An Evans Estate Auction: Phipps Presence & Connections

A deed from Halifax County, Virginia, dated 1793 and referring to George Reaves or Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina, father in law of Samuel Phips or Phipps, has been controversial because it has upended earlier genealogical claims.

Both Phips and Reaves or Reeves were living in Wilkes County, North Carolina at the time, with George Reeves showing up in records in Grayson County, Virginia and Samuel Phips in adjacent Ashe County, North Carolina from 1800 on. That was the case except when Phips of Ashe County, North Carolina is later shown to be an heir of George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia.

Various records demonstrate a relationship between the Phips/Phipps and Reaves/Reeves families both prior to and after the simultaneous appearance of both Samuel Phipps and George Reeves in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Various arguments have been advanced as to why this supposedly could not possibly be the same George Reeves or Reaves. One of them is that he was never proven to have lived in Halifax County, Virginia. (Who said that he did live there?) Another is that the relevant records, if connected, show the family as having lived in too many locations. (Various posts in this blog show conclusively that the Phips or Fips or Phipps family and various associated families, including Reeves, Reaves, Rives, etc. were extremely and unusually highly mobile, at least prior to their arrival in the Ashe/Grayson area.)

Paul Heinegg, in his highly acclaimed two-volume set on what he terms “free African-Americans” (others have often termed some of them part Native American) has referred to John Epps of Halifax County as having sometimes gone by the surname Evans. Epps, according to that source, was evidently an illegitimate son who came out of the Epps and Evans families.

For that reason, it seemed logical to look at 1855 estate records of Barnabus (Barnabas) Evans in Ashe County, North Carolina. Records of buyers at early estate auctions often list various relatives. Here, we see various names which should interest both Phipps and Reeves researchers, including the name of “Wilborn Phipps.”

This would almost certainly have been the Wilborn Phipps who was born about 1828-1829 in North Carolina (presumably Ashe County) according to the 1850 and 1860 censuses. He appears as “Wilburn” in the “Recollections” of John Calvin Swindall, where he is said to have lived near the mouth of Brush Creek.

Wilborn Phips or Phipps is said to have married Caroline Toliver, born about 1828 in North Carolina (1850 census). Wilborn appears to have been a son of Joseph and Patsy (White) Phips or Phipps, with Joseph Phipps having been a son of Samuel Phipps or Phips of Ashe County, and his wife Elizabeth (“Betty”) Reeves. Betty was a daughter of the George Reeves of the controversial 1793 Halifax County, Virginia deed.

Another child of Joseph and Patsy (White) Phips or Phipps was Mary (“Polly”) Phips or Phipps. She was born in 1834 (tombstone inscription) in Ashe County and married John Wesley Swindall. He is likely to have been the “Wesley Swindle” listed in the record.

Among the names in the estate auction record are the following. Not included are other surnames which were also present and with their own additional associations and intermarriages with the Phips family:

  • Abram Evans (again, John Epps was also known as John Evans)
  • David Evans (another Evans)
  • Enoch Reaves (possibly the later Enoch Reeves, born about 1827, who apparently married Margaret (“Peggie”) Cox, or possibly the earlier Enoch Reeves, born about 1801, who married Mazy; the earlier Enoch was a son of George Reeves/Jane Osborne whose father was George Reeves, Sr. of Grayson County, Viginia, father in law of Samuel Phips of Ashe County, North Carolina)
  • George Reaves (obviously later than the one who was the father in law of Samuel Phips of Ashe County; that one died in 1811, as did his son, also named George (killed by a Toliver); perhaps this was the George D. Reaves of Grayson County who was born about 1820)
  • William Spurlin (Samuel Phips’s son Jesse married a Spurlin)
  • Wesley Swindall (probably John Wesley Swindall who married Polly Phipps or Phips)
  • James Toliver (see Solomon, below)
  • Solomon Toliver (remember that Joseph Phips married a Toliver; numerous other Toliver relationships exist)
  • Leander White (again, Joseph Phipps married a Patsy White, who lived in the same household as Samuel Phips late in his life)

David Evans bought a mattlock, hay forks, scythes, stocks, a rake, 3 vessels, some sort of soap, a bee stand, a cupboard, 4 “gums,” a churn, and a tub. The items purchased by Abram Evans were a “riddle,” whatever that was, and its contents, 2 sieves, a last (presumably a shoe last; other shoe tools were also sold), a whetstone, a cow bell, and a small box.

Enoch Reaves bought a bucket “&c” and a hackle. A hackle was used for dressing flax, and there was evidence that the Evans family was involved in wool production. (Items in the auction included 10 head of sheep, a sheep bell, warping bars, and a flax brake.)

The purchases of George Reaves were 2 “bed quilts” and a blanket. William Spurlin (recorded as “Wm. Sperlin” and “Wm. Spurlin” and “Wm. Spirlin”) purchased iron “spaneels,” 2 plows, a bell, an axe, a hand saw, “stilliards,” “Salt & tub,” more “tubs” with “gum & Barrel,” a bed, and 2 blankets.

Wesley Swindall (listed as Wesley Swindle) bought an oven and lid, presumably some sort of so-called Dutch oven. Solomon Toliver (recorded as Solomon Tolliver) bought a plough and clevis, while James Toliver (recorded as Jas. Tolliver) purchased a “Basket tub & comb,” in addition to a bed, a blanket, and 4 pillows. Leander White was responsible for buying four chairs.


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