This collection contains correspondence, legal documents, photographs, financial records, commonplace books, scrapbooks, and other papers.
The collection relates to four generations, living in Champaign County, Ill., from the 1850s to the 1940s. The first generation includes John T. Fugate (1830-1916), an Urbana doctor, and John J. Rea (1811-63), a Mahomet farmer.
Details of Dr. Fugate's medical education, and his critical views of the consequences of the Civil War, are apparent in his commonplace books. His papers include items relating to the "Kinderhook Hoax," a pseudo-Mormon revelation in Kinderhook, Ill., involving his father, Wilbur Fugate.
The collection includes a typescript of John J. Rea's diary (1858-61), in which his notes about the weather and his own agricultural transactions are prominent. The typescript was annotated by Mary Louise Rea to indicate contemporaneous events, including the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Representing the second generation is the second John J. Rea (1852-1941), a prominent lawyer in Urbana. His law practice can be traced both in his ledger books and his correspondence. Additional correspondence with and about his son, Carl Rea, sheds light on the medical treatment of chronic disease. Treated for several years by the H. R. Allen National Surgical Institute, Carl resided in that Indianapolis center for several months in 1894.
Thurston Wayne Rea (1883-1947), an Urbana reporter and editor, stands out in the third generation. The collection includes samples of his art work, poetry, and prose; letters during his courtship of Alydia Conkwright; and a diagram showing the dates of newspapers in Urbana and Champaign, 1852-1960, with notes relating to his own newspaper career. T. Wayne Rea collected clippings about the hurricane in Galveston, Tex., in 1901, which he witnessed. The collection includes photographs of elementary schools in Urbana in the 1890s, and newsrooms of Urbana and Champaign newspapers in the 1920s.
From the fourth generation, a scrapbook and photograph album document the participation of John J. Rea, Jr. (1909-79), in the Dick Cisne band, "the world's leading college dance band," during the 1930s. The materials also reflect Rea's acquaintance with his uncle, Sol Cohen, a prominent Urbana musician. The fourth generation materials are also available on microfilm.
Mary Louise Rea, widow of John J. Rea, Jr., gave the collection to the Library at different times between 1980 and 1995.