RHEA, EDWIN L. - The agricultural interests of Sangamon County are represented by men whose progressive ideas and advanced methods have placed them in the front ranks, and among them one who has already attained an enviable success is Edwin L. Rhea, residing on Section 24, New Berlin Township. He was born in Island Grove Township, April 3, 1868, being a son of Stephen Edwin Rhea, a complete history of whom appears elsewhere in this work. Mr. Rhea grew up on the homestead, attending district school and the schools of New Berlin. Following his inclinations, Mr. Rhea has devoted himself to Farming, taking charge of his father's property of 125 acres of highly cultivated land. He has just rebuilt his barns, including a fine dairy barn, having entered the dairy business in 1901. His Jersey cows are of the highest breed obtainable and he now has a herd of thirty-five head, selling his product at Jacksonville, where he received the highest market prices. He has disposed of dairy interests and kept only his Jersey cattle. He has also made a specialty of breeding the Duroc Jersey hogs, shipping about 100 head per year. These, too, net him the highest prices owing to their superior quality. His dairy barn is one of the finest in central Illinois, holding thirty head of cattle, with eighteen milking stations. He has many improved appliances for caring for the milk and is constantly buying new contrivances, for he is a man who believes in progressing. His machinery is operated by an eight-horse-power gas engine, and he takes great pride in his equipment. His Percheron horses command a ready sale, for his stock is all registered.
For forty-two years Mr. Rhea has been identified with the best agricultural interests of this county, and he is regarded as an authority on everything pertaining to farming or stock-raising. His specialties have been Jersey cattle and Duroc-Jersey hogs, and he has shown what can be done with these breeds.
The marriage of Mr. Rhea took place on February 1, 1893, when he was united with Edith Hart, born December 13, 1872, in Morgan County, Ill., daughter of Louis and Jane (Donahue) Hart, natives of Vermont and Morgan County, Ill. Both survive, living on a farm near Waverly. They were among the pioneers of Morgan County and the grandfather conducted one of the first taverns, at which stage coach horses were changed in the long trips made across that County. Mrs. Rhea is one of two children born to her parents, but the other, a brother, Milton, died at the age of seventeen years. Mr. Rhea was his parents' only child. Mr. and Mrs. Rhea have had children as follows: Julia, born June 1, 1895; Louisa, born March 6, 1899; Edwin L., born April 24, 1902; and Margaret, born August 28, 1904.
Mrs. Rhea is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, while Mr. Rhea is connected with the Baptist denomination. Both of them belong to the Court of Honor, while he belongs to the Odd Fellows of New Berlin and has been a member of the Modern Woodmen of America twenty-three years. His political views make him a Democrat, and he has been active in the good work of that party. Being strongly in favor of temperance, he played an important part in the crusade of 1908. In addition to his farming interests, Mr. Rhea has found time to invent a refrigeration of cans, by means of which milk can be shipped in perfect safety. Kindly, energetic, a good business man and a far-sighted farmer, Mr. Rhea is a man of whom his county may well be proud. He has accomplished much in his life, and is looking forwards to doing much more, for he is in the very prime of manhood and progressive to the utmost. Both he and his wife are popular socially and welcome their many friends to their pleasant home upon the farm where he was born.