WILLIAM BISHOP REA, a highly esteemed citizen and successful business man of Ashland, Wis., was born in Cumberland Co., Pa., Sept. 14, 1847. He is a son of John Allen and Elizabeth (Bishop) Rea, both of whom were born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania.
The father of John A. Rea was born in Scotland. In early life he learned the stone mason's trade and after his settlement in Pennsylvania, he devoted himself to his calling and numerous buildings were erected by him. When about seventy years of age, he was fallen upon by a horse which he was riding, resulting in injuries which caused his death. John A. Rea learned the saddlery trade in his youth, following it at Newburg and during the Civil War he contracted heavily to provide government supplies, employing seventy-five or more persons in his business. He passed a busy life, was uniformly successful and was much esteemed for his many excellent qualities. He was a Democrat in politics and during President Buchanan's administration was appointed and served as postmaster of Newburg. He died at the age of seventy-two years. Mrs. Elizabeth Rea died at the age of sixty-three years. To Mr. and Mrs. Rea were born three sons and two daughters. Melissa Jane, now Mrs. Mowery, of Newville, Pa., is the only survivor besides her brother, William B. Rea.
The boyhood of William Bishop Rea was spent in Newburg, where he received his elementary education. He was living there during the progress of the battle of Gettysburg and although distant thirty miles, the roar of the guns was clearly heard and the smoke was distinctly visible to the eye. When twenty years of age he accepted a clerical position in a general store at Newburg where he remained until 1871, when he came west and located in Oshkosh, Wis., obtaining employment in a crockery store and later in the "Empire House," kept by his Uncle Mr. Rea. Sussequently he went to Appleton, Wis, thence to Fond du Lac, and in 1886 located in Ashland, where he dealt in groceries for a time. He subsequently turned his attention to the real estate business and dealt largely in city property , as well as timber and farming lands, in which business he is now engaged. In 1901 he was appointed city assessor for two years and gave a large share of his personal attention to the duties of that office. To this position Mr. Rea brought to bear capabilities that can only be acquired by one who has a broad knowledge of the real estate business.
Mr. Rea was united in marriage with Miss Carrie A. French, their union having been consummated in 1879. Mrs. Rea is a daughter of Rev. Charles French, a Presbyterian clergyman who died in Ashland in 1902, aged eighty-three years. Mrs. Rea was born at Melbourne, near Montreal, Canada, and came to the United States with her parents during her childhood. To Mr. and Mrs. Rea three children have been born, Carrie A., Edith E., and Leslie J. The last named died at the age of fourteen months. The family is identified with the Presbyterian Church and its members are prominent in sociel circles. Mr. Rea is secretary of Ashland Lodge, No. 558, B.P.O.E., and enjoys the confidence and esteem of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.