Rees family

Rees Family

This page copyright 2002, 2008. All rights reserved.

Hopewell Meeting House | Washington County, PA | Morris and Sarah Rees

Rees Family of Frederick County, Virginia

In the second half of the 18th century, the Mill Creek area of Frederick County, Virginia (presently a portion of this area is in Berkeley County, West Virginia) was the home of several Rees families. All seem to have been the children of either Margaret Bowen and Thomas Rees, or of Sarah Butterfield and Morris Rees. No relationship has yet been determined for these two Rees families, except by marriage. There were two marriages between children of these two couples. In later generations some of their descendants continued to marry, leading to many tangled relationships. Descendants spread into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as south to South Carolina and Tennessee. Eventually descendants settled in most of the states of the United States

Prior to January 30, 1743, Thomas1 Rees and his wife, Margaret Bowen, transferred their Quaker meeting membership from south eastern Pennsylvania (most likely the town of Chester) to Frederick County, Virginia, settling just north of Winchester near the town of Whitehall, along what was then known as Morgan’s Road (route 661 today). They had probably been married about 1730 in Pennsylvania.

Their deed [Frederick Co, VA, deed book 1 pages 31-34, January 30, 1743] states “Thomas Rees, husbandman, of Frederick County” purchased ½ of a 448 acre parcel from John Littler. The other half was purchased on the same day by Henry Bowen, whom many have said was the father of Margaret Bowen Rees. No proof of a relationship between Henry Bowen and Margaret Bowen has been located. Henry Bowen’s wife was Jane/Jean Carter. Thomas1 and Margaret Bowen Rees named a son Henry and a daughter Jane, which supports this claim by some descendants.

The 224 acre parcel purchased from Littler in 1743 apparently became the Rees homestead. Thomas acquired several other parcels through the years. The first of those, surveyed on April 28, 1753, and granted on June 4, 1760, was adjacent to and directly south of the land purchased from Littler in 1743. It was 430 acres [land grant K-149] on Mill Creek. Thomas1 sold this as three parcels in 1764 to his sons William2 and Thomas2. [Frederick County deed book 9 pages 199, 206, 203]. A number of years later, Robert2 obtained two of the portions from his brothers; the third was sold to Titus Bennet. Relationships were stated in these deeds, which has proved quite helpful in sorting out the family.

One compiled history of the family of Thomas1 Rees and Margaret Bowen indicates that Thomas1 was 105 years of age at his death in 1785 and that his first children were born when he was in his 50’s. It is more likely that there were two generations of men named Thomas, and they were confused as one person. Perhaps 'our' Thomas was the son of a Thomas born in 1785. If the first child, Henry2, was born in 1732, as indicated by that history, Thomas1 was probably born prior to 1711; at his death in 1785 or 1786, he was probably not over 85 years of age, therefore, he was born after 1700; this narrows his birth year to between 1700 and 1711.

The most complete list of Thomas1 and Margaret Bowen Rees’s children comes from an unpublished manuscript [compiled by David D. Rees, a descendant of William Rees and Charity Dillon, and found at the Historical Society in Wilmington, Ohio]. Combining that list with other sources [deeds, wills, and Quaker records], the family looks like this:

Thomas’ will and its codicil state “... to my son Robert2 the remainder of my moveable estate ... for I have already given my oldest sons their share of land and property...” [Frederick County, VA will 5:65-67].

Frederick County, Virginia  | Washington County, PA | Hopewell Meeting House

Morris Rees and Sarah Butterfield Family

Morris Rees and Sarah Butterfield also migrated to Frederick County, Virginia from southeastern Pennsylvania. They arrived in Frederick County, Virginia about 1753, purchasing land a short distance north of the home of Thomas Rees and Margaret Bowen. The Quaker meeting records document their arrival, and their land purchases verify the dates.

Morris and Sarah, like Thomas and Margaret, were affected by the French and Indian War, which drove many families of the area to move eastward or back to Pennsylvania. Quaker Meeting records show several trips back and forth to Pennsylvania from Frederick County, Virginia.

Their children were:

Frederick County, Virginia  | Washington County, PAMorris and Sarah Rees

Hopewell Meeting House

About a mile west of Clear Brook, Virginia (six miles north of Winchester, on Old Braddock Road, SR 672) sits the Hopewell Meeting House. Built in 1759, this was the religious and community center for Thomas and Margaret Bowen Rees, their family, and their neighbors in the surrounding countryside. The Friends recorded important information about their members in the Minutes of their meetings. It is clear that a marriage to a person outside of the Society of Friends was not tolerated. The secretary recorded on April 2, 1770: “The Representatives informed this Meeting that John Rees son of Thomas Rees has gone out in Marriage with a Woman not of our Society. Therefore the Meeting after deliberate Consideration agrees to disown the said John Rees from being any longer a Member of our Society until he comes to a true Sense of his outgoing and make Satisfaction for the Same...”

[photo by John Matviya]

Hopewell Meeting House | Frederick County, Virginia | Morris and Sarah Rees

The Rees Families of Washington County, Pennsylvania

John2 and Thomas2 Rees (sons of Thomas Rees and Margaret Bowen) settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania sometime between 1774 and 1781. Some of their cousins in the Bowen family also settled in southwestern Pennsylvania — folks named Gaddis, Bowen, Hill, Heaton, and Carter. It is difficult to tell just who came first and who followed, but the pattern of migrating to a new area to join friends and family seems to have been common. Many of these people had been members of, or associated in some way with, the Hopewell Monthly Meeting of Friends in Frederick County. Their move to the wilderness of Pennsylvania made attendance at meeting more difficult, and most drifted away from the Friends if they hadn't done so prior to the move. Some members of later generations became staunch Baptists.

Thomas2, who seems to have been the second child of Thomas1 and Margaret Bowen Rees, was married about 1756 or 1757, most likely at Hopewell Meeting in Virginia, to Hannah Rees, a daughter of Morris Rees and Sarah Butterfield. The French and Indian War affected the families in Frederick County, Virginia, and many moved away from the frontier. Some returned and some did not. Thomas2 and Hannah left Frederick County, Virginia for Nottingham Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania in January or February of 1758, not returning to Virginia until the Spring of 1759. The record of their return also lists their son, Morris3, who was apparently born during their absence from Virginia.

Thomas2 and Hannah settled in West Bethlehem Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania prior to 1781, obtaining survey for a farm they called “Snake’s Den.” By 1801, Thomas2 had moved to Ohio, settling in Hocking Township, Fairfield County, where he purchased a sizeable parcel of land in partnership with a member of the Zane family. During this same period of time, all of his children also moved west into Ohio, with the exception of Thomas3, who remained in Pennsylvania. Sometime between the 1800 census and 1806, Hannah died. In 1805, Thomas had his land in Washington Co, PA re-surveyed. The second survey was in the same location as the first, and it meshes more exactly with the adjoining farms. In 1805 he obtained patent to this second survey, which he called “Mountain.” Immediately after, he began selling off portions of “Mountain.” In 1810 he sold the final portion to his son, Thomas3. In 1996 his Pennsylvania farm land was owned by Pennsylvania Mine Services, J. Rice, Marshall, Ahlin, Ulrich Lange, and David Owens. Prior to the end of January, 1812, Thomas2 had died in Fairfield County, Ohio. His estate was managed by his son, Morris3, and his nephew, David3 Rees (son of Robert2 Rees and Sidney Lewis).

Thomas3 was probably married first to Ann Crumley (much of the evidence regarding her name is circumstantial), about 1781, and later, after the 1810 census, to Elizabeth. Ann was apparently the mother of most of his children. Thomas3 bequeathed his farm, the northernmost portion of “Mountain”, to his sons, Thomas4 and Solomon4, dividing it along “the road that goes up the run.” Several years later, Solomon4 sold his portion to his brother, Thomas4. About 1840 Thomas4 built his homestead, which stands today on SR 2011, although it is much dilapidated from neglect and abuse by vandals, and likely to fall to pieces at any time. This home is on the land owned in 1996 by Pennsylvania Mine Services.

Morris3 Rees, son of Thomas2, had also patented land in Amwell and West Bethlehem Townships, directly south of that of his uncle, John2 Rees. It is speculated that this land, which Morris called “Townsend,” might have originally been claimed by James Paul. Morris3 moved on to Ohio about 1799. He sold his Pennsylvania land in several parcels to various neighbors and friends, including one parcel to the heirs of James Paul. About 1905 Norton Rees, a descendant of John2, purchased a large part of Morris’3 land, which remained in Norton's family until about 1952. Morris’ land is currently owned (according to the 1996 plat book) by Jacob Kribel, A. Dran, James Fellin, Clayton Lex, and Glenn Goughenour. Only a small part of the Lex and Goughenour farms was originally a portion of Morris’ land. It is thought that Morris’ wife, Caracy, might have been a member of the Meek family of West Bethlehem Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, although this has not been verified.

John2 obtained land in Washington County from the state of Pennsylvania. He called the farm “Beaverdam,” certainly an appropriate name for land divided by a creek. It was located in both Amwell and West Bethlehem Townships. According to the 1996 Washington County, PA Plat Book, these lands are now owned by the Joseph Stopka, Weaver, R. Zipko, Thomas Hambleton, and Owens families, among others. John's wife, Nancy Carter, died about 1787. John married a second time, to Sarah Huston Paul, the widow of his neighbor, James Paul. Nancy was the mother of John’s first nine children, and Sarah was the mother of the last two.

Descendants of both of these early Rees settlers (John2 and Thomas3) are found today in Southwestern Pennsylvania, as well as in many states to the west of Pennsylvania.

Upcoming Rees Book

Data on the descendants of Margaret Bowen and Thomas1 Rees and of Sarah Butterfield and Morris1 Rees is being sought for a Rees family compilation. Addresses are also being collected for a mailing list to mail announcements. If you are a descendant of these families, your input would be welcome for the book. If you have been in contact with me in the past and your email has changed (as mine has), please contact me with an email update.  Thanks!

This page copyright 2002, 2008 and last updated 14 March 2008. All rights reserved. 

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Please note that superscript numbers denote generations and are used with names that are repetitive within this narrative. The Rees families seemed to use and reuse the same first names, most of which were common among the Welsh Quakers.

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