Person:John Reese (22)

John Reese
b.Abt 1752 Germany
  • HJohn ReeseAbt 1752 - 1827
  • WJane Wetherellbet 1749 and 1759 - 1822
m. 13 Jul 1784
  1. Joseph Reese1785 - 1847
  2. Catherine Reese1788 - 1829
  3. Sarah Reese1790 - 1859
  4. Benjamin Reese1792 - 1853
  5. John Reese1797 - 1852
Facts and Events
Name John Reese
Gender Male
Birth[1][2] Abt 1752 Germany
Immigration[3] Abt 1773
Marriage 13 Jul 1784 Jefferson, Kentucky, United Statesto Jane Wetherell
Marriage Bond 13 Jul 1784 Jefferson, Kentucky, United Statesto Jane Wetherell
Residence[6] 1791 Woodford, Kentucky, United Statespaid taxes
Residence[7] 1794-1806 Scott, Kentucky, United Statesassessed for taxes
Property[8] 26 Jan 1807 Scott, Kentucky, United Statessold property
Property[9] 2 May 1808 Clark, Indiana, United Statesapplied for Federal Land
Other[10] 1809 Clark, Indiana, United Statesvoted, Springhill Township
Other[11] 1809 Clark, Indiana, United Statessigned petition opposing the introduction of negros and slavery
Other[12] 11 Dec 1811 Clark, Indiana, United Statessigned petition protesting election practices of territorial governor
Other[13] 8 Dec 1812 Clark, Indiana, United Statessigned petition requesting additonal time to pay for government land
Property[14] 3 Feb 1815 Clark, Indiana, United Statessold land to son Joseph Reese
Property[14] 1817 Clark, Indiana, United Statessold property
Census[15] 1820 Clark, Indiana, United StatesWashington Township
Death[1][16] 2 Jan 1827 Clark, Indiana, United States
  Genealogy well done. Exemplary WeRelate page with excellent use of original sources.


Birth, Immigration, and the American Revolution

John Reese was born in Germany about 1752, possibly in Hesse Cassel.[1][2] Based on surviving records, he was a man of charisma and strong opinions, a man described by one individual of a later generation as “mythic”.[17]

According to a grandson, John came to the American colonies as a Hessian soldier following a dispute with his father. Once arrived, John is said to have deserted, eventually joining up with the American forces, perhaps fighting at the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania.[1][17] [18] Several of John’s descendants believed that he served in the American army during the American Revolutionary War,[19] [20] and he is recorded as a Patriot in the records of the Daughters of the American Revolution.[4][5] However, the service used to document his Revolutionary War participation was for Lord Dunmore's War, previous to the Revolution, and was likely for a different John Reese.[21]

There was a Hessian soldier named John Reis who, along with a Christian Reis, was reported as a deserter as of February 1777,[22] but he apparently settled in Virginia.[23] To date, none of the individuals named John Reese (or variants) who served in Virginia or Pennsylvania can be linked to this John Reese. Nor is there any record, at least in Kentucky, that John received bounty land for his service. It remains possible that John Reese did serve with the American forces during the American Revolution, but that service currently is undocumented.


Whatever John did following his arrival in the American colonies in the early 1770s, by July of 1784 he was in Jefferson County, Kentucky, where he married Jane Weach, a widow with a young daughter. He does not seem to have owned land there, nor are there any other records for him in Jefferson County. By 1791 he was paying taxes in Woodford County, Kentucky. By 1794 he was paying taxes in Scott County, Kentucky, which had been created out of Woodford County in 1792. According to tax records, he owned 50 acres of 1st or 2nd rate land in the Elkhorn watershed, probably close to the current boundary of Scott and Owen Counties, and seems to have raised cattle and, possibly, horses.[6][7][24] While in Scott County, John became increasingly active in the Baptist Church, becoming a minister in 1801.[25] [26] About 1805 (or 1806) John probably went across the Ohio River with a group led by Jesse Vawter, another Baptist minister, to explore land in Indiana that had recently been opened for settlement following the Treaty of Grouseland, signed 21 August 1805. According to an account by John Vawter, son of Jesse Vawter, "Father with six or eight other Kentuckians from Franklin and Scott counties, visited what was then called the new purchase . . . ." Part of the group journeyed by land and part by water. The land party crossed the Ohio River at Fort William, others descended the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers in a pirogue to a point opposite Milton. The pirogue carried supplies and allowed men to cross the river, swimming horses alongside. During the day men scouted the country, at night they met at a camp along the river bottom. Having located a potential settlement near the present town of Madison, the men returned home and made preparations to move.[27] For John, those preparations included selling his property, probably on 26 January 1807.[8]


Soon after selling his land in Kentucky, John moved to Indiana, near the present town of Madison. He was there long enough to help, along with Jesse Vawter, establish the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.[27] It was not long, however, before he moved again, slightly west, to what is now the small community of New Washington, in Clark County. He seems to have attended the Silver Creek Baptist Church, but by 19 September 1807 he was one of the founding members of the 14 Mile Creek (later New Washington) Baptist Church.[28] Then, on 8 May 1808, at the Jeffersonville, Indiana Land Office, John made an $80 deposit on 100 acres of federal land at the same time an older brother of his new daughter-in-law made a deposit on adjacent to land.[9] Here he cleared land and built a log house, described by his grandson as

“a double log cabin, chinked and daubed with mud. This family residence consisted of two rooms below and a loft overhead. The boys slept in the loft. Access to this airy bed-chamber was secured by means of a small door in the gable reached by a ladder set up on the outside of the house.”[2]

John was one of the area’s successful settlers, able to pay $208.86 to complete purchase of his land on 18 September 1809.[9] Land clearing seems to have continued for several years, as in September 1814 records mention a “log rolling” at his home.[28] Presumably the cleared land was used to plant corn, as his grandson mentions cornmeal as the mainstay of the family diet, particularly during the winter.[2] Unlike Kentucky, there is no indication that John concentrated on cattle or horse raising. Instead, venison may have been the main source of meat, and John apparently tanned the hides for clothing for the men in the family.[2]

As the years passed, John’s family underwent the expected changes. His oldest daughter Catherine probably married in Kentucky and remained there when the rest of the family moved to Indiana. John’s oldest son, Joseph, married in 1807, followed by his step-sister Elizabeth in 1810 and his sister Sarah in 1813. In 1815 John’s two youngest children, sons Benjamin and John, also married, and that year John sold half of his property to his son Joseph.[14] As the years took their toll, John would have found it increasingly difficult to work his land, and in 1817 he sold most of the remaining 50 acres, reserving only a small portion for himself.[14] John and his wife Jane did not live alone, however. About this time John’s oldest daughter Catherine lost her husband and she and her three young daughters came to live with her parents. Catherine apparently continued to live with John after her mother died in 1822, at least until she remarried in 1825. By then, John’s oldest son Joseph had moved with his family to Shelby County, Indiana, and in November 1826 John made his will, leaving his remaining land to his second son Benjamin, with the stated expectation that Benjamin would care for him until his death.[16] John died at the beginning of 1827, and is said to have been buried, along with his wife Jane, in the New Washington Cemetery.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Family Bible Record of Benjamin and Sarah Davis Reese of Clark Co., Ind., in Johnson, Bess Sellers; Daughters of the American Revolution. Alexander Hamilton Chapter (Indiana); and Vera Reese Tranter. Family bible records of Johnson County, Indiana: a collection of family records compiled from family bibles and other sources. (Ft. Wayne, Indiana: Allen County Public Library, 1986), p. 146, Secondary quality.

    Deaths - John Reese Jan. 2, 1827 - 75 yrs. old

  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 John Kennedy Graham Papers, in Reece Family Documents, Reese Family I, Box 3, Folder 10, Secondary quality.
  3., 14 May 2001, Secondary quality.

    John Reece, emigrated from Germany when about 21 years of age.
    (Original Source: Atlas of Shelby Co., Indiana, Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co, 1880, pg 35.)

  4. DAR Patriot Index, in National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), Ancestor #: A094962, Secondary quality.

    Service: VIRGINIA Rank: PRIVATE; Birth: 1752 GERMANY, Death: 2 Jan 1827 CLARK CO INDIANA

  5. FHL #14287008, item 1, in Daughters of the American Revolution, Indiana Society. A Roster of Revolutionary Ancestors of the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution: commemoration of the United States of America bicentennial, July 4, 1976. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Evansville, Ind.: Unigraphic, 1976., 1985), p. 532, Secondary quality.

    Reese, John, Service: on payroll of Lt. David Enoch at Pittsburg, VA which was Fort Duquesne, later Ft. Pitt, now Pittsburg, PA

  6. 6.0 6.1 Woodford, Kentucky, United States. Woodford County, Kentucky Taxpayers 1790 thru 1799. (Miami Beach, FL: T.L.C. Genealogy, 1990), p. 17, Secondary quality.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tax Books, 1794-97, 1799-1801, 1805-1812, 1814-17; FHL #0008221, in Scott County (Kentucky). Tax Assessor. Tax books, 1794-1875. (Frankfort, Kentucky: Kentucky State Historical Society, 1952-1953), Primary quality.

    25 Mar 1794 - Jno Reese – 1 m>21, 3 horses, 12 cattle, 50 acres 1st rate land
    1796 – John Rees, 1 m >21, 4 horses, 10 cattle, 120 acres, Elkhorn -
    1799, 1800 Rease, 1801 - Reese, Elkhorn water course, 50 acres 2nd rate land, 1 wm >21, 5 horses
    1801, 1802 - John Reese, S. Elkhorn water course, 50 acres 2nd rate land, 1 wm >21, 5 horses
    1804 - John Rease, Elkhorn water course, 50 acres 2nd rate land, 1 wm >21, 1 wm>16, 2 horses
    1806 - John Reace, N Elkhorn water course, 50 acres 1st rate land, 1 wm >21, 3 horses

  8. 8.0 8.1 Vols 1, A-C, 1793-1822; FHL #1876550, in Scott County (Kentucky). Clerk of the County Court. Deeds, 1793-1903. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1959, 1975, 1990), Vol. 1, B-18.

    [Note: These volumes recreated from fire-damaged originals, actual deed is charred fragments, showing deed of sale from John Reese and Jean his wife to John K. Couchwell on 26 Jan. Both previous and following deeds dated 26 Jan 1807]

  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Indiana Tract Books, Jeffersonville; FHL #1445505, in United States. Bureau of Land Management. Tract books. (Washington, District of Columbia: Records Improvement, Bureau of Land Management, 1957), Vol 10, p. 2619, Primary quality.

    John Reese of Clark County, IN Territory, NW1/4, S5, T1, R9, 100 acres @ $2/
    On 2 May 1808, paid $80
    On 18 Sep 1809 paid $208.86, Discount $31.14; $320 Paid in Full
    Certificate #29

  10. Clark County, Indiana voters, 1802, 1809. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1985), Secondary quality.
  11. The Territory of Indiana 1800-1810. (UBC E173 U572 v. 7) , in United States. Department of State, and Clarence Edwin Carter. The territorial papers of the United States. (Washington [District of Columbia]: Government Printing Office, 1934-1962).

    Petition Against the Introduction of Negros
    Signers include. Bala Johnson, John Johnson [together]
    p. 706 – Charles Johnson, George Johnson, John Reese, Joseph Reese, Isaac Sturme, Benjamin Reese [together]

  12. The Territory of Indiana 1810-1816. Volume VIII (UBC E173 U572 v. 8), in United States. Department of State, and Clarence Edwin Carter. The territorial papers of the United States. (Washington [District of Columbia]: Government Printing Office, 1934-1962), p. 146, Secondary quality.

    Petitions Regarding Elections - pp. 144-147
    p. 146 – Signers include on Section 2 of Subscribers:
    Charles Johnson, Bala Johnson, John ashbay, George Jhnson, Joseph Reese [all together], . . . John Rees, Benjaman Rees [together]

  13. The Territory of Indiana 1810-1816. Volume VIII (UBC E173 U572 v. 8), in United States. Department of State, and Clarence Edwin Carter. The territorial papers of the United States. (Washington [District of Columbia]: Government Printing Office, 1934-1962), Secondary quality.

    Petition to Extend Time of Payment, pp. 221-223
    p. 222 – signers inc. John Tilford . . . William Anderson . . . Robert Bowers . . . Jacob Storm, Daniel Bower, Adam Bower, . . . Charles Johnston, John Johnston, Bealy Johnston, John Reese, Joseph Reese, Bengiman Reese [all together], . .

  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Deed Records, Dec. 1816-Aug 1818; FHL #1428596, in Clark County (Indiana). Recorder. Deed records 1801-1901, with indexes to grantors and grantees, 1801- 1910. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1985), Vol. 10-16, Primary quality.

    Book 11, p. 335
    Indenture 3 February 1815 between John Reese Snr and Jane his wife of the one part and Jospeh Reese of the other part, all of Indiana Territory and Clark County
    for $600 paid by Joseph Reese
    50 acres of land sold by John Reese Snr
    a part of the SE lot or quarter, Sec 6, Township No. [1] N of Range 9 East of the land directed to be sold at Jeffersonville [description same as later sold by Joseph Reese and wife Nancy]
    Signed John Reese Snr, Jane her X mark Reese
    Witness Joseph Bowers

    Vol 14, p. 94
    Indenture 2 April 1817
    Between John Rease and Jane his wife of Clark County, Indiana
    And Thomas Sanders of same place who paid $150 for the part of the NW1/4, S5, T1N, R9E
    Beginning at the NE corner of S 1/4 Section and running West on the Section line 24 chains and 30 links of a no pole chain
    Then S according to the true Meridians 80 chains or a half mile. Thence E according to the true Meridian 24 chains and 30 links to the 1/2 mile post on the line between Sec 4 and 5 then North up the Sd line to the place of beginning
    Containing 49 acres and 2/5 of an acre
    Signed John Rease, Jane Rease
    Witness Jno K Graham, Benjamin Rease, Joseph Bowers JP

  15. Indiana, Clark County, Washington Township, in United States. 1820 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (National Archives Microfilm Publication M33), Primary quality.

    John Reas, 1 male 45 and over; 2 females under 10 (Sarah Ann, Eliza J. Guthrie?), 1 female 10-15 (Permelia Guthrie?), 1 female 25-45 (Catherine?), 1 female 45 and over (Jane)

  16. 16.0 16.1 Indiana. Circuit Court (Clark County), and Indiana. Court of Common Pleas (Clark County). Will records, 1811-1875. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1989), Vol. B, pp. 349-350.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Letter, Florence A. Blakely to Mary Graham Walker, 15 Feb 1911, Genealogy, Reese Family I, Box 3, Folder 10, John Kennedy Graham Papers, Reece Family Documents
  18. Letter, Florence A. Blakely to Mary Graham Walker Severance, Kansas, 19 Feb 1910, Genealogy, Reese Family I, Box 3, Folder 10, John Kennedy Graham Papers, Reece Family Documents
  19. Daughters of the American Revolution (Supplemental) Application, Member #356293, Vera Reese Tranter (Mrs. Ira E. Tranter), 27 December 1932
  20. Daughters of the American Revolution (Supplemental) Application, Member #291227, Effie Eby Minnich (Mrs. Jay Wendell Minnich), 22 April 1944
  21. Thanks to Nedra Brill for pointing out that this service would no longer be accepted for DAR membership. It also seems more likely to apply to a John Reese who lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania and is listed as Ancestor #A134063 in DAR Records
  22. They were from Schrechsbach, members of the Regiment Von Knyphausen and among the 333 men taken prisoners of war on 26 December 1776 at Trenton, New York and sent to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. About half the men later returned from captivity. (Smith, Clifford Neal, Notes on Hessian Soldiers Who Remained in Canada and the United States After The American Revolution 1775-1784. German-American Genealogical Research Monograph No. 28, Westland Publications, McNeal, AZ, 1992.; Newberry Library)
  23. Descendents of Johannes Ries/Reese. Johannes Ries b. Schrechback, Germany ca. 1754, m. Catherine Kuhn of Bartholomew, Pennsylvania in 1784, settled in Augusta County, Virginia
  24. Spencer and Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists
  25. ”The Great Crosings Church Records, 1795-1801”
  26. History of Great Crossings Church, 1785-1876
  27. 27.0 27.1 Account of John Vawter
  28. 28.0 28.1 Fourteen Mile Creek Baptist Church Records