Elijah W. RHEA (II) Bio

It is but fitting that mention should be made of the prominent young business man and leading merchant of Morrow county whose name is at the head of this article and who is a product of the county and one, too, that brings credit to his native place, both because of his energy in forwarding the material welfare of the county as well as his manifested ability in prosecuting his private business enterprises, while his moral worth and sterling principles of truth and uprightness are manifested wherever he is known.

Mr. Rhea was born on Rhea creek, on November 26, 1871, the territory then being embraced in Umatilla county. His parents, Columbus A. and Sophronia (Adkins) Rhea were early pioneers to this region and his father is one of the most distinguished and prominent citizens of Morrow county today. Our subject received his primary educational discipline in the common schools of the county and then took an extended course in the Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis, finally completing his education in the Portland Business College, from which institution he graduated in 1893. For two years subsequent to this he was engaged with his father in the stock business, but in 1895 bought Mr. Warner's interest in the firm of Horner & Warner, one of the leading general merchandise establishments of Heppner, the firm then becoming Horner & Rhea, until 1896, when his father bought the interest of Mr. Horner and the firm was then known as Rhea & Company until September 1, 1898, when Mr. Welch bought an interest and since that time they have done business under the name of Rhea & Welch. They carry a large stock of general merchandise, including hats, caps, gents' furnishings, clothing, dry goods, groceries, etc., etc., aggregating over twenty-five thousand dollars worth and their business is very extended, while the vigor and wisdom with which Mr. Rhea manipulates the enterprise is indicative of even a larger and more extended patronage than the generous portion which they now enjoy. In additon to the cares of this large business, Mr. Rhea is still engaged with his father in stock-raising and his varied capabilities find successful expression in all of his undertakings.

The marriage of our subject to Miss Effie M., daughter of Hugh Fields, and a native of this county, was celebrated on January 3, 1895, and they have become the parents of one child, Hugh, born in Heppner, September 18, 1898. Mr. Rhea is city councilman in addition to his other many labors, and discharges these duties with perfect acceptability to all his constituents, serving now in his second term. He affiliates with the A. F. & A. M., Heppner Lodge, No. 63, being also in the Royal Arch Chapter, and is a member of the B. P. O. E., Lodge No. 358. He distinctly remembers coming to Heppner during the Indian war of 1878, where they were assembled in a fort for protection; when his people left the ranch, they took many of their most valuable effects and put them in their trunks, which they buried in the orchard to prevent them being found by the Indians. Although just beginning his career, still during the few years that he has been in active business, Mr. Rhea has demonstrated his ability to stand among the leaders of the commercial realm in eastern Oregon and it is but right to say that this same talent presages a brilliant future for this estimable and popular young business man. (end)

Source: An Illustrated History of Umatilla County by Colonel William Parsons and of Morrow County by W. S. Shiach with a brief outline of the early history of the State of Oregon, W.H. Lever, Publisher, 1902; Morrow County Biographical pages 531-532. Thanks to Laura for transcribing this biography.