Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Family in Union County, GA (part 4):
Poet Byron Herbert Reece's Ancestors
The aim of the Byron Herbert
Reece Society is to perpetuate
and make known the poetry and prose of Union County’s
accomplished poet and novelist, Byron Herbert Reece (1917-1958). He
from a long line of Reeces in America,
selected ones of whom are the subjects of this series on the Reece
Family in Union and surrounding
Byron Herbert Reece and his siblings
were of the seventh generation of the known lineage of what we might
Reece clan.” Let’s take a look backward
to see how the poet fits into this genealogical picture.
The first known ancestor of Poet Reece
to come to America
was William Reece, born about 1790 in Wales.
He lived to the ripe age of ninety-nine,
dying about 1898 in Iredell
County, North Carolina. His wife was named Mary, maiden name
unknown. William Reece of Wales
brother who was an ordained minister, a preacher in the Presbyterian
Church. His name was Rev. David
Reece. This Rev. David Reece was pastor
of the church at Cardigen, Wales.
A son of this Rev. David Reece, also
named David, came to America
and eventually settled at Sugar Creek near Charlottesville, North
David, nephew of William Reece, poet
Byron Herbert Reece’s ancestor, signed the Declaration of Independence
was presented in Charlottesville
for approval by the colonists there.
David Reece and five of his sons served in the American
Revolution. Surely William Reece must have
felt pride in
his nephew and the nephew’s sons for their patriotism during America’s
But now back to William Reece and his
wife, Mary, first generation of Poet Reece’s direct line in America. William and Mary had a son named
Valentine. They may have had other
children, but Valentine is the one through whom we trace the poet’s
Valentine Reece was born in 1750 in North Carolina.
Certainly we can remember his unusual name,
since February 14 is our famous St. Valentine’s Day.
For some reason, Valentine Reece had the
nickname “Fella.” Maybe “Fella” was
easier to say than Valentine. Records
indicate that Christina Harmon and Valentine Reece were married in Pennsylvania in
1769. They settled in Watauga County, North
they were members of the Tree Forks
Baptist Church, and from that church’s record information was found
Christine and Valentine Reece’s nine children, listed as follows: John (1770), Jacob (1772-1851), Valentine
(1774), Hannah (1776), Mary (1778), Elizabeth (1786), Isaac (1788),
(1790), and Daniel (1792). Valentine and Christina moved to Trade, Tennessee at
It is said that they had extensive properties there and “an
the luxuries of life.” In Valentine’s will, he appointed sons John and
executors, and stated that his wife Christine and son Daniel (youngest)
have fifty acres of land at Cove Creek and one “sugar camp.” The rest of Valentine’s property was to be
divided equally among the remainder of his children. Valentine’s
his children gave them a good start with property.
Through Valentine and Christina Harmon
Reece’s second child, Jacob (1772-1851), we trace the lineage of poet
Herbert Reece. Jacob Reece married
Susannah (called Hannah) Silvers about 1791, either in North Carolina
Hannah Silvers was born in 1788 in Carter County, New York. In
couple lived in Pendleton
District, South Carolina. Their six children were Permilla (1809) a
daughter; John (1809), Josiah (1815), Quiller Rose (1817), William M.
(1818-1905) and James Marion, Sr. (1820-1871).
Hanna Silvers Reece died in 1825 at age 47.
Jacob Reece settled in Gilmer
buying 120 acres of land there in 1836.
Jacob Reece sold this same acreage to his daughter, Permilla Reece
Sandall. In the 1850 census of Gilmer
County, Jacob was 81 and in the household with him were his daughter
Sandall and two grandchildren, William Sandall, age 13, and Martha
12. Jacob Reece died in Gilmer County, Georgia in 1851 at age 79.
Know that in those days, Union County, Georgia
and Gilmer County,
were adjacent, before other counties were formed from portions of these
counties. So Jacob and his family did
not live far from Union, although
the census as dwelling within Gilmer.
Jacob and Hannah’s second child, John
Reece, born in 1809, married Mary Anderson, born in 1813.
This John Reece was the fourth generation of
William Reece’s family in America.
John and Mary Anderson Reece had ten
children: Jefferson (1831), Martha
(1834), Elizabeth (1836), John (1838), Elisha Carroll (1842), Johnson
(1844), James (1845), Burton
(1847), Simpson (1815-1914) and Margaret A. (1853).
John and Mary Anderson Reece’s ninth
child, Simpson (1815-1914), was in the fifth generation from William
Reece. Their ninth child, Simpson, was
the grandfather of poet Byron Herbert Reece.
Simpson Reece married Emmaline (called Emily) Sampson on March 27, 1879 in Union County, Georgia.
Mr. A. B. Queen, Justice of the Peace,
performed their marriage ceremony.
Emmaline was born in 1852 and died in 1936 at age 84. Emmaline Sampson Reece’s lineage will, of
necessity, have to be a pursuit of a later time. Simpson
was born in 1850 and died in 1914 at
age 64. Both Simpson and his beloved
wife were interred at the Duncan
Cemetery, Union County, Georgia.
Records show that Simpson and Emmaline
Reece had only one child, Juan Reece (first name pronounced Jew-Ann). Juan Reece, who married Emma Lance, was the
father of poet Byron Herbert Reece.
Here’s the summary of the poet’s ancestry by numbered
the first one of his Reece line in America:
William Reece (wife Mary)
Valentine (“Fella”) Reece, wife Christina Harmon Reece
Jacob Reece, wife Susannah (“Hannah”) Silvers Reece
John Reece, wife Mary Anderson Reece
Simpson Reece, wife Emmaline Sampson Reece
Juan Reece, wife Emma Lance Reece
(7) Byron Herbert Reece (1917-1954),
poet and novelist, did not marry, no offspring.
Next week, we will look more closely
at the home into which poet Reece was born, that of sixth generation
and Emma Lance Reece.
Jones; published Feb. 4, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by 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 February 9, 2010
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