One of the best things about contacting family you have never met is they have documents and pictures you have never seen.
When I first contacted Bill Rhea in Sneedville, it was uncomfortable. He was a stranger. However, family doesn’t stay strangers long and he had me call another 2nd cousin in Rogersville, Tennessee. Sheldon Livesay is the son of Mossie, the youngest daughter of Victor Edwin Rhea.
An aside here…Rhea men seem to share the same names. My cousin is Bill Rhea and his father is Howard, the son of William Ogden Rhea. The father of Bill Rhea in Sneedville is Howard Rhea also. Howard is the son of Washington Floyd Rhea. It is a mental shift to switch the familiar names to someone else.
Sheldon had lots of information and wonderful pictures. Let’s start with a picture I had.
The names are a little hard to read. The back row: William Ogden Rhea (my grandfather), Washington Floyd Rhea (Bill’s grandfather), Victor Edwin Rhea (Sheldon’s grandfather). Front row: Lillie Bower Rhea, Martha Jane Rhea, Luvena Rhea, and John (Floyd’s oldest child). This photo was taken before 1913.
I have pictures of my grandfather so I know what he looked like as an adult. Here is one, taken in 1947, I recently found.
Sheldon sent pictures of his grandparents and his wife’s parents. I don’t have a date for this picture but it is Victor, Cornie (his wife), and their middle daughter Opal.
While my grandfather and his older brother Victor do not look alike as younger men, as they got older, they started to resemblance each other. Somehow, that is comforting.
Sheldon also sent a family history complied a while back. The wording is old and I suspect that it was typed from handwritten notes sometime in the 1960’s. I haven’t gone through it yet but merely skimmed it. I can see where it is not correct but also see several names and dates to add to my history. Sheldon said to check out the last page. It is a summary created by the author. He said I would find it interesting.
Here is what it says:
"The Rheas as a family are not office seekers. They are Preachers, Lawyers, Doctors, Farmers, and Merchants. Only two of them ever held a high position in the State - John Rhea, the Congressman and William McAllister of Nashville, Tenn. on the Supreme Bench of the State of Tennessee. Twenty-four have been called by the King of Kings to preach his Gospel. Eleven ministers of the gospel have married into the family.
The Rhea family are all Presbyterians form the time they lived in Scotland and Ireland down to the year 1907. only a few have united with other Denominations, who went with their husbands.
They as a family were ready to shoulder their muskets when their Country demanded their services.
Two of the family served in the Revolutionary War.
Two in the War of 1912.
Three in the Mexican War.
And seventy did and perhaps more served in the Confederate Army in the War between the States 1861 to 1965.
Two served int the Federal Army.
It is said by their comrades, all did their part well, and not one turned bis back to the foe unless their commander ordered them to do so. Many were on the Staff of Officers, commanded companies, regiments, and battalions. Their followers had confidence in their leaders. Two were captured in the War of 1912. One died in time of the Mexican War.
In the Civil War, 1961 to 1865, one died from fever, six wounded in battle, two died from their wounds, four were killed on the battlefield, ten were made prisoner or were captured."
Sheldon knew I would also find the last page rewarding. As the writer of the family history was proud of his heritage, I find that after reading it, I am too.