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Where Were the Reeds?

The Reed family lived in Shelby County, Kentucky during the early 1800’s. My ancestor Thomas grew up there surrounded by other Reeds who I assume were his father Caleb’s extended family. Caleb often appeared in the county records, but the others did not. Who were they, and how were they related to Caleb? Why were they scarcely mentioned in the records?

Several Reeds settled along Elk Creek in the early 1790s—Caleb, Barnett, David, and Joshua. We know that Joshua was a brother to Caleb. We do not yet know the relationship between Caleb and Joshua and the other two men.

Caleb seemed the most prominent of these. He was a captain in the local militia, and he owned about 200 acres of land. He married a wealthy widow later in life. His name appeared often in the county records as he served in capacities such as appraiser of estates and executor of wills.

The remaining Reeds rarely appeared in the records although they lived near Caleb for over 25 years. They were on the tax lists until the War of 1812 period. About that time Joshua and David moved on to Indiana, but I do not know what became of Barnett.

As I make my way through the Shelby County Court Order Books, I do not find the names of the other three Reeds. They did not seem to get appointments as road overseers or militia officers. They were not in any estate records.

These men did own land. Barnett had 50 acres, and Joshua had 89 acres. David’s holdings varied with up to 150 acres.

Perhaps their farms required all their attention, and they did not find time to participate much in the greater community. Caleb’s son Thomas was said to be this way, and perhaps he mimicked his uncles. Thomas was described in a county history as a quiet, industrious man, attending strictly to his own affairs and never seeking official positions.

Any Reed man with this personality left little footprint behind for the genealogy researcher.


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