History of Union Co., Ohio
Beers & Co.

ROBERT HILL, farmer, P. O. Jerome, a prominent farmer and citizen of Jerome T6wnship, was born in Harrison County, Ohio, November 25, 1823. His father was a native of Ireland, and emigrated to the United States with his father, whose name was also Robert, in 1816, and for six or eight years temporarily lived in Pittsburgh, Penn. On their removal West, they settled in Guernsey County, Ohio, where Mr. Hill (the first) died. Robert, the father of our subject, was a young man when his parents came across. He resided in Guernsey and Tuscarawas Counties till 1858, when he came to Jerome Township; residing there till October 1873, he removed to Paulding County, where he died in November 1879. Mrs. Hill (nee Nancy Morris) died about 1828-29. She was a native of England, and came to America with her parents. Robert Hill, the subject of this sketch is the second son and third child of four children, of whom three are living, viz.: Ann E., widow of Jonathan McCullough, of Harrison County; Mary, wife of Hanson Merryman, of Delaware County; Robert; and James, the eldest, who died. in McConnelsville, Morgan County, August 1878. Mr. Hill's mother died in 1828, and he became a member of the household of an uncle, John G. Norris, with whom he remained till of age. He was employed by Mr. Norris in a grist-mill till 1845, when he started out to acquire his own fortune. He spent a few months working as a laborer at the mere pittance salary of $8.33 1/3 per month. In 1845, he came to Mill Creek Township, and first purchased fifty acres of land. He resided on this farm fourteen years, in the meantime making an addition of fifty acres more. On his location in Jerome Township he bought 160 acres, and has made subsequent purchases till he now owns 349 acres of finely improved and highly cultivated land. January 8, 1846, Mr. Hill was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth M. Rea, a daughter of Samuel and Ruth A. (Robinson) Rea, natives of Harrison County, Ohio, and a granddaughter of Rev. John Rea, one of the early pioneer Presbyterian ministers of Ohio, of whom a sketch is appended. Samuel Hill was a member of the Coshocton County bar, and was a lawyer of considerable distinction. He was drowned in the Muskingum River February 28, 1833. His widow died February 19, 1881, aged seventy-seven years. Mrs. Hill was born in Coshocton County, Ohio, February 4, 1827. At her father's death, she was taken by her grandfather, Rev. John Rea, and reared to womanhood. Mr. Rea was Irish born, and crossed the Atlantic when eighteen years of age. He first settled in Westmoreland County. Penn., where he married Elizabeth Christy, a daughter of John Christy, who was an early settler in Pennsylvania, and participated in the Indian wars. On an Indian raid, two of his sons, John and William, were captured. They were returning home with the horses, when the redskins made the attack by firing upon them. John, in attempting to escape, was killed, William's horse was shot and fell upon him, and he became a victim of the savages. The first he knew of his brother's death occurred when he saw his scalp suspended to an Indian's belt, and recognized the black looks of hair. William was kept a captive three years, and released and returned to his mother and family. He was adopted by a chief, who treated him very kindly, and of whom be ever afterward spoke in terms of the highest veneration. Rev. John Rea was educated under Catholic discipline, and received a thorough classical training. He removed to Harrison County, Ohio, and was among its earliest settlers. He was pastor of a church at Beech Springs, in that county, for half a century. He was a member of the Philadelphia Synod, and went on horseback from Harrison County to Philadelphia, Penn., several times, to attend the General Assembly. He prepared and delivered an able farewell sermon to the congregation over which he had presided as minister and pastor for so many years, and retired to his home, where he died in February 1855, at a ripe age. Mr. and Mrs. Hill were blest with thirteen children; of these ten are living, viz.: Flora M., wife of Orange Cutler: Ruth A., widow of W. P. Wentz; G. Rea married Rachel Herriott; Mary I., wife of Lewis Brake; Elizabeth J., wife of Fleetwood Courtright; Samuel C., Frank S., Carrie A, John R. and Robert. Mr. and Mrs. Hill started in life together pioneers, and with few advantages. Together they have shared the difficulties and pleasures, the labor and reward of life. By their combined energy and industry, they have accumulated a sufficient competence. As a representative citizen, we give the portrait of Mr. Hill on another page of this volume.

REV. JOHN REA, D, D., the son of Joseph and Isabel Rea, was born in the village of Tully, Ireland, in 1772; emigrated to the United States when eighteen years of age. After remaining at Philadelphia, Penn., a short time, "left on foot," said he, "traveled mostly alone through the wilderness, sad, gloomy and dispirited, until after many days I arrived west of the Allegheny Mountains, stopping at the house of Mr. Porter, a Presbyterian minister," He now prosecuted the study of Latin, privately, which be had begun in his native land. To procure temporary means of support, he taught, first a night school, and afterward a day school In 1793, he married Miss Elizabeth Christy, of Westmoreland County, Penn, They had nine children, seven sons and two daughters, four of whom are still living, and one grandson, Rev. David Thompson, who is laboring in Jeddo, Empire of Japan, under the direction of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. Mr. Rea felt it his duty, even after marriage, to finish his education, already commenced, and if it was the will of his Divine Master, to enter the work of the Gospel ministry; for at his conversion and public profession of religion, he secretly vowed to his God that if He spared his life and gave him strength and grace, he would dedicate himself to the work of preaching the Gospel of Christ. With faith in Jesus, and his eye ever fixed upon his future calling, he labored and struggled on amid many adverse circumstances, with untiring zeal and more than ordinary industry, he worked his way through a literary course of education, teaching school, and studying alternately, until he graduated with honor at Jefferson College, when it was but a small school kept in a log cabin near Canonsburg, Penn. Mr. Rea was among the first alumni of this college, and studied theology under the direction of Dr. John McMillen; was licensed to preach by the Ohio Presbytery, June 1803, and after some three months' itinerancy in the wilderness of Central Ohio, among Indian camps Land the few white settlements, he was appointed to supply the newly organized churches of Beech Springs, Crab-apple and vicinity; for included in the letter was the Nottingham appointment, then considered on the confines of civilization, but now in the midst of a well-improved and densely populated country. After preaching for one year, as stated supply of these congregations, a united call was made out and carried up to the Presbytery, from these churches, In the spring of 1805, for each one-half of the labors of Mr. Rea, which was put into his hands and accepted. He was immediately ordained and installed pastor of said congregations by the Presbytery of Ohio. The country settled up rapidly and his charges grew as fast, so that it soon became necessary to have the relation between the two churches dissolved, that he might labor all his time at the Beech Springs, with the exception that a portion of his services, at discretion, might be occupied in fostering those vines springing up on his borders; and so untiring and devoted was this servant of Christ, that, besides ministering to the wants of so large a church, he found time to be instrumental in raising up some six or seven separate societies, that went out as colonies from the mother church and are now self-sustaining and prominent congregations. Dr. Rea died of decay of vital powers, February 12, 1855, at his residence near Unionville, Ohio (among the people of his charge, with whom, in part, he first settled), in the eighty-third year of his age and fifty-second of his ministry, greatly and deservedly beloved and esteemed as a citizen, Christian and faithful preacher of "Christ and Him crucified." Whatever else he omitted, he never neglected due preparation for the pulpit; his sermons evinced research, invention and original thought. It might be truly said of him that he was everywhere a living example of a Christian minister. He taught both by precept and daily walk. Mr. Rea established the Nottingham Mission, in 1806, and served it at stated times from the beginning, until 1810, when all his labors were required at Beech Springs, where his pastorate continued forty-five years, and during all this time he was much beloved and appreciated by the people. The older members of the congregation were enthusiastically attached to him, both as a preacher and spiritual adviser, and well they might be, for he was untiring in his exertions for their well-being.

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