|JOHAN JACOB RIES
1729 - 1772
Johan Jacob Ries1 – b: 14 May 1729, Wurttemberg, Germany; d: Bef. June 1772, (Deep Creek /
Yadkin County) Rowan County, NC; m: Anna Maria Seiburren in 1745. (b: 1729 Wurttemberg,
Germany; d: ca.1817, Rowan County, NC). He is my 6 times great grandfather.
Note: An alternative birth date was discovered under the name Joannes Georgius Jacobus Ries,
the birth place and the parents are the same, but the name and the date of 21 MAR 1732 are
different. It bears researching further.
The first member of our Reece/Reese/Ries family in America came from Germany in 1749 with the
immigration of Johan Jacob Ries and his wife, Anna Maria (Seiburren) to Pennsylvania.
It is believed that Johan Jacob Ries is the same man listed on the Passenger and Immigration
Lists 1500’s + and on the Passenger list of the ship, Chesterfield, which landed in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania on September 2, 1749, having come from Rotterdam by way of Cowes on the Isle of
Wright off England. See ‘Coming to America’ for the list and other indicators that I have located.
Previous research indicates that he traveled with his wife, Anna, their baby son Johann Valentine
Ries (Reece) and a daughter, Barbara Ries. Another son, Marten Ries, was born later in North
Note: No information was found about Marten Reece except that he was there to sign the will of
his father, Jacob Ries, when it was written on July 22, 1771, and filed in Rowan County, NC.
After landing in Philadelphia, the Ries family probably did what most other German immigrants of
the time did, they moved out to the “German” or “Dutch” settlements that lay to the west of
Philadelphia in Lancaster and Bucks counties. By 1750 there were almost 90,000 German
speaking settlers in those counties and the surrounding areas. Here land was expensive and the
settlements had become over-crowded so most new families rented land, put in crops and stayed
just long enough to earn a little money as contract laborers before moving on toward the frontier.
It is not certain when (Johan) Jacob settled the land west of the Yadkin River, but it was most likely
between 1746 and 1752. History tells us that this official recording was often delayed for many
years after the land was settled, although there is reported to be a deed dated 1761 for land
obtained by Johan Jacob Ries.
It is assumed that the family left Pennsylvania before 1758 and moved west and south along the
“Old Wagon Road” (also called the Great Wagon Road and later called the Daniel Boone Trail) to
settle near the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River in the “Bryan Settlement” near Yadkinville, NC
(now Huntsville, NC).
One record that I found said that on the Granville Land Grant of 1761 in Rowan County (now
Yadkin County), dated 05 Feb 1761, a Jacob ‘Rice’ was listed near Zachary, Shore, Lindsay, and
Steelman land off Deep Creek. His name, and his son’s name, is indeed on this historical map.
However I have been unable to find images of this document yet.
You can read some background on land grants on this .pdf entitled North Carolina Land Grants.
|CHILDREN OF JOHAN JACOB RIES AND ANNA SEIBURREN RIES:
- Johann Valentine Reece – b: Abt. 1748, Wurttemberg, Germany; d: APR 1814, Roan
Creek, NC; m: Anna Christina Harmon
- Marten Reece – b: in NC; d: 1845 Buncombe County, NC
- Barbara Ries – b: 1745 Wurttemberg, Germany; d: Bet. 1818 - 1820, Surry County, NC;
m: Frederick Shore (d: 1812)
Much of the following narration was taken from print out that came to me of a now defunct website
at mountainwizard.net. I have reason to believe it was written by Bob Jones, who passed away in 2004.
I have updated it as much as I could document. If anyone has any documentation for anything
mentioned below, please contact me Norma Stamp (2017) email@example.com
Peggy Fuller (a great source) says:
He is found on Page, 10-11, (In the third list) on the 1759 Rowan County petition to the King as
Jacob Ries is also listed on page 56: “Rowan County Deed (1764-1768) Book 6: Page 279. On
09 JUN 1766. Jacob (X) Reece (sold land) to Peter Sprinkle for L32 (32 pounds) proclamation
money, Lot 324 A on S side of Deep Creek. Wit: William Frohock, Jonathan Hunt. Proved
July Court 1766."
This could be some sort of Granville land purchase. I am searching for images of these
documents and will include them when found.
Click on the map for a larger view)
Rowan County included the entire northwestern sector of North Carolina, with no clear
western boundary, but its size was reduced as a number of counties were split off.
The first big excision was to create Surry County in 1771. Burke and Wilkes counties were
formed from the western parts of Rowan and Surry in 1777 and 1778, respectively. That left a
smaller Rowan County that comprised present-day Rowan, Iredell (formed 1788), Davidson
(1822), and Davie (1836).
Surry, Burke, and Wilkes subsequently fragmented further as well.
Yadkin county was formed in 1850 from the part of Surry County that lies south of the Yadkin
River, for which it was named.
Depending on where your ancestors lived, you may want to look at records for some of these
later counties also. Records of very early land grants in the Rowan County area will be found
with Anson County.
Bob Jones, a previous Reece researcher, believed that Johan Jacob Ries must have been living
near the Yadkin River before 1758; because in that year the Cherokee began raiding the
isolated farms west of the Yadkin. The Moravians in Bethania and Bethabara (a predecessor to
today’s “Old Salem” in Winston Salem, NC first settled in 1753) record that Jacob and his family,
along with 220 other settlers took refuge with them from 1759-1762.
Note: Bethania is the second oldest Moravian settlement in North Carolina. Founded in 1759 as
a self-sufficient farming community which allowed both Moravian and non-Moravian settlers,
Bethania represents the first planned town lot in the Wachovia Tract. Originally consisting of two
thousand acres, the town was laid out in a German agricultural pattern by the surveyor Christian
Gottlieb Reuter. The town lots flanked a main street running north and south of a central square,
with garden plots extending out in each direction.
This time period was called the Cherokee War and although there were few battles and only a
There were a total of 2000 settlers “across” the Yadkin in 1758, but by 1762 only 800 remained.
Most, like Daniel Boone’s father Squire Boone, who was (Johan) Jacob’s neighbor, had returned
East temporarily. Of those that remained, the majority took shelter, like Jacob, in protected areas
such as the Moravian Colony of Wachovia or Fort Dobbs (today’s Statesville, NC).
They would return to their land at harvest time and winter there until spring planting for the
Cherokee were doing the same over the mountains and did not make war during those months.
But as soon as the crop was in they would pack up and return to the safety of the forts for the
The following is an extract from a letter from the Moravian Bishop Spargenberg, Bethlehem, PA
dated June 11, 1760 upon returning from a trip to North Carolina:
“Now concerning the Wachau [Wachovia], I felt that I was leaving a land of the. Lord; the
Brethren and Sisters living there are dear hearts. More than 220 persons have taken
refuge with the Brethren, fleeing from the terrible hand of the wild Men. They are living
among the Brethren, but in separate houses and huts. The Gospel is diligently proclaimed
to them, and not without results. We were not attacked by the wild Men, while I was there,
but the roads are very unsafe. The government is trying to clear the woods by sending out
parties of soldiers. Our Brethren keep a constant watch, which is necessary, and also
good for the country, for many neighbors have come to help them with all their movable
possessions as well as wives and children.”
By 1762 the war was over and the Ries family returned to the land. There, Jacob’s son, (Johann)
Valentine Reece, married Anna Christina Harmon on April 6, 1769. Christina was also German.
She was the daughter of neighbor, Johanne Herrmann (Harmon), who later lived in today’s
Rutherford County, NC and died there in 1774.
Jacob had evidently made a good impression on the Moravians while he was in Bethabara, for
when the local missionary for the Moravians, Father Soelle, wandered across the Yadkin on
numerous occasions he always stopped in to visit and preach. The following passages are
extracted from his diaries and recorded in the history of the Moravians in North Carolina,
compiled from the Church Records by the North Carolina Historical Commission:
“Further up Deep Creek lived John Herrmann, On one occasion Soelle walked from
Bethabara to Herrmann’s in one day, leaving at 6 a.m. and reaching there between 3 and
4 o’clock. Herrmann had several sons, and another German family lived with them.
Herrmann’s wife was born in the Wetterau, he was a German. Of the other family (name
not given) the father was born in Eisenach and the mother in Lindheim. Herrmann’s house
was so near the road that many people stopped there every day.
“Crossed Deep Creek and visited with the Reeces. Ries and his family had taken refuge in
Bethania during the Indian War. Old father Ries was in poor health, but rejoiced to have
services held in his home.”
(On a 1771 map Ries is shown as living five miles from John Hermann).
It should be remembered that not once did he (Soelle) make all these points in one
journey, he might go direct from Bethabara to “old father Ries” or he might spend a week
on the way stopping at various homes and making calls to right or left.”
I think that like the country, borders changed and folks bought and sold land according to their
needs, so there were many such exchanges of farm and pasture land.
Since all of this information is pre-census it comes to me from collected stories. Except for Johan
Jacob Ries’ will I have not found images of any of these documents, but will continue to search.
Johan Jacob Ries died in June 1772. It is not known for sure where he is buried although Deep Creek
Friends Church Burial Ground (Cemetery) just South of Booneville, NC has been offered as a as a
The Reece Family Cemetery on Modock Road is where at least one of his sons is reported to be
Johann Valentine Reece buried and is a possibility as well. More information can be found on his son
Johann Valentine Reece’s chapter or at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?
Last Will and Testament of Johan Jacob Ries
(Transcription shown with corrections for clarity)
In the Name of God Amen the 22nd of July in the year of our Lord 1771. I J. Jacob Rees of
North Carolina in Rowan County Yeoman being in perfect mind & memory thanks be given
unto God therefore calling unto Mind & mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed
for all men once to die. Do make and ordain this my last will and testament. That is to say
principally, and first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hand of God that give it &
for my body I recommend it to ye earth to be buried in a Christian like & decent manner at the
again by ye might power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath
pleased God again by ye might power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith
it hath to bless me in this life I give and devise and dispose of the same in the following to
bless me in this life I give and devise and dispose of the same in the following matter and
matter and form.
First to my son Martin Reese, I give & bequeath five shillings sterling for his whole legacy out
of my estate.
Also to my well beloved wife, Ann Rees, I give & bequeath the third of all my movable estate
& a bed & a cow and a linen spinning wheel.
Also to my son Valentine Rees I give and bequeath ye residue and remainder of my estate of
& land; likewise I constitute make & ordain my son Valentine Rees my only and sole executor
of this my last will and testament and so forth.
I do hereby utterly revoke disallow and disannul all former bequests, wills and legacies by me
heretofore in anywise left or made declaring ratifying & confirming this & no other to be my
last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal ye day and
year above written.
Jacob X (his Mark) Rees Seal
Signed sealed published & declared by ye within named testator Jacob Rees to be his last
will and testament in ye presence of us who subscribed our names in ye presence of ye said
It was witnessed by John Harmon, William Rutledge, and Simon Hadley (a Quaker).
Note: Simon Hadley has a son, Thomas Hadley. On Thomas Hadley’s will, dated 1822 in
Surry County, NC, it shows he has a daughter, Rachel, who would eventually marry Daniel
Rees, son of Abraham Rees who died in 1820-1821 in Surry/Rowan County, NC.
Note: I found a notation somewhere that it was Read on 06 NOV 1772 but have been unable
to verify this information.
A previous transcription is fairly widely available online; I found one copy on Ancestry.com at
Supposedly the inventory of Jacob’s estate, dated the first day of January 1773, relates
that Jacob owned 5 cows, 2 mares, 2 colts, 2 hogs, 11 pigs, 4 breeding sows, 8 sheep,
various tools, 13 pounds of wool and household items. Total sum of the estate was 558
pounds, 8 shillings and 11 ½ pence. I would love to locate an image of this inventory. Do
you have one?