Seeking Mary Reeves

When I first set out on my fabulous genealogy road trip in the summer of 2009, I had a wish list of information I wanted to find in various counties across a dozen or so Midwest states. One of these goals was to break through the long-standing brick wall on the family of Mary Reeves, mother of our John Perry Crouch.

To give you the background I must step back a few years. When I first started my genealogical adventure in 1973, one of a handful of documents to which I had access was a short paper written by my mother years earlier in one of her high school classes. It contained a chart showing her grandmother Eva (Crouch) Bottoms, and Eva’s parents John Crouch and Margaret Leisure (sic).

Over the next few years I found out more. Eva’s birth affidavit revealed her father’s full name was John Perry Crouch, and his birthplace was Washington, Iowa. A location is everything in genealogy, so I had a place to start. I came across the name of John’s father, Montgomery McCall Crouch, through census records. But I didn’t have the full picture. It was only through correspondence with fellow Crouch researchers Glenn Crouch and Charles Lilly that I learned John’s mother was actually Mary M. Reeves, the second of three wives of M. M. Crouch. The 1850 Washington County IA census revealed that Mary was born about 1817 in OH. A deed of sale from Washington County named her in September 1850, but she died soon after that, within a year or two. Her widower husband married Susannah Williamson on 14 March 1852. For the next several years, I still had no idea where in Ohio she was born or who her parents were.

Then, in 2009, the brick wall came tumbling down. As I traveled through Iowa, I visited the Washington County Genealogy Society collection housed upstairs at the public library. I had hoped to find a cemetery listing for my Mary (Reeves) Crouch, but there was none to be found. Also in that county I was seeking anything I could find out about Samuel R. Young and Ephraim or Denton Leasure on Margaret Leasure’s side of the family.

Tax records listed M. M. Crouch and Denton Leasure. Samuel R. Young’s tax record included a property description which enabled me to find his land on a hand-drawn reproduction of an 1859 property owner’s map. It was exciting to spot “S. R. Y.” written on his parcel. Would anyone else have known it was him with just these three initials on the parcel? I made copies of that and other maps showing townships and parcels with landowners’ names.

At the courthouse I found deeds for Montgomery Crouch, Samuel R. Young and Denton Leasure. One document detailed a sale of land by one John S. Reeves to M. M. Crouch. This caught my eye. Could John S. Reeves be related to Montgomery’s wife, Mary (Reeves) Crouch?

Although I had to leave Washington County to head for my next stop, I wanted to find out more about this John S. Reeves. A day or two later I looked him up in Iowa census records online. I found out he was a bit younger than our Mary Reeves. Could he be a younger brother? Every genealogist knows you sometimes have to seek information on collateral relatives to find out about your own line. I was fortunate to find his biography online in an 1887 mug book, “Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, Iowa.” This revealed he had been born near Portsmouth, Ohio. His parents were Thomas Reeves from Fleming County KY and Mary Hoskinson from Cumberland County MD. The book said John was the only one of five siblings still living. It also said his father had been married previously, with a family of twelve children by his first wife, none of whom survived. No siblings were named, nor the first wife of Thomas. Was Mary a sister of John S. Reeves? And if so, was she born to the first wife or the second wife of Thomas?

Next, I found an online family tree that connected John S. Reeves to a father Thomas and siblings named Elijah T. and Joseph Reeves. The name Elijah instantly caught my eye, as that was also the name of John Perry Crouch’s younger brother. The fact that Montgomery and Mary Crouch named three of their children Thomas, John and Elijah was a pretty strong clue that this Reeves family was probably connected to our Crouch family. Plus, this tree noted a migration from Ohio to Delaware County IN to Washington County IA. Earlier research told me our M. M. Crouch was born in Ohio, married Mary Reeves in Delaware County IN, and then moved to Washington County IA. So the migration paralleled ours! Although the man who posted the tree answered my email right away, he did not have any further information on the Reeves family. He descends from the Custer family that married into the Reeves family.

I wish I had known about Thomas Reeves when I visited Washington County just a few days earlier! But even though I couldn’t check in person, I emailed the Washington County Genealogy Society to request probate records for Thomas Reeves. They answered right away with a cemetery listing for Thomas Reeves in the Custer cemetery. They also sent a typed abstract of his probate record, listing heirs John Reeves, Margaret Reeves, oldest son Joseph Reeves, Elijah Reeves, Susanna F. Hodges, Mary M. Crowell (sic) and Delilah Harman. Executors were John S. and Margaret Reeves. (Will Book B Page 145). The Mary M. Crowell transcription error was obviously made by someone unfamiliar with the Crouch name, or perhaps due to illegible handwriting. Such great information allowed me to flesh out the families of Mary M. Reeves’ siblings following census data and cemetery records online.

Census records placed Thomas Reeves and family in Delaware County IN in 1830 and 1840. I also found collateral Reeves marriages in both Delaware Co IN and Washington Co IA. Following the location of Portsmouth OH given in John S. Reeves’ bio, I discovered Thomas Reeves’ marriage to Polly Hoskinson in Scioto County OH. Polly, of course, is a nickname for Mary. There were also marriage records in Scioto County for some of the older children of Thomas Reeves, which helped prove the match.

Then I found an online family tree with Mary (Feurt) Reeves, daughter of Joseph Feurt and Mary Davison, who died in Mar 1819, Scioto Co OH. Our Mary (Reeves) Crouch was born about 1817; it would appear that she was a daughter of this first marriage of Thomas Reeves to Mary Feurt. And the fact that Thomas’ eldest son was named Joseph in the probate record made sense, as an older child would typically be named for the maternal grandfather.

There are many published references to Joseph Feurt, which I am beginning to collect now. He was a Revolutionary War soldier who fought in the Somerset County NJ militia during the war and later settled with his family in Scioto County OH in the 1790s.

The epic story of my family journey now has a fascinating new chapter. My Thomas Reeves moved from Fleming County KY across the border into Scioto County OH where he married Mary Feurt around 1800. Their family included a daughter Mary Reeves who moved with her father and his second wife, Mary (Hoskinson) Reeves to Delaware County IN. There Mary Reeves married Montgomery Crouch. The Crouch family later went on to Washington County IA, with at least part of the Reeves clan. Now I am beginning to find out so much more about the Reeves and Feurt families, it amazes me! Kind and helpful volunteers at Washington County IA and Scioto County OH have supplied more documentation as the web of my family tree grows ever wider.

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