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Reed, Reid, Read, or Wrede?

My maiden name is the very common surname Reed. The family has spelled it this way since the mid-1800s. But that was not always so.

When they lived in Kentucky (ca. 1790-abt. 1830), many of them could not read and write. They relied on lawyers and government officials to write their names for them. The records for the family turn up with their name spelled in several ways. I keep having to remember to check for alternate spellings.

Usually, the name was the familiar Reed. But often in the land and probate records I am finding Reid. And the family seems to have been a large one.

Now my job is to pick them apart and place them into family groups. There seem to have been two clusters in Shelby County, and I do not know if they were related to one another.

My own cluster lived along Elk Creek in what was then Shelby County but is now part of Spencer County. These members were my ancestor Caleb; his possible brothers Barnett/Barnard, David, and Joshua; and his sons Caleb C., Thomas, and John.

Other Reed/Reid men lived in other parts of the county. The most prominent one was Alex Reid. Their lands remained in Shelby County when Spencer County was carved out in 1824.

I believe I will need to make a spreadsheet to help me sort out all these men. It does not help when half the men in my family were named Caleb. The family in the other cluster did not seem to use that name.

This job will take some doing, but I have an advantage in this. The records from these counties have survived. I do have access to material that will help me create a good family tree for the Kentucky Reeds.


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