WILLIAM M. REA is a descendant of one of the oldest families of Cross Creek township whose ancestors have long been identified with the history of northwestern Washington county. The first member of the family to locate in Washington county was William Rea, of whom it is only known that his life was passed among the early settlers of Cross Creek township, this county, where his children were born and reared. William Rea was born on the home farm in Cross Creek township, and in early manhood was married to a Miss Campbell, a member of a pioneer family. Their children were John C., William (who became blind at the age of seventeen years, but lived to old age, spending most of his time with a brother Charles), Joseph V. (a farmer of Mt. Pleasant township), Jane (deceased wife of Cyrus Wells), Elizabeth (married to William T. Kerr, and died in Canonsburg, this county), Samuel (deceased in youth) and Charles C. (a farmer of Cross Creek township). The father of these children was a successful farmer, and in politics first an Old-line Whig, then a Republican. He died in 1865, being followed a few years later by his widow.
John C. Rea was born March 13, 1813, on the home farm in Cross Creek township, and received a subscription-school education. In 1836 he was married to Mary A. Lyle, who was born in 1816 daughter of James and Mary (Campbell) Lyle. Her father was a descendant of the prominent pioneer family of that name who resided in Cross Creek and Smith townships, this county. To the union of John C. and Mary A. (Lyle) Rea, the following children were born: James L. (deceased), William M. (of whom a sketch follows), Samuel J. (of Harrison county Ohio), Elizabeth J. (deceased wife of D. M. Pry), Mary E. (deceased wife of John W. Pry), Aaron L. (was a soldier in the war of the Rebellion and died from the effects of disease contracted while in the service), Joseph V. (deceased), Alice M. (wife of Prof. Ewing S. McWreath, of Hopewell township this county), Eliza A. (Mrs. J. D. Cook. of Cross Creek township) and Elvira (deceased in infancy). The parents always resided on the old homestead in Cross Creek township, this county, where the father followed agricultural pursuits. In politics he was, like his father, a Whig and Republican, and in religious faith an earnest member of the Presbyterian Church. He died several years ago, and his widow is now living a retired life in West Middletown, Penn.
William M. Rea was born March 5, 1839, in Cross Creek township this county, passing his boyhood on the home farm. He received a common school education, and then began a course at Jefferson College, Canonsburg, which was interrupted by the opening of the Civil war. On August 21, 1862, he enlisted at Cross Creek village in Company K, One Hundred and Fortieth Regiment P. V. I. His first duty was the guarding of the railroad lines between Baltimore and Harrisburg, and he afterward took part in the other engagements in which his regiment participated. On May 8, 1864, at Todd's Tavern, in the battle of the Wilderness, he was wounded by a musket ball, which passed through the right ankle joint of his right limb. Amputation being found necessary, he was placed in Lincoln Hospital, and being discharged about the close of the war returned to Washington county in May, 1865. Some time after his return home, Mr. Rea entered mercantile business at Pittsburgh, thence moved to Burgettstown, but finally selected farming as his life work, and moved to Cross Creek township. On September 20, 1866, he was married to Martha J. Keys, who was born February 17, 1844, daughter of Joseph Keys, of Smith township. Four daughters were born to this union: Ida M., Josephine E. (both of whom are living in Canonsburg, this county), Anna T. and Martha V. (living at home). On November 23, 1875, the mother passed from earth, and for his second choice Mr. Rea was married to Nannie A., daughter of James McElroy. She was born October 21, 1844, in Chartiers township Washington Co., Penn., and the children of this marriage are James M., John C. (deceased in youth), Samuel J. and William M. Some time after locating on the farm in Cross Creek township Mr. Rea moved to Mt. Pleasant township, thence to North Strabane township, but finally settled on his present home in Smith township, where he is known as one of the most successful farmers of the neighborhood. He is an ardent worker in the Republican party, and in religious faith he and his family are members of the Raccoon Presbyterian Church.
Text taken from page 1180 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed January 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published January 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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