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The Constantine Rea Historical Society

 

Con Rea:  A Family History

A Lauderdale County Web Exclusive
by Bill White

The Constantine Rea Family

Often the study of the origins of a family and their travels as the nation expanded gives the researcher some insight into how those family members were able to grow and prosper as individuals. Con Rea was clearly a well educated and influential person of his times. From a study of his life, we know that he was an attorney, a man of high moral character, that loved debate and argument and, down deep inside, he had a warrior's spirit. Nevertheless, his family was not so different from any other of the period.

Constantine Rea's father, Nathan Rea, was born about 1800 in Kentucky. He married the former Frances Moody on 13 August 1823 in Maury County, Tennessee. She had been born about the same time as Nathan Rea, 1800, in Virginia. After the birth of their son, Constantine, in 1825, as new lands became available on what was then the frontier, the family moved several times, as did many families of the era.

Their first daughter Eliza J. Rea was born in 1827 in Giles County, Tennessee. In Columbus, Mississippi (Lowndes County) the family next added another son, Alfred Franklin Rea who was born 13 January 1831. The family is also believed to have lived Choctaw County, Montgomery County and Washington County, Alabama and, later in Mobile, Alabama.

Frances Moody Rea died about 1833, possibly during the birth of her daughter and Con Rea's second sister, Martha. Nathan Rea lived, perhaps another 10 years. In 1840 he was living in Mobile, Alabama. Some sources suggest that he may have died there in 1843.

Constantine Rea married Margaret Bragg in Washington County, Alabama on 11 January 1843. She had been born in Green County, Alabama about 1825 and was the daughter of Richard Bragg and Mary Moody.

The couple apparently named their first child after his grandfathers, Richard Brag and Nathan Rea; Richard Nathan Rea, was born in Alabama on 18 November 1845. In the little town of Marion in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, Con and Margaret would increase their family during the next few years adding William Thomas, born in 1847, Eliza born in 1850 and Elmira born in 1858.

On 1 September 1848 Rea obtained land in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. This would be their


Memorial marker placed at old Marion Cemetery in honor of Con Rea.

 home until Constantine Rea's untimely death in 1864. Serving as a Major of the 46th Infantry Regiment, he had been detached and given command of a sharpshooter unit. On 9 July 1864 he was wounded in action with his unit on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta. The wound resulted in the amputation of his right leg. Major Rea died at home on 14 September 1864 of an infection of the wound. He was 39 years old. Con Rea was buried in the old Marion Cemetery.

A few years later, in 1877, his beloved wife Margaret would join him there. They were, it is said, buried beside each other but, for some reason, their graves never received permanent markers or, perhaps, were never marked at all. The result was that the actual grave sites of these important Lauderdale County residents were lost to time.

However, in April of 2004, through the combined efforts of a number of local history organizations and interested individuals, a marker was obtained through the U.S. Veterans Administration memorial marker program. It was sent to the cemetery for placement and was dedicated in a ceremony later that year. When the dedication day arrived, those attending were pleased to observe that organization in charge of the old Marion Cemetery had placed the marker in a place of honor and distinction near the main lane accessing the cemetery.


Constantine Rea

Con Rea's son Richard Rea would later command his father's well-known Company F of the 46th Mississippi. Richard would survive the war, having lead the Lauderdale Rifles at the Battle of Franklin and during the withdrawal from Nashville.

After the war, Richard married Sara Jane Boyd and lived briefly in Scott County, Mississippi. However, his wife apparently passed away soon after the marriage. By 1880, Richard Rea is reported (in the 1880 U. S. Census) as living in Branches Bend, East Carroll Parish, Louisiana and is listed as a widower.

On 20 January 1895 Rea remarried. He and Pollie Kemp Belden had one child, Lucy, born in 1896, and lived in Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish, Louisiana until his death at age 80 on 25 April 1925.

Of Richard Rea's brother, William Thomas Rea, little is known. However, his sisters, Eliza and Elmira, both married and lived in Sumter County, Alabama.

In the final analysis, whatever the magic that made Constantine Rea such a unique and remarkable man evades and eludes. Perhaps it is enough that he was who he was and that we remember him so.

 

Resources

This article was developed with the research assistance of Mr. Ward Calhoun and The Constantine Rea Historical Society.  Much on Mr. Calhoun's own research and his publications as well as information provided by the Society have gone into this article.  To purchase Mr. Calhoun's publications, please contact the Lauderdale County Department of Archives and History for a list of his works.

Genealogy research assistance was also provided by Ms. Elizabeth Hagwood, local researcher.

Content Copyright 2008 W.L.White and The Constantine Rea Historical Society.

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Page Last Updated:   Wednesday, 26 July 2017

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