George Reeves: Wilkes Co., NC; Grayson Co., VA

George Reeves was a well-known early settler of western Virginia and North Carolina. He is believed to have been born around 1735-1745 in Virginia and appears to have died in 1811 in Grayson County. In March 1811, he resigned as Justice of the Peace in that county, according to court records, then in March of that year his estate was being divided among his heirs.

Large numbers of genealogists have posted on the Internet that he married Jane Burton, although documentation appears to be another matter. If he did, indeed, marry her, it appears that it was probably his second marriage.

The generally-touted pedigree for George shows him as having been born at a place called Drewry’s Bluff in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of a certain Thomas Reeves and his wife Sarah. The problem is that no one seems to have any proof of this relationship, and some openly acknowledge that any documentation is lacking.

A newly discovered record may point in the direction of a different ancestry for George Reeves. From about 1793 on, George Reeves appears in various records in Grayson County, Virginia, before that in Wilkes County, North Carolina. A deed dated 6 September 1793 in Halifax County, Virginia refers specifically to George “Reaves” of Wilkes County, North Carolina as being among the heirs (“legates”) of John Epps, deceased.

The deed refers to the heirs as being the following:

Of Halifax County, Virginia: Nathaniel Epps, Moses Epps, David Powell, Sr., John Comer, Edy Epps, and Temperance Epps.

Of Lunenburg County, Virginia:  Ambrose Gresham.

Of Wilkes County, North Carolina: George Reaves.

This document appears to connect the George Reeves/Reaves of Grayson County, Virginia and, earlier, Wilkes County, North Carolina, with the Epps family of Halifax County, Virginia. The fact that he was an heir would suggest that most probably he had married into the Epps family (also known as Eppes) and that wife was now deceased.

If so, that would suggest that the mother of George’s daughter Elizabeth Reeves, who married Samuel Phipps, was quite possibly an Epps and not Jane Burton. Elizabeth’s birthdate is said to have been 1762. This appears to have been before George Reaves appears in records in the vicinity of Wilkes County, North Carolina, Montgomery County, Virginia, and Grayson County, Virginia.

This Epps family appears to have probably been either a mixed-race or Native American family. That would likely explain why, according to the 1929 testimony by descendant Mary Hollifield, Elizabeth Reeves had referred to herself as “Portuguese Indian.” The term “Portuguese Indian” indicates a mixed-race identity that most people would term “Melungeon.” If her mother was NOT an Epps, then from where did Elizabeth Reeves derive “Portuguese Indian” roots?

The Halifax County deed would appear to connect George Reeves with the Epps or Eppes family that appears in Halifax County but earlier in Lunenburg County and Surry County, Virginia. This would, in turn, appear to connect George Reeves with an earlier George Rives (Reeves).

One of the more noteworthy records pertaining to the earlier George is a Surry County, Virginia will, dated 4 April 1744, for William Moore. The will was witnessed by George Rives and Richard Rives, as well as Christopher Tatum. (The Tatum family appears to have married into the Eppes family.) That will refers to one of William Moore’s daughters, Susannah, as having married an Eppes.

All of this would suggest a much more plausible ancestry for George Reeves than the often-copied but apparently never documented link to his supposed parents, Thomas and Sarah Reeves. Further research in this family may prove the Eppes/Epps link conclusively; if so, it would upend the Internet genealogies of perhaps hundreds of genealogists. If, however, George was a son of Thomas and Sarah, where is the proof?


3 responses to “George Reeves: Wilkes Co., NC; Grayson Co., VA

  1. Also, the Epes line to which you are referring were definitely from England, and descendants can even become members of the Jamestown Society, through excellent documentation. They seem to be descended from Francis (I) Epes/Epps/Eppes. This would preclude the Melungeon theory as well.

    • No, the idea behind mixed race identity is that races are MIXED. They become mixed through intermarriages or through relationships outside of marriage with those of other families.

  2. I am total confused, can someone help me? The Epps that is talked about here are they in the same lienage of Joshua Epps who married Elizabeth (Betty) Smith. I know the had one daughter Milison that Married Joshua Clay( there were more children, but don’t know who they were.The Epps I am talking about all so came from Halifax co. Va. Please e-mail me.

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