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Two Young Widows

As I continue to do research on the life of my ancestor Thomas Reed (1783-1852), I am finding it helpful to look at the lives of his collateral relatives. He had several sisters, and women can be difficult to trace. But two of these women were widowed young, and their husbands’ estate papers shed light on the Reed family:

  1. Rachel Reed Elliott (1781-1868). Rachel married Augustine Elliott in Shelby County, Kentucky about 1801. They had three children, Alfred (1802), Sarah (1803), and Ludwell (1807). Augustine passed away not long after Ludwell was born. Probate papers for him date from 1808, and Rachel was the Administratrix. My ancestor Thomas was named in the Settlement, receiving a gun. Material goods went to other Reed relatives as well. Rachel seems to have been a capable woman. She never remarried but moved on to Washington County, Indiana where she accumulated a large landholding. Her father Caleb Reed eventually moved in with her, and she cared for him until his death. She left sizable farms to each of her children.
  2. Abigail Reed Kirkham Shaw (1785-1854). Abigail first married John Kirkham, the brother of Thomas Reed’s wife, my ancestor Anne Kirkham Reed (1782-1869). John and Abigail married in Shelby County, Kentucky on Christmas Eve in 1804, but he did not live long. The couple had settled in Nelson County, Kentucky where he passed away before August 1807. Abigail’s father Caleb Reed served as Administrator of the estate. Again, the Reeds received household and farm goods. I have not determined Abigail’s whereabouts for the decade after her husband died. She remarried in Shelby County nearly ten years later in 1817. She and her new husband James Joseph Shaw had five children in Kentucky, Josiah (1817), Peter (1819), Caleb (1821), Mary (1824), and Rachel (1828) before moving to Harrison County, Indiana about 1830. There they developed an interest in Texas, and they moved to Fayette County, Texas about 1835. They were just in time for Joseph and the older sons to participate in the War of Texas Independence. The Shaws became prominent citizens in their county, and their son Josiah served in the Texas Legislature.

These sisters had close dealings with their Reed family while they all lived in Kentucky. The men served as witnesses and bondsmen for one another as needed. Thomas Reed’s name appears throughout the legal dealings of Augustine Elliott and John Kirkham.

Yet life in Kentucky must not have been to their liking because they all left the area between 1815-1830. Perhaps the exodus was due to the tangled land titles in this part of Kentucky.

Thomas went to Illinois in 1829, but no other Reeds went with them. Other early settlers in their area may have been related to Thomas’ mother.

More work remains to be done with his collateral relatives to sort out the family tree. Thomas’ grandmothers were surnamed Boyd and Carr, and numerous people with these names appear in the Illinois records. They were likely relatives of the Reeds.

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