Rives, George Washington (c1815 VA - 1892)


Rives, George Washington


Father: Joseph Rives
Mother: Mary Frances Prunty

Birth: c1815, Virginia
Birth Source: Census

Death: 8 Sep 1892
Death Source:

Spouse1: Mary Mayo, m. 12 Jun 1839, Edgar County, Illinois
Spouse2: Marian McCall, m. 22 Nov 1877


Children of George Washington Rives and Mary Mayo:
  1. William James Rives, b. 29 Mar 1840
  2. Henry Edgar Rives, b. 21 Nov 1841
  3. Frances Elizabeth Rives, b. 21 Feb 1843
  4. Theodore F. Rives, b. 21 June 1844, d. infant
  5. Robert Steel Rives, b. 21 Aug 1845
  6. Harriet Charlotte Rives, b. 31 Aug 1847, m. Frank Lightfoot
  7. Mary Jane Rives, b. 5 Aug 1849; d. infant
  8. Zilla Ann Rives, b. 17 May 1851, m. E. L. Johnson
  9. George Washington Rives, b. 5 Mar 1854
  10. Dock Elsworth Rives, b. 4 May 1857, d. 5 Oct 1883

Children of George Washington Rives and Marian McCall:
  1. Frederick Alexander Rives, b. 8 Sep 1878
  2. Frank Gilmer Rives, b. 10 Apr 1880
  3. Arthur McCall Rives, b. 26 Jul 1882
  4. Jean Anderson Rives, b. 29 Mar 1884
  5. Roscoe Conklin Rives, b. 8 May 1886
  6. Margaret Leona Rives, b. 5 Feb 1889; m. Oran T. Shutzbaugh

From Reliques of the Rives:
George Washington Rives removed in 1842 from Franklin county, Virginia, where he was born in 181 5, to Paris, Illinois, where he became engaged in farming and stock raising. His natural talents soon asserted themselves in his new surroundings and he was elected by the Whigs in 1846 to the Illinois Constitutional Convention which convened at Springfield in 1847. In 1849 ne was elected to the Illinois Legislature and served therein until 1851. In that year he succeeded to the position of Clerk of the Court of Edgar county, Illinois, which had become vacant by the death of his brotherin-law, Robert Nathaniel Dickenson, and served in this capacity until about 1862 when he was appointed by his friend, Abraham Lincoln, Internal Revenue Assessor of the then 7th District of Illinois. Upon being removed from this office by President Andrew Johnson, he was re-elected in 1870 to the Legislature of the State.
He was a man, strong in his convictions of right and wrong, and was a power in defending what he believed to be right. He was highly esteemed by those who knew him, true to his friends, a kind father, and an estimable citizen.
During the pioneer days in Illinois, and as late as 1860, Abraham Lincoln and Mr. George W. Rives were often thrown in each other's company during the sittings of the circuit court at Paris, Illinois, and during the political campaigns in that district. A friendship was established between the two men which continued throughout the course of Lincoln's career until interrupted by his death, and was never marred by but one misunderstanding.
During the summer of 1849 while a member of Congress from the 7th District of Illinois, Mr. Lincoln promised Mr. Rives to use his influence in obtaining for him an Indian Agency or a position with the General Land Office in Minnesota. Some correspondence had passed between them on the subject when Lincoln was called to Kentucky on legal business.
Dr. Anson G. Henry, of Springfield, Illinois, now deceased, who was also a friend of Lincoln and an applicant for an office similar to those sought by Mr. Rives, is represented as having sought to prejudice the application of his rival by intimating to Lincoln that Mr. Rives was expressing himself to his friends with regard to Lincoln in a way detrimental to the reputation of the future president. The strong friendship which existed between the two prevented Lincoln from placing implicit confidence in these tales, although affected to a certain extent by them.
Mr. Rives had addressed several letters to Mr. Lincoln about the appointment he was seeking and had directed them to Springfield, in his ignorance of Lincoln's whereabouts, and had received no reply when there came to hand the following:
Springfield, Ill. Dec. 15th 1849.
G. W. Rives, Esq.
Dear Sir:
On my return from Kentucky I found your letter of the 7th of November and have delayed answering it until now for the reason I now briefly state. From the beginning of our acquaintance I had felt the greatest kindness for you and had supposed it was reciprocated on your part. Last summer, under circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired and shortly afterwards I learned in such a way as to believe it, that you were indulging in open abuse of me. Of course, my feelings were wounded. On receiving your last letter, the question occured whether you were attempting to use me, at the same time you would injure me or whether you might not have been misrepresented to me. If the former, I ought not to answer you; if the latter, I ought, and so I have remained in suspense. I now enclose you a letter which you may use if you think fit.Yours etc
A. Lincoln.

The following communication, which gives interesting details regarding Mr. Rives, was addressed by him about this time to Senator Crittenden regarding his preferment for office:
Paris, Edgar Co. Illinois.
July 27th 1849.

Hon. John J. Crittenden
U. S. Senator, Kentucky.
Sir, You may be somewhat surprised at receiving a letter from me, and especially on the subject I address you on.
I am an applicant for the appointment of Indian agent or sub agent in some of the Territories of the United States. A large majority of the prominent Whigs of my State have already transmitted a recommendation to the Secty. of the Department of the Interior in my behalf but unfortunately none of them (with a few exceptions) are known by either member of the Cabinet or the President, and at the request of my political friends I have taken the privilege thus to trouble you, and ask the favor of you to give me a recommendation for said appointment. Perhaps it may not be improper for me to give you a short history of myself that you may be better prepared to decide as to my request, Fidelity, capacity etc. I came to this place some seven yrs ago from Virginia my native State to engage in the mercantile business, determined to abandon all political discussions and questions.
But on my arrival here I found the doctrines & arguments of the party so incompatible with the best interests of our common country & especially the West that I could not refrain from replying occasionally to their arguments, I soon found that I was again sailing on the tough sea of a politician. The Whigs of this district the next yr after my arrival nominated me for the legislature, I did not accept the nomination. I was still anxious to attend to my own business personally & never desired or sought prefferments of that character.
I was again nominated as a candidate for a delegate from this District to our late constitutional convention. I accepted said nomination & was successful, tho the District was at that time some twelve hundred Democratic majority. The part I took in the debates in that body are extant in the country I have given universal satisfaction to the Whigs of Illinois. I was again nominated & elected to the first Legislature under the amended Constitution from this district. I was also the Whig elector for this district in the late Presidential election, and since I have consented that my name might be presented to that appointment I am now anxious to be successful In order that you may better prepared to decide as to my claims I will give you the names of several Gentlemen in this State that are advocating my appointment (viz:) Hon. E. D. Baker, Hon. J. Y. Scommon, Hon. Judge David Davis, Hon. J. L. D. Morrison, Hon. J. Butterfield, Richard Yates, Hon. A. C. Hardin, U. F. Under, Hon. Benj. A. Bond, and many others.
The Hon. Wm L. Goggin, Hon. A. Fulton, Hon. G. H. Gilmer of Virginia together with others have also forwarded their testimony in my behalf to the Depart. The Hon. Henry Clay of your state has also given me a strong recommendation. I hope sir if you are so situated that you can comply that you will immediately transmit your testimony in my behalf to the proper department direct from your city in order to save time as delay might prove an overthrow to my chance of success, and apprise me of your course at the earliest convenient opportunity in order that I may know how to act understandingly & speak with certainty as to those that have given me such able assistance. I hope sir you will pardon me for thus troubling you.
I am under promise to my friends in Illinois to address you on the Subject & ask your assistance is my humble apology.
I am, Respectfully Your obt. servant,
George W. Rives.

P. S. The Hon. A. T. Bledsoe Professor in the University of Mississippi at Oxford will and has transmitted to the Department a letter of recommendation as to my education qualifications. Yours G. W. Rives.
Endorsed : Indian Agency
George W. Rives
ans'd. Aug. 1849.
J. J. C.

Mr. Rives' qualifications for the office of Internal Revenue Assessor, to which he was appointed by Lincoln in 1862, are set forth in the following letter from David Davis, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States:
St. Louis, Feb. 5, 1862.
To the President of the
United States.
Dear Sir—
If the Tax Bill passes Congress & the State does not assume the direct Tax which I hope she will—there will be, I suppose, an Assessor for the Income or Specific tax to be appointed. I understand our friend George W. Rives of Edgar County desires the place. You know him as well as I do and it is probably superfluous to write this letter.
He is a man of good sense and Judgement and I should think would have a proper appreciation of the different values to put on property.
Mr. Rives has always, since I have known him, been a good politician.
He has twice been considered by the people of Edgar for County Clerk. I do not know who the applicants are but don't believe that there could be any objection to Mr. Rives suitability for the place. His appointment would, I think, give satisfaction.
Your Friend,
David Davis.

George W. Rives made the acquaintance of his first wife, Mary Mayo (b. Feb. 11, 1816, in Floyd county, Kentucky), while on a visit from Virginia to his sister, Mrs. Cynthia Rives Dickenson, and while in Paris, Illinois, was stricken with fever and confined to the home of Col. Jonathan Mayo, brother of Mary Mayo, who nursed her future husband back to health.
Mary Mayo was a daughter of William James Mayo, born August 21, 1769, died August 1, 1849, who married April 11, 1790, Elizabeth Maddox Hancock, daughter of John Hancock and his wife, Elizabeth Maddox, whom he married October 15, 1757, in St. James Northam Parish, Goochland county, Virginia. William James Mayo was a son of Jacob Mayo (son of James Mayo, born December 11, 1711, died March 13, 1776, and Martha, his wife, died August 27, 1794), who was born August 1, 1744, died November 29, 1813, having married Susanna Isbell, born September 30, 1749, died October 6, 1851. The Mayos are said to have emigrated to Virginia from Wiltshire, England.¹
George W. Rives married Mary Mayo on June 13, 1839, and they resided for a time after their marriage in Virginia. After the death of Mrs. Rives, March 25, 1875, Mr. Rives married, 2nd, November 22, 1877, Marian McCall, born January 14, 1852, Prince Edwards Island, Canada, and now of Paris, Illinois, where her husband died September 8, 1892.

Research Notes

Although there is a marriage record from 1839 in Edgar County, Illinois, George appears to be listed on the 1840 census next to his father in Franklin County, Virginia. He is not listed in Edgar County, Illinois on the census.


Marriage1:  Illinois, Compiled Marriages, 1791-1850 (Ancestry)

1840 Census:  Franklin County, Virginia
1850 Census:  Edgar County, Illinois
1860 Census:  Edgar County, Illinois
1870 Census:  Edgar County, Illinois
1880 Census:  Edgar County, Illinois

¹ The dates relating to the Mayo family are taken from an old Mayo family bible in the possession of Mrs. J. C. Weir, of Springfield, Il1. This particular branch of the Mayo family emigrated from Virginia to Kentucky and thence to 1llinois.