Benjamin Harrison Reeves

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Benjamin H. Reeves
Portrait of Benjamin H. Reeves.jpg
2nd Lieutenant Governor of Missouri
In office
November 15, 1824 – July, 1825
Governor Frederick Bates
Preceded by William Henry Ashley
Succeeded by Vacant until 1828
Personal details
Born (1787-03-21)March 21, 1787
Augusta County, Virginia
Died April 16, 1849(1849-04-16) (aged 61)
Todd County, Kentucky
Political party Democratic-Republican Party

Benjamin Harrison Reeves (1787–1849) was an American politician and the second Lieutenant Governor of Missouri. A Democratic-Republican, he served in the office for less than one year.


Benjamin Harrison Reeves, named for a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Harrison V, was born March 21, 1787 in Augusta County, Virginia to parents Brewer and Martha (Davis) Reeves.[1] The Reeves family moved to Christian County, Kentucky when Benjamin was around thirteen years old, but soon were beset by tragedy. Brewer Reeves, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, died shortly after the move to Kentucky, leaving the teenage Benjamin, the eldest child, to help raise and support his three younger siblings.[2] On November 12, 1806 in Lincoln County, Kentucky, he married Martha "Patsy" Donley. When the War of 1812 broke out in June, 1812 Reeves helped organize a company of volunteers for duty and was elected Captain of the group. Attached to American forces in the Indiana Territory, Reeves was promoted to Major. He and his Kentuckians participated in the rescue mission of Zachary Taylor and his garrison at the Siege of Fort Harrison in September, 1812.[2]

Political life[edit]

In November, 1812 Benjamin Reeves was called back to Kentucky from the war, having been elected to the state legislature that August. He would serve in the legislature until 1818 when Reeves and his family moved to the Missouri Territory, settling in Howard County. Befitting his previous legislative experience, the people of the county chose Reeves as one of their delegates to Missouri's first Constitutional Convention in 1820-21.[3] In 1824 Reeves was elected Missouri's second Lieutenant Governor, however he would hold the post for just a few brief months before resigning to accept a position with the United States government as a commissioner to survey the Santa Fe Trail.[2] When Missouri Governor Frederick Bates died in office in August, 1825 Benjamin Reeves, as Lieutenant Governor, would have taken over the rest of the term. However the Governorship went instead to Missouri Senate President Pro Tempore Abraham J. Williams until a special election could be held.[4]

In one of his first acts as U.S. President John Quincy Adams appointed Benjamin Reeves and two other men -- George C. Sibley and Pierre Menard—to oversee the surveying of the Santa Fe Trail and establish peaceful relations with Native American tribes along the trail if possible so as to prevent attacks on trade.[5] With Thomas Mather replacing Menard, the "Sibley Expedition" left Fort Osage on July 4, 1825. In late August, 1825 near present-day Council Grove, Kansas, the group reached an agreement with the Osage Nation to allow safe pssage by wagon trains and traders. Stopping to rest at the Arkansas River while awaiting Mexican permission to cross into their territory, Reeves and Mather decided to return to Missouri and report on progress, which they did in late September. Sibley, surveyor Joseph C. Brown, and other party members continued on to New Mexico.[6]

Later years[edit]

In May, 1835 Benjamin Reeves suffered a personal tragedy when his wife Patsy died. The next year Reeves and his family left Missouri and returned to Kentucky, settling in Todd County. He remarried in August, 1836 to Virginia T. Garth.[1] Reeves resumed a life in politics, serving several terms in the Kentucky legislature until his death. Benjamin Harrison Reeves died April 16, 1849 at his home in Todd County after several months of illness.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Benjamin Reeves/A Wilson Family Tree". Rootsweb via 4 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Benjamin H. Reeves bio". The Reeves Project. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Missouri 1820 Constitutional Convention". Political 18 June 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Missouri History-Governors". Missouri Secretary of State website. 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Duffus R. L., The Santa Fe Trail, First University of New Mexico Press, 1972
  6. ^ "Sibley's Expeditions". Oklahoma Historical Society. 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
William Henry Ashley
Lieutenant Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Vacant until November, 1828