Search billions of records on


The contest between the friends and opponents of slavery from 1854 to 1860 centered in Kansas and party feeling ran very high. The discussion of this question led to civil strife throughout the nation and the loyal sons of the Sunflower state responded quickly to the call for troops and did effective service in maintaining the supremacy of the Union. On the long roll of soldiers from Kansas appears the name of Joseph C. Rea and in days of peace he is just as loyal to his duties of citizenship and to the general good as when he followed the stars and stripes to the scene of conflict in the south.

A native of New Jersey, he was born in Hunterdon county on the 12th of December, 1841. His paternal grandfather, Alexander Rea, was a soldier in the war of 1812 and married Miss Mary Stires, a lady of French descent. George Rea, the father of our subject, was also a native of Hunterdon county, New Jersey, and was reared and educated in that state. Having arrived at years of maturity he wedded Miss Clara Johnson, a daughter of Benjamin Johnson, one of the heroes of the Revolutionary war. Her father was of English birth and died at the extreme old age of one hundred years. His wife was in her maidenhood Miss Van Fleet, and she was still older at the time of her demise, which occurred after she had passed her one hundred and third year. George and Clara Rea became the parents of nine children, namely: William; John; Mary Elizabeth, the wife of John Otton, of Troy; Joseph C.; Emma; Lott; Samuel, of Great Bend, Kansas; Mrs. Amanda Drynple and Mrs. Alice Gano. The father of these children died in New Jersey at the age of sixty-eight years. In politics he was a Democrat and religiously he was connected with the Baptist church, in which he served as a deacon for many years. The mother is still living in New Jersey, at the age of eighty-seven years.

Joseph C. Rea was reared and educated in his native state, his boyhood days being quietly passed, but when the civil war was inaugurated he was roused by a spirit of patriotism and enlisted in Company E, Thirty-first New Jersey Infantry, in which he served for nine months and twenty-six days. During that time he participated in the battles of Fredericksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg and was under the command of Captain Woodward D. Holt. After leaving the service he spent five years in the far west, visiting California and Colorado, returning home in 1871.

On the 13th of May, of that year, Mr. Rea was united in marriage to Miss Adalaide Stevenson, who was reared and educated in Quakerstown, New Jersey, a daughter of Thomas Stevenson, who was born in Hunterdon county, that state. He was a son of Arthur and Martha Stevenson and was reared in New Jersey, where he wedded Miss Lucinda Metler. To this couple were born eleven children, namely: Thisbe; Mrs. Martha Trimmer; Mrs. Rea; James K., who was a soldier in the civil War; Mrs. May Sinclair; Albert C.; Hiram D.; Wesley, deceased; Edward and Mrs. Wilhelmina Dilley. The father of this family died at the age of forty-one years. He was a moulder by trade and followed that occupation in order to secure a livelihood. He entertained large, liberal views and lived an honorable and upright life. His wife died at the age of forty-nine years. She was a representative of an old eastern family, her maternal grandparents being Abraham and Thisbe (Brittain) Metler. Mr. and Mrs. Rea have two children: Alice, at home, and Bertha, wife of Rich Willis, of Wayne township, Doniphan county.

For a third of a century Mr. Rea has resided upon his present farm, having located there in 1866. He owns one hundred and sixty acres of land, of which seventy-five acres is included within his extensive orchards. He is one of the leading fruit growers in this section of the state and the remainder of his land is highly cultivated. His residence is a modern and substantial one and everything about the place indicates the progressive and enterprising spirit of the owner. For twenty-three years he has been a Master Mason and is now connected with the Masonic lodge of Troy. His life has been well spent and its activity and energy have enabled him to become the possessor of a comfortable home and a handsome competence.