Joel Rumsey Reeve
Sex: M
Birth: Apr 1823 Rensselaerville, Albany County, NY
Death: 16 Feb 1909 Willoughby Twp. Lake County, OH
Father: Rumsey Reeve (1789-1863)
Mother: Abigail Ann Woolsey (1792-1845)
Spouse/Partner: Mary Amelia Griswold

The 1850 Willoughby census showed just 27-year-old Joel Reeve (born in NY, occupation farmer) and 18-year-old Mary A. Reeve (born in OH) on Joel's family farm, valued at $4,000.

The July 1860 census gave Joel's age as 38 and Mary's as 27 (hers stayed consistent throughout the censuses, but his constantly changed) and valued the farm at $10,000. It listed four children: Mary (age 9), Allice (age 8, perhaps an incorrect entry for Oscar Joel or Henry or Arthur, perhaps a daughter who died soon after--there was an age gap between Oscar and Alvin--but if so, they left out Oscar), Alvira (age 3, female, really Alvin, male), and Eugene (age 2).

The eldest daughter, Mary, appears again in the (accurate) 1870 census as an unmarried 19-year-old who recently attended school. She has turned out to be Emma, who married Walter Tyler, and whom Mabel listed late in the birth order. Multiple letters from a family friend, Adalinia Wirt, establish that the two older children went by the names of Emma and Oscar, with no mention of the given name Mary.

The June 1, 1870, census listed Joel Reeves as a 47?-year-old farmer, real estate valued at $17,500 and personal property at $2000. Wife Mary A. was 37, "keeping house." Daughter Mary E., 19, was "at home," having attended school within the previous year. Oscar J., 18, did "farm labor," also having attended school within the previous year. Alvin, 13, was "at home" and attending school. Eugene, 11, was also at home and attending school. Omar H. was 8, Olive E. was 4, and Lillian A. was 2, none of them attending school. No other children were listed, so Emma and Etta must have been born later. (I found a record in the LDS data base giving Etta's birth date as October 8, 1870.)

Joel's farm, much of which eventually came from land bought by Rumsey Reeve, was near Cleveland, in Willoughby, on Reeve Road on the shore of Lake Erie. It was on the left side of Reeve Road as one approached the lake, and in the late 1800s through the 1940s son Eugene had an adjacent spread (also part of Rumsey's farm?) on the same road, on the side away from the lake (nearer the main road). In the 1940s two Portuguese families lived on the righthand side of Reeve Road. The land was beautiful and rolling, with great groves of black walnut, a lot of which was used for gun stocks in the Civil War. Some sort of natural gas vented (naturally) from a well near the lake shore and burned continually for decades, although it was gone by the 1940s. Such wells were not uncommon in the area; people didn't know how to put the fires out and didn't have any use for the gas.

Romayne's son Jay Whitney Reeve visited the family farm at age 18, during his tour with the Army in WWII, in 1943. (He provided the above descriptions of the property and location.) When he visited, three of Joel's grown children still lived on the family farm: Omar, then about 89 according to Jay (by census records he would have been about 81 in 1943); Etta, about 86 (by LDS birth records she would have been about 73); and Olive (Ollie), about 88 (by census records she would have been about 77). None of them had married. Another brother, 93-year-old Eugene (Gene) and his wife lived with their daughter Mildred on another farm nearby. (By census records Gene would have been about 85 in 1943.) Both Omar and Gene were still very vigorous--hard-working, self-reliant people. When Jay first arrived, Omar was out in the hot sun, hoeing hard. Omar thought Jay was Romayne and told him that "your father" (Oscar Joel) used to go hand-over-hand up and down "that tree over there" (about 80 feet tall by then). Jay also encountered Gene on a tall ladder, painting the side of his barn, while his middle-aged daughter Mildred fretted and fussed at him for doing such a thing at his age.

Jay stayed in Cleveland at cousin Clara's house. She was one of Alvin Reeve's children, single, a teacher with two master's degrees. Jay visited Clara and her brother George again in 1945, on his honeymoon with his wife Helen Winifred Ramsdell.

Reeves tended to blue eyes, slim builds, dark hair, and fairly narrow faces. Some had high cheekbones and large eyes, which made Jay wonder about possible Indian blood in their ancestry. They were quiet but articulate people, very well educated. Gene was uncharacteristically tall (6'3") with an uncharacteristically loud voice, acording to Jay.

The old house was a small two-story, white, with painted pillars and a balcony over the front door. The kitchen was of very old wood which looked unpainted, although running water had been added. The barn was a ways from the house, built into the side of a little hill or knoll, with huge, hand-hewn timbers and stone below ground, wood above.

The family did intensive "truck gardening" there, growing corn, squash, pumpkins, green beans, grains, etc.

"History of the Western Reserve" has this to say about Joel and his family: "Many of them (Reeves) settled in Eastern New York, and there Joel Rumsey Reeve, the subject of this sketch, was born in Rensselaerville, April 25, 1823. The region around there was not only rich in a farming sense but unusually picturesque, and to the day of his death, Mr. Reeve, who had a great love for the beautiful, never tired of celebrating the glories of the Catskills...

"Joel Reeve was educated at the famous old academy where Dr. Asa D. Lord, an educator of the old school, was principal so many years. Then he entered the store of his uncle, Elijah Woolsey, where he remained some time as a clerk. He took part with zest in the social life around him, was a careful observer of it as well, and in later days he often delighted in contrasting the formality and dignity of the cotillion parties he then attended with the romping ragtime of the present. No young girl then went unchaperoned, a relative or trusted servant accompanied her to the dances, sat through them all and then escorted her home with equal watchfulness. At all parties of any kind a bounteous meal was always served, of which wild turkey, pumpkin pie, preserves, luscious and many hued, wonderful cakes, plums, seed, etc., of uncounted brands, were the main features. Long tables were spread and such was the spirit of chivalry that the girls first and afterwards the boys were served.

"Joel was early taught the value of money. He earned his first money by hard work, and that impressed its value firmly upon him. He was given a patch of land by his mother, which he cleared. [Comment: Apparently not comparable to the 'rich portion of the eldest son' given to Henry.] He hired a man and team, and on this small piece raised 100 bushels of corn, which sold for $100, half of which he paid to the hired man."

According to Willoughby township records compiled by the Lake Co. History Center, in 1848 Joel bought, in Lots 2 and 3 in Gore Tract, Willoughby: 79a from Mary Rawdon for $1550; 24a and a road from Henry Woolsey (Elijah Woolsey's farm, apparently) for $500; 16a from Johan M. Henderson for $300; and 28a from Hannah Goodman (Joel's sister) for $800. In 1851 he bought in Lots 2 and 5: 145a from heirs of Rumsey Reeve for $3000; and ___ acres in Lots 2 and 15 from the same.

"History of the Western Reserve" continues, "Mr. Reeve was in the barrel and stave business for several years. For a year after his marriage he lived in Toledo, Ohio, but he returned to his old home, and all the rest of his life he spent in Willoughby, with the exception of the years 1890-91, when he and his wife visited his brother Henry, and also their son Oscar in California.

'With his long line of cultured ancestry he naturally had high appreciation of the value of a thorough education. Most of his descendants are college bred--from Adelbert, Women's College, Lake Erie, Oberlin, Mt. Union, Syracuse, and Berkeley (California) Universities; Howes' Military, old Willoughby College, San Jose (California) Normal, etc. He was always greatly interested in politics, which he studied with a strong, unprejudiced mind, and as a result of his reading and his observation he voted the straight Republican ticket all his life.

"Much of the sternness of his Huguenot forefathers was shown in Mr. Reeve's attitude toward life. He did not believe in the use of tobacco or liquors of any kind, and he attributed his own long life and his unusual strength, which lasted till its close, to the fact that he had never used tobacco or spirits. All his sons are abstainers, too [Comment: Well, report has it that Oscar did like his whiskey...], as well as his father and brothers before. If one of the farm hands wished to smoke, he had to do it in secret, far from the house and barns, and Mr. Reeve promptly burned every pack of cards he discovered. In spite of his sternness, Mr. Reeve was a man of lovable nature, affectionate to his family, helpful to his friends. His life was clean and upright, progressive and uplifting, and it served unconsciously as a model. He was often in advance of his times in his views, but he lived to see the world grow up to them. His main purpose in life, though, was the loving, developing, training of his children. To this he devoted himself unselfishly, and all the rich resources of his mind and character, all the acquirements of his life, were given freely and constantly to them. He died February 16, 1909, at his old home in Willoughby."

Lake County OHGenWeb - Wiilloughby Ear Marks 1815-1850 ( Notch on upper side left, formerly Sylvester Chesbrough mark. (11 Oct 1841)

GEAUGA COUNTY OHIO (became Lake County) - Index to 1874 Landowner Map Book File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Geauga County Genealogical Society Chardon Library 110 E. Park St., Chardon, OH 44024 (440) 285-7601 March 13, 2000


Lake County Cemetery Transcriptions (Lake County Genealogical Society),_Mary_1: Willoughby Township, Willoughby Village Cemetery Section A Rows 1-3 Proofed 29 Oct 2003 Section A, Row 1, Stone #33, symbols on tone: flowers, granite mid lot monument:

Reeve, Joel
Reeve, Mary A. G.
Reeve, Olive E.
Reeve, Omar H.
Reeve, Etta M.
Reeve, Rumsey
Reeve, Abigail Woolsey
Reeve, Mary

[East face] Reeve/ Joel 1823-1909/ Mary A. G. 1832-1900/ Olive E. 1865-1944/ Omar H. 1861-1953/ Etta M. 1870-19[NE]/ [West face] Reeve/ Rumsey 1790-1832/ his wife/ Abigail Woolsey 1792-1845/ daughter/ Mary 1825-1856

Section A, Row 2, Stone #21 (Note: See mon. A-1-33): Abigail/ wife of/ Rumsey Reeve/ died/ Feb. 20, 1845/ aged 52 years/ 9 months

Section A, Row 2, Stone #22, willow tree, edge of oval border ribbed, old head and shoulder brownstone, beginning to erode, last 3 lines buried (Note: See mon. A-1-33): To/ the memory of/ Rumsey Reeve,/ who was born July/ 31st 1790, and who/ was unfortunately,/ by the falling of/ a tree, deprived/ of his life/ Feb. 4th 1832/ Thus suddenly,/ the judge of all will come/ to judge the world/ and take his followers.

Section A, Row 2, Stone #23, carved hand holding roses, (Note: See mon. A-1-33): Mary Reeve/ died/ Jan. 16, 1856/ ae. 31 yrs./ Morse & Stuart/ Cleveland


Name Birth Death
Children of Joel Rumsey Reeve and Mary Amelia Griswold

(Mary) Emma Reeve Abt. 1851
Willoughby (Chagrin), Lake Co., OH
25 Apr 1934
Lake Co., OH

Oscar Joel Reeve 06 Dec 1851
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH
28 Mar 1901
San Jose, Santa Clara Co., CA

Alvin O. Reeve 1857
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Eugene (Gene) I. Reeve 1858
Willoughby (Chagrin), Lake Co., OH
Aug 1950
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Omar H. Reeve Abt. 1862
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Olive (Ollie) Evalena Reeve
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH
24 Jan 1944
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Lillian Annette (Lillie) Reeve Abt. 1868
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Etta Martha Reeve 08 Oct 1870
Willoughby, Lake Co., OH

Willoughby, Lake Co., OH


  1. ^ Upton, Harriet Taylor. History of the Western Reserve Vol. 2 p.789-791. Lewis. Chicago. 1910. Online version: