In response to an earlier post about Phipps Eastern Cherokee Applications (ECAs), one reader posted a comment containing a question. That comment asks, “What is the source of the statement: ‘George Reeves [abt 1745?-1811], for example, who was the father of Betty Reeves who married Samuel Phipps [abt 1762/3-1854] of Ashe County, North Carolina, appears to have had Halifax County, Virginia connections to the Epps family’?”
A Halifax County, Virginia deed in Deed Book 16, p. 128, as abstracted in Charles Hughes Hamlin, Virginia Ancestors and Adventurers, refers to “George Reaves of the county of Wilkes in North Carolina.” That Halifax County deed, dated 6 Sep 1793, also refers to him as being one of the heirs (“legatees”) of John Eppes, deceased.
The George Reaves (Reeves) of this deed would appear to be the same George who was Samuel Phipps’ father-in-law. No other George Reaves or Reeves seems to have been living in the Wilkes County area at the time. Assuming that this is the case, then this deed appears to connect George Reeves with not only the Epps or Eppes family of Halifax County, but with both the Reeves/Reaves/Rives and Epps/Eppes families, two families intimately associated, of eastern Virginia including Albemarle Parish (not to be confused with Albemarle County).
Before living in Halifax County, Virginia, the Epps family shows up in various records in Lunenburg County, Virginia. Lunenburg County was formed in 1746 from Brunswick County, where various early Phipps individuals appear.
Note, for example, that a Joseph Phipps is listed in connection with a burgesses election 2 Dec 1768 in Brunswick County. A certain William Phips appears in Brunswick County probate records in 1770 and 1771. A Joseph Phips filed a Revolutionary War public service claim pertaining to his residence in Brunswick County.
The Epps family of the Halifax County, Virginia deed also appears to connect with Sussex County, Virginia. Numerous records show the Eppes/Epps and Rives/Reeves/Reaves families as very closely associated in early Eastern Virginia records. This seems especially true in Albemarle Parish (not to be confused with Albemarle County), which was in Surry County and later in Sussex County in Virginia.
In addition, a number of references refer to Phipps individuals acting as godfather in Albemarle Parish christenings. These include John Phipps (1740s, 1770s) and Benjamin Phipps, who was very active in standing in as godfather (if all the records pertain to the same individual) in the 1760s and 1770s.
A certain Jordan Phipps was born in Albemarle Parish in 1769, a son of Benjamin and Martha Phipps, and is likely the Jordan who married there (Sussex County) in 1793. He may also be the “Jourdon Fips” who then shows up in Wilkes County, North Carolina in the 1800 census as having been born between 1756 and 1774 (age 26-44).
Obviously we need more information regarding this Jordan, but could it be possible that he links the Phipps family of Albemarle Parish, Sussex County, Virginia, with the Phipps family of Wilkes County, North Carolina, in the same manner that George Reeves appears to link the Rives/Reeves family of Albemarle Parish, Virginia with the Reeves family of Wilkes County, North Carolina? Is it possible that this background, if this is the case, could even explain the affinity between the family of Samuel Phipps (eventually of Ashe County, North Carolina) and that of his father-in-law George Reeves (eventually of neighboring Grayson County, Virginia)?
The apparent Reeves/Epps connection suggests that assuming that George Reeves really did marry Jane Burton, this would have been a second (or subsequent) marriage and that he likely earlier married an Epps or Eppes. Genealogists seem to attach Elizabeth (“Betty”) Reeves, who married Samuel Phipps, to an earlier marriage anyway, dating her birth to some time before the apparently undocumented marriage to Jane Burton.
This also suggests that the often-copied pedigree for George Reeves, which has him born at Drewry’s Bluff, Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of a Thomas Phipps of Essex County, Virginia, is almost certainly wrong. No proof, apparently, of that relationship has ever been found anyway. As a web page titled “George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia” suggests, “Some have speculated” that Drewry’s Bluff and Thomas Reeves fit into George’s genealogical background, but, “thus far, there is nothing to document this connection.”
By the way, Paul Heinegg discusses the Epps family at length in his book Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. Numerous suggestions have been made elsewhere that the Reeves or Phipps families were characterized by intermarriage with Melungeons or Native Americans (or were, themselves one or the other). Heinegg, however, tends to discount or discredit claims to Melungeon or Native American ancestry, favoring the idea of African-American origin for this family (and other families) instead.
By the way, Heinegg mentions an illegitimate birth which may impinge on the John Eppes of the deed mentioned above.
So, we seem to have a Reeves connection from Albemarle Parish (Sussex County), Virginia to Wilkes County, North Carolina, and a highly likely Phipps connection from Albemarle Parish, Virginia to Wilkes County, North Carolina, involving two families that intermarried. Is this migration trail where we need to be looking for further information that may answer the seemingly eternal question as to the NC Phipps origins?
A little about the Albemarle Parish area: This was a pre-Revolutionary War Episcopal parish that reflected the political and civil dominance of the Church of England in the affairs of Virginia at the time. Albemarle Parish should not be confused with Albemarle County.
James City County, Virginia was created in 1634 as one of Virginia’s eight original shires, and was located on both sides (north and south) of the James River. Then Surry County was created in 1652 from the part of James City County that was south (actually, more like southwest) of the river.
When Surry County was created, it contained two parishes which formerly had been a part of James City County. These were Lawne’s Creek Parish, formed in 1640, and Southwark Parish, formed in 1647.
In 1732, part of Surry County was added to Brunswick County. Then, in 1738, Lawne’s Creek and Southwark Parishes were restructured. This resulted in the area north of the Blackwater River being called Southwark Parish, and the area south (southwest) of the river being given the new name of Albemarle Parish.
Sussex County was formed in 1754 (some sources say 1753) from the part of Surry County that was south of the Blackwater River. This left Surry County as being located north of the Blackwater and as a part of Southwark Parish. The new county of Sussex was in Albemarle Parish. In fact, all of Albemarle Parish was then located in Sussex County.
This, then, means that between 1738 and 1754, Albemarle Parish was in Surry County. Then, from 1754 until the parishes were abolished around the time of the Revolutionary War, Albemarle Parish was in Sussex County.
Please note the COMMENTS below.