(part 2)

Thomas McClure Rice
(his family, his life, his times, his wife and children, and his fate)
A fictional story in memory of my great, great, great grandfather (the way that I understand it)
written by

Kraig Josiah Rice

This web page best viewed with an internet explorer browser

(Clicking on these internal links will move you down this page)

Introduction The Massachusetts Rice Family
The French and Indian War The Revolutionary War
Poor Vermont Bountiful Ohio
War in Texas Tom & Liz move to Texas

The flag of the Rice family's mother country, Wales


This is not just the story of a Texas hero but of a man, a man with deep Rice Family roots. In the telling of his story I think it is important to mention his ancestors and his blood line. Why? Well, the psychologists tell us that a man is the product of his heredity and his environment. By mentioning his ancestors and their influence on his life maybe we can understand why he made the decisions that he did. As the old addage goes "we ride on the shoulders of those who have come before us." By understanding the times in which he lived can help us determine a greater picture of his humanity. The humanity of this man is much more warm than a mere name carved on a cold block of stone at La Grange, Texas!

In the brief sketch of his life that I present to you I make an attempt to share the facts of where he came from, where he went, his immediate and extended family, what he did, and what happened to him in Texas.

I used some creativity, some imagination, some social context, current available family records, and much history in the writing of this article. It is by no means a complete story but only an attempt to help us know a brave person whose blood flows in many of our veins.

He was a special man and maybe that explains why so many of us are so special in so many ways and unique in so many talented areas. Sometimes I think it would have been better for me to have been born in the days in which he lived because those were the days of true adventure and excitement- there was always a new adventure– there was always a new frontier to explore. I doubt if life was boring for him.

I share some current stories that happened to me or others to help make this story relevant and a little easier to understand. I like things simple. I hate to guess at what some author has written in an attempt to understand what he meant only to miss the point. Some of what I share happened to Rice Family members and since this is also the story of his family then the happenings are relevant to this article. I also like to tell a story by illustrating it- in the old days of preaching, an illustrated sermon was far more interesting and much more readily got the attention of the parishoners, so this is not just the story of Thomas M. Rice but also some tidbits of what happened to some of his heirs. I have spent a lot of time and effort in bringing this article to you and I hope you like it. If you like it let me know sometime- I always enjoy positive feedback. This article then is my memorial gift to Thomas M. Rice.

In regards to this web page I place my writing about this man in blue letter coloring. I place my own experiences and the experiences of others in purple letter coloring. And I place the quotes of others in green letter coloring. I place the references in small orange print. This adds a little color to the webpage and helps separate the writing of various authors.

The Massachusetts Rice Family

There were three major divisions of the Rice Family that settled in the English colonies in America from England and Wales. One branch settled in North Carolina, another in Virginia, and ours settled in Massachusetts.

Our family came from Wales. There, the name is spelled Rhys, meaning warrior, and pronounced "Reese."

Deacon Edmund Rice and his immediate family came to Massachusetts in 1638. Thomas M. Rice is descended from his son, Edward Rice, his son, Benjamin Rice, and his son, Azariah Rice.

The story of our Thomas M. Rice really starts with his grandfather, Oliver Rice, the son of Azariah Rice. Oliver Rice was the first American Rice soldier in our family. Oliver lived in Brookfield, Mass. His father and mother lived there also owning land near Pine Hill and at Bartlett Point. Rufus Putnam (later to be an American General in the Revolutionary War) moved to North Brookfield with his parents when he was 5 years old. Oliver was 12 years older than him but knew him well since they were neighbors.

The French and Indian War (1754-63)

I am including a brief history here in regards to this war. If you are not interested in reading about this war, just skip over this section in the smaller green print. I place this history here because certain actions in this war are the "stepping stones" to the Revolutionary War.

"The French and Indian War is sometimes referred to as the Great War for Empire, and part of the global conflict called the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) in Europe, that resulted in a British victory and the end of the French empire in North America. In three wars fought between 1689 and 1748, French and English colonists had struggled inconclusively for control of the interior, especially the Ohio territory.

" the summer of 1754, Virginia's governor, Robert Dinwiddie, alarmed by the actions of the French, sent a militia force under the command of a young and inexperienced officer named George Washington to halt French encroachment on what he considered English soil. Arriving near the site of present-day Pittsburgh, Washington built a small fort, named Fort Necessity, and attacked a detachment of French troops, killing their commander and several others. The French retaliated with a strike against Fort Necessity, trapping Washington and his force. Washington surrendered and retreated to Virginia. These encounters began the French and Indian War.

The war entered a new phase when Great Britain and France formally declared war on 17 May 1756. The conflict now became international in scope. To this point, a lack of reinforcements had forced the English colonists to manage the war themselves, and things had not gone well. Now, Britain unleashed the power of the Royal Navy, which proved to be highly effective at preventing the French from reinforcing New France. Meanwhile, the fighting spread to the West Indies, India, and Europe, although North America remained the focal point.

The war was inconclusive until 1757, when William Pitt, as secretary of state, took command of the effort. He planned military strategy, appointed military leaders, and even issued orders to the colonists. Since military recruitment had dropped off significantly in the colonies, British officers were permitted to forcibly enlist or "impress" colonists into the army and navy. Colonial farmers and businessmen had supplies seized from them, usually without compensation. And the colonists were required to provide shelter for British troops, again without being paid. These measures strengthened the war effort but created resentment among the colonists. By 1758, the tensions between the mother country and its colonists threatened to paralyze Britain's war effort. Pitt relented in 1758, easing many of the policies the Americans found objectionable. He agreed to pay back the colonists for all of the materials the army had seized, and control over recruitment was returned to the colonial assemblies. These concessions revived American support for the war, and increased militia enlistments.

Under the hammer of defeat by the French and recognizing the shortcomings of the regular army, British colonial authorities encouraged the development of light infantry units and tactics better suited to frontier warfare. The outstanding practitioner was Robert Rogers, commissioned in 1755 by the governor of Massachusetts to "distress the French and their allies" by every means possible. But although his Rangers and a similar regiment raised by his brother were later to be incorporated into the regular army, it is fair to say that the lessons taught by this war were never accepted by the British army. Contempt for colonial militia and pound-foolish parsimony towards potentially invaluable Indian allies prevailed through the American independence war to the War of 1812.

The colonial militia turned the military tide in mid-1758, and this was more important than any dubious treaty in detaching Indian allies from the French. The French lost Louisbourg, Oswego, and Duquesne in quick succession, closing their St Lawrence lifeline to France and their Lake Ontario route west of the Alleghenies. Finally even the staunchly anti-British Seneca abandoned them in 1759, which contributed to the fall of Forts Niagara and Ticonderoga in July. In September Quebec fell to a daring assault led by Wolfe in which both he and Montcalm died. Although the French counter-attacked in May 1760, bottling up the British garrison, it was sustained by the navy until relieved when militia columns advanced from the south, combining to take Montreal in September. Some French resistance continued, but the rest of the war in North America was mainly against Indian guerrilla outbreaks.

The Treaty of Paris in February 1763 formally ended French participation in the war."

The results of the French and Indian War were of tremendous significance to Great Britain. While England's territory in the New World more than doubled, so did the cost of maintaining this enlarged empire. The victory over France forced the British government to face a problem it had neglected to this point— how to finance and govern a vast empire. The British realized that the old colonial system, which had functioned with minimal British supervision, would no longer be adequate to administer this new realm.

The cost of the war had also enlarged England's debt and created tensions with the American colonists. These feelings were the result of what the British felt was American incompetence during the war, along with anger for what was perceived as a lack of financial support on the part of the colonies in a struggle that was being waged primarily for their benefit. For these reasons, many of Britain's political leaders believed a major reorganization of the empire was in order, and that London would have to increase its authority over its North American possessions. The colonies would now be expected to assume some of the financial burden of maintaining the empire as well."

This is what lead the British to enact the "stamp act" and "taxes on tea," on the American colonists.
Quoted from

In 1754 the French and Indian War started. In March of 1757 the British government sent out a call for more troops from the colonies in America. Rufus Putnam was 19 and Oliver Rice was 31 years old when they marched off to war that year.

According to the Brookfield Vital Records, Oliver Rice, was on the muster roll of Captain Jabez Upham's Company, that marched August 9, 1757, to the relief of Fort William Henry, and was out 17 days. *

*Note: This name William Henry in association with Oliver Rice is important because both names will appear again together generations down the line in our family as descendants of Thomas M. Rice in Texas genealogy. That is how we know that grandpa Oliver had a powerful influence on young Thomas.

Rufus Putnam marched over the Berkshire Mountains towards the Hudson River, near Albany, New York. "It was butchery," he wrote in his diary. "The red men were treaterous fighters. Once, after a siege at Fort William Henry, the British troops had surrendered to the French. The indians had agreed that the 1500 American soldiers in the fort would be allowed to withdraw. But as they were marching out of the camp, the indians suddenly fell upon them, killing many."
Quoted from: Rufus Putnam, by Josephine Phillips, Calif. State Series: State Dept. of Education Sacramento, Calif., 1963, page 10

Putnam's first wife, Elizabeth, and their baby son, died. Then he married into the Rice Family. He married Persis Rice who was the daughter of Charles Rice (her grandfather was the fourth in descent from Deacon Edmund Rice). Later, Putnam was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during the Revolutionary War.

Kick the British Out!

The Revolutionary War

Our Rice family had lived in Mass. for 138 years before the 13 colonies declared independence from England in 1776. Oliver Rice lived in Brookfield, Mass. at this time. The little town was located near the Quabaug River on luscious green meadowland. During the war Gen. Burgoyne traveled by the town after his surrender at Saratoga, and Gen. George Washington stopped there in 1775 on his way to Cambridge. A few battles had been fought initially in Mass. (Bunker Hill, Lexington, and Concord) but the major battles, after that, were fought in other colonies.

The year 1779 was a tough one for Oliver Rice. His faith was really tested that year. His daddy, Azariah, got sick and died of cancer and his 17 year old son, Nathan, joined the American patriots to fight the British. Young Nathan was going in harm's way- possibly never to return. Oliver was a patriot, a minuteman.

Why was Oliver Rice a patriot? There was a strong sense of unity between the 13 colonies against England over issues such as taxation without representation, colonial rule, territorial boundaries, etc. But I think the major reason was injustice, as well as peer pressure from Rufus Putnam and others. What kind of injustice? The British soldiers shot down innocent protestors in Boston (the Boston Massacre), and rumor had it that some British soldiers, ordered to live in the homes of colonists, had raped the womenfolk therein. Oliver Rice could not tolerate this so in 1779 at the age of 53 he volunteered to be a minuteman in the Brookfield militia. The militia would later be called in modern terms "the National Guard."

What was a minuteman? He was a civilian soldier who had his flintlock rifle, black powder flask, cloth wads (if any), and lead shot next to the front door so when he heard the bugle blow assembly he could grab all of this as he ran out of the house and assembled at the appointed place. He had one minute to do this- that is why he was called a minuteman. Then they would march off in a real emergency to confront the enemy in mortal combat. To my knowledge he never fought in any battles, but he set an example for Thomas M. Rice, his future grandson, to follow because Thomas would eventually be an armed member of the Texas minutemen (militia) in the Republic of Texas. Grandpa Oliver lead the way and set the example- he was a hero to young Thomas- so much so that Thomas named one of his sons after him.

During the war Oliver Rice had a teen age son living at home in Brookfield with him. Nathan Rice (Thomas M. Rice's daddy) was 17 years old and if his daddy, Oliver Rice, was too old to march around, he was not. He enlisted in the patriot army in 1779 and served one month, but a year later, after he was 18 years old, he joined the 6th Mass. Regiment and served 5 1/2 months but did not do any fighting. According to his military records he was 5'8" tall.

The Americans believed so strongly against the idea of putting troops in civilian homes that they passed a regulation forbidding this and that is the way it is to this present day.

Nathan Rice, after the war, eventually moved to Vermont where he met his heart throb. Her name was Jemima McClure and she was the perfect wife for him. There was a song in his heart and a spring in his step- he was in love! Did she come from a worthy and a patriotic family? Oh, yes, her daddy, Thomas McClure, had been born in Scotland, had migrated to the colonies, and had been in the revolutionary war also. Jemima was born on October 9, 1770 in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and she married Nathan Rice in 1797 in Vermont. Her blood line was Gaelic Celtic and she was the mother of Thomas McClure Rice. Jemima named her only son after her father.

According to a distant Ohio cousin, the late Lucille Shumaker, in a letter to me dated October 5, 1998, she stated, "Thomas McClure must have died in Brimfield, Mass. I have never found any information on him in Washington County, Ohio. If Zelphia (Jemima's mother) was born in 1737, then Thomas may have died leaving Zelphia a widow and alone so at 60 years old or so, made the trip to Ohio with her friends and relatives. Zelphia McClure died on Feb. 12, 1823, aged 86, and is buried in Rainbow Cemetery as is Nathan and Jemima (McClure) Rice."

Flag of Vermont

Poor Vermont

Vermont became the 14th state of the union in 1791. There was a new spirit of settlement but it was already too crowded when Mr. And Mrs. Nathan Rice moved to Poultney, near the New York border, and started a family there. In the several years they lived there three children were born to them: Luceba Rice born in 1798, Zilpha Rice born on December 14, 1799, and Thomas McClure Rice born in 1801. *

*Lucille Shumaker and myself agreed that Nathan Rice came to Ohio before statehood (1803) but this cannot be proved. If that is the case then our Thomas M. Rice would have been born in the Northwest Territory or Ohio Territory. Nearly all of his children in several Texas census polls indicate that he was born in Ohio. Whether they knew him to actually have been born there or just to have been raised there is not clear. Even if he was not born in Ohio he would have spent nearly his entire childhood there so it could be said he came from Ohio...

Nathan Rice made his living from the land being a farmer. Land in Vermont got exhausted of nutrients quite rapidly and it contained too many rocks- the land was poor quality and quantity.

After the Revolutionary War Gen. Rufus Putnam started the Ohio Company and situated its headquarters in Marietta (Washington County) Ohio. In 1790 Putnam's family (remember, he married into the Rice family) arrived at Marietta, Ohio. It is said that Putnam had the Rice coat-of-arms painted on the wall over the mantel in his home there. The Rice family was notified that there was good opportunity for all who wanted to leave rocky Vermont and to go west to fertile Ohio.

Rufus Putnam circulated flyers and posted information about his company in Vermont and Mass.
"... Vermont parents, generations ago, saw their children leave home and spread across the nation because Vermont was too poor to generate much money...those mountains were like prison walls to many nineteenth-century Vermonters, and the world beyond them was more bountiful than the stony soil they enclosed."
Quoted from: Vermont by Charles T. Morrissey, W.W. Norton and co., Inc., New York, New York, 1981, page 122

The flag of Ohio

Bountiful Ohio

Ohio stepped out of the Northwest Territory and into statehood in 1803. Nathan and Jemima Rice that year packed up all their worldly belongings and moved to Gen. Putnam's area to be close to family. According to Lucille Shumaker, "The Rice, McClure, and Witham families all moved together to Ohio from Vermont at the same time." They went overland in big wagons pulled by teams of horses and headed west for the adventure of a lifetime. In those days relatives helped each other and Gen. Putnam helped Nathan Rice and his family. Putnam was family and he died in Marietta at age 86 on May 1, 1824.

The Early History of Washington County, Ohio

"In the early morning mist of April 7, 1788, a flatboat, a galley, and three log canoes arrived at the mouth of the Muskingum River. A vanguard of 48 men of the Ohio Company, led by General Rufus Putnam, came ashore and began a great, historic adventure. These intrepid pioneers, veterans of the Revolutionary War, persevered through daunting hardships to found Marietta, the first organized American settlement in the Northwest Territory and Ohio's first city.

Marietta was named to honor Marie Antoinette, the French Queen who supported the Americans in the war against Great Britain. Marietta became the seat of government for the territory. Drawing pioneers wishing to purchase land, it soon became known as the Gateway to the Northwest. Marietta has "the Start Westward Monument" which is located in East Muskingum Park. The sculptor was Gutson Borglum mostly known for his famous sculptor of the presidents at Mount Rushmore.

Marietta battled Chillicothe for statehood in 1803. These two pioneer cities of the pre-statehood frontier were the active seats of early political debates for statehood. Chillicothe became the first capitol for the new state of Ohio, but Marietta was the main point of crossing for the migration of people to the new frontier.

In 1811 the steamboat appeared on America’s rivers, and Washington County became a major riverboat community, with busy steamboat building yards."
Quoted from

Nathan Rice settled in Washington County, Ohio. He lived in at least 3 towns in that county: Waterford, Union (this is where Thomas M. Rice was living when he married his sweetheart from Ireland), and Rainbow Settlement.

Early Ohio Culture

What was it like in those early days of Ohio for our Rice family? Did you ever wish you had lived in those day? Well, in those days you did not have to lock your doors- when a stranger came to your home you invited him in, fed him, and put him up for the night, even if he had to sleep in the barn- this was family hospitality. If he stayed over one day in length of time he was expected to help out with the chores such as chopping wood with an axe for the fire or shooting some wild game for supper. A man's reputation often hinged on how good a shot he was- no one wanted to waste black powder and ammunition because they were expensive and there were hungry mouths to feed.

Some families who lived along lesser-travelled highways turned their homes into bread and breakfast inns in which "farm wives earned a little extra money by putting up guests for the night." Fleas and bedbugs many times presented problems for the paying visitors.

Church culture was unique. Ladies wore bonnets on their heads and had veils over their faces in church. Ladies would breast feed their babies in church- this was an accepted natural and normal activity. But the church was very important in those days. All "civilized" cultural and social activities centered around the church. The church was the central influence- this is where the average American family learned its moral values of decency, respect, godliness, personal caring and personal sharing as well as community caring and community sharing.

When a man shook your hand in a business transaction it was backed up by his word of honor. The average lifespan of an individual was only 40 years due to wars, disease, and accidents. It was acceptable for a girl to marry at age 13 or 14- she was considered an old maid at age 19 if she was unmarried.

Corporal punishment was socially acceptable in homes as well as in school. A trip to the woodshed meant that a young man would be spanked by his father or uncle or grandfather there.

But where did the true strength of America lie at that time? Was it in her military or wonderful new government of the people, by the people, and for the people? The Japanese right before World War II also asked that question so they sent a delegation to the United States to find out. They studied America's politics, our manufacturing, our military, etc. They concluded that America's true strength was in its churches. I wonder if they would say that today...

The Nathan Rice Log Cabin Home

The first step for Nathan "on his new wilderness land purchase" was for him to clear the land. "The new settler made his way along established routes until, at the end of his journey, he might have to hack a trail through the forest to reach his land. It was imperative for the new settler to get a crop in the ground. Until he could harvest it, he and his family had to depend on the flour and meal they brought with them, plus whatever game and fish they could catch. For this reason most timed their arrival in Ohio for late winter or early spring."
Quoted from: Ohio And Its People by George W. Knepper, Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, 1989, page 121

"A "cabin raising" would be held to provide them with a home. This was a community effort which was both functional and social. People working together raised the cabin quickly and in the process enjoyed a social intercourse which gave them an emotional outlet and relief from their solitary tasks. The labor was fueled by copious amounts of whiskey- no other pay was expected."
Knepper, Op. Cit., page 121

Thomas Gets More Sisters

Nathan and Jemima Rice had two more daughters born to them after Thomas was born. Sabrina was born in 1803 probably in Ohio and Lucy Rice was born in 1807 in Ohio to make a total of 5 children. Thomas was the only boy- right in the middle between 4 sisters. I imagine he was spoiled rotten by his daddy. He probably got a pony when he was young and played with the neighborhood boys close to his own age. I assume he had a happy childhood. One of my friends in Cloverdale, California, years ago had a boy and 4 girls and the boy was the middle born child- just like Thomas was. He was spoiled and pampered and could get away with a lot more than his sisters could. He was his daddy's favorite and was even named after his daddy. He grew up, got over his wild rebellious teen-age years, straightened up, and stayed around his folks after that for many years until he left home to make a life for himself. There are many families that have a similar patterning.

Farm Life In Ohio

Part of a young man's job on the family farm in Ohio in those days was the clearing of the land of tree stumps so farming would be smoother and easier. Stumps could be removed in a couple of ways: burning them or digging them out. Thomas did his share of that.

"The general farmer was a grain grower, concentrating usually on corn and wheat. Most corn was fed to livestock, so it went to market as beef or pork. While relatively inexpensive and easy to raise, wheat was susceptible to smut, fungus, rust, and insects.

Livestock was central to the livelihood of the general farmer. Nearly every farm had milking cows. Cheese and butter were made from raw milk.

From early times Ohio was good hog country. The forests provided unlimited forage, and the tough animals thrived. Nearly every general farm had sheep whose wool was spun into yarn and woven into cloth.

Nearly everyone needed at least one horse for transportation. But the general farmer in pioneer Ohio not only grew grains and raised livestock, but also planted trees and grape vines and engaged in vegetable gardening."
Quoted from Knepper, George W., Op. Cit., pages 126 - 127

Thomas Rice knew well how to use the bull plow, and how to cut grain with a scythe or cradle. He also knew how to haul water from the family's well.

The Year 1811

Certain natural catastrophies in the year 1811 impacted the Nathan Rice family when Thomas was only 10 years old. First, there were heavy rains in the springtime and as a result the Mississippi River flooded- all the local creeks and tributaries also flooded. Crops were destroyed. Some people went hungry.

"The whole valley shook with ague, a plague of chills and fever. In the fall a comet blazed across the sky, a comet of exceeding brilliance and long duration."

Ten days before Christmas a tremendous earthquake hit Nathan Rice's area. It must have torn apart his home cabin but no one in that family was killed. It was one of the first of the New Madrid earthquakes.

"A pall darkened the air, the smell of sulphur was strong, geysers of steam and hot water shot up thirty feet high...."
Quoted from Childs, Marquis, Mighty Mississippi, Ticknor and Fields, New York, New York, 1982, pages 32 and 33.

This earthquake was the "greatest in the written or traditional history of mid-America. It shook the earth and darkened the sky throughout the whole Mississippi and Ohio valleys. The earth trembled, gigantic crevices, later to become lakes, appeared south of the junction of the two rivers, the Ohio River ran upstream as far as the Falls, and dust clouds hung overhead not for days but for months. The sky was darkened, and the sun glowed faintly red through those thick clouds of dust."
Quoted from Banta, R.E., The Ohio, Rhinehart and Co., New York, New York, 1949, pages 214 thru 216.

How did these circumstances effect the Nathan Rice family spiritually? Did God use these circumstances to get their attention? Many of these circumstances resembled the circumstances listed in the Book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible) signifying the end of the world. Many folks assumed that Jesus Christ was coming back at that time. Much preaching on prophecy took place in their area and many people repented of their sins in the evangelism crusades that took place around that time. Little Thomas, at age 10, listened to all the talk and saw all the happenings, and I am sure it impacted him for good for the rest of his life.

To help put all of this into modern perspective- in Calif. in 1998 we experienced strange weather circumstances brought about by what they call the El Nino. A negro brother from my church, a board member who also had a prison ministry, remarked to me that he thought God had caused all this rain out of season. I told him I thought it was caused from natural occurrences. We disagreed on the cause but both agreed that it was possible that God was definately getting people's attention (to turn individuals to Him and that each would forsake his or her sinful lifestyle).

Thomas' Boyhood Years

What was it like for Thomas Rice growing up in Ohio as a boy and then as a teenager? First of all he had two older sisters- he had to respect and obey them because in those days older children were responsible for watching over the younger children. Did they switch him or tattle on him when he was being naughty? Secondly, he had chores to do as all children did who were raised on a farm. The old rule of thumb was: keep a child busy and he or she won't have time to get into mischief. His chores included feeding the chickens, slopping the pigs, milking the cows, and churning the cream into butter. He had to shovel out the barn and stack hay in the loft. He had a dog and "Old Lucky" the plow horse to take care of. He had to plow the fields, plant them, and then later, harvest them. He had to chop wood with an axe and saw lumber with a pioneer saw.

"Ohio law required men of military age (eighteen to forty-five years old) to gather a hundred squirrel "scalps" annually to present to township officials. A bounty was also placed on wolves, which along with other predators such as bears and wildcats, took a toll on livestock. Deer, raccoons, and other browsers and foragers could quickly strip the farmer's garden." There was probably a time when he had an encounter with the large timber rattlesnake that was especially feared.
Quoted from Knepper, Op. Cit., page 122

Thomas and his childhood friends went swimming and fishing in the river and had a tree house and "fort" in the local grove of trees away from his sisters. Of course, these exclusive areas were off limits to all girls- girls to those boys at that age were serious handicaps to male domination of all fun activities. But as Thomas grew older his view of girls changed as nearly any teenage boy will freely admit.

Did Thomas go to school? I believe he went to sufficient school activity to the point of being able to read and sign his name. The Rice family came from Puritan stock in Massachusetts where they founded public schools in order to teach their children how to read so those children could read the Bible. Reading was a very high priority in the Rice family, but "schools remained inadequate until roads opened up the areas and settlement became dense enough to support schools. Marietta and many other towns had schools which grew in quality as the towns grew."
Quoted from Knepper, Op. Cit., page 185

Did Thomas go to church? I believe that he did- he was raised with that expectation put on him by his parents and if they raised him right then there should have been no problem. The Nathan Rice family was religious and so was Rufus Putnam. We know this because Putnam's works show us his faith. Putnam tithed one tenth of all land under his dominion to Christ. "The fact that Ohio is the only state in which Congress set aside public land for the support of religion gave its first settlements a unique relationship to churches. One section in each township of the Ohio Company (Putnam's Company) grant was reserved as "ministerial lands" for the support of organized religion. Income from these lands was doled out on a prorated basis to each religious body within the township."
Quoted from Knepper, Op. Cit., page 169

Did Thomas Rice receive a spiritual heritage all the way back to Deacon Edmund Rice? And how did he manage to pass this spiritual heritage along to his children? Yes, Thomas did receive such a spiritual heritage. One proof of this is seen in the title of Edmund Rice (1638) in most all early Rice family writings- he is not referred to as Honorable Edmund Rice, his political title as mayor of Sudbury, but is referred to as Deacon Edmund Rice, his religious title. He was an ordained Deacon in the Puritan Church. The original name of the Edmund Rice Association was the Deacon Edmund Rice Association of which I was a member. Another proof of this is our Ohio family's close association with Rufus Putnam who influenced Congress to set aside land (he would not get paid for) for ministerial and church purposes in Ohio.

How did he pass this heritage along to his children? It is the same methodology that is used today: by instruction and example. By living a true Christian life- no hypocracy, and by loving his children and being kind to them and teaching them in word and in deed.

The war of 1812

This is one of the few wars that our immediate Rice family did not participate in. Nathan Rice was too old at age 50 and our Thomas Rice was too young at age 11 years. Ohio was little effected during the three years of this war (1812-1815), but in 1814 the British army did burn the U.S. capitol in Washington D.C. to the ground.

Thomas was 13 years old by the end of the war. At that age he knew how to ride a horse, fire a rifle, throw a hatchet (hand axe), and skin a deer or bear with a knife. In his mind he knew he could be dangerous to the enemy. After all, these were the same enemies (the British) that his father, Nathan Rice, had marched off to fight when Nathan was only 17. Inside of every young boy is a soldier? He just waited for the call to arms and he would join his father in a tremendous clash of arms amidst the fire belching from the mouths of the cannons, the screaming, the pain, men yelling out orders, and all the excitement. It would give him a chance to test himself. Would he run when he faced the enemy? Could he load and fire fast enough. Was he tough enough for the ordeal? Thomas never found out the answer to those questions about himself when he was 13 because the call to battle never came to him and his daddy.

Nathan and Thomas were going to wait until the British invaded Ohio before taking up arms against them, but the British were stopped at Detroit from going farther south. But Thomas listened intently to the news coming up the Mississippi River how American General Andy Jackson defeated the British army at New Orleans. The war was over and he had missed this great opportunity to be in it. It was now too late. How badly he had wanted to take up arms against the British like his grandfather, Oliver Rice, and daddy, Nathan Rice, had done 34 years earlier. Now, there were no more wars and no more glory to be won for a real wanderer. But the tales of adventure and excitement kept coming up the river for years to come- whetting the wandering appetite of such a young man.

The flag of Northern Ireland

Emigrants From Ireland to Ohio

In 1815 emigrants from Ireland and other countries in Europe began arriving in Ohio. These continued arriving for several years. Among them was the Hugh Wilson, Sr. family. In this family was a sweet and cute young lady who in her speech had such a wonderful brogue. She was irrestible to Mr. unmarried Thomas Rice. Her name was Elizabeth Wilson and she lived on the Wilson family farm near the town of Salem (Washington County, Ohio). She finished growing up there and she was looking for a handsome young man to marry up with.

She came from a Christian family. How do I know that? Because she was baptized at age 6 in the Presbyterian Church in Belfast, Ireland. And her parents donated part of their land in Washington County, Ohio, for the building of a Baptist church there.

When Thomas met her it was love at first sight- not only was she beautiful but she had all the qualities his mother had. She was irrestible and so he proposed to her. She was 19 years old when she married Mr. Tom Rice, age 23, on September 28, 1824 in Washington Co., Ohio.

The Bloodline of the Hugh Wilson, Sr. Family

According to the Wilson Family records the family is not Scottish (Celtic) but Viking. The family was originally from Denmark having blonde hair and blue eyes and a stocky build- but this was hundreds and hundreds of years earlier. This original family left Denmark and traveled and lived in other countries of Europe over a period of several hundred years. They had settled in Ireland before moving to the United States. To my knowledge this introduces the first of the Vikings to marry into the Rice family in America since the days of Deacon Edmund Rice.

A Bad Economic Depression

In 1819 there was a terrible economic depression that lasted 7 years. Tom married Liz during this time but it was an economic struggle for them from the start. They lived next to his parents on "the Nathan Rice plantation" near Marietta. This allowed Thomas to generally provide basic food and housing for his family even though there was a general shortage of commodities such as salt, tea, and coffee.

* We know this from the extra census that was taken in that county each year (this census was not the general U.S. population census taken every 10 years).

Baby James Rice was born the next year and he was such a wee little cute infant- and a Rice male at that and heir to Tom and Liz. This was the start of the Thomas M. Rice Family. They lived there with Nathan Rice for a few years and then launched out on their own away from their immediate families. They relocated about 3 counties away to the east around the Steubenville, Ohio area.

Tom and Liz Move A Short Distance Away

Why did they move? Most folks in those days moved for financial advantage. In 1826 and thereafter the economy took off again and there was financial opportunity near the major river ports.

"Steubenville may be considered the first factory town in the state of Ohio- with pottery, coal mining, iron working, boat building, and the weaving of woolens occupying the populace..."
Quoted from Banta, The Ohio, op. Cit., pg. 533

Steubenville was also a center of the wool trade so there was a lot of financial opportunity there for a young, healthy, hard working man.

"Steubenville is the county seat of Jefferson County, Ohio.

Steubenville was platted as a town in 1797, immediately after the creation of Jefferson County. It was built on the site of Fort Steuben which was erected in 1786–1787 and named in honor of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.

In 1786, the United States government built Fort Steuben within the area known as the Seven Ranges. The federal government had arranged for a survey of modern-day southeastern Ohio in order to prepare for the settlement of the Northwest Territory. Fort Steuben served two purposes. Troops stationed at the fort were supposed to keep illegal settlers from moving into Ohio, and surveyors used the fort as a base of operations. The fort was destroyed in a fire in 1790."
Quoted from

In 1827 a horrible tragedy hit the Nathan Rice family. Tom's sister, Luceba, at age 29 died in childbirth. Luceba was his older sister who helped take care of him growing up. She had mothered him and nurtured him. She was pretty, had a big smile and a popular personality- everyone loved her.

* This is proved by the fact that Thomas' other older sister, Zelphia, named one of her daughters after her, Luceba Witham b. March 22, 1816. Also I believe that Thomas named his only daughter after her, Mary Luceba Rice b. in 1829. Mary was the name of Elizabeth Wilson's mother, so their only daughter had the 2 names of people they each loved very dearly.

The 1830 census of Jefferson County, Ohio, indicates that Thomas and Elizabeth only owned one milk cow. That is significant because it means that he was a laborer and not a farmer because every farmer plowing his own land had to own at least one horse. The cow was probably milked heavily and the milk used to give to the kids: Mary who was 1 and baby Oliver was born one month after the census was taken or so. James was 5 now and growing. They were struggling parents, hard working but not rich. They were looking for more financial opportunity and circumstances in Texas were changing rapidly that promised them that opportunity if they were willing to relocate to that far distant land, willing to work hard, and willing to sacrifice to get what they wanted. But the timing was not to be just yet. It would be another 6 years before they left Ohio for Texas.

Ohio was shipping a lot of material to the settlers in Texas. Texas was good for business and there were a lot of steam boats going up and down the rivers to carry the goods easily and cheaply to them.

"Texas was a vast undeveloped market which could use their farm and manufactured products and employ their shipping facilities."
Quoted from Banta, The Ohio, op. Cit., page 440

On January 1, 1835 William Wilson Rice was born to Tom and Liz. The name William Wilson played prominently in the history of the Wilson family as an important ancestor.

On Dec. 12, 1835, Sam Houston, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Texas sent out this proclamation to all citizens in the United States:

"To all who will enlist for 2 years, or during the war, a bounty of $24.00 and 800 acres of land will be given."
Quoted from Nevin, The Texans, op.cit. page 74

160 acres was the average homestead size in the Ohio area. Nathan Rice at the time in retirement owned only 45 acres at Rainbow Settlement near Marietta. In modern day America it takes a minimum of 300 acres to be self supporting on a farm.

Many folks began going to Texas and when they left they would put a sign of their cabin door that read "G.T.T." that meant "Gone to Texas!."

Fighting at the Alamo
The Alamo became the symbol of Texas Independence

War In Texas

By 1836 there were 35,000 people in Texas with lots of room for anyone who wanted to come. It was too good to be true. Lots of acreage at bargain prices and sometimes it was free if a man would risk his life in battle. Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator, had over-ruled the Mexican Congress and nullified the Mexican constitution of 1824. Those 35,000 Americans in Texas were told to capitulate or get out. The Texans said they would honor their original agreement in the 1824 constitution but would not submit to any dictator over them (like Santa Anna). The Texans put the date 1824 on their flag at the Alamo.

So Santa Anna marched with his armies to the northern part of Mexico, the land called Texas, to put down the insurrection there. The Texans organized and sent out a cry of help to folks in the United States. Sam Houston offered free land to any man who would fight for Texas liberty.

Santa Anna destroyed the Texans in the Alamo in March of 1836 but was defeated a short time later at San Jacinto. As a result Texas became an independent nation called the Republic of Texas.

Thomas Rice in Ohio heard all the news of the fighting- the tragedies and the victories.

Recruitment of Volunteers for Texas

The war in Texas was talked about by everyone in Ohio. Appeals and propoganda were sent out.

"The Texas agents had better luck recruiting men than finding money. Davis' letter of February 24, 1836, was read to audiences all through the southwestern states. It produced violent emotional reactions in the border country. All through the Mississippi Valley friends of Texas held mass meetings to send volunteers or "armed emigrants," as Austin called them, to the war. The largest recruiting centers were New Orleans, Louisiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Many small companies were raised and outfitted, among them the New Orleans Grays, the Mobile Grays, the Alabama Red Rivers, and the Kentucky Mustangs. Most of these men died with Fannin at Goliad.

"Almost every Southern and border state sent men or weapons. Cincinnati sent the Twin Sisters down the Mississippi; Alabama stripped its state arsenal of muskets for Texas. Thomas Chambers, who was authorized by the Texas Council to raise an "Army of the Reserve" in the United States, successfully propagandized Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He raised and equipped almost 2,000 volunteers and sent them on their way."
Quoted from T.R. Fehrenback, Lone Star, The Macmillan Co., NY NY, 1968, pg 235

Thomas couldn't take it any more- he had to go. He thirsted for adventure and looked for new opportunity for his growing family. Americans everywhere were flocking into Texas and there was always the possibility that if he didn't act soon he would be left out.

I believe he was a hard worker, shrewd, practical, and enterprising- he was also a warrior. Texas needed men like him with all these good qualities, so he decided to go.

Tom and Liz Move to Texas         

"There was no adventure that could be compared to it, none that so stirred the imagination as leaving behind all that was known and familiar and striking out on a primitive road... for the unknown, a destination lurid with the colors of myth and legend."
Quoted from Lone Star, op.cit., page 235

They planned on leaving for Texas in the late Spring. There were 2 reasons for this:

(l) The crops had to be harvested which meant good wages for any working man whether he was a farmer or a laborer. They would need this money they earned to travel on.

(2) The rainy weather would be over which was important because rain would turn dirt roads into muddy quagmires. But they would still have to put up with was biting mosquitoes and billowing clouds of dust along the trail.

In preparation for the trip they saved their money, gathered what they would need, said their good-byes to friends, family, and loved ones, and purchased the horses and wagon. They left Ohio in June of 1836 and never came back. The family at that time consisted of Tom and Liz and their four children:
(1) James Rice (Jimmy), age 11,
(2) Mary L. Rice (Martha), age 7,
(3) Oliver Hugh Rice (Ollie), age 6, and
(4) William Wilson Rice (Billy), age 1.

Inside of their big wagon was indispensable furniture (including a bed), a gun, seed and food supplies, a Bible, and usually some heirloom from the family of origin. The older kids had to walk much beside the moving wagon. Most stops were planned at night next to a spring, a watering hole, or next to a river so plenty of water was available for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing pots and clothes. Blood sucking mosquitoes were always a constant problem in those days.

If they needed food Tom could shoot wild game or they could purchase supplies at stores in towns or at an inn or tavern along the way. Most of the cooking that Liz and Martha did for the family was done on the tailgate of the big wagon. (This activity gave rise to the present custom of having a tail gate party on the back of one's pickup truck at American sports games where groups of people eat and drink). The kids could catch fish in the rivers or crawdads in the creeks after they were camped for the night. And Old Blue, the family dog, was always good for chasing down a rabbit or treeing a raccoon or squirrel. These were eaten but the eating of opossoms was optional among some families. Betsy the cow was tethered to the back and followed along behind the moving wagon. It was nice to have fresh milk and a little cheese and butter from time to time.

Sometimes wagons would join together forming a caravan. (When I drove a big rig truck (18 wheels)- several big-rigs would get together traveling toward the same destination. We called it a caravan, named after the wagon train caravans of yesteryear). While traveling south through Kentucky Tom and Liz joined their wagon to a caravan also headed for Texas. There was safety traveling in numbers and in those days folks would help one another. They got to know some of these folk quite well. Most of these families were going to Texas to get the free land. And the men might have to fight the Mexicans if they had to. So Thomas became one of them. On August 27, 1836, the caravan ended up at Valasco, the Texas capitol at that time.

There he officially signed up with the other men in the caravan with him under Captain Holmes Company of Kentucky Volunteers in the Texas Militia. This ended a long journey for him and his family as they had traveled about 1,000 miles in 2 to 3 months.

Note: a correction is to be made in one Texas book (and not repeated)- Why? Because the author got two men by the name of Thomas Rice mixed up.

There were two men by the name of Thomas Rice in Texas during the time of the Texas revolution. One was a private- that is my Thomas Rice (Kentucky Volunteers). The other Thomas Rice was a first lieutenant- no relation (1'st Regiment Volunteers).

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