Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beeks line: Owen T Reese 1790-1876

Surprise!  I found an ancestor with a lot of inconsistencies in the records.  Some of the information is proven, and some isn't, or at least, I haven't found the proof for it yet (examples:  number and names of children, his and his wife's age, and even the names of his parents).  But there is enough to go on to make a brief outline, I think, and I'm going ahead with the post in hopes that other descendants will see it, and contact me to give me additional information and corrections. 

Owen Traveler Reese lived an interesting life.  His middle name, Traveler, was given him because his parents were traveling from Frederick County, Virginia to Highland County, Ohio, when he was born.  Based on census records only, he was born about 1790.  His parents are believed to be Solomon and Ann Rees, but I found a newspaper article from Tipton, Indiana, stating that his father was also Owen Reese.  I believe that to be an error, because I have found no records of an older Owen Reese, but I can't prove that. 

We don't know anything else from Owen's childhood, except that Solomon had a brewery in 1806.  Presumably Owen would have either worked there, or was apprenticed elsewhere, but that is speculation.  We know he had brothers and sisters.  Lydia was born in 1774, and brother Hiram was born about 1790, so Hiram and Owen would have been close in age and grown up together.  Sampson, John, and Sarah were also siblings, but I have as yet found no indications of their birth dates. 

About the time he came to manhood, the War of 1812 (not yet called that, of course) was rearing it's head.  Owen may have lived in Fayette County at this time, or shortly after.  Owen is listed as a soldier in the 1st Reg't (McArthur's) Ohio Vols and Militia.  He enlisted a private and was discharged as a private, but it's not clear whether he was part of the volunteers who were engaged in the campaign of Detroit, which involved a lot of walking and a lot of fighting Indians, or whether he was part of the militia, who stayed closer to home.  Either way, he served his country at that time and we owe him a debt of gratitude.  The "McArthur's" refers to Duncan McArthur, who had much previous battle experience and went on, after the war, to become governor of Ohio.  The articles I read said that McArthur accumulated much wealth through land speculation, so perhaps any land that Owen owed was originally purchased by McArthur.   

Owen married Margaret Ellen Moon on December 14, 1813 in Fayette County, Ohio.  He is listed on the 1820 census there, along with brother Hiram and also Solomon, over 45.  This is probably his father, since Solomon died in 1829 in Fayette County.  Owen already had four children, two boys and two girls, under the age of 10, living in the household.  Margaret must have been one busy mother!

By 1830, there are more children: one male under the age of 5, one aged 10-14, and one aged 15-19, plus 2 females under the age of five, one who was between five and 9, and two who were 10-14.  Owen was still in Greene Township, Fayette County, and there had been six children born between 1820 and 1830.  By now, I wonder if Margaret was one tired mother? 

By 1840, Owen is in Concord Township, Fayette County, Ohio.  There are still young children in his home, but some of the older ones had apparently left home.  There is one male under the age of 5, and one between the age of 20-29.  What happened to the rest of the boys?  There is also one female aged 5-9, two 10-14, one who was 15-19, and one who was 10-29, plus Owen and Margaret.  There was one person over 20 who could not read and write, and there were two persons engaged in agriculture.  And there was Margaret, probably exhausted. 

He was still in Concord Township in 1850.  The family was downsizing by now, with Ann, Eliza M, Ellen, Albert, and Jackson still at home.  There was also a baby, Margaret, who was probably a grandchild.  The farm that Owen owned was valued at $2200, and on the same page his son, Jefferson, owned land valued at $800.

Sometime between 1850 and 1860, the Reeses moved to Jefferson Township, Tipton County, Indiana, and purchased land noted as being about 1/4 mile southwest of Kempton (which wasn't in existence yet).  His land in 1860 was valued at $5250, with $1000 in personal property.  Even though he was 69 in the census, he still listed his occupation as farmer.  The household now included his wife, Margaret, and Ann and Albert.  Ellen Dunham was also living in the household, as were 5 year old Margaret and 3 year old James Dunham.  Ellen is two years younger than the Ellen listed in 1850 would have been, but it is still likely that this was the Ellen in the 1850 census. 

In 1870, Owen and Margaret make their last appearance in the census.  Ann is still living with them, noted as being "without occupation", as are presumed grandchildren Margaret and James (not noted as having a different last name).  I wonder if Ann was the long suffering child who felt it necessary to stay home and take care of Mom and Dad, or whether she perhaps had a physical or mental handicap that meant Dad and Mom were taking care of her? 

Margaret died on August 3, 1876 and Owen on November 16, 1876.  They are buried in the Kempton cemetery, along with many of their children.  Their children have been identified (not all proven) as Jane, Jefferson, Ann Maria, Isabella, Eliza, Matilda, Jackson, Eleanor, Albert, and Christian.  I wonder what stories the children heard as they were growing up, of the early days in Ohio, and of the War of 1812? 

This may give us some idea of the stories we'll never know about.  A Tipton newspaper printed a short biography of Owen Reese, saying that they traveled to Tipton County in 1852, with a team of oxen hauling their wagon.  This is what the newspaper article stated: "The story of their trip is very impressive...Almost everywhere was wilderness and although the trip was made with oxen and wagon with dirt and corduroy roads, thy had a prosperous and pious one. 

Thus began the progess of their work.  Their homes consisted of one rooned log cabins with grease lights to be used sparingly.  Work was begun by clearing the forests, chopping of wood, sawing of beams, digging of foundations and a general uprising on every side to provide their families with shelter from the summer heat and winter snow. 

Wild animals prowled around their doors, ducks were shot on the water from their cabin window.

The water, from lack of drainage, encircled the timber and added to their difficulties to be overcome.

Their religious services were held in two old log school houses, one located at Tetersburg and one at Old Berlin, south of Kempton."

The line of descent is:

Owen Reese and Margaret Moon
Eliza Reese and Samuel Goodnight Dunham
Mary Catherine Dunham and Homer Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge and Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks and Cleveland Harshbarger