Rivers Name Meaning and History
English (of Norman origin): habitational name from any of various places in northern France called Rivières, from the plural form of Old French rivière ‘river’ (originally meaning ‘riverbank’, from Latin riparia). The absence of English forms without the final -s makes it unlikely that it is ever from the borrowed Middle English vocabulary word river, but the French and other Romance cognates do normally have this sense.
Our family began with Isaac Rivers. Isaac was a slave in South Carolina of the Rivers Family. While officially designated as "slaves" the Negroes of 'Master Rivers" were treated like "indentured servants", in that they were compensated for their work, and offered the opportunity to purchase their freedom. Isaac worked, saved, and purchased his freedom from his slave owner 'Master Rivers", taking the Rivers family name as his own.
Isaac Rivers moved to Sussex County, Virginia taking up residence near the city of Yale, where he met and married his first wife Mary Wynn. From this union four (4) children were born, Mandy Rivers, the first child, who married into a family named Joyner and had seven children; Mary Tom, who married Robert Mason and had four children, Robert, who married Betty Jean and had six children, and Johnnie, who married three times, to Lucy Westbrook, Patricia "Pat" Parham, and Pearl Hall 'Miss Pearl", had twelve children.
After the death of is wife Mary Wynn, Isaac met and married Mamie Norfleet, who purchased 72 acres of land on June 6, 1890 from FA and A. G. Drewry for three hundred dollars ($300.00). This plot is known today as Rivers Town. From this union, nine children were born; Sue Rivers, their firstborn married John Henry Jarratt and five children were born of their union. Betty Rivers, married Robert Jackson, they had one son in addition to the three children from Bob's previous marriage. Thomas Rivers married Georgianna Turner (a descendent of Nat Turner, the insurrectionist) and they had nine children. Nelie Rivers married Frank Key; no children were born of their union. Louis "Buddy" Rivers married Gertrude Wiggins and four children were born to them; Fannie Rivers married John Massenburg and seven children were born to this union; Joseph Rivers married Willie Wells of Petersburg, Virginia, two children were born from this union, and the family relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Emmanette Rivers, in her early twenties, suddenly passed away while performing at a church program, Willie Rivers left home for New York at an early age, and was never seen nor heard from again. In all, Isaac Rivers fathered thirteen children and grandfathered fifty-eight. Irene Rivers Nicholson was the oldest living member, who departed this life October 2000 at the young age of 105.
After purchasing the farm in Yale, Virginia, Isaac and Mamie purchased a mill and fishing pond in a section known as Capron, Virginia during the 1890's, adding a milling and fishing business to his productive farm business. The mill was used to grind corn for a variety of purposes, including feed for livestock. The mill and pond were maintained by his son Louis "Buddy " Rivers, and remained operative until the late 1950's, when a severe storm destroyed the mill house. Parts of the original structure still remain at the site, notably sections of the walls and spillway. Rivers Mill Pond still remains in the Rivers family, in the care of Louis' children, Mary Rivers Harris, Emma Rivers McClarey, and Eunice Rivers. Isaac's sons Robert, Thomas, Louis and Joseph Rivers, all invested in real estate throughout the area. Robert donated the "Dobbie House", which was renamed Rivers School and used as the first school in Rivers Town. The school has since been converted into a residential home owned by Samuel Rivers, Isaac's great- grandson. Johnnie Rivers supplemented his income by establishing a bee farm.
Nelie Rivers was a school teacher and Sue Rivers was a midwife. The later family members continued to improve upon the accomplishments of the first and second generations by concentrating upon education and technical skills. Many of Isaac's descendants have attended colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad. There are now members of the Rivers family with a large variety of occupations and skills.
All members of the family have roots in the Pleasant Plains Baptist Church of Dreweryville, Virginia. Although members have relocated to other regions, and established church homes in their respective locals, when in Yale, Capron, Jarratt and Dreweryville, they still find themselves attending Pleasant Plains Baptist Church "our root church", especially at homecomings.
Many members of the Rivers Family have gone from labor to eternal rest. Many are buried in the Rivers cemetery, which is located on the first 100 acres of land purchased, at 704 Rivers Town Road in Sussex County. We are still tracing our roots, an on going process.
Research done by the late Sabana Rivers Pulliam
Family Historians: Mary Rivers Epps, Mary Rivers Harris
Past Family Tree Committee Members:
Edith Chandler, Gladys Jones, Lena Sowell, Mary Harris
Current Family Tree Committee Members/Historian
Eunice Harris, Jennifer Rivers, Gloria Rivers