William Reeves was probably born circa 1740 in either Virginia or North Carolina. The area of North Carolina where his father had settled by 1746 had been part of Craven County which then passed into Johnston County. Orange County had been part of Bladen and parts of each were included in Wake County when it was created in 1771. His father is known to be William Reeves, Sr. as evidenced by a deed in Johnston County Deed Book D-1, page 63 dated 10 October 1763 wherein William Reeves, Sr. deeded to William Reeves, Jr. the land south of the Neuse River and east of Ellowby's creek that he had patented in 1746.
The presence of the elder William Reeves in this area 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)". The deed for this transaction, Henry McCulloch to William Reves, was recorded in Granville County Deed Book A, Page 19
on the 5th of November 1746 and describes William Reeves as "of Johnston County". This land between the Neuse and Ellerbe Creek remained in this Reeves' family for 52 years until it was conveyed by the second William Reeves to Nathaniel Jones, Sr. on October 16, 1798.
William Reeves residence prior to his move to Kentucky is indicated as Halifax, Virginia as well as Granville or Warren Counties in North Carolina in various undocumented sources; however, William Reeves appears countless times in the minutes of the Wake County Court from the county's inception in 1771 through 1803. He is recognized as a Revolutionary War Patriot based upon his civil service as a tax assessor in Wake County during the revolution by the DAR. The Wake County Court records alone clearly establish his continued residence there. From the 1770's, he serves on juries, is overseer of the road from Munns Store to the county line, is assessor and tax gatherer in Captain Woodson Daniel's district and from 1787 to 1803 is a Magistrate Justice of the Wake County Court. Prior to the formation of Wake County, he is listed along with his father in Orange County Court Minutes and various deeds. In August of 1760, as William Reaves, Jr. he registered his cattle brand in Orange County.
The identity of the siblings of William Reeves is unknown; however, George Reeves of Orange & Johnston Counties throughout the 1760's to 1778 appears to be for he is associated in deeds with William Reeves, Jr. and Sr. When George Reeves died in 1778, his 3 year old son, John, was apprenticed to Woodson Daniel.
The Reeves family has an affinity for the given name William which adds to the difficulties in establishing the identity of each particular William Reeves. One of the constants in the adult life of William Reeves who died in Madison County, Kentucky is the continued presence of Woodson Daniel in the various records of his life. Whether theirs was a family relationship or friendship is unknown, but their connection is of long duration, spanning 30 years. Woodson Daniel is witness to a deed for William Reeves on December 10, 1763, appearing in other records through the intervening years until on 7 June 1791 he appoints William Reeves as an executor of his will. A prior relationship may have existed between the Reeves and Daniel families as William Reeves, Sr. is security for James Daniel's guardianship of the orphans of John Gouge in Orange County Court Minutes of August 1760. John Gouge was the father of Nancy Gouge Daniel, wife of Woodson Daniel.
Another of the many errors flooding the internet regarding William Reeves is the identification of his wife as Fortune Rhodes. This was included in the publication the Reeves Review which pertained specifically to the Reeves family of Granville County, North Carolina. It also identified William Reeves of Madison County, Kentucky as the son of James Reeves of Guilford County, North Carolina. Neither of these relationships is a fact. Fortune Burton was the wife of Malachi Reeves, son of James Reeves of Guilford County. After the death of Malachi Reeves, Fortune Reeves married her neighbor, John Rhodes, in 1788. It is a sad commentary on modern genealogy that one badly researched, incorrect assumption, once published can be universally broadcast, even becoming accepted as accurate information without question. This incorrect family relationship is everywhere, on countless family trees all over the world wide web yet there is not a shred of documentation to support the claim.
The Reeves DNA Project has also proven that William Reeves of Madison County, Kentucky was not a member of the Reeves family of Granville and Guilford Counties. Three descendants of his son George Reeves are genetic matches to descendants of Lt. George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia. A common ancestor has not been identified at this time.
The only information at present regarding the wife of William Reeves is the given name Anne (Annie). This comes from Wake County Court Minutes of September 1791 as follows:
Ordered that John Alston, to whom David and Hester Weaver, Children of Penny Weaver was bound apprentice, be summoned to make his Personal appearance at our next County Court & that he bring said Children with him, into Court, then and there to shew cause if any he hath, wherefore the said Children should not be removed from their apprenticeship, ordered that a summons issue for William Reeves and Any his Wife as Witnesses for the Orphans.
Anne Reeves died sometime after September of 1791 and before October 1798 for there is no dower relinquishment in either of the deeds William Reeves executed on the 25th of October 1798 to his sons William, Jr. and Charles. In the Hillsborough, Wake County Census of 1800, William Reeves and two slaves are the only members of the household.
His last appearance in the Wake County Court minutes is in May of 1803 after which he and his son William, Jr., his wife and five children follow the youngest sons, George and Jeremiah to Madison County, Kentucky.
He left no last will and testament, but on October 23, 1822, his six surviving children along with the attorney-in-fact for the heirs of deceased daughter Sarah Reeves Geer conveyed to the youngest, Jeremiah, his land on Otter and Muddy Creeks in Madison County, Kentucky.
The compilers of the Reeves Review apparently did little or no research when including William Reeves of Madison County, Kentucky in that book and placing him in the James Reeves family of Guilford County with an imaginary wife. The Madison County records regarding the probate of his estate have numerous references to his children located in Wake County, North Carolina and Halifax County, Virginia. It would not have been difficult to find ample documentation of his life in Wake County where he was a prominent member of the community as well as a Justice of the Court for many years. This site was created for those of his descendants who are interested in finding the true William Reeves of the Neuse and Ellerbe Creek.