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Samuel W. Ream


Samuel's grave marker,
Cross Roads Cemetery

Samuel W. Ream was born in 1788 in Ursina, Somerset County, PA, the son of John and Anna Rosina (Weitzel) Ream, and the stepson of Catharine (Minerd) Ream. He appears to have been named for an uncle Samuel (1779-1858) who was an early settler of Perry County, OH.

Our Samuel was only four years of age when his mother died from the bite of a poisonous snake.

The Somerset (PA) Herald once said that Samuel was "born, lived and for many years owned the farm on which the thriving town of Ursina is built." He is believed to have carried the nickname "Tinker."

Over the span of his eight-plus decaces of life, he was "one who saw the county change from a rugged wilderness to a rich, beautiful and peaceful land," reported the Herald. "One who saw the Nation emerge from the desperate struggle of the Revolution with a mere existence, with wonderful recuperative power and unexampled rapidity assume a rank and station among the mightiest Nations of the Earth... His last looks were over a fertile and happy land crowded with smiling homes and thriving villages, in strange contrast with his first recollections, the indelible impressions of childhood when a dense wilderness filled with savage beasts and yet more savage men spread limitless and illimitable around him." 

Sometime in or before 1811, Samuel married Mary Rheims (1795-1874), sometimes spelled "Ream," whom descendants say was not related to her husband.

Their baker's dozen of known children were Louisa Ann Wilkins, Otho Reams, Levi Ream, James A. Ream, Julia Ann ("Julianne") Nicklow, Henry T. Ream, William Ream, Mary Ann McMillan, Lydia Ann Ream, Jacob W. Ream, Catherine Woods, John Ream II and Rosanna McMillan

They made their home in the general vicinity of his birthplace area of Ursina, where Samuel farmed and earned income as a blacksmith. A friend once wrote that the couple "had passed in peace and love an ordinary life time." At some point in time in adulthood, he fashioned a sandstone grave marker for his mother, inscribed in German, which once was the largest in the Ream Cemetery. Many years later, the Meyersdale Republican reported: "The decorations are very quaint. At the top of the stone, on the front, a heart is carved; a circular scroll is carved on each side of the heart, terminating in a raised place all the way down to the bottom of the stone.... At the bottom of the stone, below the inscription, cross bones are carved. On the back of the stone a six-pointed star is at the top, with the face and wings of an angel below. The same raised place as on the front is on the back, the carving is supposed to represent a snake. A little vine is carved on each end of the stone."


Samuel's affidavit signed on behalf of his late friend Rhoda Jennings


Somerset Herald, 1874

On Feb. 8, 1853, at the age of 65, Samuel agreed to sign an affidavit on behalf of the estate of the late Rhoda (Spencer) Jennings, a longtime friend and the mother of his brother-in-law David Jennings and his nephew by marriage, Thomas Jennings. Penned by Somerset County Prothonotary John Schell, but signed by Samuel, the document reads: "Samuel W. Ream, a citizen of Turkeyfoot Township, County of Somerset Pennsylvania being duly sworn deposeth & says -- That he was well acquainted with Rhoda Ann Jennings who was the widow of Benjamin Jennings, that she was a resident of Somerset County, was a pensioner of the United States at the rate of Eighty dollars per year, that she died in Somerset County on the seventh day of February A.D. 1849 and that she left ten -- living children whose names are James, Rhoda Ann, Benjamin, David, Mary, Ollie, Jessie, Israel, Thomas, Margaret and further saith not."

Said the Herald: "In many respects apart from his great age [Samuel] was a remarkable man.... Originally endowed with great strength and wonderful activity, an excellent temper, a honest, kind and fearless heart, he was of course universally popular in a new country where such gifts were better than gold or silver. He reared a large family in habits of honest industry, and for many years manfully struggled with the hard-ships and dangers incident to a frontier life."


Somerset Herald, 1874

When he was age 56 and she 49, Samuel and Mary were admitted into membership of the Jersey Baptist Church, at that time led by Rev. William Woods. They remained there as worshippers for the rest of his life. 

Reported the Herald: "... old age descended on him like a pleasant autumn day. And even to the last his flesh was firm, his cheeks rounded and fat, his teeth beautifully even, sound and white. His hand still gave the firm yet friendly grip, his genial smile was more than a speech of welcome from another, and had all the charms of youth."

After his large brood of children had scattered in many directions, and as his health declined due to old age, Samuel went to Listonville in Addison Township, Somerset County to live with his married daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann and Jehu McMillan. He died in the McMillan home at the age of 85 on Aug. 28, 1874, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. His funeral was held in the Jersey Church, attended by "many old and attached friends," said the Herald, with Rev. James R. Brown of Confluence preaching from the first two books of Philippians. The remains were transported a short distance to Harnedsville for burial in the soil of the Crossroads Cemetery.


Mary's grave, Crossroads Cemetery

A friend wrote a death notice and obituary sent them to both of the Somerset County newspapers. When the news failed to be printed, the friend then re-submitted the obituary to the Herald, and it was published on Oct. 28, 1874, some two months after Samuel's passing. Wrote the friend: "We cannot allow so important a connecting link with the past to be severed without some notice, however, imperfect. Respect ... forbids that some notice of a lifetime so pregnant with mighty events should not be taken." 

Mary's health also was poor, and she only lived for another three months after Samuel's death. The Grim Reaper gathered her up in the residence of her daughter and son-in-law Mary Ann and Jehu McMillan in Addison on Nov. 28, 1874, at the age of 79, between the hours of 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Following the pattern set a few months earlier, Rev. Brown officiated at the funeral, preaching his sermon based on Revelations 14:13. Burial was in the Cross Roads Cemetery. In an obituary, the Herald reported: 

There is something very touching in this swift fading of earthly things that follows the loss of a beloved companion. The aged survivor seems to feel as if the better part was already gone, and hastens to join it in the unchanged and never ending life beyond. Sustained by the Christian's hope she calmly sunk to her rest, cheered to the last by the kindly ministry of affectionate children. May her rest be peace.

After Mary's passing, an estate sale was held on Feb. 13, 1875 to generate funds to pay debts and inheritances. Some 114 lots were sold, raising $105.57.

Over the ensuing decades, the numbers of Ream offspring swelled significantly. The 13 children produced some 79 grandchildren, and many, many more great-grandchildren. The count will be updated as more knowledge is gained.

The family is described in some detail in Paul Ryscavage's 2013 book Norman B. Ream: Forgotten Master of Markets. As well, in 2017, they were spelled out in detail in Iva (Ream) Barkley's book Ream Riehm.


The Reams' final resting place, the Cross Roads Cemetery near Harnedsville

~ Son William Ream ~

Son William Ream (1822-1913) was born on Dec. 19, 1822 in Somerset County, PA.

At the age of 25 in 1850, unmarried, William lived with his married brother Levi Ream in Ursina, and worked as a laborer, presumably on the old Ream farm.

He is said to have entered into marriage with Sarah McNeill (Feb. 7, 1824-1910). She was a talented clothes-maker, known in the day as a "spinster."

Early view of Ursina, PA 

Together, the couple produced a family of five -- Florence Ream, Wallace Ream, Mary A. Ream, William Ream Jr.  and John Ream. 

The United States Census of 1860 shows William and Sarah and children Florence and Wallace on a farm in Lower Turkeyfoot Township near Ursina.

During the last few years of the 1860s, after the birth of their youngest son in 1868, Reams relocated to Iowa, putting down roots initially on a farm Colfax, Dallas County, followed by a move by 1880 to Pottawattamie County, IA. William is known to have joined the Methodist Episcopal Church "in middle life." When the federal census enumeration was made in 1880, they dwelled on a farm in Layton, Pottawattamie County

Circa 1883, they again pulled up stakes and moved to a farm a few miles southwest of Wayne, Wayne County, NE, and remained until 1900. Said the Wayne News, "He was well known over the county during his stay here..." William was involved in a frightening mishap in February 1891 when his team of horses became unnerved during a trip in town. The Wayne Herald reported that the animals "ran away, they ran west on Fifth street and when opposite the German church Mr. Ream was thrown out, catching his foot in the spring seat and was dragged several yards before getting loose, the hind wheel of the wagon then passing over him. He received a number of bruises but nothing serious. The team was stopped near Ran Frazier's west of town with but little damage, though they ran through a barbwire fence twice."

William's wife died on Oct. 31, 1910. 

Sadly, suffering from la grippe, William died at the age of 90 years, two months and 20 days on March 9, 1913 in the home of his son William Jr. of near O'Neill, NE. An obituary in the News said that the son accompanied the body to Wayne for interment with his wife and daughter in Wayne Cemetery. Rev. William Gorst presided over the funeral rites. Nephew Levi Kruger, living in Bloomfield, is known to have attended the funeral.

Daughter Florence Ream (1858- ? ) was born in about 1858 in Lower Turkeyfoot Township, Somerset County. 

Son Wallace Ream (1860- ? ) was born in about 1860 in Pennsylvania. When he was 20 years of age, in 1880, Wallace may have been away from home attending school. He made news in the Wayne (NE) Herald in mid-December 1888 when he and Ernest Longnecker were hauling "huge loads of ear corn. At present Ernest is a little ahead, having one load that weighed out 58 bushels. Quite a number of loads the boys have brought in have made more than 56 bu. each, and the next thing to look for is to see them load on their corn cribs and finish the whole thing up at once."

Daughter Mary A. Ream (1861- ? ) was born in about 1861 in Pennsylvania. She was deceased by 1913. 

Son William Ream Jr. (1863- ? ) was born in about 1863 in Pennsylvania. After moving with his parents to Iowa and thence to Nebraska, they settled in Wayne, NE. There, in May 1891, either he or his brother Wallace joined the local Wayne Hard Hitters baseball club, with the position of centerfield.

Son John Ream (1868- ? ) was born in about 1868 in Pennsylvania.


~ Son Jacob W. Ream ~

Son Jacob W. Ream (1827- ? ) is said to have been born in 1827.

On June 2, 1851, he married Henrietta Shafford ( ? - ? ).

We are exploring whether they are the same Jacob and Harriet Ream who in 1860 and 1870 resided in Hyattsville, Tippecanoe Township, Miami County, OH and in the 1870s migrated to White Mound, Jewell County, KS. This Jacob died during the 1870s and in 1880 his widow lived in White Mound.

More will be added here when learned.


Copyright 2002, 2009, 2012, 2014-2017 Mark A. Miner