The Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky is comprised of the eight westernmost counties - Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken. It is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River, on the north by the Ohio River, on the east by the Tennessee River and the state of Tennessee to the south. By Kentuckians it is generally referred to simply as "the Purchase".

Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby purchased the land lying west of the Tennessee River from the Chickasaw tribe and opened the area for settlement around 1820. Within the next few years, my grandfather's ancestors came there from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee - the Beadles, Clapps, Pryors and Wingos settled in Graves County with the Reeves and Halls in neighboring Ballard County.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Uncle Harley Reeves

Jesse Harley Reeves was my grandfather's younger brother, born 30 March 1890 in Blandville, Ballard County, Kentucky. Their father, Sidney Preston Reeves, died in 1905 at the young age of 46 and a few years later, Harley left Kentucky and began working in Yellowstone National Park. Harley's desire to visit this area may have been inspired by his older half brother Burley Douthit's military posting to Wyoming in 1909. Whatever the reason, Harley left Kentucky as soon as he became an adult and headed for the northwest.

Naomi Harriett Davis
In 1913 at Eagle Creek in the park, he married Naomi Harriett Davis. For the next sixteen years, Harley and Naomi with their children lived in Yellowstone. It always amazes me to think of what a brave girl Naomi was living in the wilderness and raising her small children with such incredible wildlife. But it was also a fantastic experience for the whole family.

Over the next sixteen years, Harley and Naomi had Sylvia, Jessie Harlene, Burley, Clyde and Bud. One of their granddaughters told me that they would spend the summers camped in the areas of the park where Harley was working. In the summer of 1925 they camped in the Upper Geyser Basin near Old Faithful, the summer of 1928 they were in the Norris Geyser Basin and in other summers at various other locations.

The map of the park below has notations where several of their summers were spent:

They returned to Kentucky to visit family around 1918 when the country was experiencing the terrible flu epidemic of 1918. Both Harley and Naomi along with some of the children contracted the flu but survived and returned to Montana and Yellowstone Park.

By 1930 the family had left Yellowstone for Yakima, Washington. There Harley was farming on the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington State and the children were all attending school.

During the 1960's, Harley, Naomi and their granddaughter Doreen made several trips back to Kentucky. They even managed to visit Texas where Harley and my grandfather enjoyed several wonderful visits.

Harley and Naomi remained in Washington the rest of their lives. In Paulsbo, Kitsap, Harley died in 1960 and Naomi in Yakima in 1964 after living what I consider the great adventure of their family's time in the Yellowstone.

Special thanks to my cousin Carole Davey, granddaughter of Harley Reeves, for sharing these wonderful pictures and the map of Yellowstone.

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