Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Surname Reece and Early Reece Families in Union
Recently a person I met who
descends from a Reece family that settled in Union County
when the county was new asked me to write about this pioneer family. He said he had much research already done on
the family, and promised to share a disk filled with information with
important information has not yet arrived for my perusal, but having
appetite on finding out about the Reece/Reese surname, and those who
settlers in Union
County, I did a
probing on my own.
the surname, is derived from the Welch, Rhys.
Various members of the ruling class in Wales
name Rhys. The name goes back to the
ancient Celts, also known as the Britons, that once lived in the moors
hills of Wales. The name Rhys in its later versions was
spelled not only Rhys, but Rice, Rees, Reese and Reece.
The meaning of Rhys and its subsequent
renderings meant one filled with ardor, zeal or enthusiasm.
Reece family crest bears the motto, “The hope of a better age.” And, to bring in that better age, those
bearing the Reece family name worked zealously and with ardor to bring
that hope. Like other families coming to
the earliest Rhys/Reese/Reece/Rice families looked for land, work and
freedom. They seemed to have a tendency
to establish factories and/or businesses of one form or another in the
land, and certainly many of them were agriculturalists.
Henry and Jane Reece settled in America in
1663, Richard Reece settled in New England
1668, and Barbara, Jacob, Matthew, Thomas and William Reece settled in Philadelphia
Union County, Georgia in 1834 when the
census of the new county was ordered, there was only one Reece family. We know little about this family from the
census except that the head of household was named John and his family
consisted of two males and one female.
Ages were not given in that census.
1840, three Reece households were in Union. These were John Reece, probably the same John
who was in the 1834 census. In his
household were two male children, one under five and one between five
and John himself who was between thirty and forty.
Two female children, one under five and one
between five and ten, and John’s wife, who was between twenty and
the second Reece household were the head of household, James, age
and 30, and his wife, also between the age of 20 and 30.
the third Reece household in 1840 were William, head of household, age
30, and his wife between the ages of 15 and 20.
A search of the Union County Marriage Records reveals that the
Reece marriage in Union County was of this couple which occurred June
[Note: In family records, the marriage
date is listed as 06.18.1837]. William
Reece married Mary Daniel. They had gone
to Justice of the Inferior Court Thomas M. Hughes to have their
the time of the 1850 census, the family of James Reece was not listed
Union records, but we find the households of John Reece and William
Reece. Since more information is given in
census, we learn more about John’s family who appears to be the one who
been in Union since 1834 or prior to that, maybe even in 1832 when the
was formed. In addition, the other Reece
family was the couple, William and Mary, who married in 1839 [or 1837?].
the John Reece family was this farmer as head-of-household, age 41, and
South Carolina. His wife, Mary, was 37, also born in South Carolina. Their children still at home,
all born in Georgia, were listed as
Jefferson, 19; Martha, 16; Elizabeth, 14; John, 12: Carroll, 10;
James, 5; Burton, 3; and an infant, age two months, not named when the
taker visited the John Reece family.
Reece was 30 in 1850 and listed his birthplace as South Carolina.
His wife, Mary Daniel Reece was 25, and was
born in Alabama. They had five children: Sarah,
11; Quiller, 7; William, 5: Josiah, 3,
and Nancy, 1. Living in the household of
William and Mary was her mother, Sarah Daniel, age 70, who was born in
Carolina. Looking again at the Union
Census, we find the household of Josiah Daniel was in Union County
in 1840, with 5 male children under age 15, and 2 female children under
age 10. This was the family of Mary Daniel
has been reported that William Reece and his brother James settled
first in Habersham
moving on to Union
County. Did they go there to mine gold when the gold
rush began soon after the discovery of that precious metal at Duke’s
around 1828? Whether that was the case
or not, it is known that William Reece searched for and mined some gold
he came to Union
That story will be in the next column.
Jones; published Jan.
14, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.
permission. All rights reserved.
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708
Updated January 24, 2010
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