James Lee Reat, M. D., one of the most distinguished physicians and surgeons of Illinois, and who has been long and honorably connected with the professional and industrial interests of Douglas County, was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, January 26, 1824. The Reat ancestors are traced back to Scotland, where the name was pronounced in two syllables, with the accent on the last. Two brothers emigrated to this country during the war of the Revolution, one of whom espoused the cause of the rebels, the term by which the patriot colonies were then known, and served through that struggle with Washington’s forces. The other brother sided with the Tories, in consequence of which the two brothers became alienated and a total separation occurred between the two branches of the family. Dr. Reat is descended from the one who cast his fortunes with those of the patriots and who, after the war, settled in Frederick Town, Maryland. At this place James Reat (father) was born and subsequently found his way to Ohio, where he married Susanna Rogers, a Virginia lady, and with her settled in Fairfield County, Ohio. When our subject was five years old, his parents removed to Coles County, Illinois, where the father purchased a farm on which they resided for a time, then removed to Charleston and lived there up to the time of his death, in 1868.
Dr. Reat’s early education was derived from the meager advantages offered the neighborhood schools of that day and later attendance at the seminary at Charleston. That institution was conducted under eminent professors and here Dr. Reat received a good collegiate education and later took up the study of the languages, becoming familiar with Latin and German, and at the same time teaching- school a number of terms. His natural taste and talent were those of his chosen profession and he soon thereafter took a regular course of studies at the Medical College at Cincinnati, where he was graduated in the class of 1858; he later attended the Rush Medical College at Chicago and there graduated. After leaving college, he was engaged for a time in the drug business at Charleston, but soon sold his interests and in 1859 took up his residence at Tuscola. In the fall of 1862 he received an appointment as assistant surgeon in the war of the Rebellion and was assigned to a post at Louisville, where he remained for some time in charge of a hospital. On March 1, of the same year, he was commissioned first assistant surgeon of the Twenty-first Regiment Infantry (Grant’s old regiment). On July ’22, 1864, he was promoted surgeon of the regiment. He returned to Springfield at the close of the war and was mustered out in January, 1866. He then re-turned to Tuscola and resumed his regular practice.
In 1861 he was married to Miss Sallie C. Callaway, of Jacksonville, a lady of fine literary attainments and of Christian virtues. She was born in Kentucky and was a graduate of Berean College. Her father was the late well-known Rev. S. T. Callaway, a Baptist clergyman. They have had three children, all of. whom are living: A daughter Lois, who is the wife of Hon. Theodore Brantley, at present chief justice of the supreme court of Montana; Samuel C., who with his cousin, Harry R. Caraway, were proprietors and editors of the Tuscola Journal. He is now in Washington, representing a number of metropolitan newspapers. He is a graduate of Union Law School, at Chicago, and is taking a post-graduate course in literature. Fred, who graduated from the Illinois State University, and is now proprietor of the Tuscola Republican.
Dr. Reat is a member of the Military Loyal Legion of the United States and the Illinois Army and Navy Medical Association. He and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Tuscola. Both have taken an active part in the temperance cause. He has always manifested public spirit and through his entire life has been a man of abstemious habits and consistent morals. For three years he was clerk of the board of education of Tuscola and while occupying that office took deep interest in the erection of a public school building, which is surpassed by few in this section of the state. 1)r. Rent is widely esteemed for his many good qualities of mind and heart.