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William Rea

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William Rea

Posted: 3 Jan 2002 10:19AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Rea, Thompson, Anderson, Towns, Arnold, Palmer
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 730-731

William Rea was born in the state of Pennsylvania, June 11, 1836, and is respected and esteemed by all who have had the pleasure of meeting him. Few men are more favorably known in Huntington county, Indiana, which has been his home for many years. He is a son of William Rea, who owned a small farm in Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, where the family lived until 1854, when they moved to Indiana. The father had been to this state twice before moving his family, on one of the trips purchasing two hundred and eighty-two acres of land in section nine, Jackson township, Wells county. When the Rea family landed in Indiana there was no house on their land, and until they could erect one they moved into a little cabin on the Slusser farm, which was used by most of the new settlers in that section as a temporary abode. The inconveniences of the little cabin were often attended with the most ludicrous results, and William never tires of recalling one circumstance which was most laughable. His father employed several hands to work for him, and in order to furnish them sleeping quarters it was necessary to double up in bed. The bed was set close to the wall and the roof was so low that one could easily touch the clapboards overhead while reclining on the bed. A colony of wasps had taken up their quarters directly under the roof, and objected seriously to being disturbed by the men when they prepared to retire, and some very lively times ensued. By fall the family had thirty acres cleared, fenced and under cultivation. They had put up a house of hewed logs which was very comfortable, and before winter had moved into it. That winter proved to be a very severe one, and the only means they had of heating the house was by the cook stove, which would not keep fire over night, so the boys took turns at getting up in the mornings and going to the burning log heaps to get coals with which to start the fire for the day.

Among the amusements common to those times was the log-rolling, where the nieghbor boys would vie with each other in a display of strength. The first summer the family were in Wells county our subject attended eighteen of these log-rollings, holding up his end of the spike with men of much greater size than himself. It was no unusual thing to wade through the water to carry the logs to dry land. There were nine children in the family, two of whom died in infancy. Those who grew to adult years were as follows: Sarah, who became the wife of B. F. Thompson and resided in Wells county until 1859 when they moved to Huntington and lived there until her death in 1868; Margery, who married Joseph L. Anderson and resided in Jackson township a short time, then Jefferson township, Huntington county, lived until 1858, then moved to Huntington where she now lives; Anna married and lives in Pennsylvania; Elizabeth married Hyram Towns, a farmer and stockdealer who lived in Warren until his death in 1895; Laughlin resided six miles southeast of Warren until the breaking out of the Civil war, when he enlisted and died in the field hospital February 24, 1862; and William.

William Rea was returning home from a political meeting which had been held in Huntington, in 1856, when he was made acquainted with Miss Elizabeth Arnold, and the admiration excited in his breast soon developed into a warmer feeling, which was reciprocated by her and resulted in their marriage soon after. She is a lady of noble character and has been a helpful partner to Mr. Rea. Her parents were early settlers of Jackson township, Wells county, Indiana. Mr. Rea took his young bride to Warren, where he embarked in the furniture business with K. R. Collins, continuing in the enterprise until the breaking out of the Rebellion, when he enlisted in Company D, Thirty-fourth Indiana, under Captain J. J. Jones, of Alexandria. He was transferred from one camp to another until he was called into active service at the battle of Island No. 10, on the Mississippi, in the state of Missouri, in 1862. Following this battle, engagement followed engagement in quick succession until he was sent to St. Louis, where he was discharged for disability. He returned to Warren for a time and then moved to his farm in Jackson township, Wells county, and engaged in the pursuits of agriculture. Feeling the need of an education better than he possessed, his father furnished him money to attend school, and after several months steady application to his studies he secured a school and was engaged in teaching, becoming a very popular instructor. Oil has been found on his farm in paying quantities, the wells on his land giving a ten-inch yield per day and bringing him a comfortable income. In 1900 he purchased a nice home in Warren, and has since lived there in the enjoyment of his well earned prosperity.

Mr. Rea is the father of the following children: Laura, born July 18, 1858, the wife of Erastus D. Palmer, who resides one mile north of Warren; Eli, born May 23, 1860, resides in Jackson township, Wells county; Newton, born August 13, 1865; William F., born May 27, 1870; and Albert, born November 26, 1874. Mr. Rea is a stalwart Republican, and during the early history of Jackson township was one of seven men who composed the entire Republican element in the township. In 1882 he was the Republican nominee for auditor in Wells county and brought the Democratic majority down from twelve hundred to seven hundred. He was an active member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, but for the past eight years has not affiliated with the order. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Warren, acting for many years as the efficient leader and superintendent of the Sunday-school. He is a most exemplary citizen and is loved by all who know him.

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