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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Family Histories

Rees' Pieces - Part Two

Contributed by Beth Simmons

The information below has been written by Beth Simmons. “REES’ PIECES” was run as a series of articles in the Harborcreek Area Tri-Community News during the years 2000-2002. The Harbor Creek Historical Society will also publish this as a commemorative booklet for the Bicentennial of the Township in 2016.

For presentation on this web site, the article has been split into five parts. These parts will not necessarily align with the published articles. This is Part Two, Other Rees Names in Erie County.

Anyone wishing to add to, correct or otherwise question or comment on the information below should contact Beth Simmons directly.

Return to Part One

Part Two - Other Reeses

            There were many Rees families in Erie in the early days of settlement. The most confusing element in Erie historical literature occurs between Harbor Creek’s surveyor and Justice of the Peace, Thomas Rees, Esquire, and Thomas Rees, Jr., a son-in-law of the Reed’s. In Nelson’s biographical sketches, the confusion assigns District #1, embracing the Triangle, to “Thomas Rees, Jr.” [1] Another error occurs in the history of Erie section. Even Judah Colt mixed up their records in the Day Book in 1799, billing Thomas Rees, Jr. for a bushel of oats which Thomas Rees, Esq. had purchased[2].


Thomas Rees, Jr.

                        The historical records tell of the arrival of Mrs. Thomas Rees in the fall of 1795 with the two Reed boys and a Mrs. J. Fairbanks[3]. This Mrs. Thomas Rees was the wife of Thomas Rees, Jr., Mary T. Rees, one of the daughters of Col. Seth and Hannah Reed. Throughout the literature the two Thomas Reeses are constantly confused. Thomas Rees, Jr., was younger than Squire Rees of Harbor Creek fame, “but doubtless some relation”. Thomas Rees, Jr. was born in 1772, died Oct. 28, 1821, at an age of 49 yrs.[4] The members of the Thomas Rees, Jr. family are buried in the Erie Cemetery in the Reed plot.

            In the 1801 census, the Thomas Rees, Jr. family had two males (one under age 26, one under age 10) and three females (one under 45, one under age 26 and one under 16)[5]. According to the history books Thomas Rees, Jr., “settled in Summit township on property in Walnut Creek Valley taken up by Thomas Rees in 1797”[6] On April 18, 1800, Thomas  Rees, Jr. was appointed the commissioner for the town of Erie to sell the reserve lands and lots. None sold before 1801; few sold before 1804. On April 30, 1802, Rees’ commission was superseded and annulled. On May 31, John Kelso was appointed to replace Rees, Jr. By July 20, 1802, Rees failed to pay over monies received for the sale of lands and refused to deliver his books and papers to his successor. The Governor ordered Rees’ bond was ordered to be prosecuted[7]. Thomas Rees, Jr. died October 28, 1821 at the age of 49[8] which yields 1772 as the year of his birth, only eleven years later than the surveyor Thomas Rees’ birth year. Obviously, Thomas Rees, Jr. was the not the son of the surveyor, Thomas Rees.

            Mary T. Rees died February 4, 1825, at age 42[9]. The Erie Rees Jr. family ran the Buehler Hotel[10] (at times called the Rees House)[11] in 1812 at 3rd and French Streets and were there at least through 1821 when “Mrs. Hannah Reed died at the Erie Hotel (kept by her daughter, Mrs. Rees)”[12] Four Rees children, who would have been Reed grandchildren, were enrolled in the first school in Erie in 1812: Hannah, Rebecca, Harriet, and Henry Joseph (Harry)[13]. Other Rees children were Sarah Annin, Eliza, Thomas, Jr., George, Seth, and Roland.

            The third Thomas Rees, Jr., a grandson of the Reeds, died of yellow fever at age 23 in New Orleans. His obituary appeared in the Erie newspaper on September 16, 1841. According to the DAR he died unmarried in 1842.[14]


Rowland ( Roland?) Rees

            A Rowland Rees appears on lists of early land purchases in Erie[15]); he does not appear on the 1801 census. There is a Roland Rees listed as a son of Thomas Rees, Jr., but whether Rowland is the same person as Roland has yet to be determined.


Davis Rees

            One misquote in Miller’s 1909 History of Erie County is that “Davis” Rees[16] brought with him three slaves to which he gave 50 acres each upon the date of their emancipation at age 28. Having come to Erie in 1852 with his parents Richard and Mary Davis Rees, Davis Rees worked for his father in the dry goods business until 1863, when he became the freight agent of the railroad at the Union Station[17]. He was no relation to the Thomas Rees of Harbor Creek who brought the “free” colored servants with him to Erie County.

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[1] Nelson’s, p. 110

[2] Simmons, 1997, p. 12

[3] 1896, p. 512

[4] DAR Records, p. 64

[5] 1801 Census, Town of Erie

[6] 1884, p.528

[7] 1884, p. 224

[8] Erie Cemetery Records

[9] Erie Cemetery Records

[10] Spencer, Herbert Reynolds, Erie, A History: 1962,  p. 18

[11] Miller, V. I, p. 843

[12] 1876, p. 19

[13] 1884, p. 586

[14] DAR p. 65

[15] 1885, p. 223

[16] Miller, 1909, p. 487

[17] 1884, biography: Erie Cemetery Records

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[Change History: Article posted 3/27/03; contact email updated 10/4/03]

This page was last updated on  Saturday, October 4, 2016 .

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Article "Rees' Pieces" © Beth Evans Schooler Simmons, 1420 S. Reed St., Lakewood, CO 80232