History of the William Rea, Sr. Family

Submitted by GGG Granddaughter, Mary L. Rea Lamp.



Generation 1 - William Rea, Sr.

      On July 12, 1805 - William Ray, his wife Nancy Martin and 2 children from County Down, Ireland arrive in America at the Port of Philadelphia in the Ship Lydia.

      (Note: This year is the 200th. Anniversary of William Rea Family's emigration.)

      In 1806 - William Rea, Sr. and his family settle on Leith Run, Independence Township, Washington County, Ohio.


      The first white family that is know to have chosen what is now Independence (Township) for their home, was the Leath family.

      The second family was that of William Little. He and his household, which at that time consisted of himself, wife and three children, came from the Emerald Isle in 1805, in company with the family of William Rea.

      The William Rea mentioned as the companion of Mr. Little in his emigration from Ireland, also settled as a neighbor, belonging to Independence. His land was that now belonging to Walter Brown. When he left Ireland, his family consisted besides himself, of his wife, who was Nancy Martin, and two children. The latter number was subsequently increased to seven: William, Samuel, Martin, Margaret, Eliza and Nancy. All are now dead, but Nancy, who lives in Mason County, West Virginia. Her first husband was H. A. Riggs; her second, J. P Harvey.

      The travel along shore and stream of the Ohio---the great thoroughfare between the east and her western children--increasing with the growth of new settlements, it became necessary to provide more suitable accommodations than could be afforded to the belated travelers by the incommodious cabin of the pioneer. William Rea attempted to fill this demand by keeping a tavern at his home. In a short time, about the year 1808, he removed it to the mouth of the stream since named for him, Rea's Run--a pretty stream, flowing two miles southwest to a point on the Ohio shore, a mile and a quarter below Leath's Run. Its waters are swelled by but one stream south, Farnsworth's branch, which enters it from the left, in the lower third of its course. The name Mr. Rea thought appropriate for his hotel, was "The Travellers' Rest." Mr. Rea abandoned the enterprise, probably soon after the death of his wife in 1821. Mr. Rea was born in Ireland in 1777, and died in this township about 1848, being buried in the graveyard at the mouth of the run. 2

      Sergeant William Rea, Sr. served from July 28th. until August 28, 1813 in Captain David Daniels' Company of Ohio Militia, 1 Odd Battalion.3

      (Note: William served in the Ohio Militia before he became a citizen of the United States.)

William Rea, Sr.'s Petition for U.S. Citizenship - March 11, 1818.

      William Rea, an emigrant from the parish of Marydrone, in the County of Down, Ireland, of the age of Forty-one years, this day presents his petition to the Court stating that he now resides in the County of Washington in the township of Newport, that he landed at Philadelphia and removed, from thence to his present residence where he has resided one year that he is desirous of being admitted a citizen of the United States, and do renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any Prince Regent of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland and also declared on oath, that it is his intention bona fide to become a Citizen of the United States. Whereupon the Court ordered that said petition be put on file.4 (Note - No parish of Marydrone found in County Down, Ireland, may have been sound alike parish Magheralone.)

      Nancy Martin Rea died February 18, 1822 and William Rea, Sr. died May 20, 1848, both are buried in the Rea's Run Cemetery, Wade, Ohio.5

      7 Children:

....1      William Rea, Jr.	b: March 10, 1803 in County Down, Ireland	d: April 20, 	
			1864 in Washington County., OH	
........	+Elizabeth Davis	b: September 20, 1820	d: January 04, 1888 in 	
			Washington Co., OH	m: April 02, 1840 in Washington County, OH
....	2  	Margaret (Pheoby) Rea	b: 1807	d: 1870	
........	+Abraham Decker	m: November 11, 						
			1824 in Washington County, OH
....	3  	Martin Rea	b: October 25, 1818		
........	+Phoebe H. Green	m: October 25, 1838 in Washington 	County, OH
....	4  	Nancy Rea			
........	+John P. Harvey			
....		*2nd Husband of Nancy Rea:			
........	+Hazel Asbury Riggs	m: May 11, 1837 in Washington County, OH
.... 5	Mary Jane Rea	b: 1810 in Washington County, OH	  d. in Gallia County, OH      
........	+John Nesbit	b: May 12, 1795 in Ireland	d: August 22, 1879 in Gallia County, 
				OH	m: 1829 in Ohio
....	6 	Eliza Rea	b: 1811	d: 1842	
........	+John Beck		m: December 11, 1838 in Washington County, OH
....  7 	Samuel Rea	b: December 17, 1813	d: October 29, 1855	
........	+Susan Cole	b: May 02, 1819	d: September 13, 1865	
			*2nd Wife of William Rea, Sr.:			
			+Sallie Humphrey	(Note:  I have found no record of Sallie Humphrey Rea)

Generation 2 - William Rea Jr.

      William Rea, Jr., firstborn of William Rea, Sr., and Nancy Martin. Born in Ireland and emigrated to this country in 1805.1

      On 2 April 1840, William Rea, Jr. married Elizabeth Davis in Washington County, Ohio6

      The 1853 Washington County Plat book shows William Rhea, owning 70 acres Section 7 Range 6, Township 2.7 William Rea Sr's 600 plus acres at Rea's Run, had been divided amongst his children.

      William Rea, Jr., Merchant, operated a wharf and shoemaker shop at Riggs Point, OH. William Rea Jr. and Elizabeth made a trading trip to Mississippi in 1844, where their son William Henry Rea was born. William Rea Jr. was Postmaster at Ostend, now Wade, Ohio, from Jan 11, 1856 to Feb. 5, 1861. He was a member of the School Board in 1856 and was one of the Builders of the Methodist Church at Rea's Run 1857-1858.

      William Rea, Jr., died Apr. 20, 1864, of Spotted Fever. William's Brother-in-law, Abraham Decker made his coffin and died of the same disease a short time after, the only cases of Spotted Fever known in this Section of the country.

      (Note: The early records of The Rea family, I believe was done by William Henry Rea, Jr. Great Grandson of William Rea Sr. These records are on file at the Washington County Local History and Genealogy Library, Marietta, Ohio.)

      1860 Census of Washington County Ohio, William Rea, Merchant, Estate value $3000 and Personal estate value $2000, wife Elizabeth and 8 children8

      10 Children:

....	1  	Mary Matilda Rea	b: December 17, 1840	d: February 12, 1917	
........		+James W. Riggs	b: November 20, 1836	d: December 30, 1889	m: 	
			May 24, 1858
....	2  	Martha Ann Rea	b: December 02, 1841	d: May 01, 1872	
........		+Isaac Newton Green	b: July 20, 1838	d: May 08, 1911	
....	3  	William Henry Rea	b: February 17, 1844	d: November 27, 1920	
........		+Jennie Lynn Goodman	b: July 20, 1851	d: September 26, 	
.... 4 	Elizabeth Jane Rea	b: May 19, 1845	d: January 28, 1913	
........		+Jerry Beagle	b: April 20, 1844	d: February 06, 1885	m: February 	
			14, 1868
.... 5 	Ruth Rea	b: December 06, 1846	d: August 01, 1904	
........		+Thomas Milton Beagle	b: September 18, 1841	d: May 01, 	
			1913	m: September 11, 1865
....	6  	Elenor Rea	b: November 21, 1848	d: July 15, 1884	
........		+Elijah W. Kiggans	b: December 13, 1845		m: April 14, 1866
....	7  	Margaret Rea	b: March 24, 1851	d: December 25, 1929	
....	8  	Estella French Rea	b: May 30, 1854	d: January 05, 1927	
....	9  	Frank B. Rea	b: November 13, 1856	d: February 09, 1925	
....10  	James Martin Rea	b: December 07, 1859 in Washington County, OH		
			d: May 06, 1910 in Pleasants County, WV	
........		+Elizabeth Harlan	b: March 12, 1868 in Washington County, OH	
			d: December 30, 1946 in Pleasants County, WV	m: June 21, 1884 in Pleasants 
			Co., WV

      1870 Census of Washington County, Ohio, Elizabeth Davis Rea, Farmer, Estate value $3000 and Personal estate 500, and 3 children.9

      On Dec. 14, 1870 Elizabeth Davis Rea m. 2nd. George Hendricks in Washington County, Ohio10 divorced Oct. 1880.

      (Note - I have found no further record of Elizabeth Davis Rea Hendricks.)

Generation 3 - James Martin Rea

      1880 Census, Washington County, Ohio - James Rea was living with his Mother and Step-father George Hendricks, occupation works on Steamboats, continuing the close association with the Ohio River. 11

      On June 21, 1884 James Rea married Elizabeth Harlan (daughter of Benjamin Harlan and Rachel Smith Harlan Virden), at Raven Rock, Pleasants County, WV.12

      By the 1900 Census of Pleasants County, WV - Dwelling # 62 James Ray, occupation, laborer in the 0il fields., wife Elizabeth and 8 children. At dwelling #63 was Alexander and Rhoda Carpenter and 10 children. Thus began a family association which continues to this day. 13

      It is thought that 4 generations of Reas worked on the boats for Hiram Carpenter. If so, my father Dallas Rea would have on occasion repaired equipment. Both of my brothers Wilber and Gary worked on the machine boat for Hiram Carpenter and at times were pressed into duty as Hiram's chauffeur.

      In the 1910 Census - Pleasants County, WV - Enumerated on April 19th., James and Elizabeth's household is shown with 8 children, the eldest three had married and had established their own homes, James' occupation listed as Pumper, Oil Field.14

Tragedy strikes May 5th., 1910, James Rea suffers a fatal accident.


      While oiling an engine at the Barnhart farm last Thursday morning, James Rea, who was employed on the lease as pumper became entangled in the machinery, crushing him so that he died on Friday night. His death came unexpectedly and was a great shock to his many friends.
      He leaves, to mourn their loss, a wife, eleven children, Mrs. C. R. Yost, of Parkersburg; Mrs. I. C. Barkwill, of Raven Rock; Nettie, Rachel, Mary, Margaret, Wilber, Odie, Charley, James and Frank, four sisters and two brothers, besides a host of friends.
      The funeral was held Sunday afternoon.
      The family wishes to thank the friends and neighbors for the kindness shown towards them during their hour of sadness. Also to Drs. W. H. Young, of Ben's Run and John B. Watson of St. Marys, and to Miss Ella Ferguson who were in attendance. Every thing that loving hands could do was done, but it was the Lord's will to take him from us.
A Friend15

      Elizabeth Harlan Rea lost her husband, her son Robert (the child she was carrying at the time of James' death), and an infant daughter Margaret within a 15 month period. James, Elizabeth, Margaret and Robert are buried in the Center Valley Cemetery, Washington County, OH. 16


      In my notebook is a picture of Elizabeth Harlan Rea and her five surviving daughters - lower left - Rachel Rea Simpson Wooley, left - Nettie Rea Cochran, top - Anna Rea Barkwill, right - Verna Rea Yost Burdette, lower right - Mary Rea Kirby.

      Elizabeth Harlan was a descendant of Michael Harlan born in England, removed to County Down, Ireland emigrated in 1687 to Chester County, Pennsylvania.17

      12 Children:

....	 1 	Wilbur Martin Rea	b: March 09, 1885 in Raven Rock, Pleasants County, WV	
			d: June 23, 1951 in St. Marys, Pleasants County, WV	
........	+Sylvia May Snively	b: June 10, 1883 in Pleasants Co., WV  d: October 15, 1968 
			in Beverly, Washington County, OH	m: November 28, 1909 in Pleasants Co., WV
....	 2  	Edith Vernon Rea	b: November 04, 1886 in Pleasants Co., WV	d: October 27, 1945	
........	+Clem Roy Yost	b: October 14, 1889 in Washington Co., OH	  m: May 05, 	
			1908 in Pleasants Co., WV
....		*2nd Husband of Edith Vernon Rea:			
........	+Willard Sayer Burdette	b: October 07, 1888 in Sandyville, Jackson County, 	
			WV	d: January 21, 1941 in Jackson County, WV	m: March 01, 1919 in Wood 	
			County, WV
....	  3  Anna Louise Rea	b: November 30, 1888 in Pleasants Co., WV		
........	+Oliver C. Barkwill	b: November 15, 1884 in Newport, Washington Co., OH	
			d: June 15, 1967	m: April 07, 1907 in Pleasants Co., WV
....	  4	Nettie Estella Rea	b: January 21, 1890	d: 1957 in Washington County, OH	
........	+Eugene F. Cochran	b: January 09, 1891	d: October 17, 1980 in Washington 	
			County, OH	
....	  5 	Otis Milton Rea	b: December 14, 1891 in Pleasants Co., WV	d: November 	
			30, 1936	
........	+Catherine Ellen Kiggans	b: June 14, 1896 in Pleasants Co., WV		
			m: January 16, 1915 in Pleasants Co., WV
....	  6  Charles William Rea	b: December 28, 1893		
........	+Frances Rice Riggs	b: July 16, 1893		m: July 13, 1917
....    7 	Rachel Ruth Rea	b: March 03, 1896		
........	+Carroll A. Simpson	b: April 15, 1878	d: 1930	m: August 06, 1922
....		*2nd Husband of Rachel Ruth Rea:			
........		+Robert Henry Wooley     b: November 23, 1897	m: August 30, 	1934
....	  8 	James Harlan Rea	b: February 17, 1899		
........	+Gladys Hopkins			
....	  9 	Mary I. Rea	b: November 20, 1901		
........	+H. M. Kirby			
....	10 	Benjamin Franklin Rea	b: October 23, 1904		
........	+Minnie Virginia Price	b: September 09, 1906	m: August 22, 	1923
....	11 	Margaret Rea	b: November 19, 1906 in Pleasants Co., WV	d: September 10, 	
			1910 in Pleasants Co., WV	
....	12  Robert Rea	b: October 05, 1910 in Pleasants Co., WV	d: August 19, 1911 in 	
			Pleasants Co., WV

Generation 4- Wilbur Martin Rea

      In 1900 Wilbur Rea age 15, his occupation listed as carpenter.18 In that year Wilbur began working on the river boats as a deckhand, his pay was $5.00 per. month with room and board.19

      On November 28, 1909, Wilbur Martin Rea married Sylvia May Snively, daughter of James M. & Mary E. Terry Snively.20

      7 Children:

....	1  	Dallas Wilbur Rea	
........	+Esther Oletta Wilson	
....	2  	Dorthea E. Rea		
........	+Glenn W. Davis			
....	3  	James Woodrow Rea	
....	4  	Audrey Elizabeth Rea	
........	+ Walter F. Meyer		
....	5  	Mary Frances Rea	
........	+Bruce Knight			
....	6  	William Martin Rea	
........	Faye Francis

      In the 1910 Pleasants County Census, Wilbur Ray, occupation, - Laborer, with wife and son (my Father, not named) less than a month old.21

      In the 1920 Pleasants County Census, Wilbur was working as a Driller in the Oil Fields and two daughters had been added to the family.22

      Grandfather Wilbur M. Rea obtained his River Pilot's license, June 29, 1926, Serial Number 164241.23

      Wilbur Rea worked as Pilot on the small Stern Wheeler "The Diane" a gasoline tow boat for Adolph Elliott ca. 1910. He also worked for Hiram Carpenter on "The Prompt" ferrying the 10 capacity automobile barge "The Newport" from St. Marys, WV. to Newport, Ohio. Other boats he worked on were "The Daddy," "The Gravel King," "The Reddy," "The Tornado," the derrick boat "The H. A. Carpenter #3," and "The Pioneer." At one period he worked on The Ohio Barge Line's "The Monongahela", a large steam stern wheeler out of Pittsburgh, PA.24

      Walter Carpenter said "Cap. Rea was a man in demand, knew his tools, and anything on the river and in the oilfield he could do. He was good with an ax, could dress a bit, and was a dependable hard worker."

      By 1930 Pleasants County Census, Wilbur, Sylvia with five children were still living at Raven Rock and Wilbur is listed as a Toll Collector - Bridge. (Note: The Clarksburg- Columbus Short Route Bridge at St. Marys, WV)25

      At a later time I visited with my Grandfather Rea in the toll booth, he would pretend not to notice when I would place a match in the sole of his shoe and light it. What a good laugh we shared.

      Once I met him crossing Lafayette Street and I showed him I had a dime. He offered to trade me 15 pennies for my dime, but I wouldn't trade as I didn't think the pennies were worth as much as my dime.

      He also worked as a deck hand in 1942 ferrying Adroit class ships built by Dravo, from Pittsburgh, PA to New Orleans, LA.19 (Note: Three of Ruth Knight Ingram's pictures on the Pleasants County Web Page show this type of ship being towed down the Ohio River.)

      At another period Grandfather worked as a Guard at the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville. Years later I toured the prison and I saw the position where he stood guard. What a horrible thing it must have been to work there, especially when He had to witness executions, by hanging. 26

      On June 23, 1951, Grandfather age 66, died at his home on Creel Street, St. Marys of a heart attack. I remember my Grandfather Rea as a kind, gentle man and I loved him.27

      Grandmother Sylvia lived to be 85 and died October 15, 1968 at the Fairview Manor Nursing Home, at Beverly, Ohio of bronchopneumonia. Grandmother, Grandfather and an infant son are buried at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery, near where Grandmother was born.28

      What a blessing it is, to have been born to good parents, share such a rich family heritage and be raised in the great little town of St. Marys on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River.


1 Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800 - 1819 Editor Michael H. Tepper, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1986.
2 (Source) 1788-1881 HISTORY OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, OHIO - Sponsored by: The Washington County Historical Society, Marietta, Ohio. H. Z. Williams & Bros. Publishers, 1881, page 690
3 Documents from the National Archives - copies received Sept. 2000
4 Journal of Common Pleas #3, Washington County, Ohio, March 11, 1818
5 Rea's Run Cemetery - Wade, Ohio - Vincent R. Brown, August 1993 Washington County, Ohio Genealogical Library.
1 ibid
6 Washington County, Ohio - Probate Court Marriage Record Book 1
7 1853 Plat Book, Washington, County, Ohio
8 1860 Census, Independence Township, Washington County, Ohio, Post Office - Ostend.
9 1870 Census, Independence Township, Washington, County, Ohio, Post Office - Newport
10 Washington County, Ohio - Probate Court Marriage Record Book 5
11 Year: 1880; Census Place: Independence, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T9_1075; Family History Film: 1255075; Page: 160.1000; Enumeration District: 225; Image: 0734 - Ancestry.com
12 Pleasants County Marriage Book #2, page 292 & Pleasants County Death Record No. 1, page 177.
13 Year: 1900; Census Place: Union, Pleasants, West Virginia; Roll: T623 1769; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 70 - Ancestry.com
14 Year: 1910; Census Place: Union, Pleasants, West Virginia; Roll: T624 1693; Page: 52A; Enumeration District: 63 - Ancestry.com
15 Front Page - PLEASANTS COUNTY LEADER - FRIDAY - MAY 6, and May 13, 1910.
16 Center Valley Cemetery, Washington County, OH.
17 History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family by Alpheus H. Harlan - Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD 1998.
18 Year: 1900; Census Place: Union, Pleasants, West Virginia; Roll: T623 1769; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 70.
19 My brother, T. Wilber Rea's recollection of family history.
20 Pleasants County Marriage Book.
21 Year: 1910; Census Place: Union, Pleasants, West Virginia; Roll: T624 1693; Page: 53A; Enumeration District: 63 - Ancestry.com
22 Year: 1920; Census Place: Union, Pleasants, West Virginia; Roll: T625 1968; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 99 - Ancestry.com
24 Walter Carpenter's personal knowledge, interview recorded August 16, 2005 by Mary Rea Lamp.
25 Year: 1930; Census Place: Union, Pleasants, West Virginia; Roll: 2551; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 5; Image: 452.0. - Ancestry.com
19 ibid
26 Family recollection and WV Penitentiary Uniform button in possession of my sister Sue Rea McFarland
27 Pleasants County, WV - Certificate of Death
28 Washington County, OH - Certificate of Death