A Family History
Compiled, researched and written by:
Dallas Ray Reese Jr.
The following are biographies, notes, information, research, facts and figures gathered from 1992 until the present. I have attempted to corroborate all lines and provide proof from all available records including, but not limited to: courthouse documents, birth and death certificates, cemetery records, family bibles, U.S. census records and reference and library materials.
This is by no means a definitive record of my family but rather my best attempt at recording, collecting and preserving information on my immediate lines. I have taken the liberty of stating my own opinions, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be true to my own vision and the filter through which I see the past, present and future world. My concern was merely to try and understand and make sense of the insights and discoveries I have made about my family’s history.
Hopefully this book will provide information and insight for future generations and help them discover a little of what their ancestors were like. I have had the most wonderful time traveling with my father and mother through the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.
We have also traveled the back-country dirt roads of South Carolina and traipsed through many a cemetery and stalked down many leads in trying to uncover the past.
I have had immeasurable help from so many people. Many thanks go out to my great-aunt Alice Potts(deceased) who sat with me for many sessions of questions before she passed away.
Alice lived to almost 100 years of age and in her 90’s her memory was as fresh as the morning dew on the mountain rhododendrons in springtime. She was a marvelous source of information on life in Franklin and Highlands in the early part of the 20th century.
Another incredible assistant in my quest was my Great-Aunt Alma Henderson Keener. Aunt Alma was one of the most kind, caring and considerate individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She provided me with a wellspring of family stories and even though she declined to be videotaped, I was able to sneak a tape recorder past her and record several of our family history interviews. I miss her dearly and will always remember her laughter and spirited, cheery outlook on life.
Dallas Reese & Alma Henderson Keener 1999 Highlands, NC
The most incredible thanks go to Margaret Reese from Waynesboro, Virginia. Without her, I don’t think I would have had a single lead on my direct Reese ancestors. Margaret is not a direct line descendant of the Reese’s. She married into the family and was kind enough to dig deep and help her husband find his roots. Upon first meeting Margaret in Waynesboro, Virginia in 1996, I showed her a picture of my great-great uncle Edward Peter Reese and she happened to have the exact same picture because her husband was a direct descendant of Edward Peter Reese.
Edward Peter Reese was my great-great grandfather’s brother and they married sisters. I had gotten a copy of the picture of Edward Peter Reese from my Great-Aunt Alice Potts. I was ecstatic at finding someone from the same line. Margaret completed a book on her husband’s direct Reese line back in the 1980s. She had compiled the book as a gift to her kids and it was a Godsend in turning me in the proper direction for research.
There’s a very small group of Reese researchers across the country who have been relentlessly pursuing information on the ancestors of Johannes Ries. I have been able to connect with that loyal but small group on the internet and we have freely traded information and research findings. You will find their names and most recent contact information in the index in the back of this volume. To them I say a tremendous thank you and hope that if they pursue writing about their own individual direct lines then they can freely use any of my research or share that of any other researchers who are seeking to shed light on the dark corners of hopeful discovery.
The best thing about genealogy is family history seekers all have the same goal; to find out as much as we possibly can and any assistance from others is always reciprocated thankfully; at least by this dedicated researcher. At times in this quest I have felt at once like a voyeur and a private detective rolled into one. It’s often tedious work but well worth it when a new discovery is made. I have also wished at times I could be a time traveler, simply so I could walk in the shoes of my ancestors to see what their lives were like. I have no qualms about saying my life has probably been far easier and better in many respects because of the technology available to me in my time. Everything is easier now..communicating, traveling, working. Whereas even just 50 short years ago life was much different.
There are so many relatives near and far who have contributed to the stories and information in this book and their contributions are invaluable. To you I say thank you as well and your contributions will be important to future generations who venture to dig into the past to find where they’re from and how their lives came to be.
My greatest thanks goes to my father and mother whom I don’t tell of my love for them enough. But suffice to say I love them dearly now and forever with all my heart and always have. They have kept family stories alive and their passion for knowing our families’ stories are what drove me to care so deeply about where I’m from and where I’m going. I can only hope that my own children will see a passion for history and the story of our family in my eyes, as I saw in my own parent’s eyes.
Dallas R Reese Sr & Ila Sue Johnson Reese with Logan & Tyler Reese 2001 Kernersville NC
The best we can all hope for is to raise happy, healthy children who respect their elders and seek the wisdom, understanding and insight into the human condition that they can provide us. If you the reader, have neglected your elders, please make an effort to open an ear to them. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn, if only you’ll listen. I’ve been known as a talker my whole life, but there’s nothing I would rather do than listen to those who are far older than me talk about their lives. We all have a story to tell and it’s so much better if only someone will listen. God made every single human valuable, and everybody has a story to tell and you can gain incredible insight with a curious disposition and an open mind.
Open your ears, listen to those around you. Hopefully you’ll write your own story that will one day find its voice in the pen of some hungry eyed kid who will gleefully seek the details of your life and past and ask the questions that I myself have asked and sought answers for about my ancestors. I can only pray that happens for each and every one of us.
May God Bless each and every one of your days with the fullness of an entire lifetime. In the words of songwriter Craig Wiseman, “Live Like You Were Dyin”
Thanks for reading.
Dallas Ray Reese Jr.
Dallas Ray Reese Jr.
“A New Beginning”
My Great-Great-Great-Great grandfather and immigrant ancestor to America was Johannes Heinrich Ries. He was born in Schrecksback, Germany in 1753. He ended up in what was to become the United States of America by becoming a soldier. Johannes was a private in the Von Knyphausen regiment in the state of Hessen-Cassel in the Federal Republic of Germany. Hessen-Cassel was one of the German states that cut deals with England’s King George III to furnish troops for the war in America. King George needed more manpower to bring his army up to full strength and the Germans fit the bill perfectly. These “Hessian” soldiers were known as excellent fighters even if they were a bit superstitious.
According to the agreement King George worked out with the reigning Duke of Brunswick, all German soldiers would be ready for service by the last week of March 1776. King George agreed to treat the troops as he did his own British soldiers. Providing the Germans with the same pay, forage, and would take care of the sick and wounded in hospitals and transport them back to Germany when they were no longer able to serve.
The German troop’s pay was known as “Levy Money.” Each troop or foot soldier was to be worth thirty crowns banco. The crown was worth four shillings, ninepence, three farthings. Essentially my great-great-great-great grandfather’s life was only worth about seven and a quarter English pounds. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but if you factor inflation and calculate the figure in today’s dollars that would be about $10,000. The problem with the whole arrangement is the fact that each dead soldier’s widows and orphans would not receive one penny in payment. Seems like it was a really raw deal and the only way to beat it was to be a never married soldier or if you were to pray for survival.
Why did the Hessians choose to fight a war that really wasn’t their own? Well it may have been the fact that the Hessians were consumed with supreme confidence. They thought of themselves as excellent fighters and their egos were obviously
much bigger than than brains.
I don’t think I would have taken the deal they were given, but those were different times and no one knows why men do what they do in times of war. I can’t begin to understand why a bunch of Germans who had never been attacked by Americans or bothered by them would want to take up arms to try and kill those they didn’t even know. I assume it was merely greed and the hunger for money and power that consumes so many. But by making the decision he made to come fight in America, Johannes would set the course of how this line of Reese’s would come to pass.
Hessian soldiers in America
“Comes A Time”
My immigrant ancestor Johannes Reese came to America during a tumultuous time. The English didn’t want war but were fully prepared and were ready to quell the American uprising. There was no official United States of America yet when German citizen Johannes Heinrich Ries made his way to Staten Island, New York to fight the Americans. Multiple research sources show Johannes and the Hessians landed in the new land in the summer of 1776.
A month earlier the first step in the birth of a new nation was taken when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Johannes Ries and the German Hessian soldiers had set sail from Germany sometime between late April and early May 1776.
Johannes’ commander General Wilhelm Freiherr Von Knyphausen was a nobleman-grim, silent, sharp-featured; sixty years old, of medium height, with ramrod-straight carriage, he was known to his tablemates as a man who buttered bread with his thumb. With him had come 3,997 Hessians, 670 Waldeckers, and a company of jagers, and for twenty-one weeks the poor devils had endured the agonies of crossing the Atlantic in eighteenth-century troop transports. Packed like herrings, the tall men were unable to stand up between decks or to sit up between the berths. Six men had been assigned to bunks that normally accommodated four, so that they had to sleep “spoon fashion,” which meant that all six had to turn over in bed at once, on signal.
The food was terrible-dried peas, old rotten pork, and maggoty biscuits as hard as stone; while the water, so thick with filaments that it had to be strained, stank so the soldiers held their noses while drinking it. After the horrors of that crossing, almost anything would have seemed an improvement, and as soon as his men got their land legs back Knyphausen requested that they be given the honor of making the main attack on Fort Washington. In all, some 8000 German soldiers arrived on Staten Island, New York in the summer of 1776. These troops were from Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Hanau, Brunswick and Waldeck. These troops set foot on Staten Island in late August 1776 under circumstances that they nor the British found congenial, sleeping at night on the sand, with nothing to cover them but bushes “that harbor millions of mosquitoes-a greater plague than there can be in Hell itself,” as one Scots soldier complained. Johannes was not yet aware of the incredible opportunities and future that lay in wait for him. It would be six more long years of war before the United States of America would be able to call itself a free nation and be completely autonomous from the tyranny of England’s rule. Now I don’t pretend to believe that most of us could have lived in the kinds of conditions in which Johannes endured upon his arrival in what was to become the United States of America. It was a menial existence, rough-hewn and rudimentary by today’s standards. But I do find fascinating, the trials and tribulations these soldiers endured with no guarantee of anything in return. I’ll always wonder if Johannes feared dying in a place he had never set sight on before his arrival in the summer of 1776.
Johannes’ reasons for signing on to fight against the Americans were probably varied. Germany’s economy was depressed at the time and he could have needed money. He was only 23 years old when recruited so he could possibly have thought war was a means of gaining respect, prestige, valor and a certain amount of glory and possibly financial gain. He probably looked at the trip as an adventure and as a means to an end. I doubt very seriously he understood the implications and the enormity of the ensuing American Revolution and how it would change the course of the world forever.
Johannes’ military uniform was a blue and white coat over yellow breeches and waistcoat. In the Battle for Fort Washington Johannes and his brother Christian were assigned to Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall’s right division. They formed up under the lee of some woods at the foot of Marble Hill, which is directly across the Hudson river from New Jersey. They got underway first, moving up the steep hillside just below Spuyten Duyvil. Rall was a big, noisy, bully of a man, completely reckless in battle, a heavy drinker and barroom brawler off duty. He had fought well at Chatterton’s Hill near White Plains, where his brigade decided the day for the British, and it was probably at his own request that he was now leading the right wing of the attack, where the going would be the toughest.
It was 11 o’clock according to the log kept by Lieutenant William Scott on His Majesty’s ship, Pearl, when the Germans were seen moving through the woods past the ships’s berth toward the rebel(Patriot)outposts. The Battle was fierce but short and the British and Hessian soldiers went on to take the battle and the day at Fort Washington. The American flag was lowered and the British kept control of New York for the next seven years until the war ended. The results of the Battle for Fort Washington saw the British and Germans capture some 230 officers and 2,607 soldiers taken prisoner. The Americans suffered 96 wounded and 59 dead. The British and Hessians, between them, lost 84 killed or missing and 374 wounded, of which the Germans accounted for much the heavier share-58 dead and 272 wounded. Those of you who are descendants of Johannes Ries stop and think, what if he had been killed in battle that day? Then none of us would be here. It’s almost unfathomable to think about how many events, elements, decisions and happenings factor into the continuance of the chain of life. Had a bullet pierced Johannes’ heart that day at Fort Washington, I would not be here to write these words.
British Warships passing between Fort Washington and Fort Lee New York 1776
The Battle for Fort Washington was one of the few events Johannes participated in before being captured by the Americans later in the year. In 1776 Fort Washington was near a desolate area of what is now present day Manhatten. If Johannes could see New York City today and what Fort Washington looks like now he’d probably be stunned and amazed. The bulk of the area around the fort is a depressed and poverty stricken area. Washington Heights neighborhood is where the memorial for the battle is located. It’s probably more dangerous now than it was during the war. But then again it's probably one the safest areas in Manhatten. Sad commentary, but true with the murder rate the way it is in the inner city of not just New York but most major cities in the United States of America.
Meanwhile, back in England in 1776, politicians were complaining about the cost of the cruel and destructive war that was getting under way in the colonies of America. Some English were concerned that taxes would have to be raised just to afford to subdue the Americans. Sounds like the same situation we have today, with people complaining about the U.S. invading Iraq and the possibility of higher taxes to pay for it all.
Plaque commemorating the site of Fort Washington New York
I guess the more things change the more they stay the same. Only it’s almost two-hundred and thirty years later and I’m writing about essentially the same kind of argument. But, war is war and once the train gets rollin’ you’re either riding or getting run over.
Johannes’ destiny would soon be altered by one of the greatest individuals in American history, General George Washington. Washington’s Army captured Johannes and other Hessian and British Troops at Trenton and from that point onward, till the war ended, Johannes was a prisoner of war.
The following is from the book, The Hessians of Quebec from Johannes Helmut Merz(John Merz) John has been a faithful researcher of Hessians for many years.
The Hessen-Kassel Regiment von Lossberg, commanded by Col. Von Loos, arrived in New York in August 1776, took part in all major battles around New York, and finally at the Battle of Trenton Dec. 1776. Part of the Regiment escaped and re-organized at New York. In Fall of 1779 the Regiment was loaded onto ships with orders to sail to Canada. During the voyage a hurricane hit the fleet and the ship Adamant sank with the loss of one entire company, while the two others, heavily damaged, returned to New York. After wintering in New York, they boarded ships again in May of 1780 , and a fleet of 30 vessels departed for Quebec with this regiment, and the remnants of the Kassel Regt .Von Knyphausen. There were also British troops in the convoy plus replacement recruits for the other German auxiliary troops in Quebec. This convoy arrived at the Quebec City harbour on 25.June 1780. The Lossberg Regiment disembarked on the 27. and marched to its new quarters at Beauport. On 22 August, the Lossberg, Knyphausen, and the British 44th were combined into a new Brigade and moved into camp on the Plains of Abraham. Also moved into this camp were the British 31st, the Hanau Regiment, and two companies of the Brunswickers. This entire Contingent was placed under the Hessen-Kassel General Von Loos with orders to defend the town from the west while at the same time constructing a new system of fortifications. In November 1780 the Lossberg Regiment was ordered to winter on the Isle of Orleans in the St. Lawrence.
The Loos Company went to St. Pierre, the Altenbockum Company to St. Jean, and the Scheffer Company to St. Laurent. In 1781 the regiment was re-named to Regiment Alt-von Lossberg, and on 17 Oct. was assigned winter quarters in the towns of St. Thomas, St. Francois, St. Pierre,, and Berthier, on the south shore of the River opposite Orleans. In April and May 1782 soldiers were sent to Quebec to work on the fortifications. On June 17, the regiment moved into summer quarters at Point Levy, opposite Quebec, and work was continued on the fortifications. On Oct. 30, 1782 the winter quarters for the regiment was assigned in the villages of St. Thomas, Cap St. Ignace, and L’Islet on the south shore of the river. On the 28. April 1783 a ship of the Royal Navy arrived in Quebec from Halifax with the news that the war was over. On June 12 the Regiment left winter quarters and moved to Point Levy, where it was learned that all German troops in Canada had been ordered to prepare to return to Europe. On August 2, the Regt. Alt von Lossberg boarded the vessels Vernon and Friends Adventure at Point Levy. Including women and children there were 303 passengers on board. On August 6th 1783, the ships set sail.
Johannes Ries was a member of the Hessen-Kassel Regiment v. Knyphausen, commanded by Col. Heinrich von Borck, according to the military files had the same history as the Von Lossberg Regiment, except during the hurricane only one of the three ships carrying this Regiment made it safely to Canadian waters, however was too late in the season to reach Quebec and was forced to winter on the Prince Edward Island at Charlottetown, making its way to Quebec in Spring of 1780. The two other ships, Triton and Molly, were captured by American privateers and the soldiers taken as prisoners to Philadelphia. The remnants of the Knyphausen Regiment left Quebec in October 1781, wintering in Halifax, and returning to New York in Spring of 1782. It left New York on 15. August 1783 for the journey home and arrived in Their garrison city of Ziegenhain in Hessen on 16. Oct. 1783. Most of the information on the Lossberg and Knyphausen Regiments were obtained from the Staatsarchiv Marburg Publications HETRINA II and III, and the Dissertation by Robert O. Slagle “The Von Lossberg Regiment: A Chronicle of Hessian participation in the American Revolution, 1965.
Details on this story are below and were referenced by one of Johannes’ neighbors in Augusta County, Virginia in 1887.
Augusta County records show the earliest Reese in the county was Johannes Ries. Portions of the proof of our line lie in an interview in the March 11, 1887 newspaper “The Staunton Vindicator” The interview was reprinted in the Augusta County Historical Society Bulletin in Volume 6, issue number one. The interview was with Simon Coiner, son of Casper Coiner, who was one of the early settlers in Augusta County. Coiner owned land that adjoined Johannes Ries in an area that is just a few miles north of what is now Waynesboro, Virginia.
This is an excerpt of that interview with Simon Coiner.(spelling follows that of original)
In referring to the Revolutionary War of 1776, Simon Coiner said, “One of the neighbors here was Captain Johannes Ries, a Hessian, who was captured at Trenton by General Washington. Reese’s superior, General Rawls, was killed in that fight. Captain Reese was made prisoner and carried to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and after a few months was exchanged and put on a ship with 400 other prisoners to go back to England. The ship was caught in a storm and was driven into Norfolk, Virginia. The prisoners dispersed there and Ries came to this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Johannes Ries was listed on the unit rolls(reproduced in the Hetrina Papers)of the Von Knyphausen Regiment in the state of Hessen Kassel in the Federal Republic of Germany.
According to the unit rolls, Johannes Ries was born 1753/54 and was from the town of Schrecksbach. In April of 1776 he is listed “on leave.” From February 1777 until March `1783 he is carried on the rolls as a prisoner of war.
Researcher Clifford Neal Smith discovered that John Ries, prisoner of war, was “employed” by Sebastian Graff at Lancaster, PA(near the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania) In July 1778, in Lancaster, Johannes Ries of the Knyphausen Regiment, was included on a list of prisoners of war to be exchanged. The birth date above agrees with later census records in Virginia.
Johannes Ries was listed on Hessian roles as being a prisoner of war from 1777 until 1782. The brief history of Lancaster County, PA sheds a bit of light on prisoners who were taken there.
BRITISH PRISONERS AT LANCASTER. Many British prisoners were confined at Lan- caster at different times during the Revolution, from October, 1775, to the end of the war. Among these prisoners were the Hessians captured by General Washington at Trenton, December 26, 1776, and the British prisoners captured at Prince- ton, January 3, 1777. Many of the British and Hessians made prisoners by Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, October 17, 1777, were confined at Lancaster and York. Among the prisoners at Lancaster at one time was the unfortunate Major Andre. In June, 1777, the prisoners at Lancaster caused great alarm by threatening to burn the town, and Congress took measures to guard them more securely. In 1781 there was a daring plot among the prisoners at the Lancaster barracks to effect their escape ; but the plot was discovered in time to prevent its being carried out, and they were closely guarded by American troops under General Hazen. The brief history of Lancaster was written by ISRAEL SMITH CLARE. EDITED BY ANNA LYLE, Teacher of History in the Muiersville State Normal School. ZUG MEMORIAL LIBRARY ELIZABETHTOWN COLLEGE ELIZABETHTOWN, PA. PUBLISHED BY THE ARGUS PUBLISHING COMPANY Iv AN CASTER, PA., 1892. Copyrighted, 1891, by THE ARGUS PUBI.ISHING COMPANY, LANCASTER, PA.
The article below was in the Wed. December 10th 1969 edition of the News-Virginian(Waynesboro, Virginia) it's a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the Staunton Vindicator Newspaper on March 11, 1887. The reporter interviewed Simon Coiner who in 1887 was one of the oldest residents of Augusta County Virginia and a son of Casper Coiner who himself had died in 1855 at the ripe old age of 92 years. In this article Simon Coiner refers to one of his family's neighbors, John Reese(aka Johannes Ries) who was a Hessian soldier and was captured by the British and was a prisoner of war for most of the American Revolution.
Johannes Ries first bought 80 acres of land in Augusta County, Virginia in 1793, adjoining Casper Coiner and others. I have found tax list evidence that Johannes was living in Strasburg Township in Pennsylvania during the 15 years before he came to Augusta County, Virginia. His occupation during the time immediately after the Revolutionary War was listed as Blacksmith on PA tax lists. Johannes bought more land through the years and by 1811 owned more than 300 acres.
Johannes Ries was known to his neighbors and was listed in county records as John Reese. However on deeds and other records he signed his name in German script. He could read and write English and German. This is obvious from his signatures and writing on deeds and tax records.
Johannes’ wife Catherine signed her name to a deed in German script but it is unknown whether she was a German immigrant or first generation American. It’s thought by Reese relatives that she was from Pennsylvania and Johannes could have met her while he was a prisoner of war. Catherine was born before 1765 and died between 1820 and 1830.
Born: 1753 in Schrecksbach, Germany
Married: October 2, 1784 in Pennsylvania
Died: Between 1830-1840 in Augusta County, Virginia
Wife: Catherine Kuhn
Born: 1765 in Bart, Pennsylvania(near Lancaster)
Died: Circa 1820-1830 in Augusta County, Virginia
Children of Johannes and Catherine Kuhn Ries:
1) Samuel Reese: Born: February 25, 1785
Died: Circa 1821
I don’t know Samuel’s history other than the fact he died at the age of 35. I’m pretty sure this is who my great-great grandfather Samuel Joseph Reese was named after.
2) Solomon Reese: Born: 1786 Augusta County, VA
Died: November 25, 1861 in Buckhannon, Upshur County Virginia(now West Virginia)
Spouses: Elizabeth Flynchbaugh 2nd marriage to Elizabeth Doom….they were married September 17, 1840 in Augusta County, Virginia-- Soloman and Elizabeth Flynchbaugh had 6 kids. Soloman and Elizabeth Doom had one child, Rebecca born 1842.
3) Elizabeth Reese: Born: 1788
Married: October 15, 1821 in Augusta County, Virginia
Spouse: William Ross
4) Anna Margaret Reese: Born: 1793
Anna was a spinster and lived her life as a single woman.
5) Benjamin Reese: Born: 1797 in Waynesboro, Virginia Married: June 23, 1823 in Augusta County, Virginia
Died: 1845 in Augusta County, Virginia
Spouse: Martha Terrell
6) John Henry Reese: Born: 1799
Married: April 26. 1825
Spouse: Martha (Patsy) Smith Born circa 1805
7) Christian Reese: Born: October 1800
Died: February 23, 1835
Spouse: Mary ?
8) Emanuel Reese: Born 1801(between August and December) Married: January 25, 1823 to Sarah Arisman
Died: June 1876 (was 74 and a half years old at death)
Second marriage to Delila (Humphrey) Davis on November 25, 1853 in Augusta County, Virginia -
Emmanuel & Sarah are my Great-Great-Great Grandparents.
Johannes and Catherine were members of the Eggels Reformed Church(Eagles Reformed) It was owned jointly by the Reformed and Lutheran Church. It began in the 1780s and met in a German schoolhouse in the New Hope Community of Augusta County. The site appears in reformed synod records as Eagles Church and in 1809 as the Round Hill Meeting House(in the Augusta Co. VA records) The extant German Church records from Virginia (Peggy S. Joyner) show that Rev. Johannes Braun was rector of the church until at least 1825. The church is mentioned in the Reformed Church of Virginia by Rev. J. Silor Garrison. Garrison says Eagle Church was started due to the distance from the mother church and that it was located in New Hope Community of Augusta County, Virginia.
In 1972 a large, soiled, coverless old manuscript volume was discovered near Bridgewater, Virginia which turned out to be a memorandum book used by Rev. Johannes Braun for a great variety of entries over a period of almost forty years. Its great significance for genealogy and local history became obvious once the identity of its writer was established. All information of interest to family historians from the German records was translated and transliterated from Braun's often minute and frequently almost illegible German hand in the book: Shenandoah Valley Family Data, 1799-1813.
In Braun’s records were a complete list of the 1802 baptismal records for sons of John(Johannes) Reese, Samuel Ries(Reese) 17 at the time and Soloman Reese, 15 at the time and also the baptism record for John’s daughter Elizabeth. 14 yrs old in that year. In 1956 there were only 6 readable stones in the church cemetery. This church burned down in the 1960s and was never rebuilt.
By 1972, Cattle had tromped over all the stones that were left, yet the family that owned the land kept the cemetery intact and a fence around the cemetery was maintained for some time from the early 1900s to the present. I actually think the foundation of the building was razed at some point as well. I found the longitude and latitude coordinates and tracked down the remnants of this cemetery and traveled to the site in 1996.
Margaret Fox Reese & I both came to conclusion through years of meticulous research and stories handed down from the Reese side of the family that this cemetery is where John(Johannes) Ries (Reese) and wife Catherine Kuhn Reese are buried. The cemetery still exists but it is covered with weeds, trees and bushes. Very few legible stones are left in the cemetery and it is surrounded by barbed wire fence. I climbed over and tried to make out some of the stones but they are just too far gone to read.
With much certainty we can surmise, Johannes and Catherine are buried in this cemetery because this is where they lived and died and friends and relatives are buried in the same cemetery and in the same area in the New Hope Community in Augusta County. But we have no way of knowing 100 percent sure unless we dig up graves there and run DNA tests. Personally I would like to do this to confirm my immigrant ancestors but feel this might be too upsetting for some members of the community of New Hope. The land is public domain and all the residents around the cemetery told me the descendants of the folks buried there would have to be the ones to clean up the cemetery and take care of it. I’d need a serious set of helpers and some chain saws to do the job. I would love to clear the area though because it’s all that’s left of what is the area where my immigrant ancestor to the United States is buried. I did take pictures of the site and also videotaped the site and the neighbor’s houses as well.
"Virginia is for Reeses"
Waynesboro, Virginia 1890s
My great-great-great grandfather Emanuel Reese was born in Waynesboro, Virginia in 1801. He spent the bulk of his life in that town. By trade he was a carpenter and when he died in Alleghany County Virginia in late spring 1876, the only things he owned were his tools.
I can’t begin to know what his life was like but I’m sure it was a hard scrabble existence. He lost his first wife while he still had small children so I’m sure that was a difficult adjustment. He also was delinquent on tax payments in Augusta County, Virginia in the year 1861. This was on the eve of the start of the Civil War and money was scare. That could be why he removed to Covington, Virginia. Possibly to get away from the debt he owed and to escape the perils of Civil War fighting going on around Waynesboro. Virginia and specifically the Shenandoah Valley area saw many bloody battles during the American Civil War and I'm sure it took a great toll on families there. I imagine it was sometime during the Civil War when Emmanuel left Augusta County with his new wife Deliah. Covington was much deeper in the mountains and more out of harm’s way. They would have been safer in that area from the fierce fighting going on in other parts of the state. Emmanuel’s Estate was appraised in Covington, Virginia in June of 1876, so had to have died in May or June of 1876. His most valuable possessions at the time of his death were his tools. A far different existence from the material trappings of the modern age in which we now reside. But alas, sometimes subsistence living can be a far greater source of happiness than chasing riches. I'm sure these ancestors were able to find some measure of happiness and peacefulness in not having to work in a rat race in a big city.
Emmanuel Reese was married first to Sarah Arisman on January 25th, 1823 in Staunton, Virginia. Here's a copy of the marriage certificate.
I obtained this certificate in 1996 when I traveled to the Augusta County Courthouse with my dad and we hunted thru microfilm for about a week gathering records and making photocopies. It was slow, methodical, somewhat arduous work and hard on our vision and to be truthful, very tedious work. I sure wish the the internet as it is today with all these digitized records had been available back then. I was on the net but the only genealogy stuff back then were newsgroups. There weren't that many websites in existence back then. I did correspond with some relatives who also happened to have email addresses and were on the net. I had been an early adopter of the internet in the early 90s because I was fascinated by all the possibilities. I was first on Prodigy internet when I lived in Nashville and then when I met my future wife in Charlotte, NC we got a joint account on Compuserve. Back then I was communicating with John Merz from the Johannes Schwalm Society(Hessian soldier research) and he pointed me towards Virginia. I also connected with one or two other researchers through email and newsgroups on this new thing called the internet. Little did I know had I talked with my Great Uncle Joseph Walter Reese Jr. ( who lived until 1999) I could have saved much time and found out exactly where our ancestors had lived in Virginia. When my dad first mentioned to me in the early 90s that he wanted to find out more about our Reese ancestors, he didn't know much. He had never gotten a lot of info from his dad, so we were basically starting in the dark with only a vague notion that our ancestors had lived in the Augusta County Virginia area. Recently I found this interview with My Great Uncle Joseph Walter Reese Sr.(he was a half brother to my grandfather Robert Lee Reese Sr. of Highlands NC. Had I been able to access this article in the 90s it could have helped point me in the right direction. But alas, newspapers were not digitized back then. Even though I dreamed that someday they all would be. And fortunately that dream is coming true now.
There is one glaring mistake in this article from the June 25, 1950 Asheville Citizen Times. The writer Clyde Beale inadvertently said Walter's dad was Robert Lee Reese. That's his half brother, not his dad. His dad was Robert Walter Reese, son of Samuel Joseph, Grandson of Emmanuel & Great Grandson of our immigrant ancestor Johannes Ries (John Reese) Other than that it's a great article on my Reese family in Highlands and it mentions that the family moved to Western North Carolina from Staunton, Virginia.
When my dad and I made our first trip to Augusta County in 1994 I came armed with a VHS video camera, a still camera, lots of legal pads and change to make copies. I knew we'd have to spend a lot of time in graveyards and courthouses. I was working in Charlotte, NC at the time after just having moved back there from Nashville Tennessee where I spent the late 80s and early 90s playing music and working in radio. I bought myself a good desktop for the times(I think it had about 586 megabytes of memory and/or hard drive with about 1/2 gig of memory and a processor that was miniscule by today's standards. My Iphone XS in my hand right now has about a jillion times more memory and processing power than that first computer did. I also had an analog phone(and I got on the digital thing as soon as they were available) I had one of the first Ipods in the early 2000s and also an early IPhone smartphone.
I have always been a lover of technology. Back in the mid 90s digital towers were extremely limited, analog phones had rudimentary capabilities compared to today and you couldn't yet take pictures, much less the quality photos you can now with a phone. My Iphone X of today probably takes better quality DPI pictures than the actual still camera I had back in the early to mid-90s. It's unreal how technology has changed so much. None the less, I armed myself with as much capability as I could before our trips to Virginia because I wanted to capture any and all information. I also toted an audio recorder with me.(being a radio guy I never go anywhere without the ability to record audio) With creative use of the phone book I sought out people in Augusta County with the surname Reese. Geographcially I knew there would probably be some modern day descendants still in the northern part of the county near Waynesboro where My Great-Great Grandfather Emmanuel Reese had lived. I used what was at the time a free website, to look up phone numbers. I called Margaret Reese in Waynesboro and to my delight found out her husband William was a descendant of Emmanuel as well. So I planned a visit to their house and that's when the floodgates of info started to pour in on our Reese family. Earlier in the year I had visited with my Great Aunt Alice Octavia Reese Potts in Highlands NC. Alice was my grandfather Robert's half sister. Her mother Octavia Womack had died when Alice was only two months old in March of 1899. So Alice was raised by my Great Grandfather's 2nd wife Arie Tallent. Arie had been the midwife for Alice's birth. Alice was a wealth of knowledge about our family and told my that her father Robert Walter Reese had moved to South Carolina from Virginia(to work on the railroad) and then he moved to Franklin, NC. From there they came to Highlands, NC in 1885. Alice told me Robert Walter Reese had seen an ad in the newspaper that a new Highlands Presbyterian Church was being built and they needed someone to paint the church. Her dad accepted the job, came to Highlands, painted the church and fell in love with the town. The church was dedicated on the 2nd Sunday in September 1885 and soon afterward Robert Walter Reese came back to Franklin loaded up all their belongings in wagons and brought wife Octavia and their four year old son Joseph Walter Reese Sr. back to Highlands to live. Alice told me that in the early 1880s her parents and older brother lived in the log cabin that was formerly the First Baptist Church of Franklin. They left that house for a home at the corner of Main St.(Hwy. 64) and what is now Dillard Rd., in downtown Highlands. Alice had some really old pictures that she graciously let me copy at a local store in Highlands. Specifically the ones I took with me on my first visit to Waynesboro, VA were of my Great-Great Grandfather Samuel Joseph Reese and his Brother Edward Peter Reese. Samuel had been the first of his family in two generations to move away from Virginia. But, his brother Edward Peter stayed in the Mount Sidney area of Augusta County VA. Interestingly enough when I got to Margaret and William Reese's house, little did I know what was about to transpire. I pulled out the copy of the photo of Edward Peter Reese and his family, and then Margaret showed me an original tintype of the exact same photo. It was so fullfiling knowing I had finally found some family members from the same line as myself. Margaret and her husband William were as surprised as me at me having one of the exact same photos as them. This is that picture of Civil War Veteran and my Great-Great Uncle Edward Peter Reese and his family.. Peter is seated on the far left(holding cane) Margaret Fox Reese and myself both estimated this picture was taken sometime between 1909 and 1916. Peter died in 1916 and his wife Hannah Depriest Reese had died in 1909. Hannah was not in this picture, so the assumption is, it was after her death.
Resources for other research on our Reese and related lines:
Katherine Bushman was an Augusta County Virginia researcher who also managed the Augusta County Historical Society. Her research is broad and vared and very thorough. She also had some research on our Reese line. All of these folders are at the Library of Virginia in Richmond VA. Here's a link to it:
For decades I have tried to track down descendants of Emmanuel Reese to see if anyone had a picture of him. As of this writing I have still not be able to find anyone with a picture of him.
REESE PHOTO GALLERY