He and all of his brothers except one, were in the War of Northern Aggression. My direct ancestor was Patterson Reese' older brother, Green Hill Reese, and I could find no record of service for him. If he didn't serve, it was probably because he had a very obvious disability because all of his brothers and brother-in-laws served on one side and/or the other. The Reese family were anti-slavery. Although some of his older brothers joined the C.S.A. Army at first, they eventually deserted and came home when their father got sick and died in 1863. Then Patterson joined them as they went over to Greeneville, Greene County, TN (Madison County is on the NC border with TN and Greene County, TN adjoins Madison) to make their way to the Union side where they joined the U.S.A. Army for the rest of the War. Patterson Reese enlisted in the U.S.A. NC 2nd Mounted Infantry, Co. B, Private. His Civil War record contained some administrative errors, listing him as both present and a deserter at the same time. Several charges of absent without leave and desertion stem from his assignments to the 3rd Mounted Infantry Regiment by General Ammen, without the knowledge of his Commander in the 2nd Regiment. His early record was cleared of the charges by Special Order 120 by General Ammen, but he was again carried on the rolls of the 2nd Regiment as a deserter while he was actually participating in the raid behind enemy lines near Waynesville, NC. These charges were cleared from his record "By an Act of Congress approved March 26, 1869, the Secretary of War was authorized and directed to remove the charges of unauthorized absence in 1864 against certain men of the 2nd N.C. Mounted Infantry arising from their detail in June, 1864 to the 3rd N.C. Mounted Infantry to assist in making a raid into the enemy's lines." He was mustered out 8/16/1865 at Knoxville, TN at the end of the war with an Honorable Discharge.
Washington National Tribune
A Historical Coincidence
J.C. Pickens, Soldier's Home, Cal., says that the first gun of the war was fired by the order of Gov. Pickens, of South Carolina. The last gun of the war East of the Mississippi was fired by Comrade Pickens, of North Carolina, both of the same historic family. The first statement is already a part of history. In the regimental history of the North Carolina (Confederate) it is stated that May 5, 1865, there was an engagement between the Confederates and a party of Federals at Waynesville, N.C. Of the Federals engaged, only three are still living; Calvin Maner, Weaverville, N.C.; Patterson Reese, Mayor of Mars Hill, N.C., and John C. Pickens, Soldier's Home, Cal. Pickens had the only revolver in the party, and continued to fire after the others had fired their last volley. He was a private in Co. B, 2nd N.C. Mounted Infantry, which belonged to the Union Army.
He married Rachel Elizabeth Buckner (DOB Abt. 1846 in North Carolina) in 1868 in Red Oak, Buncombe County, NC. She was the daughter of Jeremiah H. Buckner (aka "Myrd" Buckner) (DOB Abt. 1822 in Buncombe County, NC to Nimrod Buckner and Nancy Elizabeth Anderson; DOD Abt. 1894 in Buncombe County, NC) and Rachel Telitha Hughey (DOB Abt. 1825 in Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana; DOD Abt. 1862 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC).
Patterson and Rachel Reese bought tracts of land on Panhandle Branch, a tributary of the French Broad River, just above Marshall, NC. Their first cabin was built at the mouth of the branch and sat astride the creek with pillars on each side. The water flowed under the cabin. They moved to a cabin on his property further up the creek that was later called the Sexton Place. His son, Robert Maxfield Reese bought a tract of land that was above his father's land and adjoined the old Anderson Buckner place. Robert lived there the rest of his life. Across Panhandle and near Robert's spring, a log schoolhouse was built, which also served as a meeting place for Grandview Baptist Church. Patterson's children attended school in this log schoolhouse. His daughter, Texana, was a teacher there before she died. His son, Arcemus, taught there one summer too. They also attended the Grandview Baptist Church. Patterson and his son, Robert Maxfield Reese, were charter members and Deacons of Grandview.
They had 9 children:
1) Texana Tabitha Reese (DOB Abt. 1869 in Madison County, NC; DOD Abt. 1896 in Madison County, NC). She and her younger brother, Albert Jerome, died of fever. Buried in an unmarked grave.
2) Robert Maxfield Reese (aka Robert Maxwell Reese) (DOB 3/26/1870 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/16/1950 in Madison County, NC) married Florence Vianna Ensley (DOB Abt. 1873 in NC; DOD 5/15/1966 in Marshall, Madison County, NC). They had Clitus V. Reese (Duffie Pearl Hunter), Edna Lulu Reese (aka Edna Lou Reese) (Sanford Steve Keyes, Charles T. Coates), William Oscar Reese (Nancy Lucinda "Cinda" Revis), Jeter Gaither Reese (Leila Burnett), Robert Harkins Reese (Mary Lucinda West), Flossie Ann Reese (David McKinley Smith), Ulala Lorraine Reese (Lala Lorraine Reese) (Frederick "Fred" Bradley Wilde), Herbert Arthur Reese (aka Hubert Arthur Reese) (Nellie L. Rice), Herman Patterson Reese, Troy Edwin Reese (Emalee Carter or Emily Lee Carter), Grace Pauline Reese (Elmer Herbert Morley), Lucy Mae Reese (Roy Hezekiah Fore).
3) Mary Loretta Surilda Reese (DOB 2/24/1872 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/7/1955 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC) married Arthur Van Buren Ensley (DOB Abt. 1864 in Madison County, NC; DOD 9/28/1937 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC). They had Dolius Dewitt Ensley (Ila Marie Culbreth), Minnie Leila Gertrude Ensley (Ray Erastes Tillery), Rositor Tullius Ensley (Tassie Mae Hall), Eva Rosebud Ensley.
4) Ammons Hollingsworth Reese (DOB 12/19/1873 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 5/27/1941 in Madison County, NC) married Louester Elmira Ensley (DOB 11/9/1875 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 2/25/1948 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC). They had Ellis Woody Reese (Ida Lee Ingle), Edward Allison Reese (Edna Hyacinth Ball, Altha Mae Willis), Nannie Reese, Gladys Reese (Edgar Hill Jarvis), Thelma Reese (Jamie Fitzwilliam Buckner), Plato Taft Reese (Velma Mallett), Ruby Inez Reese (Robert Hardwick Ramsey), Eugene Ensley Reese (Hattie Mae Maxwell).
5) Arcemus Van Buren Reese, Sr. (DOB 6/17/1876 in Madison County, NC; DOD 4/20/1960 in Grady County, GA) married Mary Jane Burnett (DOB 3/11/1879 in SC; DOD 7/21/1951 in Henderson County, NC). They had Zoller Levering Reese (B. Delma Harkins), Edith Texia Reese (died young), Izorah Dorothy Reese (Emmett Otis Allison), Otto Horace Reese (Edna Florence Wetter), Arcemus Van Buren Reese, Jr. (Ruby Louise Huren, Martha Sides). He married 2nd Darthula Griffin (DOB 2/15/1885 in Calhoun County, FL; DOD 9/15/1966 in Leon, FL).
6) Tullius Otto Reese (DOB 10/6/1878 in Madison County, NC; DOD 10/3/1947 in Dothan, Houston, AL) married Nancy Jane Benson, aka Nannie Jane Benson (DOB 7/2/1879 in NC; DOD 11/20/1967 in Dothan, Houston, AL). They had Claxton McKinley Reese, Sr. (Bessie Mae Crenshaw), Cleo Elizabeth Reese (Isaac Cunningham Hall), Leila Hickman Reese (Warren Denson Cannon), Alyne Sadie Reese (Raymond Long), Dorothy Golden Reese (Gilbert Edward Davis, John Arnold Ramos), Joy R. Reese (John Curtis Coleman, Jerome Bernard Shaw), Alta Ruth Reese (Russell Charles Moore, Paul Meras, Harvey E. Barry, Donald Sydnor Jerman).
7) Albert Jerome Reese (DOB 6/27/1881 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1896 in Madison County, NC). He and his older sister, Texana, died of fever. Buried with his sister in unmarked grave.
8) Curtis Williford Reese, Sr. (DOB 9/3/1887 in Madison County, NC; DOD 6/6/1961 in Cook County, IL) married Fay Rowlette Walker (DOB 12/27/1888 in KY; DOD 7/15/1967 in Fairfax, VA). They had Marie Walker Reese (Donald Von Stein Wilson, aka Donald Vonstein Wilson), Rachel E. Reese (Emil John Sady), Curtis Williford Reese, Jr. (Lois Lorraine York).
9) Leila Oleatia Reese (aka Leila Oliotta Reese) (DOB 5/25/1889 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/21/1958 by Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC) married Herbert Harold Honeycutt (DOB 1/1/1884 in Yancey County, NC; DOD 1/29/1959 in Greensboro, Guilford County, NC). They had Harold Reese Honeycutt, Sr. (Johnnie Maie McBrayer), Bruner Truett Honeycutt (Lucy Beverly Jerman), Christine Elizabeth Honeycutt. She married 2nd Robert Reid Yarbrough (DOB 8/8/1888 in NC; DOD 1/2/1961 in Bostic, Rutherford County, NC).
1870 U.S. Census of Flat Creek, Buncombe, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1125; Page: 184A; Family History Library Film: 552624
1880 U.S. Census of Bull Creek, Madison, North Carolina; Roll: 971; Page: 43C; Enumeration District: 125
On 4/2/1888 Patterson Reese applied for soldier's pension due to disease of the throat, rheumatism, general disability, kidney disease, weak back, jaundice caused while in the Army during the War of Northern Aggression. He was only 42 years old. He suffered chronic pain.
1890 U.S. Veterans Census of Marshall, Madison County, NC
He and Rachel moved to Mars Hill to live in 1899. Many of their children attended Mars Hill College.
1900 U.S. Census of Mars Hill, Madison County, North Carolina; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 1241205
1910 U.S. Census of Mars Hill, Madison, North Carolina; Roll: T624_1107; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0085; FHL microfilm: 1375120
Patterson Reese was the Mayor of Mars Hill, NC from 1913-1915.
1920 U.S. Census of Mars Hill, Madison, North Carolina; Roll: T625_1294; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 121
Patterson Reese died 4/24/1926 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC at the age of 79 years old. He was buried at Mars Hill Cemetery, Cemetery Road, Mars Hill, Madison County, NC just behind the small town of Mars Hill.
1930 U.S. Census of Mars Hill, Madison, North Carolina; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0009; FHL microfilm: 2341438
Reese Genealogy Newsletter on Patterson Reese.
Let's look at more detail of their children:
I) Texana Tabitha Reese (DOB Abt. 1869 in Madison County, NC; DOD Abt. 1896 in Madison County, NC). She and her younger brother, Albert Jerome, died of fever. Buried in an unmarked grave.
II) Robert Maxfield Reese (aka Robert Maxwell Reese) (DOB 3/26/1870 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/16/1950 in Madison County, NC) married Florence Vianna Ensley (DOB Abt. 1873 in NC; DOD 5/15/1966 in Marshall, Madison County, NC). She was the daughter of Samuel Bruce Ensley (DOB 6/19/1829 in Sandy Mush, Buncombe County, NC; DOD 9/14/1896 in Madison County, NC) and Rachel Pauline Cassada (aka Rachel Pauline Cassidy) (DOB Abt. 1835 in Reem's Creek, Weaverville, Buncombe County, NC; DOD 1879 in Madison County, NC). Two other of Patterson's children would marry Ensleys, children of Samuel Bruce Ensley.
Robert Maxfield Reese and Florence Vianna Ensley had:
1) Clitus V. Reese (DOB 1/15/1892 in NC; DOD 12/8/1931 in Madison County, NC) married Duffie Pearl Hunter (DOB 6/28/1891 in NC; DOD 10/3/1978 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC). They had Chester Jefferson Reese (Nina Mae Fisher), Marjorie Lee Reece, Frank Reece.
2) Edna Lulu Reese (aka Edna Lou Reese) (DOB 1/8/1894 in Marshall, Madison County, NC; DOD 11/16/1995 in Newport, Cocke County, TN) married Sanford Steve Keyes (DOB 2/5/1890 in Madison County, NC; DOD 12/31/1979 in Cocke County, TN). They had Marvin W. Keyes, Woodward O. Keyes. She married 2nd Charles T. Coates (DOB Abt. 1884 in NC; DOD ? in ? ).
3) William Oscar Reese (DOB 7/28/1895 in NC; DOD 12/1979 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Nancy Lucinda "Cinda" Revis (DOB 2/20/1898 in NC; DOD 8/22/1995 in Woodfin, Buncombe County, NC). They had Willard William Reece, Clyde James Reece, Elmer Oscar Reece (Grace Helen Mason), Kathleen Reece (Coy Gordon Alexander), Pauline Florence Reece (Paul Alfred Dorsey), Christine Lois Reece (Virgil Calvin Caldwell), Jimmy Reece, Juanita Grace Reese (? Ponder)
4) Jeter Gaither Reese (DOB 1/17/1897 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/29/1979 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Leila Burnett (DOB 6/9/1901 in Madison County, NC; DOD 12/1985 in Weaverville, Buncombe County, NC). They had Frances Viola Reece (Dellis Greene), Virginia Juanita Reese, Ruth Jeannette Reese (Herman Edgar Kennedy, Jr.), Zora Belle Reece (Robert L. Hays), Rolland McCloud Reese.
5) Robert Harkins Reese (DOB 12/4/1898 in NC; DOD 10/15/1987 in Fletcher, Henderson County, NC) married Mary Lucinda West (DOB 1/18/1903 in NC; DOD 10/12/1993 in Henderson County, NC). They had Luella Cordelia Reese (Porter Leroy Ammons, Arthur Everett Cole), R.V. Reese, David Erwin Reese (Nancy Creola Roberts).
6) Flossie Ann Reese (DOB 7/15/1900 in NC; DOD 2/7/1992 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married David McKinley Smith (DOB 9/29/1896 in NC; DOD 11/28/1971 in Palm Beach, FL). They had Robert Henry Smith (Leta Mae Fore), Burton "Bert" Smith (Ada Blanche West), Willard Blaine Smith, Howard Calvin Smith, Otto Wayne Smith (Lillian Elizabeth Forester), Jack Smith, Edna Zora Smith (Delbert William Paugh), Rex Carl Smith (Gertrude Ammons), Wanda Sylvia Smith (Eugene Henderson Reed), Juanita Smith (? Roberts).
7) Ulala "Lala" Lorraine Reese (DOB 8/27/1902 in NC; DOD 6/7/1994 in Henderson County, NC) married Frederick "Fred" Bradley Wilde (DOB 1/28/1893 in ?; DOD 2/21/1960 in Marshall, Madison County, NC). They had Thomas J. Wilde (Glenn Banks Beck), Kermit Clyde Wilds (Verna Ray Heath), Quinton Roosevelt Wilds (Minnie Bell Carroll), Alene Edna Wilde, Conley Chester Wilds (Ada May Elliott), Richard Herbert Wilde, Robert Claxton Wilds, Archie Clement Wilde (Hilda Arrington), Elzie Fuller Wilde (Nancy Anne Hunter, Barbara Jean Bryson, Mary Ruth Kuykendall).
8) Herbert Arthur Reese (DOB 5/27/1905 in Madison County, NC; DOD 4/2/1983 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Nellie L. Rice (DOB 1/1/1902 in NC; DOD 7/6/2001 in ? ). They had Harry Leo Reese (June Aiken), Ray Dean Reece (Rita Ann Hensley).
9) Herman Patterson Reese (DOB 6/6/1909 in Madison County, NC; DOD 2/2/2001 in Madison County, NC).
10) Troy Edwin Reese (DOB 6/27/1911 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/17/1988 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Emalee Carter (aka Emily Lee Carter) (DOB Abt. 1909 in NC; DOD 1950 in ? ). They had Brenda Sue Reese.
11) Grace Pauline Reese (DOB 3/18/1914 in Macon County, NC; DOD 3/12/1991 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Elmer Herbert Morley (DOB 10/5/1910 in NC; DOD 8/23/1980 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC). They had Barbara Lucille Reese (? Merkel), Carol Jean Reese (? Morley).
12) Lucy Mae Reese (DOB 5/18/1918 in Madison County, NC; DOD 9/27/2011 in Arden, Buncombe County, NC) married Roy Hezakiah Fore (DOB 10/7/1903 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/16/1992 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC).
III) Mary Loretta Surilda Reese (DOB 9/24/1872 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/7/1955 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC) married Arthur Van Buren Ensley (DOB 12/10/1867 in Alexander, Buncombe County, NC; DOD 9/28/1937 in Madison County, NC). He was the son of Samuel Bruce Ensley and Rachel Pauline Cassada.
1) Dolius Dewitt Ensley (DOB 12/14/1891 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 5/3/1960 in Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL) married Ila Marie Culbreth (DOB 8/30/1894 in ? ; DOD 8/10/1970 in Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL).
2) Minnie Leila Gertrude Ensley (DOB 11/18/1892 in Madison County, NC; DOD 11/10/1949 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Ray Erastes Tillery (DOB 12/12/1894 in NC; DOD 7/2/1986 in Madison County, NC).
3) Rositor Tullius Ensley (DOB 2/12/1893 in Madison County, NC; DOD 7/21/1880 in Burnsville, Yancey County, NC) married Tassie Mae Hall (DOB 11/11/1902 in Yancey County, NC; DOD 11/5/1997 in Spruce Pine, Mitchell County, NC). They had Erma Aileen Ensley, Alma M. Ensley, Miriam June Ensley (Ted Allen McMahan), Annie A. Ensley, Carolyn Ensley.
4) Eva Rosebud Ensley (DOB 8/25/1906 in Madison County, NC; DOD 12/15/1972 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC). Never married.
IV) Ammons Hollingsworth Reese (DOB 12/19/1873 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 5/27/1941 in Madison County, NC) married Louester Elmira Ensley (DOB 11/9/1875 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 2/25/1948 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC).
1) Ellis Woody Reese (DOB 3/14/1897 in Marshall, Madison County, NC; DOD 3/30/1976 in Candler, Buncombe County, NC) married Ida Lee Ingle (DOB 8/8/1893 in NC; DOD 3/13/1976 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC). They had Clarine Elizabeth Reese, Eloise Marie Reese (Norman G. Horton, Jr.), Mary Ellis Reese (Hugh Snow), Betty Jo Reese.
2) Edward Allison Reese (DOB 12/3/1899 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/3/1971 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Edna Hyacinth Ball (DOB 1/21/1901 in Madison County, NC; DOD 11/2/1947 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC). They had Phoebe Lou Reece (William Louis Ramsey), Carl Dean Reese (Dorothy Mae Dodd), Flossie Edna Reese (? Selman), Joby Allison Reese, Jack Eugene Reese (Mabel Matcalf).
3) Nannie Reese (DOB 5/29/1901 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 2/13/1975 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC). Never married.
4) Gladys Reese (DOB 5/16/1903 in NC; DOD 9/11/1976 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC) married Edgar Hill Jarvis (DOB 2/26/1889 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/9/1951 in Madison County, NC).
5) Thelma Reese (DOB 9/23/1906 in NC; DOD 3/2/1990 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Jamie Fitzwilliam Buckner (DOB 1/25/1907 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 8/24/1973 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC).
6) Plato Taft Reese (DOB 1/30/1908 in NC; DOD 9/18/1982 in Madison County, NC) married Velma Mallett (DOB 4/10/1911 in WV; DOD 11/28/1984 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC). They had Robert Plato Reese (Bobbie Jean Thompson), Sammie Reece, Wanda Marian Reece (Richard Howard Pfeiffer).
7) Ruby Inez Reese (DOB 7/8/1909 in Madison County, NC; DOD 10/2/1987 in Madison County, NC) married Robert Hardwick Ramsey (DOB 4/5/1917 in Madison County, NC; DOD 3/14/1964 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC).
8) Eugene Ensley Reese (DOB 6/2/1920 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 10/27/1977 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC) married Hattie Mae Maxwell (DOB 1/17/1909 in Buffalo Valley, Putnam County, TN; DOD 6/29/1999 in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC).
V) Rev. Arcemus Van Buren Reese, Sr. (aka Arcemus Van Buren Reece, Sr.) (DOB 6/17/1876 in NC; DOD 4/20/1960 in Grady County, GA) married Mary Jane Burnett (DOB 3/11/1879 in SC; DOD 7/21/1951 in Henderson County, NC). He married 2nd Darthula Griffin (DOB 2/15/1885 in Calhoun County, FL; DOD 9/15/1966 in Leon, FL). She was the widow of ? Strickland.
Arcemus and Mary Jane Reese had:
1) Zoller Levering Reese (DOB 9/11/1896 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/11/1982 in Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL) married B. Delma Harkens (DOB 4/20/1903 in Fayette, Fayette County, AL; DOD 8/25/1990 in ? ). They had Joanne Reese (Emmett Merritt Thompson), Evelyn Reese (Herman Edward Pennington).
2) Edith Texia Reese (DOB 5/19/1900 in Mars Hill, Madison County, NC; DOD 8/23/1905 in Crawfordville, Wakulla County, FL). She died as a child.
3) Izorah Dorothy Reese (DOB 9/12/1903 in Watonga, Blaine County, OK; DOD 3/6/1981 in Hendersonville, Henderson County, NC) married Emmett Otis Allison (DOB 4/5/1908 in Transylvania County, NC; DOD 8/24/1983 in Hendersonville, Henderson County, NC). No children.
4) Otto Horace Reese (DOB 4/28/1906 in Crawfordville, Wakulla County, FL; DOD 2/4/1996 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA) married Edna Florence Wetter (DOB 12/24/1906 in Moscow, Latah County, ID; DOD 1996 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA).
5) Arcemus Van Buren Reese, Jr. (DOB 3/20/1909 in Crawfordville, Wakulla County, FL; DOD 1/8/1996 in Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL) married Ruby Louise Huren and Martha Sides. He and Martha had Zollar Vann Reese and Mary E. Reese.
VI) Tullius Otto Reese (aka Tullius Otto Reece) DOB 10/6/1878 in NC; DOD 10/3/1947 in Dothan, Houston, AL) married Nancy "Nannie" Jane Benson (DOB 7/2/1879 in NC; DOD 11/20/1967 in Dothan, Houston County, AL).
1) Claxton McKinley Reese, Sr. (DOB 6/23/1900 in NC; DOD 1/31/1947 in Quincy, Gadsden County, FL) married Bessie Mae Crenshaw (DOB 5/4/1899 in TX; DOD 4/8/1973 in ? ). They had Charles Otto Reese (Lillian Lorraine Hull), Nell Louise Reese (Richard Daniel Butchee, Sr.), Mary Jane Reese (Arlington Robert Edwards), Cura Lee Reese (Joseph Ambrose Livingston, Jr. and ? Hardage), Claxton McKinley Reese, Jr., Frank Millard Reese (Doris Annette Whatley), Norma Jean Reese (Armond Randolph Cross), Patricia Ann Reese (? Lehmann).
2) Cleo Elizabeth Reese (DOB 1/17/1903 in Marbury, Autauga County, AL; DOD 6/11/1970 in Wetumpka, Elmore County, AL) married Isaac Cunningham Hall (DOB 4/18/1894 in AL; DOD 4/29/1975 in Titus, Elmore, AL). They had Dorothy Reese Hall (Jack Warren Gwinn), Edith Raye Hall (? Bailey), Laura Anne Hall (Wilbur Lee Spigener, Robert Lester Ferguson, Jr.), Merrette Christine Hall (Mahlon Eugene Roe, ? Miles, ? Pierce, ? Tannehill), Ceclia Jo Hall (Norman Gene Stallings).
3) Leila Hickman Reese (DOB 4/21/1905 in Geneva, Geneva County, AL; DOD 1/22/2001 in Dothan, Houston County, AL) married Warren Denson Cannon (DOB 2/12/1895 in AL; DOD 9/30/1956 in Houston County, AL).
4) Alyne Sadie Reese (DOB 8/9/1907 in Geneva County, AL; DOD 9/29/1976 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC) married Raymond Long (DOB 6/20/1903 in Gastonia, Gaston County, NC; DOD 6/10/1979 in Miami, Miami-Dade County, FL).
5) Dorothy Golden Reese (DOB Abt. 1909 in Geneva County, AL; DOD ? in ? ) married Gilbert Edward Davis (DOB 11/8/1904 in Hammond County, IN; DOD 10/1980 in Deadwood, Lawrence County, SD) and John Arnold Ramos (DOB 5/4/1906 in Tampa, FL; DOD 5/16/1972 in Hillsborough, FL).
6) Joy R. Reese (DOB 11/16/1919 in Marbury, Autauga County, AL; DOD 3/22/2005 in Miami, Miami-Dade County, FL) married John Curtis Coleman and Jerome Bernard Shaw.
7) Alta Ruth Reese (DOB 1/18/1922 in Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL; DOD 3/12/1990 in Raleigh, Wake County, NC) married Russell Charles Moore (DOB 10/26/1908 in OH; DOD 9/3/1945 in Hillsborough, FL) and Paul Meras (DOB 6/10/1918 in ? ; DOD 10/13/1978 in ? ) and Harvey E. Barry and Donald Sydnor Jerman (DOB 4/1/1914 in Raleigh, Wake County, NC; DOD 2002 in Angier, Harnett County, NC).
VII) Albert Jerome Reese (DOB 6/27/1881 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1896 in Madison County, NC). He and his older sister, Texana, died of fever. Buried with his sister in unmarked grave.
Donald Von Stein Wilson Goodwill Vice President
Donald Von Stein Wilson, 93, former international vice president of Goodwill International in Washington, died Feb. 11 at Mariner's Health in Bethesda. He had lung cancer and a stroke. Mr. Wilson had lived in Bethesda since 1971. He was a former president of its Wildwood Civic Association and a Democratic precinct captain. For the last five years, he had sponsored a neighborhood Easter egg roll in his back yard. He was born in Kansas City, Mo., and graduated from Muskingham College in Ohio. He received a law degree at Western Reserve University, a master's degree in social work at the University of Chicago and an honorary doctorate at Muskingham. He taught at the Graduate School of Social Work at Louisiana State University and served in the Army during World War II and with occupation forces in Japan after the war. Later he was dean of the school of applied social work at Western Reserve and secretary general of the International Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled in New York. From 1967 until he came to the Washington area in 1971, he was president of the Leonard Wood Memorial for the Eradication of Leprosy. His wife, Marie Walker Reese, died in 1974. Survivors include two daughters, Donna Kirchheimer of New York and Fay Beauchamp of Philadelphia; and three grandchildren.
3) Curtis Williford Reese, Jr. (DOB 12/10/1919 in Chicago, Cook County, IL; DOD 11/19/1997 in Sterling, Loudoun County, VA) married Lois Lorraine York (DOB 2/7/1924 in Bloomfield, Davis County, IA; DOD 11/5/1984 in Falls Church, Fairfax, VA). Curtis Williford Reese, Jr.'s obituary:
Management Analyst Curtis Williford Reese Jr., 76, a management analyst who retired from the Army Materiel Command about 20 years ago, died of heart ailments Nov. 19 at Falcon's Landing retirement facility in Sterling. Mr. Reese, a longtime resident of Fairfax, was born in Chicago. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces in North Africa and Italy. He was a gunner aboard B-17 aircraft, and he participated in 29 combat missions. After the war, he graduated from Chicago's George William College. Later he worked for the Department of the Army as a civilian administrator. While assigned to the Joliet Arsenal in Illinois during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s, he was dismissed from his position on charges of having been a member of the Independent Socialist League. He was reinstated with back pay in 1955. In 1960, he moved to the Washington area. Mr. Reese was a gifted raconteur, and his avocations included telling stories at family reunions and Army get-togethers. His wife, Lois Reese, died in 1984. Survivors include a sister, Rachel Sady of Tucson.
IX) Leila Oleatia Reese (aka Leila Oliotta Reese) (DOB 5/25/1889 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/21/1958 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC) married Herbert Harold Honeycutt (DOB 1/1/1884 in Yancey County, NC; DOD 1/29/1959 in Greensboro, Guilford County, NC). They had Harold Reese Honeycutt, Sr. (Johnnie Maie McBrayer), Bruner Truett Honeycutt (DOB Lucy Beverly Jerman), Christine Elizabeth Honeycutt. Mary Oleatia Reese married 2nd Robert Reid Yarbrough (DOB 8/8/1888 in NC; DOD 1/2/1961 in Bostic, Rutherford County, NC).
Three of Patterson Reese and Rachel Elizabeth Buckner's children were somewhat famous. I want to go into more detail about them. It adds a lot of color to this family.
At the beginning of this post, I told you about Patterson's grandfather, Rev. Moses Freeman, and his father, Rev. William "Billy" Reese. They were Baptist ministers and pioneers in the Western North Carolina mountains.
Two of Patterson Reese' brothers were ordained as Baptist preachers too: Thomas "Tom" Reese (who disappeared during the War of Northern Aggression) and Moses Reese (who also disappeared during, or after, the War of Northern Aggression).
The entire family had long ties with God and the Baptist denomination and the history of the Baptist Church. My own Grandfather is descended from Patterson's brother, Green Hill Reese and my grandfather, Wilford William Reese, and his brother, Paul McCoy Reese, were Baptist ministers. Their father, Bailey Bright Reese was also ordained.
Patterson Reese, himself, had donated land for Grandview Baptist Church and was a charter member, as well as, a Deacon of Grandview Baptist Church.
Three of his sons studied at Mars Hill College and went on to Baptist seminaries. Arcemus Van Buren Reese, Tullius Otto Reese and Curtis Williford Reese, Sr.
Arcemus V. Reese (Arcemus V. Reece) was almost like a Billy Graham of his era. He not only started churches, pastored churches, but was a very popular evangelist as you will see soon. I did a search on Newspapers.com and found tons of newspaper articles on Rev. A.V. Reese (or Rev. A.V. Reece). His brother, Tullius Otto Reese was also a pastor and evangelist, working with his brother during the Great Depression. Curtis Williford Reese, Sr. started out pastoring a Baptist church but soon repudiated completely the Baptist faith and became a very famous humanist and Unitarian Universalist "pastor", speaker and author. According to Curtis, himself, this affected his relationships with his family.
I can only imagine with his grandfather, great grandfather, and two older brothers having spent their life teaching about Jesus Christ and the infallacy of the Holy Bible, as well as, attempting to lead thousands to salvation through Jesus Christ... to have another brother going behind them leading thousands to humanism which effect would be the loss of their souls... it would be hard to swallow. As Christians, I can only hope the family accepted and loved their brother anyway (and according to Curtis, this is what happened over time). But, as Christians, true believers, I'm sure they were desperately praying for his (and his family's) soul. In reading what Curtis said, preached, spoke on, he completely turned away from his early spiritual roots. He was baptized but he repudiated that as well. What is the saddest thing to me is that, while Arcemus and Tullius are unknown now, Curtis' words are still effecting people today.
You will see that Curtis Williford Reese, Sr. did good things, but works without God, are worthless. The Bible makes it clear that salvation comes through unmerited grace. It does not come because of our works, but because of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Works involve action. Faith involves belief and action. I do not question that he was a good man, an honorable man, a man of integrity. But that still doesn't save someone. He was also a sinner (we all are). And he was leading others into false teachings that could lead to people being eternally lost.
Matthew 18:6-7 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
Luke 17:1-2 1 Jesus said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
2 Peter 2:1-2 1 Now there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies that even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow in their depravity, and because of them the way of the truth will be defamed
St. Chrysostom, "[You shall find] many who have not the true faith, yet flourish in works of mercy. But the chief work is lacking: to believe in him whom God hath sent. So soon as a man hath faith, he shall flourish in good works. For faith is full of good works and nothing is good without faith. They that shine in good works without faith are like dead men who have goodly and precious tombs. Faith [cannot] be without good works, for then it is no true faith... A man must needs be nourished by good works, but first he must have faith. He that doth good [works], yet without faith, he hath no life... Faith by itself saved him, but works by themselves never justified any man."
Romans 4:2-5, 13-14, 16, 20-21 2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. 3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 4 When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. 5 But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners... 13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless... 16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s... 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.
Ephesians 2:8-9 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Isaiah 64:6 6 We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Matthew 6:1-2 1 “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.
Revelation 20:11-15 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Galatians 1:6-9 6 I am shocked that you have so quickly turned from God, who chose you with his gift of undeserved grace. You have believed another message, 7 when there is really only one true message. But some people are causing you trouble and want to make you turn away from the good news about Christ. 8 I pray that God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from our message to you! It doesn't matter if that person is one of us or an angel from heaven. 9 I have said it before, and I will say it again. I hope God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from what you have already believed.
Resource by Harvard Square Library - Reese, Curtis W.
The Meaning of Humanism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1945. By Mason Olds
Abridged from Religious Humanism in America: Dietrich, Reese, and Potter, 1978
Reese, Curtis W. (1887-1961)
Curtis Williford Reese was born September 3, 1887, on a farm in Madison County, North Carolina which is in the western part of the state in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Reeses were very devout Southern Baptists and many of them had been ministers. Reese once said: “One of my paternal great-grandfathers was a Baptist preacher, one of my paternal grandfathers and two of my paternal uncles were Baptist preachers, my father is a Baptist deacon, two of my brothers are Baptist preachers, and a sister married a Baptist preacher.”
With so many clergymen in the family, it is understandable that when Reese earned his first dollar he gave it to the Baptist church to help pay the minister’s salary. Also, it is not surprising that Reese “accepted Christ as his personal saviour” at age nine rather than later in life. He had been taught that once a person reached the age of accountability if he refused to become a Christian and if he died in this lost condition, he would spend eternity in hell. Believing that he was capable of making such an important decision, the nine year old boy stood before the congregation and confessed that he was a lost sinner and that he had trusted Christ to save him. Although it was mid-winter, he was baptized in an outdoor creek with some other converts.
Later Reese decided to enter the ministry, which meant that he thought that God had given him the “call.” He entered the Baptist College at Mar’s Hill, North Carolina, and graduated in May 1908. He was ordained to the Baptist ministry.
He met Fay Rowlett Walker, whom he later married on February 7, 1913.
It was during his seminary studies that Reese first began to have any doubts about his religious faith. Since he felt that the Bible was divinely inspired, it came as quite a shock to encounter “higher criticism” even in a conservative Southern Baptist context. Also, Reese had a friend, Ralph E. Bailey, who later made the transition from the Baptist ministry to the Unitarian. Bailey has remarked: “In 1908, he and I were students at the Baptist seminary in Louisville, where I soon shocked him to his knees by my heresy. Much of his time was devoted, I think, to prayer that I be corrected in my outspoken apostasy from Baptist truth.”
Moreover, it was in Louisville that Reese first came into contact with Unitarianism. In fact, he took some Baptist tracts over to the Unitarian church and picked up some of the Unitarian materials. One pamphlet especially appealed to him; it was entitled, “Salvation by Character,” and it was probably this experience that later contributed to Reese’s move into Unitarianism.
Graduating from seminary in 1910, Reese took a job as state evangelist in the Illinois State Baptist Association, which was composed of approximately five hundred churches that had split off from the Illinois Baptist State Convention. In this position, he also had time for further study so that he took courses at Ewing College at Ewing, Illinois, a Baptist school which has since gone out of existence. In 1911 he received a Ph.D degree from Ewing. Reese said of this period: “During the year as State Evangelist, my heresies, which had begun even during my seminary days due to the impact of Higher Criticism, began to grow apace.” In this same year Reese became the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Tiffin, Ohio, which he thought was a “liberal” Northern Baptist Church; but he still felt cramped. He said: “I preached twice each Sunday, but following the evening service my conscience bothered me. I could and did say what I believed, but I did not feel free to say what I did not believe…” Not finding the Northern Baptists liberal enough, Reese decided he must transfer into a more liberal ministry.
Realizing this, he considered the Unitarians, the Universalists, and the Christians; and, finally, he decided to examine more closely the Unitarians because of a work that he had read by Francis G. Peabody, a Unitarian social gospeler. Reese wrote the minister of the Unitarian Church in Toledo, Ohio and set up a meeting with him. At this meeting Reese presented a statement of his faith which consisted of the following: “(1) a Universal Father, God, (2) a Universal Brotherhood, mankind, (3) a Universal right, freedom, (4) a Universal motive, love, and (5) a Universal aim, progress.” When Reese inquired if his faith were consistent with Unitarianism, the minister assured him that it was.
When Reese returned to Tiffin, he was faced with a decision; after some serious thought, he decided to transfer from the Baptist church to the Unitarian. The next move was to set up a conference between himself and the secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference. After this meeting Reese was recommended for the ministry of the Unitarian Church in Alton, Illinois. The Alton church accepted the recommendation, with Reese beginning his career as a Unitarian minister in 1913.
This move from the Baptist faith to the Unitarian was not taken lightly by Reese, for it caused him great personal turmoil as well as creating a problem with his family. He said: “My mother said very sincerely that she would rather have seen me dead. This is understandable, for had she heard of my death she would have had the satisfaction of knowing that I was flying around with angels in heaven. But now she was sure that if and when I died, I would burn in hellfire and brimstone forever and ever.” Reese, who had been close with one of his sisters, was proud when she named her son, Curtis Williford, but when he became a Unitarian, she renamed him “Bruner Truett” for two well-known and solid Southern Baptist ministers. Later, the family did come to accept Reese in spite of the change, and even the sister attended a Unitarian Fellowship for a while and might have become member if it had not been for her husband, who was a Baptist deacon.
Although Reese was in Alton for only two years, he did have a number of significant experiences. First of all, he became a very strong anti-vice crusader. He mobilized the ministers so that an active campaign was launched to rid the city of “gaming houses” and “brothels.” He raised money and hired a private detective to gain substantial evidence about vice, with the result being that the crusaders ran a man for mayor on a clean-up ticket and won. However, Reese was so zealous in his efforts that the underworld had him shot at several times, and one time it was necessary for him to hide in a parishioner’s attic. Once he was attacked at a railroad depot, but was only slightly injured. These episodes received newspaper coverage; therefore, they provided fuel for the election campaign. While Reese and his wife escaped to a parishioner’s home on the night of the election, a mob gathered in front of his home and lit several fires.
Two other experiences merit mention. One summer Reese returned to Gratz, Kentucky, where he had been a pastor while in seminary. He rented an auditorium and conducted a week of lectures on Unitarianism. People came to hear Reese for various reasons, with some coming because they had never heard of a Baptist becoming a Unitarian. Some descendants of the old village doctor came because their father had been a Unitarian, and they wanted to learn about this faith. Unlike his days as a Baptist, Reese took no offering nor asked for anyone to join; his lectures were simply for the enlightenment of the people. The second experience deals with Reese’s commitment to run a summer camp at Lithia Springs, Illinois, with a guarantee that all expenses would be paid. The camp lasted for only three weeks and since it rained for nearly the whole time, the attendance dropped, with the expenses running into the red. To honor his commitment Reese paid the expenses out of his own pocket; and it is believed that it was this sort of integrity that enabled him to be elected secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference four years later.
In spite of an increasing membership in Alton, Reese went on to become the minister of the Unitarian church in Des Moines, Iowa in 1915. Again, he became involved in a number of social problems. It did not take long for Reese to be moved by the poor housing conditions The Iowa Housing Bill was drawn up and, with Reese’s intense lobbying, the bill passed without a negative vote. Following the passage of the bill, Reese gained much publicity. In effect, he was asked to run for mayor of Des Moines with the promised backing of organized labor, and he was offered a lucrative position as a stock and bond salesman; but he declined both offers to accept the position of Secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference in 1919.
Reese’s new base of operation was Chicago, and in this new administrative position his main responsibility was to help churches secure the “right,” most capable minister for their pulpits. Although this position was potentially a controversial one, Reese had the ability to retain the respect of both the conservatives and the radicals. It was during this period that Reese was elected to the Board of Directors of the Meadville Theological School, which at that time was located at Meadville, Pennsylvania. Reese wanted the school to be relocated in Chicago; he therefore contacted Morton D. Hull, a wealthy businessman and an active Unitarian, and secured a pledge from him of $100,000 if the school should come to Chicago. At the next meeting of the Board of Directors in February, 1926, Reese told of the pledge and it was decided that Meadville would relocate in Chicago. Reese also worked out with Shailer Mathews “an associated relationship” between Meadville and the University of Chicago, as well as negotiating the purchase of the President’s House and Channing House. Along with his position as secretary to the Western Unitarian Conference, Reese was appointed president of Lombard College, a Universalist school located in Galesburg, Illinois. Apparently his appointment was an attempt to bring the Unitarians to the aid of the Universalists in saving the school from financial collapse. Carl Sandburg is perhaps the most distinguished alumnus of the school. However, Reese was president for only a little over a year; and with the depression the financial situation became impossible, so that the school became a part of the Meadville Theological School in 1933.
In January, 1930, Reese gave up his position as Western Conference secretary and accepted the position as dean at the Abraham Lincoln Centre in Chicago. The Centre was founded in 1905 by the Unitarian minister, Jenkin Lloyd Jones. Reese lived in an apartment in the Centre designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Abraham Lincoln Center, 3858 S. Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
Frank Lloyd Wright designed this building for his uncle the Reverend Jenkin Lloyd Jones. The building was to contain an auditorium, meeting rooms, offices, a kitchen, living quarters and street level shops. Wright produced designs and models for his uncle. The uncle and Wright quarreled over the design. In 1902 Wright turned the project over to Dwight Perkins and wrote on the blueprints "bldg. completed over protest of architect" The center was opened in 1905. John Lloyd Wright claims that the original design for this building should be dated 1888, and was his fathers first architectural work.
The programs for the Centre were many and varied; it had a Friday morning forum, where outstanding speakers with all varieties of opinion were provided a platform from which to be heard. Also, the Centre published a journal, Unity, which for many years had John Haynes Holmes as the editor, with Reese as an associate. As Jones and Holmes had been dedicated pacifists, this was the official policy of the journal; but, later, during the Second World War, Reese gave up his pacifism and convinced the directors of the journal to support him; so that a rift came about between Holmes and Reese, with Holmes relinquishing his leadership of the journal and Reese taking over as editor. The Centre had a counseling center and ran a clinic for “optional parenthood.” It sponsored “study classes, social service, a boys’ and girls’ camp, a public library, domestic science classes, instruction in music with glee clubs and an orchestra, various special activities for boys and girls, and dramatics.” Non-Jews, Jews, and Negroes were on the staff, and Reese maintained in the early days a fifty percent balance of whites and blacks in all programs; later as the neighborhood changed they ministered to an even larger percentage of blacks.
Being connected with Unity as contributing editor, managing editor, and editor over a period of nearly forty years, Reese wrote numerous articles ranging from a sophisticated level of scholarship to simple editorials. He also published in several other liberal journals. In 1926 he published his first book, Humanism, followed in 1931 with Humanist Religion and in 1945 with The Meaning of Humanism. He also edited in 1927 Humanist Sermons, and in 1931 he edited a book entitled, Friedrich Nietzsche, which was the lectures of the late George Burman Foster, professor of comparative religion at the University of Chicago. Reese also wrote an autobiography entitled, My Life Among the Unitarians, which was submitted to Beacon Press, but it was never published. Generally, Reese’s books are short, contain insight, but are somewhat thin in the development of problems; however, they do document his interest in the movement of religious humanism and add greatly to an understanding of it.
Retiring as dean of the Abraham Lincoln Centre in 1957, Reese and his wife moved to Kissimmee, Florida.
On May 22, 1959, he was presented the Holmes-Weatherly Award for service to liberal religion by the American Unitarian Association.
On June 5, 1961, while attending a Board of Directors’ meeting of the Meadville Theological School and the commencement exercises, Reese died of a coronary attack; and with his passing another pioneer of religious humanism faded from the religious scene.
It should be stressed that Reese spent the larger part of his professional career as the dean of the Abraham Lincoln Centre; namely, from the spring of 1923 until February 12, 1957, when he was forced to retire as the result of a severe coronary. This Centre had distinguished members on its Board of Trustees such as Paul Douglas who later became a United States Senator from Illinois. The Centre was so well-known that both the House and the Senate of the State of Illinois, on separate occasions, passed resolutions commending it for its fine service to the state. It was from the context of a kind of settlement house and social and cultural centre that Reese worked and wrote about the world, rather than from a vantage point such as an academic institution or a church pulpit.
In 1995, the Abraham Lincoln Center, celebrated 90 years of service: 1905-1995.
Ernest W. Kuebler at the time of Reese’s retirement delivered an address to the Western Unitarian Conference meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, entitled, “Curtis W. Reese—Liberal Statesman.” Reese’s statesmanship was obvious in his running of the Abraham Lincoln Centre; in his working out an acceptance of “A Humanist Manifesto” by men with independent minds and diverse backgrounds, as well as his contribution to the humanist movement generally; in the Adult Education movement; in his influence in the Western Unitarian Conference; in his sermons and addresses; in influencing the Meadville Theological School to become a part of the Federated Theological Faculty of the University of Chicago; and in helping prepare the way for the merger of the Unitarians with the Universalists.
Reese was one of the founders and was president of the American Humanist Association for fourteen years, being acknowledged as a “humanist pioneer” in 1956. We follow Kuebler’s lead and refer to him as “the statesman of religious humanism.”
Was Reese’s religion a religion without God? During the heat of the humanist-theist controversy Reese objected to the theists referring to humanists as atheists. He said: “The radical Unitarian Humanist is inclined to say, ‘Very well, if Humanism be Atheistic, so be it.’ But in point of fact, there is not the slightest ground for calling Humanists Atheistic. The Unitarian discussion might be summed up as ‘Theism or no Theism,’ but not as ‘God or no God,’ since most of the Humanists hold some one of the several non-Theistic theories of God.” In his book entitled, Humanism, he said: “The liberal recognizes and zealously proclaims the fact that purposive and powerful cosmic processes are operative, and that increasingly man is able to cooperate with them and in a measure control them. What these processes be styled is of but little importance. Some call them cosmic processes, others call them God.”
— By Mason Olds. Abridged from Religious Humanism in America: Dietrich, Reese, and Potter, edited by Mason Olds (University Press of America, 1978); revised edition, American Religious Humanism (Minneapolis: Fellowship of Religious Humanists, 1996).
Curtis Williford Reese (September 3, 1887-June 5, 1961) was an educator, administrator, social activist, journalist, and Unitarian minister. He was a founder and president of the American Humanist Association, Secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference (WUC), and Dean of the Abraham Lincoln Centre, an integrated social and educational community organization in Chicago. An editor of Unity, he wrote influential books on religious humanism and helped prepare the 1933 Humanist Manifesto.
Curtis was born in Madison County, North Carolina to Rachel Elizabeth (Buckner) and Patterson Reese, the latter a farmer and merchant. He was educated in the public schools and raised in his parents' Southern Baptist faith. His father was a deacon. Several of his ancestors had been or were clergymen. When he turned nine, after publicly accepting Christ as his personal savior, he was baptized. A few years later he received a call to become a preacher.
Reese's preparatory theological education was at the Baptist College, Mars Hill, North Carolina, from which he graduated in 1908. Ordained in the Southern Baptist ministry by the Mars Hill Baptist Church, he went to Geneva, Alabama where his brother, Pastor T. O. Reese, arranged for him to be the summer supply preacher at the nearby rural parish at Bellwood. He then enrolled at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. To pay his expenses he served half-time two small churches, at Gratz and Pleasant Home, Kentucky.
In 1910 Reese graduated from the Seminary and became the State Evangelist for the five hundred churches that made up the Illinois State Baptist Association. At the same time he undertook further study at Ewing College, in Ewing, Illinois, receiving in 1911 a Ph.B. degree. "During the years as State Evangelist," he wrote in his unpublished autobiography, "my heresies, which had begun even during my seminary days, due to the impact of Higher Criticism, began to grow apace."
That same year Reese accepted a call to the First Baptist Church in Tiffin, Ohio, believing it to be a liberal Northern Baptist group. There, he found that while he was able to preach what he believed he was unable "to say what I did not believe." It became clear to him that if he were to remain in ministry he would need to join a denomination whose views were compatible with his own.
Reese considered the Universalists and the Christians, but in the end decided on Unitarianism. While at seminary he had studied some of their tracts and had been acquainted with the social gospel writings of Francis Greenwood Peabody. He visited with the minister of the Toledo Unitarian Church, George E. MacIllwan, and then conferred with Ernest C. Smith, the Secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference (WUC). As a result he became minister of the Unitarian Church in Alton, Illinois, 1913-15.
In 1913 he married Fay Rowlett Walker, whom he had met while he was at the Pleasant Home Church five years earlier. They had three children.
At this time Reese described his religious views as "(1) a Universal Father, God, (2) a Universal brotherhood, mankind, (3) a Universal right, freedom, (4) a Universal motive, love, and (5) a Universal aim, progress." To implement this faith, he developed a strong and active commitment to the idea of social justice for all. During his two years at Alton he inspired his fellow religious leaders to eliminate gaming houses and brothels from their community. The result was the election of a new mayor on a "clean-up ticket."
Reese next served the First Unitarian Church in Des Moines, Iowa, 1915-19. There again he emphasized the social gospel. The church arranged chaperoned dances for miltary personnel at nearby Fort Hood. It also took on the task of improving sub-standard housing. With the support of local political leaders, and finally of the governor, Reese lobbied successfully for the passage of a state housing bill. When it was made law, he was appointed the state's first Housing Commissioner. He undertook this task in addition to his parish responsibilities.
In 1919 Reese left parish ministry to serve as Secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference, 1919-30. The Conference, which had been founded in 1852, had its headquarters in Chicago. His chief administrative duty was to supply churches with ministers appropriate to their views and needs. As Secretary he was also able to play a helpful role in several other Midwestern Unitarian organizations. He was a trustee of the Meadville Theological School, 1920-33 (and later 1940-44 and 1947-61). The school, then in Meadville, Pennsylvania, was considering relocation to a large urban center. Reese arranged the finances for it to move to Chicago in 1926 and initiated a working association with the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Later he persuaded Morton D. Hull, who had already donated funds to Meadville, to underwrite construction of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, across the street from the school. Meadville honored him with the D.D. in 1927.
During 1928-29 Reese assumed the temporary presidency of the financially struggling Universalist-founded Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois. Although he brought his Unitarian connections to bear, the Great Depression doomed the college's independent survival. Lombard was eventually absorbed by Knox College. Its Ryder Divinity School, since 1912 based in Chicago, and its college charter, were transferred to Meadville, which is now the Meadville/Lombard Theological School.
During this period Reese served as a trustee of the American Unitarian Association (AUA), 1919-30 (he served again 1947-50), was executive chair of the National Federation of Religious Liberals, and was an official delegate from the WUC to the London celebration in 1925 of the 100th anniversary of the British Unitarian Association. In 1929, while on a trip around the world, he represented the AUA at the centennial celebration of Brahmo Samaj and gave several warmly-received addresses on religion at the University of Calcutta.
During the 1920s Reese emerged as a leader of religious humanism. He preached his first strictly humanist sermon in 1916 and explored the subject with Minneapolis minister John Dietrich at the next year's WUC meetings. In his 1920 address to the Harvard Summer School for Ministers, "The Content of Present-Day Religious Liberalism" (shortly afterward published by Unity and The Christian Register), he questioned "the Judaic-Christian tradition" and "the theistic basis of religion." Many at the gathering were outraged. From this point on the issue came to dominate religious discussion within Unitarian circles.
In 1925 Reese joined the Board of the Unity Publishing Company in Chicago and became one of the associate editors of its periodical Unity. This magazine, devoted to radical reform and correcting social wrongs, carried on its masthead the motto: Freedom, Fellowship and Character in Religion. Later he was managing editor, 1933-44, and editor, 1945-1961. Over the decades Unity printed many of his articles on humanism. His writings were also regularly published in The Christian Register, The Humanist, The New Humanist, and Open Court.
In The Meaning of Humanism, 1931, he wrote: "The trend in modern religious developments is away from the transcendent, the authoritative, the dogmatic, and toward the human, the experimental, the tentative; away from the abnormal, the formal, the ritualistic; and toward the normal, the informal, the usual; away from the extraordinary mystic expression, the exalted mood, the otherworldly; and toward the ethical, the social and the worldly; away from religion conceived as one of man's concerns, and toward religion conceived as man's one concern."
In 1933 humanist thinking was epitomized in the Humanist Manifesto, 1933, signed by several Unitarian ministers as well as by prominent scholars and philosophers. Reese contributed to its composition. The manifesto stressed that theism is "past", that the universe is "self-existing and not created," that the "traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected", and that religion "must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method."
In 1930 Reese resigned as WUC Secretary to devote himself full-time to being the Dean (director) of the Abraham Lincoln Centre, 1930-57. He had been called Dean since 1926 but his earlier relationship had been nominal. The Centre, founded in 1905 by Jenkin Lloyd Jones, had been an outgrowth of Jones's Chicago parish, the Church of All Souls. It owned a six-story building that included a gym, living space for the Dean, classrooms, office space for Unity, and a local branch of the Public Library. A racially integrated organization from the start, it sponsored a variety of programs including classes, a forum, music, art, dramatic training, a planned parenthood clinic, a counseling clinic, and a summer camp for youngsters in Clear Lake, Wisconsin. By 1951 it served the needs of 140,000 children and adults. Reese described the Centre in The Christian Register as "a social center at the heart of which was a spiritual message and program. A social 'settlement' is a group of persons living within a district which they hope to improve by means of their exemplary life and habits. Lincoln Centre aimed to be the living embodiment of the best ideals of the people who composed the district—a co-operative experiment in righteous living."
Throughout his professional life Reese was active in many social and educational causes. He served on a Juvenile Court Committee of the Chicago chapter of the American Association of Social Workers, taught in the education departments of George Williams College and the central Y.M.C.A. College, was on the board of the Chicago Adult Education Committee and chair of the editorial board of Religious Education, 1932-34. He was one of the editors of the joint 1937 Unitarian and Universalist hymnbook, Hymns of the Spirit; a regional vice-president of the AUA, 1940-45; president of the WUC, 1939-53; a board member of the Unitarian Service Committee; and a member of the Council of Liberal Churches, 1955-59. In 1941 he helped to establish the American Humanist Association and was its first president, 1941-54. In 1959 the AUA honored him with its annual award for outstanding service to the cause of liberal religion.
Reese retired after a heart attack in 1957. He and his wife went to live in Kissimmee, Florida. He died in 1961 while in Chicago attending a meeting of the board of trustees of the Meadville/Lombard Theological School. A memorial service was held at the First Unitarian Church in Chicago.
For biographical information see Reeses's AUA ministerial file at the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His unpublished autobiography "My Life Among the Unitarians" (1961), is at the Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois. He wrote Humanism (1926) and The Meaning of Humanism (1945) and edited Humanist Sermons (1927) and Friedrich Nietzsche by George Burman Foster (1931).
I won't try to arrange these newspaper clippings in chronological order.
I want to end this post with the two brothers who worked for God in lifelong ministry, Arcemus Van Buren Reese and Tullius Otto Reese. These were men who were human and therefore sinners. But sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Their work brought thousands to God. Remember, this was at a time before they had modern sound systems, airplane travel, television, computers, etc.
Arcemus Van Buren Reese family's home in Hendersonville, NC.
Newspaper clippings were found using Newspapers.com.