WILLIAM M. REA has been chief of police in Fort Worth for the past seven years, and has made himself one of the most popular and at the same time most efficient men ever incumbent of that municipal office. The administrative departments of law and order of Fort Worth and Tarrant county have in various ways been served by and felt the influence of William Rea for the past quarter of a century, and he probably holds a record for long continued and excellent service. He went on to the police force of Fort Worth on January 1, 1879, being the fifth man to be placed on the force, at a day, when the police department was comparatively insignificant in numbers and importance as contrasted with to-day. In the spring of 1883 he was elected city marshal, and re-elected in 1885. In 1887 he took a position in the county sheriff’s office, where he was employed until 1897, in which year he became a candidate and was chosen to the office of chief of police. He has been holding this office ever since with credit to himself and the community.
Mr. Rea was born at Abingdon, Knox county, Illinois, in 1850, a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cannon) Rea. His parents were both born in Ohio, and came to Illinois in the early year of 1831, and were again pioneers when they arrived in the state of Texas, in 1859. They settled in Tarrant county, seven miles west of where Mansfield now is, there being to town there then. The country was all wild then, ranching and cattle-raising being the industries of those settlers who were already there. Thomas Rea pre-empted government land and went into the cattle business, which he continued until his death in 1878.
Mr. Rea was nine years old when the family made his trip from Illinois to Texas, and that journey of course made a permanent impression on his youthful mind. Form then on until he was grown he lived on his father’s ranch, and when he had reached maturity he engaged in the cattle industry for himself, following it [sic] [Missis]sippi, he was born in Smith county, July 9, very successfully for some years. He moved into Fort Worth in 1878 and for a time conducted a wagon yard. Those were busy days for Fort Worth, which was then growing with phenomenal rapidity and gaining the numbers and the wealth of resources which are now its chief pride. In the cotton picking season Mr. Rea has seen the streets crowded day after day with wagons loaded with cotton brought from many miles around to this market.
Mr. Rea was married in Tarrant county, in 18– [sic], to Miss Laura Blue. They have four children: Mrs. Rhoda E. Hill, Mrs. Ida Rogers, Mrs. Caroline Jackson and Mrs. Easter Wells.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 403-404.