The Tale of Two Johns

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Two cousins. Sons of brothers Jacob and John S. Rex. Same life.


The Johns were born in their father's farms in Whitpain Township in the second half of the 19th century.


John Rex (1859-1941) was born on December 15, and the youngest son of Jacob L. and Sarah Rex. He was educated in public schools and graduated from Peirce's Business College in Philadelphia. In his occupation, he was a salesman and a general business man along manufacturing lines for a number of years before heading into politics. John was a director of Montgomery National Bank of Norristown. He was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1912. He was in office from 1913-1914 as a member of the Washington Party, representing Montgomery County. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1915. He died on November 18 at age 82.


John H. Rex (1870-1949)

John H. Rex (1870-1949), was born on September 18, the only child of John S. and Charlotte Rex. He was successful in his education at the public schools in the area: He attended Sunnyside School in Ambler, conducted by Misses Knight for many years. He also attended the William Penn Charter to prepare for college.


He took a two years' course in the Art Department of the University of Pennsylvania to prepare for law school. He graduated from law school in 1893.


During his studies, he fell ill, and went west to Colorado to send a year or two there. After his recovery, he returned to Montgomery County, PA to study law under Charles Hunsicker until his death. He continued his studies under Hon. Henry R. Brown.


He was admitted to the Montgomery County bar in 1896. In 1900, John was elected a member of the town council of Norristown, and served there for 3 years. During his time in the town council, John was progressive, public spirited, and an earnest advocate of any borough improvements. He was considered the most active and most useful member.


In 1902, he resigned as a member due to his nomination to the PA House of Representative as a Republican. He served 5 years (1903-1908) as a Representative for Montgomery County. As a Republican, he had the reputation of being aggressive and earnest. He was described as a pleasing and powerful speaker, and a determined worker for party success. During his candidacy for assemblyman, he visited all sections of Montgomery County, on behalf of the election of Samuel W. Pennypacker for governor.


Outside of law and politics, John was successful in building houses in West Norristown and in other parts of the borough.


His built homes were located on...

  • Lafayette Street

  • Oak Street

  • Main Street

  • George Street

  • Kohn Street

  • Forest Avenue

He was a member of the Masonic order, the BPOE, the Historical Society of Montgomery County, and the Protestant Episcopal Church.


In his personal life, he married Emily Harvey, and had one child: Robert Bertram.


Bibliography:


Cochran, Thos B. and Herman P. Miller. Smull's Legislative Hand Book and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania. (Harrisburg: W.M. Stanley Ray, 1905), 979.


"JOHN H. REX." Pennsylvania House of Representative. Accessed April 19, 2020. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/BiosHistory/MemBio.cfm?ID=3867&body=H.


"JOHN REX." Pennsylvania House of Representative. Accessed April 19, 2020. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/bioshistory/MemBio.cfm?ID=3866&body=H.


Miller, Herman P. and W. Harry Baker. Smull's Legislative Hand Book and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania. (Harrisburg: The State of Pennsylvania, 1913), 1075.


Roberts, Ellwood. Biographical annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, containing genealogical records of representative families, including many of the early settlers and biographical sketches of prominent citizens. (New York: T. S. Benham, 1904), 64-65.


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