Curnel Caywood Reece was born on 06 FEB 1870, Haywood County, NC, and died 07 JAN 1963, in Clay County, NC. He
married his 3rd cousin, Susan “Ellen” Reece on 23 DEC 1892 (per NC Marriage Records 1741-2011 Haywood Marriage
Registry 1851-1977). She was born on 01 MAY 1873 and died on 04 JAN 1940, in Clay County, NC. She was the daughter of
John Valentine Reece and Nancy Wells. Both of them are buried in Pine Log Cemetery, Clay County, NC.
Curn’s lineage is: Jessie Franklin Reece5, Samuel L.Reece4, Anthony Reece3, Johann Valentine Reece2, and Johan Jacob
His father, Jessie, was born in APR 1844, in Haywood County, NC; and died in about 1909, in Haywood County, NC. He had
one sister (Dovey/Sally) and one brother (Thomas Jefferson). His mother’s name was Mary Elizabeth Invester Howell. She was
born in MAY 1840, in Haywood County, NC; and died on 26 DEC 1917, in Haywood County, NC.
Curn was named for Colonel Love, Frank’s (Jesse Franklin) Confederate Commander in the Civil War.
The writer of the old reece-mountain website (Bob Jones) says: “I remember him from the time I was a young boy of 10 years. I
still have a sense of his soft wrinkled skin and his smile.”
1909 of ‘Ellen’ and the children:
In my travels, I have seen lots of stories about, but few photos of, Curn. That’s why he got his own page. I apologize ahead of
time for the poor quality of the scans and photos as they were printed out and given to me like this and originated on Bob Jones’
now bygone website. It’s all I have and I wanted to share them.
|Click on the picture to
see a bigger version
|This is a better copy of the same photo in the Union County Article below:
TRANSCRIPTION - From Heritage of Union County
328 CURNEL REECE – ELLEN REECE
Curnel (known to all as Curn) b. 1870 in Cruso Community – Haywood County. One of three children; 1 sister Sally Mease and
one brother, Tom. Curn’s father was Frank Reece (b. unknown). Mother was Betsy Invester (b. unknown).
Curn married Ellen Reece (3rd cousin) in Cruso in 1892. He fathered 12 children (see John V. Reece history).
Curn and Ellen moved the family to Pine Log in 1914. Never heard Curn talk of his Mother or Father. Curn was a fox hunter and
teller of tales. Ghost stories were his favorite; told as if they happened to him. A white horse which actually was a possum by
Double Springs; a spirit on the rail fence at Pine Log Church which was a blowing newspaper; an invisible passenger on the
wagon seat passing by this home at certain times of the year. Also stories of where he worked; Parts of life that give us our
Curn always had a car. He was stopped for a traffic check (in the 1940’s). Only license he ever had was issued by drug store
(around 1910). He received no citation. The Governor of NC issued him a life time license. This license was revoked around
age 85 due to sight failure. No long able to drive, he went horse back. Fell from a horse, died several days later. 1953. (should
say 1963). He is buried in Pine Log Baptist Cemetery.
Arthur lived many years on his father’s farm spent most of life (until Curn died) working with Curn so their lives were close.
Arthur tells about the family’s two week wagon (several two horse wagons) trip from Cruso to Pine Log in 1914; about night
camps (at sites made by other travelers) where stories were told and plans were made; how two horse wagons had to be pulled
up to Winding Stairs Gap by three teams of horses because of the steep and rough roads. Each trip required at least a day.
Arthur and Doris (see Peter Miller and Annie Shook histories) married in Clay County in 1927. Parents of seven native-born Clay
Countians, all graduated Hayesville High School. Daughters – Maebur, Alice, Lenora and Opal (see Peter Miller history). Sons –
Arthur (Buck), Max and Rex (see Curn Reece history).
Arthur (called “Daddy Arthur” when grandchildren came) worked in timber and on the farm from age 14. He was a teller of tales
also and always acknowledged children in his presence. Fox hunting was his hobby. He enjoyed life. He walked with his family
Buck (b. 1931) graduated from HHS in 1951. He went to Korea and was discharged in 1955. He spent two years at the Univ.
Tenn. He married Mary F. Chastain (b. 1940) in 1958. She graduated from HHS in 1958 and has two daughters, Selena – UGA
Computer Scientist, married, 2 sons, lives Norwich, CT; and Taunya – GS Univ, Physical Therapist, married, no children, lives
Calhoun GA. Buck and Mary retired to Pine Log in 1987.
Max (b. 1935) graduated from HHS in 1956. Max stayed home. Worked for NC D.O.T. He married Mary Sue McElrath (b. 1938)
in 1956. They had five children – all graduated from HHS: Paul – no children, lives in Pine Log; Sherry Long Collins – married, 2
sons, lives in Pine Log; Perry – married, 1 daughter, lives in Pine Log; Anita Wood – Appalachian St., Astrophysicist, married, 2
daughters, 1 son, lives in Fredericksburg, VA; Phillip – married, 2 sons. Max and Mary Sue live on the family farm in Pine Log.
Rex (b. 1943) graduated from HHS in 1961. He went to Purdue University where he got a PHD in Clinical Psychology, not
married, lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Submitted by Arthur (Buck) Reece, Brasstown, NC (now deceased) Some small corrections were made in the punctuation for
Curn and Ellen worked hard
and had some unusual pets
Curn and Ellen in the 1930s
Curn and Ellen's Children 1982
And two old photos I just wanted to
make sure got kept:
Betsy Investor Reece (Curn’s mother)
and her sisters
|If anyone has these photos that Bob
Jones used for his website back in
the day. I surely would love to have
digital scans of them to share here.
And Isaac Investor (Curn’s grandfather)
The following information comes from an old website no longer valid. It is a story written by Evelyn Goforth about a cousin of
Caswell Reece’s named Curnel Reece. Many of those on our branch of the family tree are mentioned in the following tale. I have
used parts of this story in other places but here it is in it’s entirety.
Anthony Reece (Caswell Reece’s great-grandfather) came to Haywood County in the early 1800’s. His wife’s name was Sarah
Chambers and they are the ones that lived in the hollow tree. The story is that they lived in a hollow tree until they got their
house built. Another story says that one day an eagle swooped down and picked up their baby. Sarah beat it with a scrag (straw)
broom until it dropped the baby.
There was a falling out within the family. There were some Reeses who lived between Cruso and Bethel who used the “s” instead
of the “c” in their name. Bonnie Reece Sharp was asked if they were related. She said they had changed the spelling because
they didn’t want to be associated with the rest of the family.
John Valentine (J.V.) Reece (Caswell’s father) was a preacher and apparently a carpenter. He could have been called a circuit
rider or not, but his grandson, Mont Reece (Caswell’s son) told me he rode a horse to different churches to preach. Possibly that
is the reason he traveled as much as he did.
When J.V. first came to this part of the country, according to his grandson Mont, he lived over in Georgia between Ebenzer and
Blairsville. He built and operated a grist mill while he lived there and possibly that is when he became acquainted with Clay
County. Somewhere along the line he also spent some time in the Watauga Settlements in what is now Tennessee.
When J.V. settled in Clay County, all of his children except one son and one daughter also moved to Clay County. His son,
Charlie, operated a blacksmith shop. His sons Joe, Theodore and son-in-law, Curn (Susan Ellen’s husband), operated a saw mill
and his daughter, Ann, and her husband George Sharp, operated a country store. His son, Caswell, also operated a country
store and farmed on the other end of Pine Log. His daughter, Lillie, operated a grist mill he had built for her. She was a widow
with five children to raise. (Jefferson Waldroup died in 1914) So J.V. bought an old mill from Peter Miller that didn’t even have
cogs to operate it. He and his son, Charlie, made cogs and other workings for it in Charlie’s blacksmith shop. Ann, George and
Joe eventually returned to Haywood County. Aunt Bonnie was already married and had two children when Curn and the other
family members moved to Clay County, so she stayed in Haywood County.
According to Mont, his father (J.V.), Caswell, Uncle Theodore and Cousin Arthur bought a horse drawn combine in the mid-
twenties. When the depression hit that part of the country, the conveyor belt on it was worn out. The cost of a new one was
$6.50. Between the three of them they didn’t have the money to buy one, so they had to cut the wheat and rye they had
contracted to cut with a cradle. Cas said he had no idea how many acres of wheat he cut.
Mont loaned my Uncle Cas ledgers from 1928-1929 and according to them sugar was 3 cents a pound, salt 2 cents, coffee 15
cents, and a pair of overalls or work shirt $1.25. People worked for him for a dollar a day. Eula Reece Miller had a notebook she
kept in 1939 and the prices were the same. They had not gone up at all in ten years.
People didn’t buy things, they traded eggs, chickens or whatever they had for what they needed Uncle Cas paid 8 cents for a
dozen eggs, 2 cents a pound for dried apples and a hen brought about a quarter. Mont said they took any kind of staples to
Murphy and traded them to wholesale houses for the things they needed. He would load up the wagon at night and leave out
before daylight and after he had done his trading, it would be dark before he got back home.
Lillie, Annie, Roy, and J.T. (Theodore) left for factory jobs. They would all come home for Christmas. Sometimes Bonnie and
Dave Sharp came. They always brought a barrel of sheep nose apples and we could eat all we wanted. I thought they were the
best apples I ever tasted. They must have come home earlier one year because there were still chestnuts. Blight had hit the
chestnut trees. There was one in Curn’s pasture. Uncle Roy and Uncle J.T. cut it down, brought the chestnuts to the house and
roasted them in the fireplace. The only problem was, they forgot to punch a hole in them. When they got hot, they exploded
shooting chestnuts and fire coals all over the room.
Curn Reece, was, I guess, almost what you would call dour. I don’t remember ever hearing him really laugh. He was slow moving
and didn’t seem to ever get in a hurry and was rather quiet. He attended church but never took an active part in the worship
service. His pastime was fox hunting. He always had a bunch of fox hounds. One he had was an egg sucker. Grandma Ellen
kept telling him if he didn’t break it from sucking eggs or put it up, she’d get rid of it. One morning, grandpa went to feed the dogs
and this one was sitting on the side of the hill above the house and didn’t move when he called it. He went to investigate, when
he touched the dog it fell over. Grandma had kept her promise and poisoned the dog. He kept his dogs out of the hen house
When the menfolk went fox hunting, if the dogs were running good, they’d spend the night. Grandpa taught me (Evelyn) how to
blow his fox horn. I’d go out on the porch and blow I the proscribed number of times and before long here would come everyone
who wanted to go fox hunting. He also used the horn to call in the dogs when the hunt was over.
Grandma Ellen Reece was a fun loving person. She loved to play tricks on people. They were always funny but sometimes
verged on being mean. She taught me to milk and would let me help run the separator. I never could understand how you could
pour milk in a hopper and cream would come out one spout and milk the other. She would take me fishing sometimes when I was
over there on Saturday. I was only 4 or 5 years old and only caught molly crawly bottoms but to me that was a big adventure.
She was very active in church.
Grandpa Curn Reece had a home-made cider press. It set under a white sweet apple tree between the house and the barn. The
apples were delicious baked but wouldn’t keep. What couldn’t be used was fed to the stock. They always made several gallons
of cider and it would keep for a good while in the spring house in stone jugs. If it got hard before it was drunk up and you drank
too much of it, it would make you high. Grandma also used it to make vinegar. I always had fun when I visited Grandpa and
Children of Susan “Ellen” Reece and Curnell Reece were:
1. J. Ethel Reece
2. Bonnie Elizabeth Reece – b: 03 JUL 1895 (per NC Index to Delayed Birth Certificates);
m: Dave H. Sharp (b: 1893; d: 1981) (parents of Two known children: Lois/James)
3. Alta Ellen Reece
4. Sarah Elise Reece
5. Ollie L. Reece
6. Lillie Atlanta Reece – b: 02 Nov 1903 (per NC Index to Delayed Birth Certificates)
7. Eula Vaughn Reece – m: Charles Russell Miller
8. Fred V. Reece
9. Roy Caldwell Reece– m: Kate Scroggs
(parents of Annie Mae Reece - b: 08 JUL 1931, Brasstown, Clay County, NC)
10. Annie Naomi Reece – b: 12 May 1919 (per NC Index to Delayed Birth Certificates);
11. John Valentine Reece – b: 17 AUG 1914; d: 16 MAY 1944; m: Flaura Etta Myers (b:
12 OCT 1913; d: 17 DEC 2000) both buried in Pine Log Cemetery, Brasstown, NC
12. Arthur Talmage Reece – b: 07 OCT 1899 (per NC Index to Delayed Birth Certificates);
d: 25 JUN 1983; m: Doris “Dot” Miller in 1927 in Clay County, NC (Max Reece father!)
And In Closing
I located Curn on the 1940 Census living with his daughter Annie, he was 70 years old and listed as a widow. From his death
certificate, we learn that he died in Brasstown Township, Clay County, Warne. Per the story written Buck Reece, he died out on
his land hunting groundhogs. He is listed as a retired farmer and it gives his birthdate as 2-6-1870 and date of death as
1-7-1963, He was just shy of his 93rd birthday. It also listed his father as (Jesse) Frank and his mother as Betsy Howell. He
was never in the military.
The new thing I learn from this document is that he re-married. Her name was Hattie Henson Reece. I have been unable to
verify who she was or when they married. However, I did find a Hattie Henson who was born 31 OCT 1879 and died 05 OCT
1966 also buried in Pine Log Church Cemetery (findagrave Memorial 39793867). I speculate that we have not yet learned her
maiden name and that Henson was her first husband and that is who she is buried along-side, same as Curn being next to
Ellen. I will keep my eye out for more information.
This is an article I found in Echoes of Our Heritage – Clay County, Vol 1, 1994 and was authored and submitted by
Arthur (Buck) Reece - same as the previous transcription above.
Jpgs 1 and 2 and 3 and 4
The article is under his father-on-law’s name but after the first few paragraphs it becomes about Curn and his family and
actually includes information about Curn's son, Arthur T.. It also does not precisely match with Evelyn Goforth’s story below.
So be aware.
330 John V. Reece and Lou Creacy Wells:
John V. (b. 1843) a Baptist minister and wife Lou Creacy (b. unknown) moved to the Pine Log Community to what is now Mont
Reece’s (Caswell’s son) farm in the 1870’s from Cruso in Haywood County.
J.V. moved the mill from Peter Miller’s property on Pine Log Creek, made the gears of wood and built a dam at what is now
Pine Log Village. J.V. had a wooden lathe. [He listed an early occupation as a cabinet maker and so had some skill in the
trade.] He made the porch columns and banisters for the family homes in Pine Log (Curn, Charley, Caswell, Theodore, etc.).
Some years later, John V. with part of family including Ellen, moved back to Cruso by way of Tennessee. J.V. moved back to
Pine Log in 1905. Theodore, Charlie, Lily Waldroup and Caswell stayed on in Pine Log. See Evelyn Goforth’s history of Curn
Ellen (b: 1873) married Curn Reece (See 328 Curnel Reece – Ellen Reece ABOVE / Curnel Reece history) in Haywood
County in 1892. They had Twelve Children Three died as infants.
They were Bonnie Sharp (not Clay); Lillie Burrall Dyer Waldroup lived part of life in Clay; Eula Miller and her husband Russell
Miller (half-brother to Tollie Miller) had nine children; and Charles, Evelyn, Richard, Keith, (Arthur) Talmadge, Pat, Joyce,
Gene, Benny. All graduated from Hayesville High school except Charles and Richard, Evelyn Keith and Pat live in Clay
Ellen and Curn lived on the farm where Max Reece now lives (I don’t think I knew that when we visited!). Ellen, a Christian person, devoted
her life to her family and church. She died in 1939 and is buried in Pine Log Church Cemetery.
The heritage of a community; Clay County, has for a foundation the individuals who have made their homes and raised their
families within. Arthur (T) worked long, hard hours, played hard when he played and most of all helped teach me the rules of life.
His mother would have wanted him to be spiritual; I believe him to be, yet he had trouble with the dogma of the church. Arthur
lived by the democratic principle, was a democrat and took part in the governing process.
Daddy Arthur went looking for cabbage eating groundhogs; laid down in the pasture where I found him; he had died. 1983. He
is buried in Pine Log Church Cemetery.
The Reece Family of Clay County came by way of Haywood County, North Carolina, West Virginia, Southern Penn.; Ireland,
Scotland, and Germany.
Submitted by Arthur (Buck) Reece (deceased), Rt 1, Box 117A. Brasstown, NC 28902. Sources: Deeds, marriage and family
records, personal knowledge.