Peter Goodman Rea

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1819 - 1899

Rev. Peter Goodman Rea, P. O., Marshall. A minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was born in Henry county, Virginia, May 9, 1819, and is the ninth son of Joseph and Mary Ann Rea. His mother died when he was quite young, and his father moved the family to Cooper county, Missouri, in the spring of 1832, and died in Booneville, in 1835. Mr. Rea’s first religious impressions were received from reading a tract of the American Tract Society; but from a boy was remarkable for his steady, moral habits. In October, 1836, he united with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in Booneville. In October, 1837, he was accepted as a candidate for the ministry, under the care of the New Lebanon Presbytery. He entered the Cumberland Presbyterian College, in Kentucky, with the intention of graduating, but his health failed him, and he left college in the fall of 1840. In the spring of 1841 he was ordained, and traveled as a missionary until 1843. During this period he organized five new churches in destitute districts. On the 31st of October, 1843, he was married to Miss Mary Evangeline Rubey, daughter of Judge H. McLean Rubey, and granddaughter of Rev. Finis Ewing. He then settled, as pastor over three churches, in Saline county, and during his residence here, for two years labored extensively in the state, as agent for the Board of Missions of the C. P. Church. In 1859 he was unanimously appointed by the Missouri Synod, to take charge of the church at Booneville, and was a member of the Synod committee to establish a female college at the same place. On May 15, 1862, he had the honor of being elected moderator of the general assembly of the C. P. Church, held at Owensboro, Kentucky. He never sought prominence as a popular preacher; his highest aim being to do good. In 1863 he was elected president of the Missouri Female College, Booneville, Missouri, where he continued seven years. In the fall of 1870 he returned to his farm in Saline county, and for several years he labored as an evangelist. In 1874 he accepted the charge of Mt. Horeb Church, which position he at present holds. He was stated clerk of the Missouri Synod for twenty-five years. Mr. Rea has five children: Ann W., Carrie F., Joseph H., Mary H., and Robert Ewing.

[Source: History of Saline County, Missouri, St. Louis: Missouri Historical Company, 1881, pages 799-800]


This venerable brother passed away to his heavenly inheritance on the 13th inst. His was a career eminent for service and for success, from his youth to the infirmities and afflictions of old age. Brother Rea was a native of Virginia; born in 1819; moved with the family to Missouri in 1832, settling in Boonville. His religious life began in 1835; became a probationer for the gospel ministry in 1837; ordained to the whole work of the ministry in 1841. His early opportunities for education and culture placed him in advance of most young men in that day. He spent a time as a student in Cumberland College in Kentucky till his health was failing. Here he formed an acquaintance with many of the strong men of the church and a lifelong companionship with the young men, qualifying him for the ministry in that institution. Brother Rea was a man of fine intellect and of an industrious habit, striving to attain fitness for his life work. His social nature was one of his distinguishing characteristics. His mild and cordial manner both won and held for him the confidence and affection of the people to a remarkable extent. Strangers, on seeing and hearing him, at once reached the conclusion that he was a good man. His fine analytical powers, and his habits of careful investigation made him a wise and safe exponent of the great truths and duties of the gospel. Along with this was deep spirituality, and his yearning tenderness of soul for the well-being of his fellows made his appeals well-nigh irresistible. The result was, during all the years of his activites in the work, many souls were won to Christ, and the churches, wherever he labored, were greatly edidied. Another marked characteristic he manifested early in life was, that he showed more than ordinary talent and an inclination for organizing the work of the church. He was a wise disciplinarian, and an able presbyter. He did more in his day than, perhaps, any other man in his section of the church for its complete organization. All should read his work, published, on "Presbyterian Polity," or the "Ruling Elder." As a consequence, one showing the ability specified above, and in other respects as well, he, in comparatively early life, arrested the attention of the many aged and able men of the church, and with him and them grew up a companionship lasting as life. This was largely true throughout the denomination. In addition to the ordinary work of the ministry, he had much to do with the several general enterprises of the church, especially with its missionary and educational work. In moral character he stood for eighty years with an untarnished reputation; and for the many years of his activities until the afflictions of life, and the infirmities of years curbed his efficiency he stood in the forefront as a wise leader and a skillful worker in every noble church enterprise. His example is noble and inspiring, his work is valuable and his memory very precious. Having finished his work and ended his suffering, it is meet for him to "enter into the joy of his Lord."
           J. H. HOUX.
  Warrensburg, Mo.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, July 20, 1899, page 94]

Ordained Ministers Deceased

Name: Rea, P. G.
Occupation: retired
Presbytery: New Lebanon
Place of Residence: Marshall, Mo.
Date: June 13, 1899
Age: 80

[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1900, page 181a]


Rea, P. G. Presbyterian Polity. The Authority, Qualifications, and Powers of Ruling Elders and Deacons in the Presbyterian System. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1885.
[3 copies in archives]

Rea Family Information

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Updated February 14, 2007