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The Reese family of Reeseville, Pennsylvania

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

When I first began my family history search, it wasn't long before I found Melanie, the wife of a distant cousin who was connected to my Reese ancestors in Pennsylvania. She and her husband are still living in the same part of Pennsylvania where my family came from and she has been researching the family's history for years. Melanie joked that it would be easier to say who's not related to the Reeses, than to list all the people in the area who are related to Reeses. Her claims were confirmed as my research continued.

Because I still haven't established the origins of my Reese family beyond 18th century Pennsylvania, I usually save tidbits about Reese families I come across in old books and records, like the one shown below. From Pennsylvania-German Society's 1910 publication (Vol. 21), the following excerpt about one early Reese family is published. It was the family of Abel Reese of Tedyffrin Township who founded Reeseville (now Berwyn), Pennsylvania.

A detailed article called "Tory Hollow" by Conrad Wilson, found in Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society History Quarterly Digital Archives, from April 1965 Volume 13 Number 3, Pages 50–53, gives an account of an old mansion called Tory Hollow, located on the south side of Swedesford Road (Rt. 202) and the east side of Cassatt Road. It was the "homestead seat of the Reese family for which Reeseville, now Berwyn, was named". According to the author, the origins of the Reese family are unknown, however, they held positions of prominence in Tredyffrin and especially in Reeseville, or Berwyn, for at least 142 years.

Tredyffrin records first mention "Abel Rees" (1730-1799), a wealthy man who married in 1763 to Violetta Wilson (1744-1820). Together they had several children (Judith, Elizabeth, John, Violetta, Abel Jr., Mary, and David), who were left a "considerable estate along the "Old Lancaster Road (now the Conestoga Road)".

The British Army had camped there for three days in 1777, following the Battle of Brandywine, thus the name "Tory Hollow". Lord Cornwallis soon after surrendered, giving America its independence from Britain.

Abel's son, Abel Reese, Jr. (1776-1820), inherited the farm from his father and married Mary Moore (1792-1875). Abel was a Colonel in the War of 1812, and died eight years after. His wife became known locally as "Widow Reese", having outlived her husband by 55 years. The Reese house is gone but the bridge near the farm was still called "Widow's Bridge" by locals as of 1965. Abel and Mary are buried in the Great Valley Presbyterian Churchyard, a common burial place for the family.

For the complete article, visit the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society's page for Tory Hollow here.

I was able to locate this map from the 1873 Chester County Atlas by A.R. Witmer, showing Mary Reese and Abel Reese living in Tredyffrin Township. Mary was the widow of Abel Reese, Jr., who had died in 1820. Therefore the Abel Reese shown on this map must have been their son Abel Reese (1811-1874), buried in the same cemetery as the rest of the family. [Findagrave]

According to the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society's page for Tory Hollow, the property owned by Mary Reese on the 1873 map was owned by their daughter in 1883. She was Violletta Reese (1817-1903), who married David Robinson Kennedy of Port Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy sold the family land in 1905.

The approximate location of these properties are shown here on this modern Google map:

To keep all this information organized, and in hopes of tracing the descendants of Abel, the information I have found has been added to WikiTree. If you are connected to this line, please collaborate by adding to it!


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