William Rees and a son, Francis (Frank), came to America in
1868, leaving the remainder of his family in Wales to join them once
they had settled. After docking in New York, William and Francis
traveled about the United States, William homesteading in Illinois.
He then sent for his wife and other children. Francis continued to
travel throughout the country, then later (1882 or 1883) after he
married Elizabeth, came to the Topeka area with their 5 children. A
6th child was born once they settled in Kansas. The children were Ed,
Will, John, Cassie, Percy and Fred.
The original building place for the farm is located about 1 mile
north and 1 mile east of the 24 & K4 Highways location. The home
site is still noticed with a small group of trees and what was a
storm cave in the middle of the brome field. The land is currently
owned by a great-grandson, Rex.
Frank, Elizabeth, Cassie and Fred later moved into Grantville,
just north of the Grantville Methodist Church.
John (J.G.) and his wife, Nora, lived in North Topeka where J.G.
was a buyer for the Dibble Grocery. In 1901, J.G. and Nora purchased
an 80-acre farm near Grantville from Mr. Hamm. This home site is no
longer owned by the Rees family, but is located ˝ mile north and a
bit to the east of the other place. The J.G. family moved back into
the original farm home, then occupied by Ed Rees, while their home
and buildings were being built. This is when J.G. planted orchards
and other produce and began business known as Rees Orchards.
The large barn still standing at that location was used for
apple sorting, cider making, storing and selling of the products
raised on the farm. The products raised were: strawberries,
raspberries, blackberries, dewberries, apples, peaches, pears and
J.G. and Nora raised nine children: Harry, Ralph, John,
Elizabeth, Thelma, Morris (Doc) and Norris, (twins), Martha and
Ruth. At one time, Harry and Ralph were the principal operators of
the fruit business. Most of the children were very involved in the
family fruit farm business for many years.
Norris and his wife, Lucille (married in 1936), purchased the
existing “Rees Fruit Farm” land in 1942, planted their own orchards
while helping to maintain the original family farm. They had 3
children; Richard, Jack and Jean.
After the death of Lucille in 1952, Norris married Rachel in
1956 and they have one son, Rex. Rex is the current owner and
operator of Rees Fruit Farm, Inc. He and his wife, Shannon have one
child, a daughter, Shaylene.