Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 581-82.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Robert S. Rae

Robert S. Rae, a hardware merchant of Sioux Rapids, has made steady progress in his business career, noting and utilizing the legitimate business advantages which have come to him and winning success through straightforward dealing, close application and unfaltering industry.  He was born September 1, 1856, near Rochelle, Ogle county, Illinois, his parents being James and Beatrice Rae, both of whom were natives of Scotland.  They arrived in America in 1848, settling first in Canada, where they remained for about one year and in 1849 became residents of De Kalb, Illinois.  In 1850 Mr. Rae crossed the plains to California with an ox-team, making the long journey across the hot sands and over the mountains until he reached the land of promise but after three years of mining in the Golden state he returned to Illinois, having, however, in the meantime gained a considerable fortune through his search for the precious metal.


Returning to Illinois Mr. Rae then invested in nearly a thousand acres of land three miles north of Rochelle and for eight years devoted his time to agricultural interests.  On the expiration of that period he moved to Rochelle, where he engaged in the lumber business in company with J. B. Young.  A few years later the firm dissolved partnership, .Mr. Young selling out and removing to Clinton, Iowa.  Mr. Rae then continued the business alone until 1878, when he made some other business changes and gave his attention to the hardware trade.  A few years later his son Robert S. was admitted to a partnership in the business and in 1882 they removed their entire stock of general merchandise to Sioux Rapids, Iowa.  The firm of James Rae & Son then continued in business here for three years, when they sold out to I. B. Christensen.  Soon after father and son purchased a half interest in a hardware business with Henry H. Hunter and the firm name of Hunter & Rae was assumed.  Mr. Hunter died March 13, 1907, while Robert S. Rae had previously acquired his father's interests in the business, which is still conducted under the firm name of Hunter & Rae.


Although James Rae had an interest with his son at the store in Sioux Rapids he never changed his place of residence but continued to live in Rochelle until his death.  He passed away, however, in Chicago in 1886.  He had gone to the city for a few days and met his death by falling from a window in the seventh story of the hotel in which he was a guest.  His widow still survives and is now living in Rochelle at the advanced age of eighty-six years.  James Rae was a very prominent and influential citizen of his community, a leading business man and a strong republican.  He gave active and substantial support to many measures and projects for the public good and was a valued and exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity.


Robert S. Rae started out in the business world when about twenty-three years of age.  He has since been connected with the hardware trade and in over twenty-nine years has not lost sixty days’ time from the business.  His close application, his unfaltering energy, his unabating industry and his straightforward business methods constitute the basis of his prosperity.


In May, 1880, Mr. Rae was married in San Rosa, California, to Miss Stella Weeks, and unto them were born three children, but one died in infancy.  The son, Guy W., married Miss Mattie Bright, a daughter of A. N. Bright, of Sioux Rapids, and they have one son, Robert.  Eva is the wife of Wiley E. Baker, a resident of Vona, Colorado, where he is editing a paper.  The death of Mrs. Rae occurred in 1889 when she was thirty-two years of age and was deeply regretted not only by her immediate family but also by many friends.


Mr. Rae votes the republican ticket and is a stanch advocate of the principles of the party but has never sought nor desired the honors and emoluments of public office.  He has preferred to give his attention to his business affairs, in which he has met with signal [sic] success, owing to his capable management and his straightforward business principles.  He is held in high esteem here and enjoys the warm regard of all who know him.