Searching for the
Family of William Reeves

Many years of research into the origins and extended family of William Reeves has failed to produce evidence of his life prior to 1746 when Henry McCulloch conveyed 400 acres on the Neuse River, east of Ellobey's Creek in what was at that time Orange County.

There is a very old posting to all three of the Rootsweb lists for Reeves, Reaves and Reavis that, if accurate, could cast some light on at least three of the family lines of Reeves DNA Group 6. This 1999 posting was recently discovered but email messages to both the list administrator for the Reaves & Reavis lists as well as the originator of the message have produced no more information.

Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 04:23 One George Reaves was born in eastern North Carolina about 1704 (sic?) and left descendents in western North Carolina. In 1897 one George W. Reaves wrote "My grandfather was George Reaves...principally reared in eastern North Carolina. Came from the Neuse River, North Carolina, to New River, Grayson County, VA. About 1725 (sic?), bringing his wife with him..." He continues with the statement that his father was a cousin of the Edward Reeves of Bladen County, N.C.
The George W. Reeves referred to in this posting would appear to be the son of John Reeves and Phoebe Osborne, grandson of George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia. The source of the information mentioned is unknown and currently cannot be located; however, if this could be substantiated it would link the Reeves lines of Grayson County VA, Wake County NC, and Bladen County NC all of which have closely matching DNA results. Two of the DNA lines from Grayson VA, Lines #33172 and #33674, and the lines from William Reeves of Wake NC/Madison KY, Line #121975 and #194709, are exact matches on the 25 marker test.

The origin of George Reeves of Grayson County, VA is generally believed to be Chesterfield, VA; however, there is a George Reeves in the area of the Neuse River in the early 1760's in addition to William Reeves. This George Reeves is associated in a 1764 Johnston County deed with a Richard Burton who is a witness to that deed - could this be the same Richard Burton who is the father of Jane Burton, wife of George Reeves of Grayson County? This George Reeves also left the Neuse River area of Johnston County, NC sometime around 1765 which coincides with the appearance of George Reeves in Grayson County VA around 1767. Might George Reeves have migrated with other family members from Virginia to the Neuse River area of North Carolina prior to settling in Grayson VA?

The third DNA family line whose connections to the other two could be explained by this information is that of John Durdan Reeves, Lines #50341, #77786 and #96859. In his Revolultionary War pension statement he says that he was born in Halifax County, North Carolina but he is in some way associated with the Reeves of Cumberland County NC and is found there in the 1790 census as well as in probate records of the estate of his father-in-law Richard Elwell in 1791. The pension statement of Zachariah Reeves of Cumberland County, indicates that he also grew up in Halifax County, North Carolina; however, the Reeves of Cumberland County appear to have originated in Bladen County NC. The DNA of this line is similar though not an exact match to the other two lines from Grayson VA and Madison KY.

An interesting observation regarding these three DNA lines is that most of the members of these families were literate. In an era when few were, it was uncommon and certainly in the frontier areas of North Carolina and Virginia. It is also interesting to note that in their signatures the name is always spelled REVES. In the 1794 will of Nathaniel Reeves of Cumberland County, NC, he signed his name Reves. All extant documents with signatures of William Reeves of Wake County as well as all of his sons bear signatures with the name spelled Reves. The family of George Reeves of Grayson VA and Ashe NC continuously spell their name Reves. As late as the Civil War, a document signed by George Reeves' grandson Col. Timothy Reeves of Ripley County, Missouri shows his signature as Reves.

The majority of the early settlers in this area of North Carolina were of Scotch-Irish origin. Most of William Reeves' neighbors such as Patrick Boggan who witnessed the 1746 deed and James Ray were from northern Ireland. It is also noteworthy that the earliest churches founded in this area of Orange County were Presbyterian in 1750 and 1755. In a biography of a descendant, William T. Reeves born 1855, written in 1922, there is a statement that the family's ancestor immigrated from northern Ireland. Whether this statement is factual or not is unknown at this time, but further research of the earliest settlers in the area of Orange County, North Carolina and their Irish origins may eventually resolve the mystery of the origins of William Reeves of Wake County, North Carolina.