These pages are an attempt to tell the story of a great American Family. It is also the beginnings of an long-term endeavour to build a genealogical and historical resource for the many descendants of Thomas Sheriff of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Little Compton, Rhode Island. The descendants of this American founding father, who arrived on these shores somewhere between 1635 and 1638, typically have the surname of Shreve, but the variant spellings Shreves, Shreeve, Shreeves, Shrieve and Shrieves are also known. The authors of these pages make no claim to provide a comprehensive genealogy of the Shreve family in the United States. Such a genealogy would certainly be a daunting task. It would need to rectify the errors and omissions of Luther P. Allen’s excellent volume (History and Genealogy of the Shreve Family from 1641) and include all of those members of the Shreve family born into the 20th Century. In the absence of a contemporary successor to Allen, his work remains the most complete souce of information about many branches of the Shreve family line between 1641 and 1901. The history of the Shreve Family in America is a long and illustrious one. Spanning almost 400 years, from the founding of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, the Shreve Family has been witness to the major religious, political and military events of this Nation. With roots in the early religious dissident movements of the first century of this country, many early Shreve families were Quakers. Later, when the War for Independence began, Shreves did not hesitate to join the fray, contributing several well-known figures to the war, including Colonel Israel Shreve and Captain Richard Shreve. Later, the Shreve family showed it could not only fight, it could also think. Perhaps one of the best-known figures in Shreve history is Henry Miller Shreve, an early inventor of steamboats and founder of the City of Shreveport. Using a snag boat, one of his inventions, he cleared the Great Red River Raft. In the 19th Century the Shreve Family also contributed to the great economic development of the country. From ports in Massachusetts, Captain Benjamin Shreve and others set out in tall sailing ships to carry trade goods to distant ports. Scions of this Masachusetts branch of the family founded famous silver, jewelry and merchantile enterprises including Boston's Shreve, Crump and Low and San Francisco's Shreve & Company.
A complete Shreve genealogy would certainly take a massive cooperative effort along the lines of the project attempted by pioneering Shreve genealogist Sherry Shreve March between 1989 and 1992 with her now moribund Shreve Newsletter. Today our best chance for success in completing such a project -- documenting the entire Shreve Line in America -- is to make use of the powerful resources of the Internet. By bringing together Shreve researchers from all over America to pool their resources, we can hope to piece together the story of this American family. In modern times, Shreve family members have continued to contribute to American history. Important scientific, industrial, literary and artistic figures have borne the name Shreve, including Richmond H. Shreve, founding member of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon and architect of many great American buildings including the Empire State Building. In these pages, cooperating with Shreve Family members all over the world, we hope to continue to document the lives and contributions of the members of this illustrious American Founding Family.
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