From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.


Another Member of Noted Pioneer Family, Mrs. Laura Rhea,

Passes Away in California

By George J. Remsburg

The recent death at Fresno, Calif., of Mrs. Laura W. Rhea, 83, recalls some interesting history of a well known pioneer family of Leavenworth county. Mrs. Rhea was the wife of Robert W. Rhea, who was born at old ringold, in Platte county, Mo., Feb. 15, 1851, and who came to Kansas with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Spartan F. Rhea, in 1854, and settled near Easton, or to be more definite, about midway between Lowemont and Millwood. Spartan f. Rhea was prominent in the early days of Leavenworth county, and will be remembered by all old timers. He was one of the founders of Easton and one of the early justice of the peace of Kansas territory, having been commissioned by Governor Geary, in 1856. He operated a wool-carding mill on his Easton township ranch, one of the first in this section. It was an important industry in those days, when sheep raising was one of the principal branches of husbandry in this part of Kansas.

Robert W. Rhea, mentioned above, a son of Sparaton F. Rhea, was reared in Leavenworth county. He survives his wife, who has just died in Fresno, Calif. His eldest sister, Lou, an early Leavenworth county school teacher, died in Oklahoma a few years ago. Another sister, Sallie, who was also a school teacher and musician, died at Princeton, Calif., in 1882. Amanda Rhea died of smallpox on the old Leavenworth county homestead in 1858. Cooke Rhea lives at Pearl, Colo., where he has a big ranch of 440 acres known as the "Pioneer Ranch," because he was the first settler there. Robert and Cook Rhea went west in 1872, and hunted buffalo until 1877. They parted at Dodge City, Kan., expecting to meet in a month at Alamosa, Colo., but did not meet until 20 years later. Robert Rhea and wife went to California from Arizona in 1888. He was engaged in the dairy business for years, and was president of the Danish Creamery company, but is now retired and lives in Fresno. His last visit to Leavenworth county was in 1882. He is now 78 years of age. "I am the freckled-faced boy who used to hang around my father's carding mill in Leavenworth county," he recently remarked to the writer.

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