JOHN B. REA
South Kansas Tribune, February 24, 1904, Pg. 5:
The old-timers will regret to learn of the death of J. B. Rea, one of the old settlers of Rutland township, at the age of 78 years. Of late years he has been very feeble, but retained a great interest in all public affairs. His funeral occurred at 11 a.m. today, at which Elder C. H. Jones officiated.
From History of Montgomery County, Kansas, By Its Own People, Published by L. Wallace Duncan, Iola, Kansas, 1903, Pg. 340-342:
The interesting character whose name introduces this biography hs been numbered
among the citizens of Montgomery county since November 28th, 1875, the year he
established himself on section 3, township 33, range 14, and began the first
work in the development of his Kansas home. As a character he is unique,
in that the story of his life embraces the experience of wide travel, beginning
with the middle of the nineteenth century and continuing trough many years of
the next quarter century, during which time the sun shone on him from many
distant points of our American continent.
Born in Logan county, Ohio, November 28th, 1825, and reared and educated there,
at twenty-four years of age he went to Mahaska county, Iowa, where he passed one
year as a hand on a farm. The following spring, 1850, with a small
company, he made the trip with an ox team to Placerville, California, being from
May 1st to September 15th, on the journey. He engaged in mining, but at
the end of a year had saved but little ($400.00) from his wages, and decided to
return home. He took the brig “Imaum” for San Juan, crossed Nicaragua lake
and thence down the San Juan river to Greytown. There he took a steamer to
Havana, Cuba, and, a week later, sailed to New Orleans and up the Mississippi
river to St. Louis. By stage he went to Carthage, Illinois, and thence to
his starting point in Iowa, where he soon began his journey, by horse, to his
home in Ohio.
In December, 1852, he married and returned at once to Mahaska county, Iowa,
where he purchased a farm, cultivated it a year and then took his departure for
his eastern home. In 1857, he again went to the Pacific coast, taking ship
at New York, crossing the isthmus and stopping at San Jose, where he worked on a
farm one year. He staged it from Los Angeles to Sherman, Texas, and spent
two years on a farm there. Hostilities between the North and the South
caused him to return to his friends and he enlisted, at Oskaloosa, Iowa, in
Company K, 33rd Iowa Inf. Under Col. Samuel Rice. He was in the Department
of the West and passed much time in Arkansas, from his enlistment in August,
1862. He participated in the engagement at Helena, July 4th, 1863, and was
in the hospital in Little Rock during the Red River campaign. Rejoining
his command, he went with it to New Orleans, to Mobile, and after taking the
latter, went to Fort Blakely, from which point his regiment was ordered to the
Rio Grande river, in Texas. After doing some service on this extreme
frontier the force returned to New Orleans, by the way of Galvestion, and was
mustered out in the “Crescent City” in June, 1865.
The war over, Mr. Rea resumed farming in Ohio for a year, and then went back to
Iowa, where he was married the second time, September 12th, 1866. This
same year he started west and south in a wagon and located in Johnson county,
Kansas, where he purchased a farm and owned it ‘till 1873, when he disposed of
it and moved to Batesville, Arkansas. There he remained ‘till the
beginning of the journey which brought him to Montgomery county, Kansas.
His beginnings in this county were as primitive as any. His residence was
14x16 feet to start with and the conveniences about the place were all
improvised and temporary. He has given his time to grain and grazing and his
modest surroundings have been the result.
John B. Rea was a son of Allen Rea, a farmer and native of Culpeper county,
Virginia. His grandfather was Joseph Rea, of Culpeper county and of Irish
stock. The eight children of Joseph Rea were: Robert, Allen, Thomas,
Isaiah, Margaret, Sarah, Elizabeth and Deborah. Allen Rea married Maria
Bishop and was the father of twelve children: Mrs. Susannah Shark, George M.,
John B., Mrs. Mary J. Henderson, Mrs. Charlotte Hisey, Deborah, Mrs. Margaret
Crowder, Mrs. Samantha Davis, Robert, Mrs. Louisa Davis, Joseph, of Olathe,
Kans., and Carlisle, of Conway, Missouri.
John B. Rea, married first, Hannah Wickersham, who bore him: Joseph of
Tennessee, whose four children are Frank, Mrs. Deborah Robertson, Capitola, Mary
and Virgie; Mrs. Robertson has four children: Thomas, William, Flora and Mamie;
William is deceased; Mr. Rea, our subject, married for his second wife, Mary J.
Rice, of Jennings county, Indiana, and a daughter of James and Calydia (Adams)
Graham, natives of Kentucky. Two children were the fruits of this union,
namely: Samantha Pilgrim, deceased, and Mrs. Nellie Jones of Montgomery county,
Kansas. The children of Mrs. Jones are Vivian Alfa and Charles, twins.
Mr. Rea is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the A. H. T. A.
He has ever maintained himself a worthy citizen and his standing in his
community and county is above reproach.
Contributed by Mrs. Maryann Johnson a Civil war researcher and a volunteer in the Kansas Room of the Independence Public Library, Independence, Kansas.