My Rhea Family Tree


NEW! Family Tree DNA has found that I am a 12-for-12 match with two descendants of Rev. Joseph Rhea. This means it is almost certain that I am a descendant of Rev. Rhea. If you buy the 12 or 25-marker DNA test at Family Tree DNA, and you are a desendant of Matthew Campbell or his son Rev. Joseph Rhea, you will have the same results as number 7348 here: 12-marker results and 25-marker results. NOTE: Some information about Rev. Joseph Rhea, including his link to the Campbells, is in doubt. Click here for interesting information I received by e-mail in late 2005.

Matthew Campbell Rhea (Reagh) I  is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, born around 1660 in Argylle, Scotland.  He married Jane Baxter and moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland.  He was known as the "rebel" for his part in the Monmouth Rebellion.    He is of the Campbell clan but took the name Reagh when he left Scotland after escaping from prison (for his part in the rebellion). Some sources say Reagh means "rebel", some say it means "red haired", and others say it means "beautiful meadow" and is the Gaelic form of Campbell. (from the Latin campo bello, "beautiful meadow")    He was a descenant of Marjorie Bruce, sister of Robert the Bruce (king of the Scots in the 14th century). See this link for excellent information on Matthew, and this link for comprehensive Campbell lineage information.


Matthew Campbell Reagh II was his son, born around 1689. Matthew was married twice; the name of his first wife was Mary Lockhart, by whom he had four sons: Samuel, William, Isaac, and Matthew III. His second wife was Elizabeth McClain. Their children were: Abraham; James; Margaret; Agnes; and Joseph.


Rev. Joseph Rhea is the son of Matthew. His birth year is not proven; his gravestone in Maryland shows 1715, but he was likely born a few years later.   He learned Latin and Greek when he was young. He studied at Glasgow University in 1739 after living in Taughboyne in County Donegal.   He married Elizabeth McIlwaine in Northern Ireland around 1752. Ordained as a minister in 1748, he served at the the Fahan Presbyterian Church in County Donegal for 20 years. Forced by law to contribute money to the Church of Ireland (the Episcopal Church), many Presbyterian churches could not afford to pay a pastor's salary. Unable to make a living, Joseph resigned his pulpit. The Synod of Ulster raised money to assist him in emigating to America in 1769. Many Scots-Irish families migratrated to America at this time. He first lived in Gettysburg, PA, before becoming a pastor at the Piney Creek Presbyterian Church in Maryland in Carroll County. This church still exists. Joseph requested leave to travel to Virginia and was shown land by Col. William Preston. He moved from Maryland and came to southwestern Virginia / eastern Tennessee, eventually buying land in Sullivan County, which was originally thought to be in Virginia but was actually part of Tennessee.  He was one of the first pastors to preach in Tennessee. One announcement of a church service misspells his name "Ray", indicating that the pronounciation of Rhea was "Ray" back then, as it is today. His last letter was written in Latin in 1777 to his son, Major Matthew Rhea, who was serving in George Washington's army. The letter complained of trouble with the Cherokee, and expressed fear that he sold his farm and was about to move his family to the wild frontier. He died of pneumonia later in the year 1777. His gravestone, erected at the expense of his grandson in 1839, is still at the Piney Creek Presbyterian Cemetery. Thousands of people are descendants of Joseph. I highly recommend Ed Foley's excellent book about his descendants.

James Rhea was Joseph’s son, born in 1775 and died in 1855. He was only two when his father died.  Like his father, he was an avid reader of classical literature, and he taught Latin and Greek to his children and grandchildren. His only recorded marriage was to Elizabeth "Betsy" Snapp, who was 20 years younger. James was 40 when he married her. He had a prior marriage to Sarah Mitchell that produced at least one son, Robert Rhea.   In a book about the Evans family in the Tennessee state archives, (-The Evanses: The Massengills, Massengales and Variants- by Samuel Evans Massengill, M.D., printed 1931 by The King Printing Company) there is a passage that states: "Nancy Evans, married Robert Rhea, son of James Rhea and grandson of Rev. Joseph Rhea, moved to Paris, Illinois." He was educated at Washington College TN. He became a merchant for the rest of his life, leaving the family farm in Blountville TN. His obituary stated "he did not profess the religion of Christ, which was lameneted by his many friends, but few were as moral." James' last Will and Testament, written shortly before his death, left his extensive land holdings to the 4 sons born of Elizabeth Sapp, and contains the phrase, "this will revokes other wills by me respecting such lands." Many thanks to  Michael Walsh   (my cousin, grandson of Bernice Rhea ... Michael and lives in town as Randall)  and Ed Foley for this information.

One of the most prominent members of the Rhea family was James' brother, John Angus Rhea. (photo) He fought in the Revolutionary War. He joined the patriots against loyalist Americans at the Battle of Kings Mountain, a key turning point in the Revolution. He knew George Washington and is mentioned in the first president's personal papers. John served in the U.S. Congress from 1803 to 1815, and again from 1817 to 1823 He never married and never had children. John is considered to be one of the founders of Tennessee; he signed the Tennessee constitution, and Rhea County, Tennessee is named after him. His picture, and his revolutionary war sword, hang in the Tennessee state house. His portrait also hangs in the Rhea County Courthouse, the site of the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Robert M. Rhea is James’ son, born around 1807.  He married Nancy Evans.  According to the 1850 census, they  were born in Sullivan County, TN, the home of the Joseph Rhea family. A recently discovered marriage certificate lists his parents as James Rhea and Sarah Mitchell Rhea. His father did not mention him in his will, and he did not inherit any land. Perhaps this is why he migrated to Paris County, Illinois in 1831, via a flat bottom boat. His first child was born enroute. He had 7 children, the last born when he was 50 years old. (Four of their names and birthdates were William C. in 1831, Angline in 1834, David V. in 1834 and Gueretty in 1838.) He had other marriages: Anna Gebean in 1870, Angeline Wallace, and Julia M. Wright in 1886. He was a farmer and a sheriff. Records show that he fought in the Black Hawk War, as did Captain Abraham Lincoln. Robert was born about the same time as Lincoln and migrated to Illinois at about the same time. Thanks to Jim (son of Leonard Charles Rhea) and Marilyn Rhea, who have done extensive research on Robert.

David V. Rhea (photo) was born in 1836 in Paris, Illinois. (His obituary listed him as age 67 in 1903.) He was 5 feet 10 inches tall, with black hair, dark complexion, and blue eyes, and was a carpenter. (according to his army muster log)  He fought in the Civil War with the 7th Illinois Cavalry and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.  He fought in very important battles, including Grierson's Raid, where the 7th Illinois showed great stamina and bravery in the first major Union cavalry victory of the war. This raid weakened the Confederates and allowed Grant to capture Vicksburg and gain control of the Mississippi River. He fought against Nathan Bedford Forrest several times. (Forrest's unit included the 3rd Tennessee infantry and cousin Captain James David Rhea.)    He married 18-year-old Mary Rasina "Rose" Judd (photo) on 8/22/1869 in Elkhardt City,  Illinois and had children Ada, Grace Lillian (photo), Charles "Charley" Clarence (photo) and Pearl.  In 1873, he migrated to Nebraska, where he had trained with the 7th Illinois. He settled in Wilbur, Nebraska in 1878.  At the age of 67, he migrated to Wagoner, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), but died shortly thereafter (Dec. 31, 1903) of pneumonia. According to my aunt Shirley, he died in a blizzard. His obituary is printed in the Wilbur Republican of January 8, 1904. He is buried at the Sunnyside Cemetery near Wilbur.  (My mother Carlin was raised on a farm near Clatonia that was a former homestead, and is buried in Clatonia.) Mary Rose Judd later married a poet, George Washington Sanford. (photo) She died in 1930 and is buried at the Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. Thanks to my cousin Marilyn Montgomery for the photo of Grace, and to my brother Russ for the photo of Charles!

Charles Clarence Rhea (photo) was born in 1869 or 1870 in  Nebraska City, Nebraska, married Mary Clara Kovarik and had children Morris Carl, Mahlon Jennings, Bernice Grace and Leonard Charles.  He died in Crete, Nebraska on June 25, 1936.  My father remembers his funeral. The Kovariks are a Czech family- one of the original settlers of the Crete/Wilbur area of Nebraska. He was a barber, but he also took over the Kovarik farm.

Morris Carl Rhea (photo) was my grandfather. He was born on Christmas Day, 1904 and died in 1992. He grew up in Crete, Nebraska and played football for Crete High School. I was not fortunate enough to inherit the athletic genes from this part of the family, but his grandson / my cousin, Mitch Krenk, played tight end for the Cornhuskers in the early 80's and won a Super Bowl ring with the Chicago Bears in 1985. Morris owned a farm in Crete.  This farm is next to the Farmland factory (just north of it), and the white house is still there.  He worked as a farmer and surveyor.  He married Alice Bates, who at age 89 is still alive and kicking in Crete, Nebraska and the beloved grand dame of the family.  Their children are Charles, Shirley, Sally, and Samantha.

I am the son of Charles Allen Rhea, born in Crete, Nebraska on August 4, 1931.  (see the biographical video at this site)  He married my mother on September 5, 1954. He continued the westward trek of the Rhea family (Scotland - Ireland - Maryland - Virginia - Tennessee - Illinois - Nebraska) by settling in the coastal town of Palos Verdes, California in 1969. He and Carlin had three children:


            Randall Charles Rhea, born 1961 in Arizona, currently residing in the Dallas TX area.  I married Paula Holmgren on May 23, 1992, and we have two children:


                        Carlin Holmgren Rhea, born 1993 in Overland Park KS, named after her grandmother.


Nelson Randall Rhea, born 1996 in Dallas TX, named after his great grandfather Nelson and his father.


            Russell Allen Rhea, born in Arizona.  He married Lynne Henderlong in 1987, and they have three children, all born in Texas:


                        Alexander Herold Rhea, born 1993.

                        Ethan Charles Rhea, born 1995.

                        Spencer Rhea, born 1998.


Kathryn (Kelly) Rhea, born 1963 in Virginia. 


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