William RICE, b. 1841

William Rice, a well known representative of farming interests in Richland township, living on section 23, was born in Union county, Ohio, October 29, 1841, and is a son of Squire and Mary Ann (Holbrook) Rice. The former was a native of New York and became a resident of Ohio, where he died when his son William was only four or five years old. The mother afterward removed to Lee county, Illinois, where her death occurred when William was fourteen years of age. On account of being early left an orphan Mr. Rice of this review knows little about his parents. He was the eldest of three children, the others being Ebenezer, who died in Tama county, Iowa; and Fannie, who was the wife of John Ramsey, a resident of Grinnell, Iowa, and who died January 28, 1903. William Rice acquired his education in the common schools of Ohio and Illinois and when sixteen years of age was left to shift for himself, since which time he has depended entirely upon his own resources for a living. He went to work on a farm at five dollars per month and continued to be employed in that way until the first call to arms, following the firing on of Fort Sumter. He joined a company, but the regiment was not called into action until after the call was issued for three hundred thousand men. He enlisted at Dixon, Illinois, in September, 1861, becoming a member of Company C, Thirty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under command of Captain A. P. Dysart. He served for a year and a half and was discharged in 1863. The company and regiment then veteranized and Mr. Rice remained with his command until the close of hostilities. The first battle in which he participated was at Shiloh and he afterward took part in many sanguinary engagements, including the battles of Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, Rome, Peach Tree Creek and Kenesaw Mountain. He was also with Sherman on the celebrated march to the sea and was mustered out at Chicago on the 12th of July, 1865. He was never wounded save that he received a slight scratch on the shoulder by a ball which tore away the coat and shirt, leaving the skin espoused. He was then ill in the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, and was there given his discharge, but he waited ten days in Chicago for his regiment and all were discharged there. Mr. Rice was mustered out as second sergeant. He had proved a brave and loyal soldier, unfaltering in his support of the Union cause. On the 25th of December, 1867, Mr. Rice was united in marriage to Miss Helen Nichols, who was born in New York, February 14, 1848, and is a daughter of Lafayette Nichols, whose birth occurred in the Empire state and who spent his last days in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rice, where he died at the age of seventy- four years. He married Almira Sheldon, who was born in Niagara county, New York, and died at the home of their daughter, Mrs. Rice, when seventy-four years of age, passing away in February, 1900, her husband having died in December previous. They removed from New York to Lee county, Illinois, and later to Tama county, Iowa where they resided for many years, but their last days were spent in the home of their daughter. There were but two children in their family, the son being Henry Nichols, who now lives in Marshalltown, Iowa. In the year of his marriage Mr. Rice removed to Tama county, Iowa, where he purchased eighty acres of land which was all wild prairie. He built the first house upon that tract, broke the sod, tilled the fields and there lived for fourteen years. Twenty-three years ago, in February, 1883, he came to Mahaska county and purchased what was known as the Gardner Lunt farm of two hundred acres. This was improved and had a good house and barn upon it. Mr. Rice has since made some repairs and improvements on the house, which is a large, square, two-story dwelling. It is kept well painted, is tastefully furnished and shows every evidence of comfort and good taste. It is situated on a knoll commanding a splendid view of the surrounding country. Not far away stands a good basement barn and there are other buildings upon the place for the shelter of grain and stock. The house stands somewhat back from the highway with a lovely lane leading up to it. The fences are kept in good repair and an air of neatness and thrift pervades the place in all departments. Mr. Rice has also purchased thirty acres of timber and pasture land along the Skunk river. He devotes his attention to general farming and his labors are now being attended with a gratifying measure of success. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Rice have been born eight children, of whom six are living: Lillie L., the deceased wife of George B. Appel, by whom she had one son; Mary Almira, the wife of Ed Sharp, of Kansas, by whom she has three children; Wilbur H., who is living on a farm in Prairie township and who married Hattie Shumake, by whom he has four children; Alma, the wife of Charles Streagle, of Richland township, and the mother of three children; Jesse L., who married Grace Harper, has one child, and is living in Prairie township; Vernon, at home; Grace, also at home; and Elmer, who died March 22, 1875, at the age of four months. William Rice is a stalwart republican, inflexible in his support of the party and its principles, though he has never been an office seeker and the only position that he has ever held has been that of school director. He and his wife are valued members of the Methodist Episcopal church and he belongs to Shiloh post, No. 126, G. A. R., at Peoria, Iowa, in which he is now officer of the day. He certainly deserves much credit for what he has accomplished in life, because he started out empty-handed and has worked his way steadily upward. Beginning to earn his own living when a young lad of sixteen years without family or friends to aid him, he is today one of the substantial residents of the county. Moreover, he has made a creditable military record and has a family of which he has every reason to be proud. He keeps well informed on the questions of the day, is an interesting conversationalist and a jovial, genial gentleman-qualities which have won him many friends.


from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

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