McDonough Bainbridge Rees

An Illustrated History of Union and Wallowa Counties With a Brief Outline of the Early History of the State of Oregon. The Western Historical Publishing Company, 1902, pp. 257-258. An active, energetic, and progressive man, the subject of this sketch has ever been in the van guard of advancement and his vigorous spirit and fine abilities have been an equipment for the conflicts and struggles of life which have given him victory at every point and caused him to be attended with prosperity, while his walk has been of such a character that he has always to the fullest extent enjoyed the esteem and confidence of his fellows. Mr. Rees has been a man of wide and extended experience in many walks of life and his powers of adaptability have ever given him a prestige and success that many another has missed, while the many years of activity in all the leading occupations that man has taken up and expecially in the varied callings of the frontiersman Mr. Rees has acquired a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that few have the privilege of enjoying, and which have made him a very valued citizen and one sought after by his fellows.  

The birth of our subject was in Butler county, Ohio, on February 10, 1831, being the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Griffin) Rees. The old log school houses of the primitive days were the centers whence the lad received his educational training, which was more highly prized as the means were simple and incomplete. For the first seventeen years of his life, he was at home and in the service of the farm and working for neighbors and then he started into the commercial world as a peddler, handling oil cloth, pumps, and wind mills, and later selling lightning rods through Tennessee and Mississippi. In the fall of 1852, he returned to Ohio and entered business with his brother, J. G. Rees, who was proprietor and editor of the Greenville Journal, in Darke county, of hi native state. Two years he operated in that capacity and then started for the Pacific coast, making the trip by way of New York, the isthmus, and the Pacific ocean to Portland. His brother, W. H. Rees, had previously , in 1844, settled in what is now Marion county, and there he went, settling at Butteville on the old French Prairie, remaining there until July, 1855, engaged in various occupations. At the date mentioned he went on a mining trip to the mouth of the Pend Oreille river, where placer diggings had been discovered. He went by steamer to The Dalles and thence by horseback to his destination. Success smiled upon him and he was enabled to have the joy of returning to Butteville with a goodly portion. the following winter was spent in the place and there, in 1856, was contracted his marriage with America Frances Hall, whose parents, James and Cynthia, were pioneers to that section in 1845. Mr. Rees then bought a farm and also taught school for some time in the vicinity of Butteville, being occupied also in tilling his farm until 1860, when he was again stirred to take part in mining and so went to the new and thriving camps of Oro Fino, in Idaho. One summer was spent there and then he repaired to Florence, where two years were spent, being crowned with reasonable success. In the fall of 1862 he returned to Butteville and the following spring found his vigorous and exploring spirit in the Bannock camps in Idaho, whence he returned to Butteville for the winter of 1863 and there in company with J. Herren bought cattle, which they drove to Union county in the spring and herded them on Willow creek and arrived in the Grande Ronde valley in the fall of 1864. Here he bought one hundred and sixty acres of land near Cove and there made his home until 1869. In this vicinity, Mr. Rees has accumulated nine hundred acres of good land and just recently he purchased twelve hundred and forty-six acres two miles south of Elgin, which is used partly for raising crops and partly for pasture. In 1880, Mr. Rees took up the sheep business, handling only the improved breeds, and in 1889 sold out the entire bunch.

There have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Rees seven children, four of whom are now living, namely: Sherman, manager of the flour mill at Cove; Edward C., farming near Cove; Walter; Harry C., farming on the property near Elgin. Politically, Mr. Rees has always taken the part of the intelligent and progressive citizen, yet never pressing himself for preferment. However, in 1866, his friends placed him in nomination on the Republican ticket for the state legislature, and in 1892 he was also brought forward for the senate but to use his own words, he was "fortunate enough to get beaten each time." In all of his dealings, Mr. Rees is a man of uprightness and is a prosperous business man and respected member of the community and citizen of the county