THE RHEA (REAH) FAMILY
From Scotland to Tennessee
The Rhea (Reah) family comes from the CAMPBELLS of Scotland. In 1685, when Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll, was captured in the Monmouth Rebellion, he and his kinsman Matthew Campbell, called "Matthew the Rebel", were taken prisoners. Argyll was beheaded. Matthew Campbell escaped and fled to Ireland where he assumed the name of CREAGH (REAGH, REAH, and finally established as RHEA in America.
In Ireland, this MATTHEW REA I took a prominent part in the Siege of Londonderry from April to August 1689.
It is not known if he was married in Scotland or in Ireland. Name of his wife is unknown. Irish records show that a Matthew Reah married 27 April 1687 Janet Baxter. No proof was found that this was the same Matthew. Matthew Reah I has three sons. Two sons settled near Belpass and the other near St. Johnstown. Co Donegal, Ireland. The name of the third son was Matthew Reah II.
Matthew Reah and his first wife had four sons. He and his second wife had five children. I have a list of these names. I am descended from Matthew and his second wife, Elizabeth McClain. Joseph was born 1715 in Parish Taughboyne, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He became a Presbyterian minister and was considered to be one of the best educated men of his day.
Matthew Rhea (1795-1870) was a grandson of Joseph Rhea (1715-1777) the founder of the widespread RHEA family in Tennessee. Matthew was born near Blountville, Tenn. At 23 he married Mary Looney of Sullivan Co. Shortly after their marriage they moved to Maury Co. and lived among her relatives. This was their home from 1820 to 1834.
During these years the family grew; ultimately there were thirteen children. Matthew made their living by teaching, farming, and surveying, and this later occupation led him to undertake the arduous task of making a new map of Tennessee based on his own field surveys.
It was an ambitious project, expensive of time and energy. The financial strain was lightened somewhat by his receipt of a legacy from his fathers estate, a land warrant for services in the Revolutionary War, but even so he was often short of money. On Jan. 31, 1829, he wrote his friend Congressman James K. Polk in Washington that his map was nearing completion, that the expense of mailing large packages to and from distant parts of the state was heavy; might he reasonable and properly ask the Federal govt. for a 12-month exemption from postage? He would not ask this, he added, because he lives in Tenn., but because I am a mapmaker.
The map was published in 1832. It was Tennessees first map based on actual field surveys and by far the most detailed and most accurate. It located mountains, rivers, waterfalls, ferries, counties, towns, Indian villages, mineral deposits, iron works, furnaces, and forges. Rhea diligently pursued accuracy of information by means of on-the-spot observation, interviews, visits and voluminous correspondence. The map was indeed, as Eastin Morris, called it, large and valuable.
I have detailed information about Matthew Rhea, the second, who was killed at the Battle of Belmont in the edge of Missouri. He was the one that lost the sword that was handed down from Major Matthew Rhea who fought during the Revolutionary War. The sword story is a story in itself.
Joseph Rhea and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in Maryland in 1775. They left there and wound their way through Virginia and ended up in what is now Tennessee where he purchased 2,000 acres on the Holston River near what is now Blountville.
Descendants of the Rev. Joseph Rhea still live on the original Rhea Farm in Sullivan County at Elm Circle, a home that is on the National Register of Historic Places. They have a muzzleloader that has been in the family for more than 100 years. Seven generations of the Rhea family have lived on this farm, just inside Bristol, Tenn. City limits. The farm now is down to about 130 acres.
The Rhea Family Profile and
family tree provided by MARY KAY DANCY SMITH,
granddaughter of Alfred Long and Mary Armstrong Rhea.
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