As stated in another part of this sketch, the name Reeves has been closely interwoven with the growth and development of this section of Indiana from an early date and no biographical history of Hancock county would be complete without due mention of the distinguished gentleman to a review of whose career this sketch is devoted. He has been a lifelong citizen of the county, as well as an important factor in promoting its material prosperity, a man of achievements whose name has long been honored by the people among whom he has lived. The Reeves family is of English origin and was represented in America in the time of the colonies, the subjects great-grandfather coming to the new world a number of years prior to the war for independence. This ancestor was one of three brothers who settled in New York, Virginia and South Carolina respectively, each becoming a man of prominence in his community. Among the children of the Reeves who settled in Virginia was a son by the name of Eli. He served in the war of the Revolution and in an early day joined the tide of emigration to Kentucky, in which state he married Sarah J. Redmond, who was of Virginian birth, but when young was taken by her parents to the "Dark and Bloody Ground." Thirteen children resulted from this marriage, namely: Iley, Daniel, Eli, Mary A., Sarah, Asa, Anna, John, Neville, Benjamin, Susanna and Elijah.
About the year 1803 Eli Reeves moved his young and growing family to Brown county, Ohio, of which he was one of the earliest pioneers. By reason of his services as a soldier he received a military claim, but failing in some way to lay it properly, lost the title to his land and was obliged to purchase another place from the government. He took an active part in the early history of Brown county, cleared a good farm and became a worthy citizen of the community, which he assisted to establish and in which he spent the remainder of his life; he died there a number of years ago at a good old age. His widow subsequently accompanied some of her children to Indiana and departed this life long ago in Rush county. According to the most reliable information at hand, the children of this old pioneer couple married as follows: Anna became the wife of Stephen Stephenson; Sarah married James Steel; Susanna married A. C. McNulty; Iley was the husband of Fannie Stephenson and was a soldier of the war of 1812; Daniel, also a participant in the war of 1812, took to wife Nancy Lang; Asa married Rebecca Reed; John wedded Nancy----; Jabez and Nancy Coe became husband and wife; Benjamin married Elizabeth Crawford; Elijah entered the marriage relation with Jane Ross and Neville, the subjects father, was twice married, first to Anna Crawford, afterwards to Sarah Gibbs.
Neville Reeves grew to maturity in Brown county, Ohio, and by his first marriage had eleven children, namely: Caroline, wife of Burd Lacy, of Medicine Lodge, Kansas; Benjamin F. of this review; Jane died at the age of nineteen; Sarah Ann is now Mrs. James Sparks, of Brown township; Andrew J. married Mary J. Loudenback, lived in DesMoines, Iowa, and died in that city; Elijah married Nancy Catherine Barrett, lived in Jackson township, this county, for a number of years, and died in 1876; Margaret is the wife of J. H. McKown, whose sketch appears elsewhere; Elizabeth, now deceased was the wife of William Kimerly; Asa J. died when young; Rachel married John S. Orr and lives in Greenfield; Amanda F., the youngest, died in infancy. The second marriage resulted in four children: Riley A., a resident of Trinidad, Colorado; Rebecca A., wife of Wm. H. H. Rock, of Greenfield; Joseph P., of this county, and Eliza, deceased, formerly wife of Cary Crane.
Neville Reeves lived in Brown county, Ohio, until 1837, when he migrated to Rush county, Indiana, locating in Center township, where he remained for a period of three years. The years prior to his removal to Indiana he entered eighty acres of land in Brown township, Hancock county, and after leaving Rush county he moved to the place, which at that time was a wilderness, uncheered by the slightest presence of improvement. His first dwelling was the rude log cabin of pioneer architecture in which himself and family spent some of the happiest days of their lives and the small "patch" to which the term field could hardly be applied, was the first ground cleared and planted.
Mr. Reeves subsequently added to his possessions until his place contained one hundred and ten acres and in due time he became one of the prosperous farmers of his township. He served as county commissioner in an early day also as justice of the peace for many years and was frequently employed to administer upon estates and do legal writing for his neighbors. A Jeffersonian Democrat, he was a local leader of his party and also achieved considerable reputation as a minister of the Christian church, having devoted much of his life to public religious work. He was a prominent factor in the affairs of Brown township and his memory will long be enshrined as one of the substantial pioneers and representative citizens of Hancock county.
Benjamin F. Reeves, whose name appears at the head of this article, has long enjoyed marked prestige as one of Hancock countys enterprising, public-spirited men of affairs. He was born May 2, 1828, in Brown township, received a limited education in the old-fashioned log school house under the tutelage of indifferent teachers, and grew up to the full stature of strong, vigorous manhood well qualified for the duties of life which he subsequently encountered. Making the most of his opportunities while a pupil and devoting his leisure to a careful perusal of such studies and other books as he could procure, he became well informed and while still in his teens taught very successfully in the schools of his neighborhood. He continued educational work for several years, meantime working on the home farm, which he helped cultivate until reaching his majority.
Mr. Reeves was married on the 1st of November, 1849, to Miss Caroline Harlan, who was born in Fayette county Indiana, daughter of Stephen and Mary (Sparks) Harlan, both parents born in South Carolina, but moving to Indiana early in the thirties. About 1836 Mr. Harlan became a citizen of Brown township, Hancock county, where he purchased and improved a great deal of land, also built a mill and engaged in the manufacture of flour. He was one of the townships prosperous men and at his death left a valuable estate.
Mr. Reeves began life for himself in the woods of Brown township, buying a place in section 22 on which he has lived and prospered to the present time. By dint of hard and long continued labor he removed the forest growth with which his place was densely covered and developed the soil to its highest productive capacity until his farm compared favorably with the best cultivated places in the county of Hancock. The original buildings, fences, etc., have disappeared before the trend of progress, giving place to new and modern improvements, among which may be noted the large and beautiful residence, erected in 1870 at a cost of several thousand dollars, and other buildings in keeping therewith. This elegant, well-furnished home, supplied with all that is calculated to make life pleasant and desirable, is a haven of unbounded hospitality and good cheer, where scores of friends and acquaintances are often royally entertained.
Mr. Reeves has been successful in his business and is now a possessor of a fortune of no means proportions. As a farmer and raiser of fine live stock, cattle, horses and swine, he has long ranked with the leading agriculturists of his township and county and as a citizen is public-spirited in all the term implies, occupying a conspicuous place in the affections of the people of the community. For many years he has been a potential force in the Democratic party of Hancock county, his leadership in the township of Brown being conceded by mutual consent. He served seven years as township trustee and discharged his duties faithfully and worthily, inaugurating many improvements, besides carrying to successful completion other measures for the public good. For a period of sixteen years he was justice of the peace, an office for which he was peculiarly qualified by reason of a naturally strong legal mind, sound judgment and an earnest desire to mete out exact justice to his fellow men. During that time he joined in marriage about one hundred and fifty couples.
In 1892 Mr. Reeves was elected to represent Hancock county in the lower house of the general assembly, and as a legislator fully justified the people in the wisdom of their choice. His record in the session of 1892-93 is replete with duty faithfully performed, as he served on a number of important committees, introduced several bills which became laws and took an active part in the deliberations of the body, participating in discussions and wielding a potent influence among his fellow members. He retired from the legislature with the good will of his constituency and since that time has held no office nor inspire to any kind of public distinction. Religiously Mr. Reeves is a devout member of the Baptist church, in which for some years he has held the office of deacon, at present being trustee of the church. He has been active in religious work and much of the success of the congregation to which he belongs is due to the interest he ahs taken in its welfare and the financial support he has long given it. Personally he is a gentleman of pleasing address, easily approachable, and his faculty of making friends has won for him the lasting regard of the best people of his township and throughout the county.
Mr. Reeves has been twice married, the first wife, to whom reference is made in a preceding paragraph dying March 25, 1873. On the 15th of August, 1874, he was united in the bonds of wedlock to Nancy Garner, her parents natives of Ohio. Mr. Garner, a farmer and stock dealer, came to Delaware county a number of years ago and died here on the 10th of August, 1840, his wife following him to the other world in the month of July, 1865. They had children as follows: Lovina, wife of James Smith; Rachel was the wife, first of Aaron Ross, then of A. P. Combs; Job; Catherine, wife of William Sparks; Nancy; John, deceased, wedded Cornelia Myers and they had three children, Mary, Jane and Ollie; Lydia, wife of Frank M. Sparks, all deceased.
To Mr. Reeves and his first wife were born ten children: (1) The oldest, Allen J., is a graduate of the Physio-Medical College at Indianapolis, and now a druggist and practicing physician of Toledo, Illinois. He was born June 2, 1851, married Della Farmer and has had two children, Margaret, wife of Vernon Brewer, and Walter C. (2) Mary Ann, born May 24, 1853, is the wife of John S. Simmons, whose biography appears on another page of this chapter. (3) Sarah J. was born on the 8th of January, 1855, married James R. Titus, of Markleville, this state, and is the mother of sons and daughters as follows: Margaret, Benjamin S., Ida F., Albert and Grover C. (4) Margaret C., whose birth occurred November 12, 1856, died at the age of nineteen. (5) Arthur C., born August 9, 1858, is a farmer of Madison county, Indiana; his wife was formerly Effie Corey and his children, five in number, are named as follows: Lawrence, Ruby, Harold, Benjamin Alton and Alois. (6) Albert B. was born August 6, 1860, and lives in Dodge City, Kansas, where he practiced law; he is one of the leading attorneys of the place and also widely known as a political leader. He married Ora May McCarter, who has born him four sons, Ralph, Ray, Robert and Benjamin. (7) Alice, whose birth occurred July 17, 1862, died in childhood. (8) Cicero R., a photographer of Anderson, this state, was born May 3, 1864; he married Cecil Turner and has a family of six children, Earl, Ruth, Nilah, Mary, George and John. (9) Elizabeth H., wife of John L. Kennedy, of Jackson township, was born on the 7th of September, 1866; she is the mother of three children, Florence, Cora C. and Ralph R. (10) Charles F., whose natal day is April 13, 1869, is reporter of the circuit court of Hancock county at Greenfield; his wife was formerly Miss Zora E. Ham, of this county.
Mr. Reeves feels justly proud of his family, every member of which has adorned his or her station in life; he gave his children the best educational advantages obtainable and nearly all of them taught school in their youth. They are now intelligent ladies and gentlemen, highly respected in their respective places of residence and attribute the greater part of their success in life to the wise counsel and correct example of their parents.
A fact worthy of mention is that Mrs. Reeves; grandfather Crimm was, when nine years old, taken a prisoner by the Indians while gathering wild plums and was held a captive for nine years, being then liberated through the intercession of his brothers. So strong was the friendship formed between the red men and himself that every year afterward he was visited by an Indian chief.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 330-334.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 28, 2002.
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