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Yvonne Dalluge
Kathleen Jacobitz
Marcia Borcher
Sandi Corbitt-Sears
Dick Taylor


J. William Rees

This descriptive sketch is from Portrait & Biographical Album of Johnson and Pawnee Counties Nebraska published by Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1889 (p. 477)

J. W. REES.   Prominent among the young farmers of Mission Creek Precinct, who are assiduously devoting themselves with marked success to the maintenance of the extensive agricultural interests of Pawnee County, is the subject of this sketch.  His farm on section 20, Mission Creek Precinct, is classed as one of the best farms in this part of the country, and among its many valuable improvements are a large and roomy residence and a commodious barn. 

Our subject is a son of one of Pawnee County's pioneers, his father, Christian Rees, who lives with him, coming here at an early day, and buying this farm of the Government, developing it from the wild prairie, and as his son assisted him in bringing it to its present high state of cultivation, although he was a mere lad when he came here, he may also be styled a pioneer. 

The father is a native of Nassau, Germany, his birth taking place Jan. 5, 1830.  His father, Mathias Rees, was a native of the same place, where he carried on farming and as held the position of overseer of the forest lands.  He died in the Fatherland in 1851, at the age of fifty-eight years.  His wife, whose maiden name was Annice Itein, also a native of Nassau, died in 1844, at the age of forty-nine years.  Michael Rees, the great-grandfather of our subject, was a wealthy farmer in his native Germany, and owned a large estate.  Christian Rees began live as a farmer in Germany, but when he was twenty-three years of age he emigrated to America, in 1853, embarking at Antwerp on the sailing-vessel "Ashland." He came very near not reaching the promised land, as the ship was wrecked in the English Channel, and he had a very narrow escape from drowning.  He finally succeeded in crossing the ocean, and landing in New York, proceeded to Lawrenceburg, Ind., and thence went to Greenup County, Ky., and was there married, March 10, 1855, to Miss Mary E. Miller.  She was born in Aargan, Switzerland, Dec. 1, 1835, a daughter of Rudolph Miller, a native of the same country.  He was a farmer and owned a large farm.  He took part in the Swiss Revolution of 1848.  In 1854 he emigrated from the land of his nativity with his family, and located in Portsmouth, Ohio.  He was there employed as a day laborer until his removal to Greenup County, where he worked in an iron foundry.  Later he went to DeKalb County, Ill., becoming an early settler thereof in 1858.  He bought land there, improved it, and is still actively engaged in farming his homestead, notwithstanding his advanced age, he being seventy-eight years old.  His wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Leischer, was born in Switzerland seventy-two years ago.  She and her husband are devoted members of the Evangelical Methodist Episcopal Church.  Rudolph Miller, the maternal great-grandfather of our subject, was a wealthy farmer of Switzerland.  He was a soldier in the Swiss Revolution, and died in 1847, at the age of fifty-one years. 

After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Rees, the parents of our subject, removed to DeKalb County, Ill., and two years later found them in LaSalle County, the same State.  Mr. Rees began farming there buying a tract of land, and besides cultivating the soil raised stock in that section of the country until 1870, when he sold out his property in Illinois and came to Pawnee County, and since that time has been identified with its agricultural interests.  He bought 160 acres of Government land on Mission Creek, which forms the farm now managed by himself and son, and in the busy years that followed his settlement on it made numerous valuable improvements, he being a skillful and industrious farmer.  Both parents make their home with their son of whom we write, he being their only living child.  Their daughter Emma became the wife of J. E. Blair, and died in Colorado, Jan. 29, 1881, and her remains were brought home for burial. 

Our subject was born in the city of Chicago, Ill., March 18, 1858.  He was quite young when his parents settled in LaSalle County, and there a part of his boyhood was passed on a farm.  He was twelve years old when the family came to Nebraska, coming from Henry, Ill., on the Illinois Central Railway to St. Louis, thence up the Missouri River to Atchison, Kan., and from there they drove to this place with a team.  He had good school advantages, and being an intelligent, wide-awake lad, he made good use of his time to grain and education.  After coming here he was of great assistance to his father in breaking the prairie, and was kept busy tilling the soil.  He subsequently went into partnership with his father, and the farm is now in a fine condition, with hedge and wire fences, a new house, barns, etc., and the land under admirable tillage.  The Messrs. Rees do general farming and pay much attention to raising fine grades of stock.  Their cattle are of the Short-horn breed, and they also buy and feed cattle.  They have likewise eight head of graded Clyde horses. 

Our subject was married to Miss Sophia Mollet, in Pawnee City, Nov.  19, 1884.  She was born in St. Louis, Mo., June 11, 1866, to Edward and Mary (Gruby) Mollet.  Her father was born in West Baden and her mother in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany.  They were married in America, and after marriage located for a while in St. Louis, where Mr. Mollet was engaged as a confectioner, which business he carried on in Washington, where he was married, and in other places, and at last opened a confectioner's shop in Chicago, Ill., where he died soon after the great fire, his death occurring in 1873.  Mrs. Rees's mother, who is a woman of much ability and force of character, worked her own way.  She finally removed to Nebraska, and bought the hotel at Burchard, which is run on the European plan.  She is an earnest follower of the Catholic religion, and is now fifty-two years old.  She has two children living, Minnie and Sophia.  The union of our subject and his wife has been blessed to them by the birth of two children, Emma E. and Fred E. 

Mr. Rees is a man of much enterprise, and is influential in public affairs, discharging with characteristic faithfulness and ability the responsible offices that have been entrusted to him.  He is a member of the School Board, was Justice of the Peace two years, and is Supervisor of Roads.  He is an active member of the German Evangelical Synod in Gage County, Neb., and his father is a charter member of the church.  The latter is a firm Republican, while our subject is identified with the Union Labor party.  He is an intelligent member of the Grange.  Mrs. Rees is a very amiable lady, and cordially seconds the hospitality of her husband and, carefully looks after the comfort of her visitors. 

The grandfather of Mrs. Rees was compelled to leave France with the Huguenots under the penalty of death if they remained in France.  Mrs. Rees has changed her membership from the Catholic Church to the Evangelical Synod, or society, and worships with her husband.  On another page we give a fine lithographic view of the residence of Mr. Rees. 

Transcribed for this site by Dick Taylor, 1999.


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