North Carolina.

Myth #2
That William Reeves who died in Granville County, North Carolina was descended from the Rives family of Dorset in Great Britain - Descendants of the Rives family of Surry County, Virginia as detailed in the book Reliques of the Ryves descend from that family and are a different DNA lineage (DNA Group 8) of the Reeves DNA Project. See Ancestry tree for that family who descend from Timothy Rives (1625-1692).

Myth #3
That William Reeves' wives were Martha Wylie and Margaret Burgess - There are no available documents in marriage, probate, or land records that support these names with the exception of the given name Margaret. Margaret was named as William Reeves' wife in his will but there is nothing to indicate her maiden name. The name Burgess seems to have been applied simply because it was used as a given name for her son, Burgess Reeves, born 1746. The surname Wylie speculated as the name of his first wife, is presumably based upon the use of the given name Wylie in succeeding generations of this Reeves' family.

Myth #4
That Isaac Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina was the son, Isaac, named in William Reeves 1751 will - Based upon the DNA of Isaac Reeves' descendants, there is no family connection between these families. Descendants of Isaac Reeves are represented in DNA Group 6 of the Reeves DNA project. It is far more likely that the Isaac Reeves who lived in Caswell County from its inception in the 1770's until around 1781 when he is described in a Caswell County deed as "of Randolph County" was the son of William Reeves named in his will. However, even that has not been proven but is a more reasonable assumption.

Myth #5
That Samuel Reeves of Rowan County, North Carolina was "Isaac Samuel Reeves" and the son of William Reeves - Samuel Reeves of Rowan County was the son of Thomas Reeves and Mary Murphy of Charles County, Maryland. This is substantiated by birth records in Maryland, the published history of Rowan County, and other documents that connect Samuel Reeves of Rowan County to other Maryland family members.

Myth #6
That William Reeves who died in York County, South Carolina in 1821 was William Reeves, Jr., son of William Reeves who died in Granville County in 1751 - The son of William Reeves would have been approximately 110 years old in 1821, having been born around 1710. The only William Reeves living in Granville County throughout the years 1755 to around 1790 when he moved to South Carolina was the son of Malachi Reeves. William is listed as a tithe of Malachi's in Granville County tax records beginning in 1755.

Myth #7
That William Reeves with wife Hannah Smith who died in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1816 was the son of William Reeves' grandson Malachi Reeves - There is no record that Malachi and Fortune Reeves had a child William and NO record in Guilford County, North Carolina of his existence. William Reeves, the son of James Reeves and brother of Malachi was the William Reeves who died in Wilkes County in 1816. His wife is identified as Hannah in several Guilford County deeds as early as 1784. James Reeves' son William was incorrectly identified as the William Reeves who died in Madison County, Kentucky in 1821. That William Reeves is a different DNA lineage (DNA Group 6) and is documented in the records of Wake County, North Carolina as not having been a member of this family. As for Hannah Smith, it was a William RIVES that she married in Mecklenburg County in 1820 (4 years after the William Reeves of Wilkes County's death). See copy of marriage license at right (note his signature is Rives).

And the most outrageous myth of all, Fortune Rhodes, deserved it's very own post. See A Reeves Fiction - Fortune Rhodes.

As lengthy as this post is, it is only the tip of the iceberg for there are many more fictions regarding this family in numerous sources. With the availability of DNA testing and original probate documents online, we can only hope that these myths will eventually begin to fade from the mainstream of Reeves' genealogy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The search for Avery Reeves continues…

In a previous post I mentioned the theory that Avery Reeves was the son of Jonathan Reeves and Nancy Hooker of Granville and Wake counties of North Carolina. Not only Avery’s parents are a mystery but his wife and children are as well.

The 1790 census of Wake County lists a Jonathan Reeves with 2 Males over 16, 5 Males under 16 and 4 Females. Jonathan Reeves is undoubtably the same Jonathan who was first listed as a tithe of Malachi Reeves in Granville County in 1762. In 1769, he married Nancy Hooker in Granville County and during the 1780’s is listed on the tax lists of Beaver Dam Creek in southern Granville County just north of the Neuse River. By the 1790 census he is living on the south side of the Neuse River in the Fish Dam community of Wake County along with his presumed brother-in-law Richard Banks. Richard Banks married Karenhapuch Hooker on 16 Jun 1774 in Granville County after the death of his first wife, Ruth Hooker, who was probably another daughter of John Hooker.

Grave of Nancy Reeves Handly at Old Beans Creek CemeteryThe first record of Avery is on 15 Sep 1795 when he was bondsman for the marriage of Ruth Reeves, believed to be his sister, and John Sanders in Wake County. Avery arrived in Franklin County, Tennessee before 1812 when he is listed in the tax lists there. In Franklin County, John Sanders was a neighboring property owner, his land being adjacent to Avery’s in deed records.

Prior to his arrival in Franklin County, Avery lived briefly in York County, South Carolina where he is recorded in the 1810 census. Avery is found in that census living in the Rich Hill community among other descendants of Malachi Reeves of Granville.

Recently, when transcribing a Franklin County deed of Avery Reeves, I noticed that one of the witnesses was Hance McWhorter. I found this especially interesting since one of Avery’s presumed sons was Hance Henderson Reeves. An internet search for Hance McWhorter revealed that he was the son of Hance McWhorter, Sr. Additionally, I found that Hance, Jr.'s sister Mary had married a John Henderson in York County, South Carolina and one of their sons was Hance Henderson.

Rebecca, the youngest daughter of Hance McWhorter, Sr. was supposedly born circa 1775 in South Carolina. There currently seems to be no credible documentation available regarding Rebecca's spouse and she was known to have still been single in 1800 about the time Avery would have arrived in South Carolina. There is a documented connection between Rebecca McWhorter and the Reeves' family in York County, South Carolina for Rebecca was a witness in Nov of 1800 when John Henderson (her brother-in-law) was plaintiff in a suit against Wiley, William and William Reeves, Sr.

Interestingly, the death of a Rebecca Reeves, age 85 and born 1775 in South Carolina, is recorded in the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index in Franklin County, Tennessee in Sept. 1860.

Much more research is needed to prove Avery’s parents as well as his spouses and children, but based upon current research and a vast amount of circumstantial data, the following are believed to be some of the children of Avery Reeves:
William Reeves, b. 1795 in North Carolina, d. 1862 in Franklin, Tennessee

Jonathan Reeves, b. circa 1801

Nancy Reeves, b. 1804 in South Carolina, d. 1857 in Franklin, Tennessee, m. William Claiborne Handly

Sarah Virginia Reeves, b. 1810 in South Carolina, d. 1878 in Leon County, Texas, m. James G. Dickey

Hance Henderson Reeves, b. 1814 in Tennessee, d. 1861 in Franklin County, Tennessee, m. Amanda Bean

Check back – I’ve only just begun to search the records of Franklin County and have lots more documents to find. Hopefully some of them will produce more information about this family.

(Photo of Nancy Reeves Handly's gravestone by Patti Campbell of Estill Springs, TN for Find A Grave.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Elizabeth Reeves David – Who Does She Belong to?

Precious few granddaughters of George Reeves (born 1716) and his wife Mary Jordan (born c 1726) have ever been identified. As with all families, the women are much harder to identify and trace as there is so much less documentary evidence to chase. So often we must rely on circumstantial evidence to identify our foremothers and that is the case for Elizabeth Reeves. What little evidence I can find suggests that Elizabeth Reeves, born about 1783 possibly in South Carolina, is one of the elusive granddaughters of George and Mary Jordan Reeves.

Here’s why:

Marriage records in Davidson County, Tennessee seem to tie Elizabeth to this family:

On December 1, 1800, James David and Elizabeth Reeves were married; Jonathan F Robertson, son of James Robertson and Charlotte Reeves Robertson (daughter of George and Mary) was bondsman.

 On January 15, 1816, George Reeves and Rhoda Newsom were married. James David and William Reaves were bondsmen.

The George Reeves and William Reeves in the second record are themselves elusive and unattached to parents though it is very likely (through considerable circumstantial evidence) that they are also grandsons of George Reeves and Mary Jordan. Likely fathers for them include Jordan Reeves, Timothy Reeves, or less likely, Burrell Reeves, but no documentary evidence has yet been found to connect them to their parents. They may be brothers or perhaps first cousins, and it seems quite possible that Elizabeth Reeves is their sister or cousin, given that her husband was bondsman for the marriage of one of them..

 According to census records of her children, Elizabeth Reeves, wife of James David, was born in South Carolina. Though I have not found Elizabeth herself named in any census, her birth year is estimated to be in the early to mid-1780s, around the time that George and Mary Reeves, along with sons William, Jordan, and younger children in the household moved from the Watauga settlements in what is now far eastern Tennessee to South Carolina.

Naming patterns for Elizabeth’s presumed children are consistent with Reeves and Robertson names, for example: sons named George, William, Timothy, and Felix Robertson. The last-named son is probably named for Felix Robertson, son of James and Charlotte Reeves Robertson.

More research is needed on Elizabeth and these other Reeves to determine who her parents were, . Many online trees claim that Elizabeth is the daughter of William Reeves (born 1755) and this is possible, but no one has presented any supporting evidence. Jordan Reeves is the only other son of George and Mary old enough to be Elizabeth's father, and he does have unidentified daughters.

Elizabeth Reeves David died in 1860 at the home of her son Seth David in East Baton Rouge, LA.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Reeves Descendant - Dr. Samuel Mudd

Most Americans, even those with limited knowledge of our history, are aware of Dr. Samuel Mudd and his conviction as a conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. What may not be so well known is that his mother was Sarah Ann Reeves, daughter of Dr. James Reeves and Anne Cecelia Dyer of Charles County, Maryland.

Dr. Mudd working in the prison carpentry shopAs John Wilkes Boothe was making an attempt to escape capture after President Lincoln's assassination, he and an accomplice stopped at the farm of Dr. Samuel Mudd seeking medical attention for Boothe's broken leg. Because the two had met previously on more than one occasion, Dr. Mudd was believed to be one of the conspirators and was tried accordingly.

On June 29, 1865, Dr. Mudd was found guilty and convicted of conspiring to murder President Lincoln. He escaped the death penalty by one vote and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Along with several other convicted conspirators, he was imprisoned at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.

During a yellow fever outbreak in 1867, the prison doctor died and Dr. Mudd agreed to take over the position. The soldiers in the fort later wrote a petition to President Johnson praising Dr. Mudd for his assistance, stating that many owed their lives to the care and treatment they received at his hands.

On February 8, 1869, Dr. Mudd was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, released from prison on March 8, 1869 and returned home to Maryland on March 20, 1869.

Samuel A. Mudd HouseDr. Mudd's Reeves' ancestors are recorded in St. Mary's and Charles County, Maryland by the latter part of the 17th century. His earliest known Reeves' ancestors were Mary Upgate and Thomas Reeves who died in St. Mary's County in 1719. Dr. Mudd's grandfather, Dr. James Reeves, was one of the beneficiaries of the estate of his wealthy cousin Thomas Courtney Reeves. Thomas Courtney Reeves was so immensely wealthy that he is recorded as owning 74 slaves in the 1810 census of Charles County, Maryland. Thomas Courtney Reeves has also been named as the father of Dr. James Reeves in some lineages but twice his will specifically states that James Reeves was his cousin. Thomas Courtney Reeves and his wife Elizabeth Edelin apparently had no children. When Elizabeth Edelin Reeves died some years after her husband, Dr. Mudd's parents Henry Lowe Mudd and Sarah Ann Reeves Mudd were beneficiaries of her will as well.

I became aware of his Reeves' ancestry at some time during the 1970's when my mother briefly corresponded with Dr. Mudd's grandson, Dr. Richard Mudd, in the course of Reeves' research. For many years, Dr. Richard Mudd unsuccessfully lobbied government officials including Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan seeking to have his grandfather's conviction set aside.

Source of photo of Samuel A. Mudd in prison - Wikipedia. The photo of Dr. Samuel Mudd House & Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor.