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Archive for the ‘Reed’ Category


This week I received word that my supplemental application to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been accepted. It has taken almost two years.

All applications for membership go to the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D. C. Initial applications take priority and approvals come in a few weeks. The society wants new members. They know that dragging their feet when someone is interested in joining may discourage that person from continuing the process.

Submissions for additional lines of descent take longer to review. Only women who are already members send those in. The approval process for them takes a back seat to the initial applications, and that is why my supplemental took so long.

I joined the DAR in 2021 based on my paternal grandmother’s lineage from Gershom Hall of Massachusetts. He was a private in the militia serving on the coast of Cape Cod. Their mission was to guard the coastline and prevent a British invasion that never came. Because Gershom Hall was already in the DAR database with proven Revolutionary War service, the organization needed only to review my genealogical proof. I was accepted within a few weeks.

The next year, I filed a supplemental application for my paternal grandfather’s ancestor, Robert Kirkham. He was a Virginian who served at Boonesborough, Kentucky. This is the application that took so long to review and approve. Robert Kirkham was also in the database already, but my genealogical proof of descent from him went into the slower pipeline. It took 23 months to receive an answer.

The DAR knows this is a problem. Last week they announced that they have hired 5 additional genealogists to work on the backlog of supplemental applications.

Now I wonder whether I should send in another. I have already done the easiest ones for my family.

I am looking at two possibilities, but I do not know whether I can make a convincing case for either one:

  1. Levi Carter, Sr. Levi is a proven patriot in the DAR database. The Carters settled in east Tennessee during the Revolutionary War, and many of them, including Levi, Sr., served. But was he my ancestor? I can prove my descent from John Carter (1790-1841), but his parentage is unclear. He may have been a son or grandson of Levi, or perhaps they were related in some other way. Work remains to be done on this line.
  2. Caleb Reed. He lived in present-day Fayette County, Pennsylvania during the war, but I have no proof of military service for him. He is not in the DAR database. He did, however, pay taxes to support the war effort. That is enough for the DAR to recognize him as a patriot. Other family information for him is lacking, so I need to do some additional research to compile a complete application for him.

If I can pull together a convincing file on either of these men, I plan to submit another supplemental application this year. I wonder how long the approval process will be.

Caleb Reed’s Revolutionary War Service

Caleb Reed (1756-abt. 1835) was my 4th great-grandfather in my direct paternal line. I would love to prove that he supported the Patriot cause in the Revolutionary War. Evidence has been elusive even though he was the right age to have volunteered for military service.

We know his brother Joshua (1757-1838) served. He was in the Virginia militia although the family lived in what is now Fayette County, PA. The border between Pennsylvania and Virginia was unsettled in 1776.

So far, no record of military service during the revolutionary years has been found for Caleb. This seems strange given his age and his subsequent service as a Captain in Kentucky militia when he was older. I will keep looking for a military record for him.

In the meantime, we know that people supported the cause in other ways. They may have sold supplies to the Army. Some took the Oath of Allegiance.

Last weekend I attended a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) workshop for some assistance on finding proof of service for Caleb. The facilitator suggested that I use the Pennsylvania Supply Tax lists. People paid this tax to fund the Patriot Army. Perhaps Caleb paid this tax.

The source she gave me listed the 1783 Supply taxpayers only in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In 1783, Caleb Reed lived in Westmoreland County in an area that was carved out to become Fayette County later that year. I do not know whether the Supply Tax lists for Westmoreland County survive.

My next research task will be to find the Westmoreland County tax records. If Caleb’s name appears there, I will know that he supported the revolution in this way. I could add his name to the DAR’s list of recognized Patriots.


Changing Projects for 2024

In this final week of the year, I am setting aside the old research project and preparing to begin the new. The Reeds belonged in 2023. The Carters will take center stage in 2024. Again, I will work on my third great-grandparents.

Just as Anne and Thomas Reed did, Mary and John Carter migrated to Coles County, Illinois about 1830. The Carters traveled from Tennessee.

For the Reed research, I had a tremendous amount of paperwork collected by many family members. It covered several generations of Reeds from my own grandfather to Thomas’ grandfather. I have sought to organize it and discard duplicates, focusing on Thomas and Anne first.

I sorted it into piles by generation. Now, at the end of the year, I have eliminated Thomas’ and his son Caleb’s stacks. Three others remain. They will have to wait until the Reeds come up again in my research rotation. Again, the Reed bin will be full and look unmanageable.

In comparison, I have little material on my Carter family. My family did not retain much information about them. They seem to pose a more difficult line to follow with lots of family members and scarce records.

Next week I will begin the quest to learn more about John Carter (1790-1841) and Mary Templeton (1792-1857). Again, I will pull out the notes and documents my cousins collected. I will look at online trees to see if I can verify what if find there.

The new year awaits.



Remembering Pearl Harbor Day

Today marks 82 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The event pushed America to enter World War II. My parents were school students then, but my uncle Owen H. Reed was already in the military. It was his birthday.

Owen was born December 7, 1922. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he turned 18 in 1940. Just one year later the country was at war, and he became a career military man.

He flew 35 combat missions over Japan and Japanese controlled territory during WWII.

On August 10, 1944 he was a crew member of the longest bombing mission of the war. The plane left Ceylon, bombed a refinery at Sumatra, and dropped mines over the Moesi River. They flew 3800 miles nonstop.

Owen later served in Korea and Vietnam. For his years of service, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Owen was not the only family member with a Pearl Harbor Day birthday. One of my brothers was born that day, and so was one of my nephews. It is an easy date for us to remember.

But my uncle was always the one with the closest connection to Pearl Harbor Day.

Thank you, Owen, for bravely facing the danger that began on that long ago birthday.


Two Men Named Caleb Reed

The name Caleb occurs often in my Reed family. One must be careful not to confuse them in the genealogical record. Several such men who lived in Kentucky and Indiana during the early 1800s appear as one in the online record and need to be separated into their individual identities.

Caleb C. Reed

  1. He was born, say, 1788 although the 1820 U.S. census for Shelby County, Kentucky gives his age as over 45 (born by 1775, or prior to his parents’ marriage). The 1810 census includes a male 16-26 (born 1784-94) in his father’s household. A new 16-year-old male appeared in the father’s household in 1804 (born 1788).
  2. He married Prudence Kirkham at Harrison County, Indiana on March 18, 1812. The families were close because two of Prudence’s siblings also married two of Caleb’s. The Kirkhams had relocated to Indiana by 1812 while the Reeds remained in Kentucky. Caleb C. Reed was about 24 years old at the time of this marriage, and he took his bride back to Kentucky.
  3. Caleb C. Reed purchased land with his brothers Thomas and John in Shelby County, Kentucky in 1817.
  4. Caleb C. Reed passed away before 1829. In January of that year, his infant heirs Milbourne, Mildred, Claybourne, Sarah, Shelbourne, and Seybourne received title to their share of the land Caleb C. had owned with Thomas and John Reed.
  5. No burial place for Caleb C. Reed has been found. He was likely buried on family land in Kentucky with the location now lost.

Caleb S. Reed

  1. Caleb S. Reed, born in Harrison County, Indiana in 1793, the same year as Prudence Kirkham Reed, died in 1866. He is buried in the same Indiana cemetery as Prudence Kirkham Reed. They are linked as a married couple on the Find A Grave site. Yet we know Prudence was the widow of Caleb C. long before Caleb S. Reed’s death in 1866.
  2. The cemetery marker for Caleb S. Reed is weathered, but one reader thinks it tells that Caleb S. Reed was about 19 when he died (born abt. 1846, long after the Kirkham-Reed marriage in 1812).
  3. Caleb S. Reed is also linked on the site as the sibling of John Reed. Kentucky records naming both Caleb and John always give Caleb’s middle initial as C., not S.
  4. Find A Grave links the children of Caleb C. Reed, named in his 1829 estate papers, to Caleb S. Reed who died in 1866.

None of the contributed information on the Find A Grave memorial for Caleb S. Reed makes sense. It seems clear to me that the Caleb buried in Indiana in 1866 cannot be the same man who died in Kentucky about 1828. I believe Find A Grave has Prudence Kirkham Reed linked to the wrong husband. I cannot fix this because I do not manage the memorials for Prudence and Caleb S. Reed.

These records were conflated on the Family Search tree, too, but I believe I have managed to untangle them there.

One must be so cautious when a family regularly uses the same forename for its sons. People who have similar information are not necessarily the same person. Two different men deserve their own identities.

Look Beyond the Index

At a recent genealogy meeting, the speaker reminded us that an index is only that. We do not stop there in our search for an ancestor. We follow up by viewing the original source.

I applied this concept as I did my research on the Reed family this year. My cousins had located our ancestor Caleb Reed’s name in an 1833 supporting affidavit for a Revolutionary War pension application. They made a copy of his statement.

Although this was not an index, I thought it best to follow the same advice to look at the original source and review the entire application file. I wondered what else might be in there to shed light on the life of my ancestor.

Revolutionary War pension applications can be found online at the subscription Fold3 database. I searched there for the applicant mentioned in Caleb’s affidavit, Joseph Young, who had served from Pennsylvania.

When I located his record, I found the affidavit executed by Caleb Reed. I also found affidavits signed by two of his siblings, Joshua Reed and Abigail Reed Stillwell.

These papers gave three different but similar recollections of their friend Joseph Young and his service. This unfortunate man had contracted smallpox at his military camp. Caleb’s father heard of this and sent him to bring Joseph back to Fayette County. Joseph was ill for months and lost an eye to the disease. The Reeds housed him during his ordeal.

Both Caleb and Joshua mentioned their father in their statements, but they did not name him. Abigail’s affidavit provides this crucial genealogical information when she refers to her father Thomas.

I would have missed out on this important evidence if I had stopped with the affidavit that my cousins had transcribed. Abigail, by including that detail of her father’s name, gives me the critical link between generations. It was well worth my time to read the entire 37-page application file.

So do not stop with an index or one piece of paper from an entire file. Locate the original source and look at everything available there.

The Shaws Appear in Court Records

Court order books can provide good family information for some lucky researchers. As I have combed the early 19th century books for Shelby County, Kentucky, I have come across a few gems. This week I viewed an affidavit taken from one Fanny Shaw.

I do not have Shaw ancestors, but a Reed daughter, Abigail, married Joseph Shaw on January 1, 1817. Fanny was Joseph’s mother.

The affidavit from the November 1820 court session does not state why she needed to have family information recorded in an official record. She refers to the heirs of her husband John, so perhaps the details were needed to settle his estate or transfer land titles.

This rich record provides much detail about the Shaw family at a time when family members were not listed by name on the U. S. census:

  1. John Shaw was born in England and arrived in America in 1784,
  2. John’s first wife was Jane Jones,
  3. John and Jane had 5 children, but only a son, also named John, survived,
  4. The younger John Shaw resided in Leesburg, Virginia in 1820,
  5. John Shaw and Fanny had four children who were John’s heirs: Joseph Shaw, Benjamin Shaw, Jesse Shaw, and Elizabeth Shaw Kester.

A Shaw descendant would be thrilled to find this document. Even I was excited to see it, and the Shaws were in-laws to my Reeds. Perhaps Abigail Reed Shaw benefited from an inheritance her husband received from John Shaw.

Other families, too, should look at the Shelby County Court Order books. They contain so much more than names of road overseers and tavern keepers. Several Revolutionary War veterans had their statements of service filed therein.

It takes a lot of time to learn the old handwriting scripts and go through the volumes. I think it is worth the effort in case one’s family had a reason to appear in court and provide some good biographical information.

The Shelby County Court Order books are available for viewing on the Family Search website.

Wrapping Up

Each year at the end of October, I wind up my annual research project and begin writing up my findings. That time has arrived for the work on Thomas Reed (1783-1852) and Ann Kirkham (1782-1869).

These ancestors settled in Illinois when their children were already well-grown. The local Reed descendants were proud of their heritage and preserved much of the genealogy from the time the family arrived there in 1829 until the present. Cousins had combed the records for every scrap of information, leaving little else for me to find.

Once they had gathered it up, one wrote a book about Thomas and his descendants. Michael Hayden published The Reeds of Ashmore in 1988.

His book did not address the Reed history before their arrival in Illinois. For earlier information on Thomas, I needed to look at records from Nelson, Shelby, and Spencer Counties, Kentucky.

There again, the cousins had located a lot. One passed all that research on to me.

A source I do not think they consulted was the county Court Order books. I spent hours this year reading them on the Family Search website. Thomas Reed did not appear there often, but I found that his father Caleb (1756-abt. 1835) certainly did.

Instead of spending my year gathering material on Thomas as I had expected to do, I kept adding to the pile of information about Caleb. This gave me insight into Kentucky life during the early years of its statehood when Thomas grew up there. Those events shaped him, even if he did not appear in the records much.

Armed with this information, next week I will begin my character sketch of Thomas Reed and his wife Ann. The information I found this year allows me to include his life in Kentucky in addition to his years in Illinois.

Verifying a Family Story

Caleb Robertson Reed (1841-1903) was my great-grandfather’s cousin. R, as he was known, never married. He had no descendants to remember him. That task fell to other Reeds.

My Reed branch has a family story about his death. Our version differs from that told by other cousins.

According to our tale, R fell ill while living in his lifelong hometown of Ashmore, Illinois. He sought treatment in St. Louis, MO but passed away there. His body was sent to Terre Haute, IN, a larger city not too far from Ashmore. His cousin Thomas Logan Reed (1860-1925) met the train and escorted his body back to Ashmore for burial. Thomas served as Executor of R’s estate.

While doing some family research, I looked at R’s Find A Grave memorial. The site claims he died at Terre Haute, not St. Louis. The relative who created the memorial had heard the other version of the family story.

Who had the correct information about where R had died? I decided to find out.

It proved simple enough. The Family Search website has the death register for St. Louis County available online. There I found a listing for C. R. Reed who died at the Mullanphy Hospital in St. Louis on December 30, 1903. There was a notation that the body was returned to Ashmore, Illinois for burial.

I will need to ask the person who manages R’s FindAGrave memorial to update his biography with the correct death information.

After that, the next step in R’s story is to resolve conflicting claims about whether he served in the Civil War. Some cousins say so….

A Kentucky Land Title Mess

Last week I wrote about my ancestor Thomas Reed’s land acquisitions in Illinois. Before he arrived there when he was in his mid-40’s, he had lived in Kentucky. He had land there, too.

Thomas was part of an extended family of Reeds in rural Shelby, later Spencer, County, Kentucky. All the men had farms.

Thomas’ ownership arrangement was unusual. He and his brothers Caleb and John together acquired an undivided tract of 311 acres in 1817. They were to pay for it in 4 installments, but payment terms were not specified.

Later court and land records state that the brothers proceeded to divide the land among themselves into unequal parcels. They never formalized this agreement.

Nature has a way of confounding these loose land titles. In subsequent years, Caleb Reed and the grantors all died. Somehow the men’s father became involved by “holding a bond” from a third party.

I have yet to figure out exactly what was going on here.

By the 1830’s, it became time to straighten out this mess. The father had moved to Indiana and transferred the bond to Thomas Reed. John and Thomas and their widowed sister-in-law wanted to leave Kentucky, too.

In order to sell the land, they needed to bring a court case to regularize the land title. The County Commissioners interviewed the parties and determined that the Reeds had fulfilled the terms of their deal to purchase the tract. The informal land division among the brothers had been fair.

The Court took the Commissioners’ recommendation and vested title in the Reeds. They turned around and sold their holdings to a neighbor.

This entire episode could have been avoided if the Reeds had signed and recorded appropriate documentation as they went along. I wonder how much it cost them to get a quiet title to the tract they had purchased.

It was interesting to note that the Reeds seemed to have been on good terms with one another all along. This would have been even messier if they had been fighting amongst themselves.