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Archive for the ‘Reed’ Category

Revolutionary War Soldiers

As Independence Day approaches, my thoughts turn to those family members who served in the Revolutionary War:

  1. Gershom Hall (1760-1844). This Harwich man served a 90-day stint guarding the Massachusetts coast to prevent a British invasion. I joined the DAR based on his service record.
  2. Robert Kirkham. This Virginian served at Boonesborough. He took part in a raid across the Ohio River to attack a Shawnee village, preventing them from aiding the British. I have a supplemental DAR application based on his service pending at the DAR.
  3. John Day. Another Virginian, he served in the militia. I have not compiled an application based on his service yet. I am not sure I can find the documentation necessary to link up all the generations between him and me.

I have several other ancestors whose lineage and service I have yet to document:

  1. Levi Carter (b. 1737) and Caleb Carter (1758-1811). This father and son probably served from North Carolina or Tennessee. We do not yet have enough information on this lineage or service to submit a DAR application.
  2. Caleb Reed (1756-abt. 1832). The Reeds lived in Fayette Co., PA during the War. Caleb’s brother Joshua Reed served in the Virginia militia. Although Caleb was the right age to serve, we have found no proof that he did. I have this lineage proven, so I could submit a DAR application if I could find evidence that he supported the war effort in some other way.
  3. Robert Templeton. He was of the Revolutionary War generation and lived in Tennessee, but I know nothing more about him. I have done no research on the Templetons although my dad’s cousins did. Their papers remain in a file drawer awaiting review.

At the DAR, we can order an engraved pin with our ancestor’s name and service once the application is approved. So far, I have one pin and one pending application. It would be nice to make the case for more and preserve their lineage and service information.

An Old Kentucky Home

Caleb Reed (1756-abt. 1832) settled his family along Elk Creek in Spencer County, Kentucky in the 1790s. Family members lived in the area until 1830 or so but left few footprints. I was thus excited to visit a place that dates from their time in the county. An original house with a family connection still stands.

Caleb’s second wife was Elizabeth Van Dyke whom he married in 1816. The Van Dykes were a prominent family who owned a grist mill on nearby Brashears Creek. Their home, built in the 1790s, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When we visited Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, we decided to stop in for a look. We found Spencer to be a rural county, and we had to drive along many narrow roads, some dirt, to find the house. It lies across the road from the creek and sits back by several yards.

The exterior of the home looked well maintained. A vehicle was parked outside, and building materials were stacked alongside the house. No one seemed to be around.

Then we noticed someone on a tractor cutting hay in a nearby field. He spotted us, too, and drove over.

He was the owner of the place, and we explained why we were there. He was interested to meet people with a connection to the Van Dykes, even if it is just by marriage.

He explained that he is restoring the place in hopes of retiring there. Then he invited us inside for a tour.

What a delightful time we spent there! The original part of the house has two rooms up and two rooms down. He has used reclaimed wood from an old tobacco barn for the floors. The staircase is a rare, split style. The rooms on the ground floor have the original fireplaces, one at each end of the house. He is trying to save the original plaster on the walls.

I wonder if my ancestor Caleb Reed ever visited there. He did marry into the family that built the house. I like to think he may have walked through that doorway.

I was thrilled to see the place, and I owe a big thanks to my husband/tech advisor for driving me to another obscure place to find my roots.

The Corn Stalk Militia of Kentucky

Not often does one run across a new genealogical source. We tend to focus on the familiar ones like census records, vital records, court records, pension records, and cemetery records. But how many of us have consulted or even heard of the records of the “Corn Stalk” Militia in Kentucky?

I, for one, did not know that such an organization even existed. I came across a reference to it while preparing for an upcoming research trip by reviewing the holdings of the genealogy collections in the Louisville and Taylorsville, Kentucky libraries.

The Militia was active from 1792-1811, or from statehood until the onset of the War of 1812. It was created to meet the need for a military establishment on the frontier. It was called the “Corn Stalk” Militia because regimental musters were held in October each year. The troops had no firearms for drills and often used corn stalks in the place of guns.

Free males between the ages of 18 and 45 were liable for militia duty. My Reed family lived in Shelby County, Kentucky during the years of the Militia. Our men would have been eligible to serve in the militia during the years of its existence.

I decided to investigate what records of the militia might be available. On Family Search, I located a digitized book about the Militia. The author, G. Glenn Clift of the Kentucky Historical Society, included a fine index of militia officers. In it, I found the names of several Reads, Reeds, and Reids. It includes names from my own family tree including Caleb Reed and his sons Thomas and John.

Were these militia officers my family members?

The answer will take more investigation. The indexed men served in different ranks from various regiments. I will need to see which Reed militiamen served in Shelby County where my family lived.

If I can make the case that men on the roster were my family members, I can look for records of military actions by their units. These accounts would add some wonderful information to my family story.






A Family Needed for Rebecca Carr Reed

My Reed family preserved information about our ancestors beginning with their migration from Kentucky to Coles County, Illinois in 1829. We knew that Thomas Reed (1783-1852) made this trip with his family when the Illinois land opened for settlement. We did not know who his parents were.

After diligent research in the Kentucky records, my dad’s Reed cousins determined that Thomas was the son of Caleb Reed. They guessed the mother’s name was Rebecca [Carr?], but they never found documentation for this.

Other Reed researchers have made the same claim about the mother’s identity. Rebecca Carr, mother of Thomas and wife of Caleb, appears on the unified family tree on the Family Search website. How accurate is this information?

The first name Rebecca seems correct. Shelby County, Kentucky marriage records contain a permission from Rebecca and Caleb Reed for their daughter Sally to marry Thomas Johns in 1799. This source is cited on the Family Search page for Rebecca Carr Reed. Family Search provides no source for her maiden name.

Much of the other information for Rebecca seems on this site seems suspect. She was purportedly 13 years older than her husband. They went on to have 7 children together beginning when Rebecca was 41 and ending when she was 59. It seems unlikely that she was born in 1740 as the site claims.

Some of the grandchildren carried the middle name Carr, lending weight to the hypothesis that Rebecca was a Carr. The Reeds had Carr neighbors in Kentucky.

If Rebecca was a Carr, more information is needed to verify this claim.

The 1799 marriage permission, signed by Rebecca, was an exciting find. So far, it is the only document we have located that includes her name. Now we need something that provides a better birth date and places her into her natal family.


A Reed Family in Early Kentucky

Thomas Reed (1785-1852) was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Kentucky and later settled in Coles County, Illinois. My father’s cousins had done a tremendous amount of genealogical work on his family, but newer sources have become available from home since they compiled their information. This year I have worked to see what I can add to Thomas’ story.

We know he went to Kentucky with his family when he was a boy. The family settled there along Elk Creek by 1792, the year Kentucky became a state. Thomas’ father Caleb appeared on the tax list for Shelby County that year. Thomas was about 7 years old.

Their part of Shelby County was carved out into the new Spencer County about three decades later in 1824 while Thomas still lived there. The search for Thomas in the records thus requires work in both counties.

Working backwards timewise, I began with Spencer County. Family Search has several records from this county available online. I was able to view marriages, the Court Order Book, tax records, probate and guardian records, and Commissioner’s deeds.

From these records I learned that Thomas’ older brother Caleb C. Reed died about 1828, a date we did not know before. The Court Order book and the guardian files told me that Caleb’s wife Prudence (Kirkham) Reed was named guardian of their children.

Thomas and Caleb C., along with their younger brother John, jointly owned a tract of land in Spencer County. They had paid for it in installments. When the time came for them to receive the deed, Caleb C. was dead and so were some of the grantors. Title to the land needed to be sorted out by the Court. The story was told in the Court Order Book and the Commissioner’s Deed book. Thomas, John, and Caleb C.’s children received title to the land.

As I continue my search into Thomas’ life, I will turn next to the Shelby County records. The Reed cousins gave me a history of Shelby County, and I have already reviewed it. Over the next few days, I hope to look at Shelby records like the ones available for Spencer County.

Armed with that information, I will head out on a road trip through Kentucky this summer. I plan to stop in Taylorsville, the county seat of Spencer County, to look at their genealogical holdings. I will also spend some time in the genealogy stacks at the Louisville, Kentucky library.

Doing research in the time of America’s early republic is new territory for me. I want to know all I can about Thomas and his life.

A Visit to the South

Now that it is spring, I find myself planning another genealogy road trip. We will go south this time to visit historic sites, cemeteries, and perhaps a library or two.

Our sight-seeing loop will include places I always have hoped to see:

  1. Chalmette National Cemetery in Louisiana. My second great-grandfather, Daniel Ryan, was re-interred here when it was built for Union Civil War dead.
  2. Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. Another great-grandfather’s cousin, George Boyd, fought and died here during the Civil War.
  3. St. Augustine, Florida. We will tour this oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the United States.
  4. Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The American Civil War began with the battle here.
  5. Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina. I do not know whether any of my Carter relatives participated in the Revolutionary War battle at Cowpens, but we will take a look at the area as we pass through.
  6. Fort Boonesborough State Park in Madison County, Kentucky. Several ancestors lived in this county. One, Robert Kirkham, served here during the Revolutionary War.
  7. Lindsborg, Kansas. We will stop here to check out the biennial Swedish Festival. We are not Swedish, but we are part Scandinavian. The food and entertainment should be good.

We have completed most of the planning for this trip. The only detail left to determine is whether to stop at the municipal libraries in the Louisville, Kentucky area.

I need to search their online catalogs to see what they may have that is not available digitally. Family Search has a rich store of records for Shelby and Spencer counties where my Reed ancestors resided. To find anything more than that might require an archival visit. That would be beyond the scope of the trip we envision.


Kentucky Reeds

When land in eastern Illinois opened for settlement, Thomas Reed (1783-1852) and his wife Ann Kirkham (1783-1869) arrived in Coles County with their children in 1829. They were in their mid-40’s by then and had lived their adult lives so far in Kentucky. Their Illinois years have been well documented by the Reed family, but we do not know a lot about the couple’s time in the Bluegrass state.

Ann was born there, in what become Nelson County, but Thomas arrived in Kentucky from Pennsylvania when he was a boy. His family settled in Shelby County, along Elk Creek in an area that became Spencer County in 1824.

Several Reeds resided in the same area, and sorting them into family groups presents a challenge. Census records survive although they do not name everyone in the household. The Reeds repeated first names, adding to the confusion.

Thomas and Ann married in Nelson County, where her family lived, about 1806. The 1810 census is the first record for their household. They lived among the other Reed families in Shelby County. This census record presents a couple of questions:

  1. Two boys under the age of ten resided with Thomas. One must be his eldest son Robertson Reed, born in 1808. Who was the other boy? Another son who died young and whose memory was lost to the Reeds? A nephew? Or daughter Eliza, born in October 1810, and mistakenly enumerated as a boy? The official census day that year was August 6, so Eliza should not have been counted even if the census taker visited after she was born.
  2. The family immediately preceding Thomas on the page was headed by Caleb Reed, a man over 45. Who was this Caleb? Thomas had both a father and a brother with that name. Caleb’s household included three children under 10 and two more aged 10-16. There were no adults other than a probable wife who was also over 45. Caleb the father was 54 in 1810, but none of his known children would have been under 10 that year. The brother Caleb was probably younger than 45 in 1810, and he was unmarried with no known children in 1810. The Caleb on the census record does not fit the profile of either Thomas’ father or his brother.

Family relationships and vital statistics for the Reeds in Shelby County during the early 1800’s remain unclear. Much work remains to do in the county records to assemble the Reed family that lived there.

When Was Thomas Reed Married?

Kentucky marriage records can be viewed online for weddings as early as 1795. Some of my ancestors lived and married in Kentucky at the beginning of the 1800’s. This week I needed to verify a date by looking at these early records.

As I reviewed research notes from my Reed cousins, I came across a curious discrepancy for the marriage date of our ancestors Thomas Reed (1783-1852) and Anne Kirkham (1783-1869).

Our family history The Reeds of Ashmore by Michael Hayden, written in 1988, reports their marriage date as 24 Nov 1806. This date is repeated in Coles County, Illinois county histories compiled during the 1870s.

The original notes for the Reed book contain a reference to another researcher’s claim that the marriage took place two years later, on 6 Oct 1808. My cousins discounted this idea and went with the 1806 date when they compiled the book.

Good genealogical practice dictates that conflicts must be resolved, and this date difference presents a big conflict.

I turned to FamilySearch for more information. There I found images of Kentucky marriage bonds, returns, and a Nelson County, KY marriage register. What did they tell me about Thomas’ marriage date?

  • The 24 Nov 1806 date used by my cousins and the county history belongs to the date of the marriage bond, not the marriage ceremony. On that day, Thomas Reed and Anne’s brother Henry Kirkham bound themselves for the sum of 50 pounds for a marriage between Thomas and Anne to be solemnized “soon”.
  • A marriage did take place, evidenced by a return from the Officiant Reuben Smith. This marriage return is undated, and it does not provide a marriage date.
  • The Nelson County, KY marriage register also verifies this marriage of Thomas Reed and Anne Kirkham, performed by Reuben Smith. The given date, 6 Oct 1808, matches the one claimed by the other researcher. It must have been her source.

My cousins, then, had only the 1806 date of the marriage bond. The register reports that the marriage took place two years later, in 1808. This seems odd.

On a hunch, I turned to the beginning of the register book and found an interesting disclaimer. This register was compiled from an older register in the summer of 1873. It says that marriage bond dates in the new volume are accurate, but the dates of the marriages themselves may not be. It refers to marriage certificates as the best source for information.

So, what about Thomas’ marriage?

It seems clear that he executed a marriage bond on 24 Nov 1806. Because the marriage return includes no date, we do not know whether he went on to marry the same day the bond was executed or at some later date. But did he wait nearly 2 years to marry, until after the birth of his first son in August 1808, as the marriage register states?

I suspect the couple married after the date of the marriage bond, sometime in late 1806 or early 1807. Without a marriage certificate I will never know the exact date. This document was not passed down through my branch of the family, and I do not know whether it has been preserved.

My cousins had the marriage bond date, not the marriage date. The other researcher had the date reported in the marriage register, an admitted probable miscalculation.

Neither could claim the correct date for the Reed marriage. That date is unknown.


New Clues in Old Kentucky

This year I am focusing my research on my third great-grandparents, Thomas Reed (1783-1852) and Ann Kirkham (1782-1869).

The first step was to review and analyze all the material I have collected concerning their children. They had five who reached adulthood:

  1. Robertson Mitchell Reed (1808-1871).
  2. Eliza Reed McAlister Walton (1810-1886).
  3. Jane Reed Galbreath (1817-1899).
  4. Caleb Reed (1818-1903).
  5. William Reed (1822-1845).

To accomplish this task, I emptied my Reed bin of everything concerning Thomas and his children. I also pulled all the pertinent Reed folders from the genealogy filing cabinet I inherited from a Reed cousin.

Much of her material duplicated my own research, and I was able to discard many extra copies of documents. Then I made sure to enter all the evidence into my database.

In the filing cabinet, I found a few papers I had not seen before.

One was an 1817 Kentucky land conveyance to Thomas Reed and his two brothers Caleb and John. The grantor parties included a man named Robert Robertson. I know nothing of this man, but I have often wondered why Thomas named his eldest son Robertson. Was the Robert Robertson in the land transaction the inspiration for Robertson Reed’s name? Was he related to Reeds?

The other discovery I made concerned a childhood friend of Thomas’ son, Caleb. The friend’s name was Robert Boyd, and I learned they had known one another in Spencer County, Kentucky. The two of them relocated to Coles County, Illinois and eventually married Carter sisters.

Now I am wondering whether Caleb Reed and Robert Boyd were more closely related than just in-laws. Caleb’s maternal grandmother was Jane Boyd, so it is possible that Robert Boyd was a member of her family.

A Boyd researcher has told me that they have reached a brick wall with the Kentucky Boyds. This line is crying out for further research. Perhaps the Reed/Kirkham connection to the Boyds offers a valuable clue.

Reviewing Reed documents already in my possession has uncovered some interesting avenues for learning more about the Reed family. The Robertson and the Boyd affiliations might give me a better understanding of my Reed line.

It Runs in Families

This year I am focusing my research on my third great-grandparents, Thomas Reed (1783-1852) and Ann Kirkham (1782-1869). They were among the original settlers in Coles County, Illinois in 1829.

One of their closest neighboring families, the McAlisters, settled there about the same time. The eldest two of the Reed children married McAlister siblings.

Healthwise, these marriages did not turn out well. The McAlister family had a pattern of early death:

  1. Robertson Reed (1808-1871) married Nancy McAlister (1815-1853). This couple had five known children before Nancy died at age 37. All but one of their children died young, too, including Daniel at age 23, Nancy Jane at age 34, William Fred at age 30, and Mary E. at age 19. Nancy Jane was the only child from this marriage to wed, but both her children died in infancy. Robertson and Nancy (McAlister) Reed have no descendants.
  2. Eliza Reed (1810-1886) married John Mitchell McAlister (1812-1836). The had one daughter before he passed away around the age of 24. The daughter Susan Ann (1835-1856), along with her only child, died from complications of childbirth when Susan was 20 years old. Eliza (Reed) and John McAlister have no descendants.

These Reed siblings who married into the McAlister family experienced much heartache. Robertson Reed lost his wife and outlived his oldest son. Several of his other children died about the same time he did. Eliza Reed McAlister witnessed the deaths of both a young husband and their daughter.

Both Robertson and Eliza remarried after the deaths of their first spouses. Their second marriages produced more children who lived long lives.

And what of the McAlisters? I have not done much research on this family. Their name does not survive in Coles County. Perhaps they died out, or maybe the surviving family members moved away.

The Reeds and the McAlisters had become fast friends when they first settled in Illinois. They must have had high hopes when their children joined in marriage. Those dreams were dashed when the McAlister grandchildren did not survive. Death at a young age stalked their family.