Reeves, James B. (aka Asa) (1777 SC - 1870 TN)


Reeves, James B. aka Asa


Father: Unknown

Birth: 1777, South Carolina
Birth Source: 1850 and 1860 Census

Death: 15 Jul 1870, probably Jackson (now Clay) or Macon County, Tennessee
Death Source: Church Records, Church of Christ on Trace Creek, Jackson County TN

Spouse1: Anna Ferguson b. abt. 1794, d. abt. 1830
Spouse2: Mary Polly Moore b. 1814 Kentucky, d. circa 1897-1898 Clay Co., Tennessee


Presumed children (undocumented) of James B. (Asa) Reeves and Anna Ferguson:
  1. Jane Reeves, b. c. 1813
  2. Willis Reeves, b. c. 1814
  3. Cynthia Guissira Reeves, b. October 1815
  4. William Joseph Reeves, b. 2 March 1819
  5. John J Reeves, b. April 1821
  6. Amanda Malvina Fitzalan Reeves, b. 6 July 1825
  7. Charles Eleazer Reeves, b. 11 October 1827
Children of Asa Reeves and Mary Moore:
  1. Lucas Luke M Reeves, b. 1832
  2. George Daniel Reeves, b. 28 September 1834
  3. Middleton Reeves, b. November 1836
  4. Whitfield Reeves, b. 22 November 1837
  5. Franklin R Reeves, b. 16 August 1839
  6. Charlotte Reeves, b. 2 August 1842
  7. Mary Elizabeth Reeves, b. 22 February 1847
  8. Eliza M Reeves, b. 3 February 1848
  9. Sarah Emmaline Emily Reeves, b. 24 December 1850
  10. Moses Reeves, b. aft. 1850
Background information on Asa Reeves' is primarily based upon the published Family History Book of Jackson County, Tennessee which recounted the tale of Asa's exodus from South Carolina after being charged with murder in South Carolina.

From The Jackson County Family History Book: 200 Years Of Memories by The Jackson County (Tennessee) Historical Society.
“Asa Reeves was born in South Carolina in abt. 1776 and died in Macon County, Tennessee on July 15, 1870. He married Anna Fergusson, daughter of William and Mourning Fergusson, a daughter of his cousin's. William was the son of William E. Fergusson known as William of Fairfield and Anna Henderson.″

"Asa killed a man in So. Carolina and decided to bring his family to Tennessee to escape being punished. They were crossing a river on a raft and Anna, his wife, who had a young child, Charles, fell into the river and either drowned or took sick and died. Asa's brother (unnamed) or Anna's brother took the body back to South Carolina for burial.

A more detailed version of the story is supplied from the research of Patsy Kaminski by Tammy Reeves:
This version is cited by Nell Bush Martindale, told to her by her father, James O. Bush, son of Amanda Reeves Bush. James Reeves and his wife, Annie Ferguson Reeves, were living in S.C. in 1828 and had 11 children. He “went security” for a man’s note and had to pay it. An altercation developed resulting in James shooting the man and killing him (not unusual in those days). He gave himself up and was put in jail. Annie, somehow, obtained the keys to the place of confinement and turned him out, whereupon he fled to Tn (then Jackson County). Then, Annie sold all their property, except for a few slaves, and with her small children and the slaves set out for Tn to join her husband, in a six-horse wagon. On the way, in the Cumberland Mts., they were set upon, held-up and robbed by the notorious John A. Murrell and his band of robbers. Annie became ill after exposure in crossing a swollen stream and died before they reached their destination. Her husband, Asa, (he had changed his name upon reaching Tn, from James to Asa) came to meet them and hearing the sad news of the fate to his loyal mate, he sat down under a tree and wept. (Amanda Reeves Bush was only 4 years old, but she said she could remember this vividly, and told her son, James, about it many times.) After settling in Jackson Co.,Tn, Asa married Mary “Polly” Moore abt. 1830 and became the father of 11 more children, making 22 in all.

The date of departure fits perfectly, but the inclusion of the death of Anna Ferguson Reeves is puzzling in that she is recorded in probate documents of her father's South Carolina estate in 1847 without any notations that she was deceased as several of her siblings were.

According to the family lore, Asa's name was originally James B. Reeves or James Asa Reeves and he changed it after fleeing South Carolina.

William Ferguson, son of William and Annie Henderson of Fairfield District, was born in the 1760's and died in 1836 or 1837. William was had moved to Edgefield District by 1820 and was living there with his second wife. The Will of William Ferguson, dated 25 December 1831 from Edgefield District, mentions Anna Reaves and children as heirs. The will of Joseph Ferguson, dated 22 Mar 1816 in Fairfield District, mentions his sister Anna Reves.

An Equity Bill for the account and settlement of the estate of Joseph Ferguson was filed in Fairfield County in 1837. James B. Reeves and Anne his wife were two of the ones required to appear to answer in court.

A Bill of Partition filed 2 Jun 1847 in Edgefield Equity 712, Ferguson et al. v. Corley et al., states that sometime during the year 1846, Rebecca Ferguson married Cullen O'Neall. The complainants are identified as John Ferguson, Jincey M. Clark, Kiziah Edwards, and Anna Reeves, children of the deceased William Ferguson; Jesse Edwards, husband of Keziah; James B. Reeves, husband of Anna: Gideon, Lewis and Elizabeth Ferguson, children of the deceased James H. Ferguson and grandchildren of the deceased William Ferguson; and Isaiah, Martha and Abraham Ferguson, children of the deceased William H. Ferguson and grandchildren of the deceased William Ferguson.

These references appear to establish that the name of Anna Ferguson's husband was originally James B. Reeves. However, it is odd that Anna is mentioned, as she was supposed to have died between 1827 and 1832 based on the children's birth dates. it may be that courts were unaware of her death, only that she had left South Carolina.

A notice in the Camden Gazette, 11 April 1816, of letters remaining in the Post Office in Camden on the 1st of April lists a "J. B. Reaves." This likely refers to James Sr; however, James B Reeves was also likely in the area at the time, so this may be a reference to him. It's likely that he was from the Lancaster area above Camden, and deeds suggest he may have moved around that time, as he was apparently living in Edgefield by 1817. Thers was also a "James B. Reives" listed for letters remaining in the post office at Camden the 1st of April 1825 that appeared in the 23 Apr 1825 edition of the Southern Chronicle.

James B. Reaves was listed as a buyer at the estate sale of Joseph Ferguson, his brother-in-law, 1817, in Fairfield County.

James B. Reaves was listed as a buyer at the estate sale of William Butler, 21 January 1822, in Edgefield County.

James B. Reeves was involved in several court cases record in Edgefield Petitions & Decrees in Summary Process. In 1819, Daniel Leopard petitioned that James B. Reeves had "wilfully & maliciously...destroyed a blue s? his property" and was asking for $65 in damages (#2320). In 1819, John L. Glasscock petitioned that J. B. Reeves owed him thirty dollars based on a note dated 1 Mar 1819 (#2640). In 1820, as James B. "Rives" he petitioned that Richard Rogers owed him thirty dollars based on a note dated 18 Sep 1819 (#2594). In 1823, he petitioned that Thomas McCarty owed him $29.75 (#3758).

Further information and evidence on James B. Reeves is supplied by Edgefield District deeds and the 1820 census. The first reference to a "Reaves" appears in a deed from 13 April 1817 that mentions land by Sophia Bonham, Abraham Ferguson, "Reaves", and others. Given the neighbors listed, it is clear based in later deeds that this is James B. Reeves and establishes that he was there as early as 1817. There are three deeds actually involving James B. Reeves. In the first deed from 1821, he is the grantee of 200 acres of land. Notice that William Ferguson is witness. Also notice that the grantor, Burwell Gregg, is from Fairfield. In the next one from 1823, Sophia Bonham deeds him 229 acres. Notice that in the attached plat, "Forgusons Land" is marked next to his. In the third deed from 1824, he sells his land to Zebulon Rudolph, one of his neighbors mentioned in the previous deeds. Notice that what he's selling is "All that plantation Tract or parcell of Land where I now reside." Chronologically that's the last one he's mentioned in. Notice that this one references the one from 1821 and says that Burwell Gregg, the previous owner, had bought it from Abraham Ferguson. Notice also that "Anny Rives the wife of the within named James B Rives" released her dower in this deed. Taken together, these deeds indicate he lived in Edgefield Ditrict, around present day Saluda, from at least 1817 until 1824. He is listed in the 1820 census as "Jams B Reases", living two doors down from Sophia Bonham. Other names from the deeds are shown on the same page of the census. James B. is marked as in the 26-45 ages category (1775-1794), which fits. His wife is in the same age category. Others listed are a female 10-16 (probably an older daughter who died), two females 0-10 (fits Jane and Cynthia), and three sons 0-10 (fits Willis, William J, and probably another son who died young).

Notice also that all three of the above discussed deeds are recorded much later, but the same day, 29 April 1829. That is significant, given the date of the indictment and later disappearance of James B. Reaves from the Sumter District Court.

Although the case itself is missing, a Common Please case is listed under the Edgefield index as James B. Reeves vs. Sophia Bonham (#1867). Sophia Bonham was his neighbor according to the census and deeds mentioned previously.

James B Reaves was apparently indicted for murder and it was brought before the grand jury at Sumter Court 7 April 1829. The jury found a true bill for murder in the case of The State vs. James B Reaves, Matthew P Mayer foreman.

The following was published in the City Gazette, a South Carolina newspaper:
9 May 1829
At the last sitting of Sumter Court, the grand jury found a true bill against JAMES B. REAVES for the murder of William Bateman, and it appears that the said Reaves has fled from justice and has as yet not been apprehended to answer for this charge:
      Now be it known, That I will give THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS as a reward for the delivery of the said James B. Reaves to the gaoler of Sumter district, so that he may abide the issue of said prosecution.
                      Given under my hand and the seal of the State,
                              At Columbia, this 9th May, 1829
                                                            STEPHEN D. MILLER
By the Governor,           R. H. Waring
May 20                               Dept. Sec’ry of State

The following excerpt from the book Modern American Spiritualism sheds more light on the circumstances:
The following incident is given as it appeared in a secular paper, the Saturday Evening Gazette, of Bishopville. A far more circumstantial, though over prolix account, was furnished to the author by some near relatives of Mr. Bateman’s, with a number of written attestations to the truth of the story:
In the year 1826, at Bishopville, South Carolina, Captain William Sumpter, a grandson of General Thomas Sumpter, committed suicide, and was buried at the Baptist churchyard, about one and a half miles from Bishopville. His grave is about ten steps from the public road, leading from Bishopville to Sumpterville. In a few weeks after this, William Bateman, a man of great courage was riding from Bishopville to his home, about three miles off, and as he passed by Captain Sumpter’s grave, at about twelve or one o’clock in the night, the moon shone brightly; he informed me the next morning that Captain Sumpter arose from his grave and came to him, and placed his hand on his stirrup, and just before he disappeared, he informed Bateman it was his time next. In a few days after this, a man by the name of James B. Reaves shot Bateman, giving him a mortal wound, which did not terminate fatally for two or three weeks. Bateman managed to ride from Reaves’s house to the house of Moses Roundtree, and when he arrived there, sent for Dr. Bishop, and his brother John Bateman, the latter at that time overseer for Dr. Bishop; and although W. Bateman’s house was much nearer than Bishopville, he requested to be taken to the latter place, which was done, and he died at his brother’s house at Bishopville. I was acting as a magistrate at that time, and as there was no witness present when Reaves shot Bateman, I thought it proper to take his dying confession, as it would be good evidence; and a few hours before his death, I took down his statement; and as the circumstance of his seeing Sumpter occurred to me, I asked him to give me a statement again, and he said it was as he stated before, and that he was not mistaken. He observed to me that it was not imagination, and said, ‘Don’t you see it has happened as he told me ?’
“ J. B.”

The above story was published in several different newspapers during 1856 including The Lancaster Ledger from Lancaster, South Carolina.

On the 1830 census, Moses Roundtree appears three doors down from John Bateman. Abscilla Bateman, widow of William Batemen, appears four doors down from Moses Roundtree. Dr. Jacques Bishop, after whom Bishopville was named, appears on the previous page. The fact that William Bateman rode from Reaves's house to Roundtree's while carrying a mortal wound suggests that James B. Reaves lived or was staying very close by. The report above states that Bateman lived about three miles from Bishopville. At the time this was all located in Sumter District, but is now in Lee County.

Reeves, Asa vs Cawfelt, Jacob, et at
BILL OF COMPLAINT of Asa Reeves of Jackson Co, TN against Robert Pedigo of Jackson Co., Betie (sic) J. Bobo, Julie Bobo, Lacy K. Bobo and Joice R. Bobo of Macon Co., TN; Alexander C. Bobo and Charles E. Reeves of Wilson Co., TN.
SYNOPSIS: 23 Sept 1860 K. G. Bobo executed a note to Jacob Cawfeld for $258.15. Robert Pedigo signed as security. 18 April 1861 Jacob Cawfelt recovered judgment against K. G. Bobo, together with Robert Pedigo as security, $272.81 including interest & costs. Asa Reeves agreed to be Stayor on the execution of the judgment (put his own property as collateral). K. G. Bobo died in 1863. 16 Sept 1865 execution issued (lien, order that property be sold for debts), K. G. Bobo's estate was insolvent. Asa Reeves' property was sold for the debt. Asa Reeves filed saying the Court should have gone after the Bobo estate and his security, Robert Pedigo first, asks that sale be set aside. Robert Pedigo filed 14 November 1867, stating Asa Reeves became Stayor without his knowledge or consent. The Court agreed, and Asa Reeves was high bidder at the sale of his property 15 May 1869; bought his 198 acres back for $305.

John S. Morrow was appointed administrator of the estate of Asa Reeves in Clay County June 1872.

Research Notes

Descendants of Asa Reeves have DNA matches to Group 10 of the Reeves DNA Project whose other participants are descendants of the Reeve(s) family of Prince William County, Virginia and the Kershaw/Lancaster area of South Carolina.

Recent research of Lancaster County and the Reeves family there has verified that Asa Reeves and James B. Reeves are undoubtedly the same person although his parents are still unknown.

The Asa Reeves in Lancaster County SC and recorded there in the 1820 census along with Prestley Reeves, James Reeves and an unidentified John Reeves does not appear to be this Asa Reeves based upon new information that his name was originally James B. Reeves prior to the murder of William Bateman and his exodus from South Carolina. Rather, he is believed to be another Asa Reeves who lived in North Alabama and Tennessee.

The connection to the Ferguson family provides a clue to to who James's father may have been. Since he is part of Group 10, and lived in upper South Carolina, the families of John and Moses Reeves provide the best options at first glance. John and his family appear to have moved from Chester County area into Lancaster County. There we find a deed from 1799 from William Ferguson to William Reeves. William was a son of John so this hints at a connection between the Ferguson and Reeves families there. Furthermore, David Williams, husband of Nancy Elizabeth Reeves witnessed the deed. From this association, it would make sense if James were a son of John. It also seems likely that James Reeves Sr of Lancaster County was close relative. If James B./Asa was a son of John, then James Sr was probably a grandson.


Death:        Church Membership Records, Jackson Co., Tennessee, Church of Christ on Trace Creek, August 1867

1820 Census:  Edgefield County, South Carolina
1840 Census:  Jackson County, Tennessee (Listed as "Isaiah Reeves")
1850 Census:  Jackson County, Tennessee
1860 Census:  Jackson County, Tennessee
1870 Census:  Jackson County, Tennessee
1880 Census:  Clay County, Tennessee (Mary Reeves widow living with son Franklin)

Camden Gazette, 11 April 1816
Southern Chronicle, 23 Apr 1825
1817 Deed - Edgefield Co., SC, Deed Book 34, p234 - John Pope to Zebulon Rudolph
1821 Deed - Edgefield Co., SC, Deed Book 43, pp476-477 - Burwell Gregg to James B Reaves
1823 Deed - Edgefield Co., SC, Deed Book 43, pp475-476 - Sophia Bonham to James B. Rives
1824 Deed - Edgefield Co., SC, Deed Book 43, pp473-475 - James B Reives to Z Rudolph
Sumter District, South Carolina General Sessions Journal, 1827-1840, p. 48
Legal Advertisement, Executive Department: At the last sitting of the Sumter Court..., City Gazette, 21 May 1829
Fairfield County, South Carolina Equity Bill, 1837 #1 - James H. Ferguson et al vs George Hunter & Exrs of Joseph Ferguson et al
Jackson County TN Chancery Court Records
Hardinge, Emma. American Spiritualism: A Twenty Years' Record of the Communion Between Earth and the World of Spirits. New York: Author, 1870. p. 434
Will of William Ferguson, Edgefield County, South Carolina Will Book B, p208
Edgefield County, South Carolina Probate Records Box 4, Pkg 130, William Butler Estate
Fairfield County, South Carolina Probate Records Apt 15, Pkg 167, Joseph Ferguson
Story of Asa's First Family, from the files of Patsy Kaminski, as supplied by Tammy Reeves
Clay County, Tennessee Administrators, Guardians and Executors Bonds, 1871-1903 (Ancestry.com)
Edgefield County, South Carolina Petitions & Decrees in Summary Process 2320, 2594, 2640, 3758
Edgefield County, South Carolina Common Pleas Index, Roll 1867, James B. Reeves vs. Sophia Bonham