Reeves, William Sr. (c 1710 - c 1780 NC)


Reeves, William Sr.


Father: Unknown Reeves
Mother: Unknown

Birth: c1720 c1710, Unknown - possibly Ireland
Birth Source: Adult per 1746 Deed

Death: c1770 after 1771, probably Surry or Wilkes County, North Carolina
Death Source: Last records in mid 1760's to 1771

Spouse1: Unknown


Known children of William Reeves, Sr.:
William Reeves, Jr.
Probable child of William Reeves, Sr.:
George Reeves, Sr.

Various transcriptions of Orange County Tythables for 1755 online list William Reves with only 1 white male tithe but the original document shows 4 white tithes which would support the validity of the above assumption that both William and George Reeves were sons of William Reeves, Sr. However, there is no indication of who the fourth white male in their household would have been..

The presence of William Reeves, Sr. in the area of Wake County, North Carolina is noted in Durham County - A History of Durham County, North Carolina by Jean Bradley Anderson, on page 19, “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).” This deed was recorded in Granville County Deed Book A at page 18 on 5 Nov. 1746. This tract of land is located where the I-85 bridge crosses Falls of the Neuse Lake on the west side and is about 5 miles east of the city of Durham, North Carolina.

The Fish Dam Road began as a foot trail in the 1600’s and connected two Indian villages, one on the Neuse River and one on the Eno River. The road remained in prominent use until the 1920's, when parts were abandoned and other parts were incorporated into current-day streets. William Reeves is named among the property owners in "Section 5: Ellerbee Creek to Fish Dam Ford on Neuse River" of the Fish Dam Road website listing William Reeves' land grant as shown on the Markham map of Orange County.

The Markham Maps which have 1800 of the earliest land grants in the Neuse River basin platted on maps of Orange and Wake counties show four tracts for William Reeves in Orange County.

William Reeves begins to be recorded in the court minutes of Orange County, North Carolina around 1752 as follows:
  • William Reeves, William Rhodes and others were on the “Grand Inquest” for the Court of Pleas, Orange County, June 1752.
  • William Reves, Robert Thompson and others were on the “Grand Inquest” for the Court of Pleas, Orange County, December Term 1752.
  • William Reaves, William Rhodes, Lawrence Rambo and others were members of the grand jury for the Court of Pleas, Orange County, July 1752.
  • William Reaves, Henry Bedingfield, Abraham Whitworth, John Dunnagan, John White, John Rhodes, William Copeland, William Rhodes, William Miers, James Swafort?, Lodwick Clap, Robert Patterson, Mathews, Hosea Tapley, and James Hendricks were on the “Grand Inquest” for Orange County, June 1753 Court.
  • The following were appointed to attend next General Court to wit: William Reaves, Mark Morgan, James Rainey, Joseph Boggs, John Wade, James Dickey Grand Jurors, Orange County, March 1754 Court.
  • The Grand Jury called and impaneled to wit: James Bowie, George Williams, John Dunnagan, Zachariah Martin, William Hellems, Lawrence Rambo, William Horton, William Rhodes, David Mitchel, Hugh Wood, William Reaves, and William Barbee, Orange County, July 1754 Court.
  • William Reves and James Forrester, Sr. were appointed to appraise property in the possession of Nicholas Culbertson by the Court of Pleas, Orange County, March 1755 Court.
  • William Reeves, Sr. is listed as William Reves with 4 white male tithes in "A List of Tythables for the Year 1755", Orange County, North Carolina. Note - there are numerous transcriptions of the Orange County Tythables for 1755 online which list William Reves with only 1 white male tithe but the original document clearly shows 4 white tithes.
  • William Reaves was a member of the grand jury for the Orange County Court of Pleas, November 1760.
As this land south of the Neuse and east of Ellerby Creek changed county designations, throughout the 1750's, William Reeves, Sr. is found primarily in the records of Orange County serving on juries and in other misc. court records. When the area became part of Johnston County in the early 1760's he is found in numerous deeds of that county.

On 10 October 1763 the land between the Neuse and Ellerbe Creek was conveyed by William Reeves, Sr. to William Reeves, Jr. by deed as follows: William Reeves Sr., Johnston County to Wm. Reeves Jr. Orange County, £140 Va money, 400 Acres beginning at a White Oak on southside Neuse River running S25 W 254p to a persimmon tree: S65 E254p to a pine on east side of Ellowbys creek: N25 E104p to the river: up the river courses to 1st sta., buildings, orchards &c Wit: John Bullard, Wm. Downs +, recorded in Deed Book D-1 Pg 63, Johnston County, North Carolina.

This same land remained in this particular Reeves' family for 52 years until it was conveyed by the second William Reeves to Nathaniel Jones, Sr. on October 16, 1798.

William Reeves Sr. does not appear in the records of Orange or Johnston Counties after several deeds recorded in Orange Johnston County in 1765. It is unknown whether he died about this time or moved to another location. He may have been selling his property in anticipation of moving, possibly along with his kinsman George Reeves who left around the same time for the New River area. A William Reeves is found on the 1771 tax lists of Surry County which could be this William. Although there are countless individuals named "William Reeves" in North Carolina at this time, none of them appear to have resided in Surry at this time.

Research Notes

Previous estimate of DOB circa 1720 is questionable based upon Orange County Tax List of 1755 showing William Reves had at least 3 male sons over the age of 16 which would have made him too young to have children of these ages if he was born in 1720.

The identity of the children of William Reeves, Sr. other than William, Jr. is unknown; however, George Reeves, Sr. of Grayson County, Virginia appears to be the individual by that name in the records of Orange, Johnston and Wake Counties throughout the 1750's to around 1765. The individual associated in deeds with William Reeves, Sr. and George's father-in-law Richard Burton seems likely to be George Reeves of Grayson County who was undoubtedly a son of William Reeves, Sr. It is also possible that George Reeves, Sr. might have been a younger brother of William Reeves, Sr. and The George Reeves who died in Wake County in 1778 previously supposed to have been his son appears to have belonged to a completely different Reeves lineage. Hopefully someday the extant tidbits of North Carolina records will yield answers.

Descendants of William Reeves have been placed in Group #6A in the Reeves DNA Project and are genetic matches to participants who descend from George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia. George Reeves of Grayson, Virginia and William Reeves are definitely closely related but their family connection is yet to be documented.

William Reeves, Sr. disappears from the records of Orange and Johnston Counties around 1765 which may indicate that he left the area at the same time that his kinsman George Reeves settled in the New River area of Grayson County VA. He was also recorded in Johnston County NC deeds selling his property there at the same time George Reeves was prior to moving to the New River area. A William Reeves with son George is listed on the tax lists of Rowan County in 1767 and 1770. He is also very likely the William Reeves recorded on the 1771 tax lists of Surry County NC from which Wilkes County was formed and is adjacent to Grayson County VA. Another possibility is an unidentified William Rieves listed in the 1779 tax lists of Randolph County (formed from Rowan and Guilford in 1779) but that is unlikely. That William Rieves in Randolph County is far more likely to be a son of Isaac Reeves a son of William Reeves of Granville County since Isaac left Caswell County around 1778 which is documented in deed records.


Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina by Jean Bradley Anderson, pg 19, Pub 1990
Fish Dam Road, Eno River Assn.
Ruth Herndon Shields, Orange County, N.C., Abstracts of the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of September 1752 – August 1766, Southern Historical Press, Inc., Greenville ((1965)
Deed Records of Orange, Granville and Johnston Counties
Court Records of Orange County NC
Orange County NC Tax List of 1755
Tax lists of Rowan and Randolph Counties of NC
1771 Tax List of Surry County NC
1780 North Carolina, U.S., Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, Ancestry.com