My mother was a Rives.
When Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, it was if a match had been thrown into dry tinder. The revolt quickly swept beyond the borders of Germany, following the lines of least political resistance and finding fresh fuel in those centers where humanist learning had blazed a trail. France was no exception. Those Frenchmen who threw off their old ecclesiastical allegiance and became “Protestants” were soon to be called Huguenots. The Protestant Reformation spread to Languedoc area of France shortly after 1517, and persecution quickly followed. To escape this persecution, many Huguenots fled France. This was the situation in 1545 when Robert Ryves left France and purchased land in Dorset, England. Henry VIII was King of England at that time. Though he was no friend of the Reformation, Henry had broken ties with the Papacy, and Huguenots had no reason to fear persecution in England.
In his Reliques of the Rives James Rives Childs tells about Robert Ryves and his descendants in the British Isles and the New World.
According to James Rives Childs in Reliques of the Rives, Robert Ryves (c1490-1551) was a French Huguenot who immigrated to England in 1545 from the Languedoc area of France. Robert purchased Randleston (Ranston Castle) and 1600 acres of land in Dorsetshire, England. Three years later, he purchased Damory Court. Both properties were near the village of Blandford in Dorset. His wife’s name was Joan (SNU). They had one son (John) and two daughters. It is interesting to note that the Jordan family is also closely associated with Dorset and the adjoining counties of Wiltshire and Devon.
John was the only son of Robert Ryves, and he predeceased his father. His wife was Amye Harvey, of Tarent Launceston. They had four sons and three daughters. Richard Ryves, our ancestor, was the third son.
c1547 – ?
Very little is known of Richard Ryves, the third son and sixth child of John Ryves of Damory Court. His wife’s name is unknown, and only one child, Timothy, is on record. Richard may have died when Timothy was still a young child. Richard’s eldest brother, John, was heir to his grandparent’s fortune, and in 1556 this young heir, only 20 years old, was reported to have an income of 20,000 pounds a year, an enormous sum for that time.
Timothy Ryves was listed as one of the privileged persons residing at Oxford in 1624. It is conjectured that he was left an orphan by the possible early death of his father, Richard Ryves, and that he was taken under the protection of his kinsmen, Dr. George Ryves and Sir William Ryves, at Oxford. The former was known as the illustrious Dr. George Ryves, Warden of New College, Oxford. Sir William Ryves later became a Judge of the King’s Bench in Ireland and Speaker of the Irish House of Lords. Timothy was twice married. By his first wife, Mary, there were two sons, Richard and Timothy, and his second wife, Elizabeth, bore him George and William.
Childs’ Reliques of the Rives shows William to be the first Rives in Virginia. However, Childs later came to believe that William’s half-brother Timothy could have been the first Rives in America and the father of the four sons listed below. Until we have more information, we will stay with Childs’ original version. According to Our Reeves and Related Families by Beulah McGuire Reeves and Bessie Reeves Hoke, William’s father died the year the English Civil War began, and at the age of 17 or 18 young William came to Virginia. The Ryves at Oxford were supporters of King Charles I during the English Civil War, and that probably had much to do with William’s decision to leave England a few years following Cromwell’s victory and the execution of Charles I. As evidence of the family’s close connection to the Royalist cause, a cousin, Bruno Ryves, was Chaplain to Charles I. After the Restoration, he was Chaplain to Charles II, Dean of Chichester and later Dean of Windsor and Wolverhampton.
The name of William’s wife is unknown, but there are believed to have been at least four children – George, Robert, John, and Timothy.
George Rives resided for all or part of his life in Prince George County, Virginia. Many of the records of this county were later destroyed, so there is very little information on George and his brothers and sister. George was evidently a trader, and he plied his trade among the several colonies. Aside from a deposition that reveals a visit by George to South Carolina in 1619, we have little other information on him. His wife’s name is unknown, but the children are believed to be William i, Thomas, Mary, and Joseph.
William Rives i
1683 – c1746
William Rives i was known as Colonel William Rives. He is the first of the Rives whose name appears on Virginia land patent books. His title of colonel probably derives from service as a commander or deputy-commander of the county militia. He married Elizabeth (Foster?), possibly a daughter of the Benjamin Foster whose land adjoined that of William Rives in 1711. William ii, their third son, was born in Prince George County in 1712.
William Rives ii
Very little is known about William Rives ii. He resided in that part of Prince George County from which Dinwiddie County was formed in 1752. In 1782 he appears as the owner in Dinwiddie of 466 acres of land. He evidently married a Miss Pegram and there were at least three children, of whom Thomas Henry Rives was the eldest.
Thomas Henry Rives
C1740 – 1809
On November 24, 1764, in Amelia County, Virginia, Thomas Henry Rives married Eleanor Neal, daughter of David Neal of that county. Thomas and his wife made their home in Dinwiddie County until Eleanor’s death in late 1767 or early 1768 after the birth of her second child. Thomas then married Mary Edwards, and sometime before 1780 he and his family moved to Mecklenburg County, Virginia. After 1790 they moved again, first to Warren County, North Carolina, and then on to Chatham County, North Carolina. Thomas and Mary had seven children. Our ancestor, Edwards Rives, was the fourth child and second son.
1775 – 1840
Edwards Rives became a prosperous farmer in Chatham County, North Carolina. Born in Virginia, March 19, 1775, he accompanied his parents from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, to Chatham County. In 1800 he married Mary Ann Alston, youngest daughter of William Alston, a prominent citizen of Chatham County. Robert Edwards Rives was the sixth of their ten children.
Robert Edwards Rives
Robert Edwards Rives was a grandson of Thomas Henry, and he was prominent citizen of Chatham County, North Carolina. He served as sheriff of Chatham County, and in 1854 he represented the county in the North Carolina State Senate. His first wife was Elizabeth Farrish, and Robert and Elizabeth had five sons and three daughters. Three of the children failed to survive infancy, and another died as a young child. Elizabeth died in 1853, and two years later Robert married Mary Antoinette Brown, daughter of a well-known Chatham County family of Scottish descent. Robert and Mary moved to Arkansas shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, and Edwards Andrew Rives was born there in 1859. He was the only child born of this second marriage to survive infancy. Robert died in 1861, leaving a young widow and child.
Edwards Andrew (Edwin) Rives
1859 – 1935\
For reasons unknown, Edwards Andrew Rives always preferred the name Edwin, and family and friends called him Edwin. Edwin was born in Arkansas. He had two Rives sisters, one older and one younger than him, but neither survived early childhood. His father died when he was only two. Mary Antoinette Rives, his mother, remarried sometime following the death of Robert Rives. Some years later, after the death of her second husband, Mary returned to North Carolina with Edwin and his half-brothers and sisters (surnamed Morelin), doubtless seeking the support of family.
Edwin married Florence Brooks Goldston of Chatham County, North Carolina, and eventually they made their home in Greensboro where Edwin worked as a shop engineer for the railroad. Edwin and Florence had six children, three sons and three daughters: Robert Goldston, Mary Elizabeth, Thomas K, Annie Belle, Mattie Lee, and Edwin Earle.
Virtually all of the information on the Rives/Ryves family was extracted from the book Reliques of the Rives by James Rives Childs.
Annie Belle Rives
Annie Belle Rives was born in Winston-Salem in 1891, the daughter of Edwards Andrew (Edwin) Rives and Florence Goldston, both originally from Chatham County, North Carolina. She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, so the family evidently moved there from Winston-Salem when Annie Belle was quite young. She had two sisters and three brothers. Robert Goldston Rives was the eldest – ten years’ senior to Annie Belle. Mary Elizabeth Rives was next. Her nieces and nephews knew her as Aunt Lizzie or, since she was very small in stature, as Aunt Biggie. Thomas was the third child, next to Annie Belle. Annie Belle’s younger siblings were Mattie Lee and Edwin Earle Rives.
Annie Belle Rives
Annie Belle married Branch Tucker Fields, M.D. in 1913. There were four Fields children. Branch Tucker was born in December 1914. Florence Jean was born in 1917, Roberta Dalton in 1919, and Harold Rives in 1921. Annie Belle’s husband had an active medical practice in Greensboro until his sudden and unexpected death in 1924, possibly because of food poisoning. Annie Belle was left with four young children and no source of income. There was no Social Security system and probably little life insurance. Of course, the extended Rives family helped.
Annie Belle went to business school and afterwards secured a position in the office of a local physician. While working there she met Robert Saunders Jordan, M.D., a widower. Annie Belle and Saunders married in October 1928 and established their home in Pleasant Garden, a small village near Greensboro. I, their only child together, was born while they were living there. Saunders and Annie Belle always loved traveling to the ocean during the summer, and in 1938 they moved to Carolina Beach. They made their home there for the next twenty years.
Annie Belle Jordan
After Saunders Jordan’s death in 1958, Annie Belle sold her beach home. She lived for a while with her sister Mary Elizabeth Glascock in Greensboro, and then she started spending time with her children. In February 1967, while visiting her daughter Roberta and family in Raleigh, she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died.
Reflections: Mother was certainly one of the sweetest persons who ever lived. She was very warm and outgoing – a gracious lady and a wonderful mother. I believe that she was about 5’6” in height. Her hair was dark, and she had blue-gray eyes. She had a very great ability to make friends on very brief acquaintance, and she was an excellent letter writer. Her character and her reputation were above reproach. Everyone who knew her loved her. Naturally, I and her other children adored her.
Mother knew how to make a home a warm and beautiful place, full of love and laughter. She was also a wonderful cook. I remember those grand times around the evening dinner table when there would always be four or five different vegetables, a meat dish, biscuits or corn bread, and usually a dessert. All of us ate together – Mom, Dad, Florence, Berta, Harold – and sometimes Branch and Sallie. Those are good memories. Fortunately, my dear wife Ann got a lot of Mom’s recipes and was her worthy successor in the kitchen.
Mother was a devout Christian in the very best sense of that word. There wasn’t a mean bone in her body, and she was always genuinely concerned about the well-being of others. I cannot remember her saying anything bad about anyone – except possibly Hitler. I remember how she would kneel by her bed every night and say her prayers. I’m sure that I and her other children were frequent prayer concerns, and you can be sure that we all wanted very much to make her proud. Mother was a faithful church member and attendee, and she took her family to church with her. But the example of Mother’s life was far more important than any messages we heard from the pulpit.
In her later years, Mother idolized her grandchildren. She loved them all so very much. She had a “grandmother” bracelet that had small images representing each of her many granddaughters and grandsons, and she was so very proud to wear it.
Mother made friends easily wherever she went. Sometimes she would meet someone in her travels and continue correspondence with them for years afterwards.
As the wife of two physicians (not at the same time, of course), Mother acquired more than a little medical knowledge over the years. That evening in February 1967, when she took ill, a physician was called to the Carruth’s home to examine Mother. She mentioned to him the possibility that she might be suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He said it might be that, or it might be something else. Her own diagnosis was correct.
In the words of Proverbs 31, Mother was “an excellent wife” and her worth was “far above jewels.” I might add that Mother’s children and grandchildren will praise her memory always. God will surely honor her faithfulness.