PORTRAIT & BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD
of Jasper, Marshall and Grundy Counties, Iowa
SPENCER H. REES, a Veteran of the Civil War, and one of the prominent agriculturists of Jasper County, resides upon section 23, Palo Alto Township, where he has a finely improved farm. The family of which he is an honored representative is descended from Welsh ancestors, and has for many years been identified with the history of the United States. Spencer H. was born in Hancock County, Ohio, August 4, 1847, and is a son of Thomas and Mary A. (Prouty) Rees, natives respectively of Pennsylvania and Ohio. One of his maternal uncles was a soldier in the War of 1812.
In November, 1848, Thomas Rees, accompanied by his family, migrated from Hancock County, Ohio, to Jasper County, Iowa, by way of Cincinnati, down the Ohio and up the Mississippi Rivers to Burlington, from which place with an ox-team he came to Jasper County, where he entered a large tract of land from the Government, establishing his permanent home in Palo Alto Township, of which he was the first settler. Indians were numerous at that time, but were always on very friendly terms with Mr. Rees and family. Wild game was plenty, and many deer and wild turkeys were brought down by the unerring rifle of Mr. Rees who was very fond of hunting. Mr. Rees had been a resident of this township for four years before any other settlers located here, and as may oe imagined, be was a witness of the early growth and development of this section of the country. The first winter Mrs. Rees did not see a white woman for over three months. The next settlers were Shelby Baker, who settled on the place now owned by Capt. M. W. Atwood, Stephen Guersford and Joel Guersford, and soon their father, Joshua Guersford, an old veteran of the War of 1812, and James Earley settled in the township. Then came J. R. Bain, David Pryor and Wakefield Trotter. The first white child born in the township was Miss Henrietta E. Rees in 1849. The first wedding was celebrated at the home of Shelbey Baker, their daughter, Nancy Jane, being the bride and Henry Adams the groom. Either for luck or looks, the bride borrowed Mrs. Rees' shoes. Mr. Rees remembers the occasion by an immense stock of pumpkin pies on the end of a bench in one corner and numerous poles overhead full of rings of pumpkins in the process of drying.
This township showed its patriotism by furnishing twenty-five soldiers for the late war, who enlisted in the order given: James P. Livingston, Justice Dunn, Wakefield Trotter, Jr., Nathaniel Johnston, William Axtell, M. W. Atwood, D. L. Gibford, James Wilson, John Gibford, Lee French, L. D. Jones, James Haskett, John Myres, Frank Gibford, Samuel Hennings, William Oblemis, James Earley, S. F. Newcomber, B. Aydelotte, J. R. Bain, S. H. Rees, W. A. Livingston, William Eggart, William Hill and Eli Warren. Tha eldest at the enlistment was B. Aydelotte, who was forty-seven years old. The youngest was S. H. Rees, who was seventeen years old. Jonas Haskett and James Willson were killed in battle; William Axtell, William Oblemis, S. F. Newcomber and Nathaniel Johnston died in hospitals; the rest lived to return to their families. In the death of Mr. Rees, which occurred March 10, 1865, the county lost a representative citizen and well known pioneer.
A Democrat in political opinions, Thomas Rees served in various township offices, and was recognized as a public-spirited and enterprising citizen. At the time of locating here, he was a poor man, but such was his success that at the time of his demise he was the owner of seven hundred and forty acres of valuable land. He and his wife were the parents of nine children, of whom seven survive, namely: Anson B.; Spencer H., the subject of this sketch; Henrietta E., wife of Henry McVeigh; Rowland; Franklin P.; Estella M, wife of Dr. D. N Johnson and Effie C., who married George W. Byington. After the death of Thomas Rees, his widow married Isaac G. Badger, and they became the parents of two children, Hannibal J., and Mary B., wife of S. A. Guersford.
Amid pioneer scenes of Jasper County, the subject of this sketch was reared to manhood, gaining the rudiments of his education in the subscription and common schools of Palo Alto Township. Afterward he conducted his studies in a private normal school at Newton, Iowa, where he remained for two terms. From youth his chosen occupation has been that of agriculture, and it was natural that when selecting a life calling he should choose that to which he had been reared.
October 24, 1877, was the date of the marriage of Spencer H. Rees and Miss Margaret E. Holmes. Mrs. Rees was born in Washington County, Ind., and at the age of ten years accompanied her parents, Ransom P. and Mary A. Holmes, to Jasper County, Iowa, where she has since resided. Her marriage has resulted in the birth of five children, three of whom survive, namely: Morris H, Edna G, and Floy N. Mr. and Mrs. Rees are active members of the United Presbyterian Church, to the support of which they are regular contributors.
On the 21st of May, 1864, Mr. Rees enlisted as member of Company B, Forty-eighth Iowa Infantry, and as a member of Hooker's Division did garrison duty in Rock Island and Chicago. On the 20th of October, 1864, he was honorably discharged, and is now in receipt of a pension of $24 per month as a partial compensation for his services. In politics he is a member of the People's party, the principles of which he upholds by his ballot. He served as Trustee of Palo Alto Township for two terms, as Clerk for two terms and Assessor for three terms, Justice of the Peace one term and Weigher of Government Mails in 1887 on route No. 27,036. Socially he is identified with Garrett Post No. 18, G. A. R., at Newton, Iowa. He owns sixty-seven and one-half acres of land, which he has embellished with first-class improvements, including substantial buildings.
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