"The Reavis Family" Book

               The Book

The Reavis Family by Marie Reavis Hall was published in the 1960s. Following are a few excerpts of special interest to all.


Since Reavis descendants are most numerous, in what is now Yadkin County, we would like to describe them in general ­ the ones remaining in the section being the last sons, John-2, Jesse-2, Joseph-3 (son of James-2). Who came here when much of the land was virtually unsettled. These people were modest, unpretentious , intelligent people fortified with a good supply of common sense. They have been independent, of necessity.

This has been a strong people as their longevity shows. Many have lived to be one hundred years of age.



In this year (1888) Finton Goss Reavis-5 in his 72nd year recorded what he knew about his family and ancestry. At this time he could recall much information passed to him by his grandfather, David Reavis-3, second son of James-2. His papers consisted of 70 pages of foolscap size, containing about 150 individuals, and professing to record the beginning of the Reavis family in Virginia.

Finton Goss had covered only one branch of the family, that of James-2, but he had established a nucleus by which to associate all other names and branches as discovered. He commented "A correct genealogy of the family is what we aim at rather than a history and although what we have is imperfect, it may be of some benefit as a start toward a final consummation of the end desired."

Elmo Reavis-7, of California found this 150 page manuscript among the papers of his deceased father and later aspired to carry out his grandfather's wishes to expand this genealogy and while so doing to add a bit of history.

From his final circular dated July 25, 1944. "It is my present intention to put some finishing touches on my manuscript and then to donate it to the genealogical collection of an appropriate library which one I do not know. ..'

This manuscript Mrs. Marie Reavis Hall of Yadkinville, NC located several years after becoming interested about 1962 in the family genealogy daughter of Elmo Reavis Mrs. John Bell of California, informed her a copy had been left to the North Carolina Library in Raleigh, N.C. and sent a copy of this manuscript for use in publication.

Except for some condensation and additions this history is presented much as Elmo Reavis prepared it.

Whom He Married

Unfortunately, Edward's wives are known to us by their fist names, which we learn from their signatures (by mark) on several deeds have come to hand as to Sarah in the period of her widowhood, which lasted twenty-seven years after Edward's death. But of Hannah we know nothing, merely suppose her to have been an Alley (Ally).

This inferred from the close association of Edward Reavis and Thomas Alley that is revealed in a court record: also by reason of their joint ownership of four hundred acres of land that was apparently the home of both families for many years. Also the existence of identical names of children in the two families adds color to our supposition. Seemingly some blood relation must have existed, so we assume that Hannah and Thomas Alley were brother and sister.

Thomas Alley and wife Frances appear to have had sons James, Edmund, David, William, Samuel, Thomas Jr., and perhaps others. This information we gather from various deed records. The name Edmund may have been written for Edward, in view of variations in spelling proper names current at the time. If so, then five of Alley's sons had the exact given names of the five sons of Edward and Hannah Reavis. This circumstance seems to be more than a coincidence, especially as the two families lived on the same farm, or adjoining farms, for many years.

We follow the Alley name through public records thereafter, we find that Thomas and Frances never left Henrico County, Virginia. Thomas died there interstate in 1773; Frances had died two years earlier. But the name James appears first to have owned property in Henrico County, then in Orange County, North Carolina, and thereafter he settled westward in Rowan County, traveling the same course as was taken by second and third generation Reavis families a little later own. Another son, Thomas Alley, Junior, for a time lived in Northampton County, where the record shows that in 1777 he signed as a witness on a deed made by Isham Reavis.

Miles Alley, possibly a brother, but whose true relationship is unknown to us, was also located in Northampton County, and there the records of 1772 show that he witnessed a deed given by James Reavis. We do not expect ever to be able to prove the exact relation of the two families, but it may have been that Thomas Alley, Senior and Hannah Reavis were brother and sister.

Gilliam, which we believe to have been the maiden name of Sarah Reavis, is of Norman origin; originally written Gillaumane, and in this country variously rendered as Gillam, Gillim, Gillum, Gillham, Gillian, and Gilliam. The name first appears in Virginia records in the year 1682, there as William Gilliam. John is the Gilliam families most common name; Jesse and Sarah are of frequent occurrence.

The names of the sons of Edward's first family may have been his own choice, or possibly Hannah his wife selected the names, or they may have been jointly chosen. But the names of the sons in the second family appear to have been Sarah's choice, - Jesse, the first born, named in hohor of her father Gilliam, and John the second son, named after her brother. This relationship seems obvious.

When, in 1747, Edward and Sarah Reavis moved into North Carolina with their young family, they were accompained by several of Edward's older married sons, and Jesse and John Gilliam moved down at about the same time. This group of families settled close together; over the years there were several exchanges of property betrween them, and descriptions in the deed records show certain of the farms to have adjoined one and another. A community of interest is apparent, and when Edward Reavis made his will in 1850 it is natural that John Gilliam should be called in to sign as a witness on the will. We might from this guess that John was the elder Gilliam, were it not for the fact that Jesse Gilliam's name appears earliest in the public records, and for the further fact that Sarah named her first son Jesse, not John.

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Created February 2 1999. Send comments to: James Shuman
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