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Posted By: STurner (email)
Date: 7/6/2018 at 23:59:31


Jonas Rice, a venerable resident of Washington township, has had a long and useful career in this part of the state, and his name deserves honorable mention among those who have done so much to make it what it is. For more than sixty years his lot has been cast in Washington township, and here he has made an enviable name for himself, being widely known as an honorable, upright and industrious man, a kind neighbor and a good citizen.

Mr. Rice comes of good New England stock, and was born in Worchester county, Massachusetts, November 28, 1823, where his parents, Jonas and Grata (Partridge) Rice, were born and reared. In 1839 they removed to the West, and settled in Washington township, the journey in those days being both fatiguing and dangerous. It began by stage to Springfield, Massachusetts, and thence to Hartford by boat; to New York by steamer, and to Philadelphia by rail; thence to Pittsburg mainly by canal, and down the Ohio by a new steamer to St. Louis; an old boat brought them to Fort Madison. The passengers had to walk around the Rapids, and take team for the Fort, a three days' trip, costing them twenty-five dollars. They arrived at the old hotel, the MacIntyre, in time for a late dinner, and in the afternoon paid a man five dollars to take them out on the prairie, where they quickly found a very desirable location.

E. A. Eaton, a brother-in-law, had located the previous year on section 6, Washington township, and was then living alone. His wife came on later. The elder Rice paid $400 for a claim on a quarter of section 5, in the same township, and a year or two after a land sale was made for Washington township, at Burlington. For the purpose of making a promising investment he borrowed two hundred dollars, for which he had to pay thirty-three and a third per cent interest, building a log cabin, part of which is still in existence, being used in the house in which the subject of this sketch is still living.

The elder Rice was always a farmer, and was a thoroughly upright and patriotic citizen of his day. In the old state militia he took a deep and vivid interest, and for many years held rank as a lieutenant colonel in its organization. He was long known as Colonel Rice. He was over seventy-two years of age when he was called to the world beyond.

Mrs. Grata Rice lived to be a little older than her honored husband. She was one of a family of sixteen children, three of whom died young, and eleven lived to reach maturity. Three of her sisters are now living. Mr. and Mrs. Rice were members of the Christian church, and their remains are now at rest in the Denmark cemetery. He was a Whig in his earlier political life, and later became a Democrat, but voted for Abraham Lincoln on the occasion of his second election as president. After that he continued to vote the Republican ticket as long as he lived.
Jonas Rice, the subject of this article, was mainly educated in the district school in his native state, where he passed the first sixteen years of his life. On coming west he attended district school in the Denmark district one winter term, and was also a student for a time in a private night school taught by a Mr. Hobart in a neighboring church. He always lived at home, and after he had been of age several years his father deeded him a portion of the original homestead, on which he was engaged in farming several years. While he carried on a system of general farming quite successfully, he was one of the first to see the advantage of the dairy, and for many years he had large dairy interest which proved very remunerative.

Mr. Rice was married in June, 1849, to Miss Harriet Newell Cowles. She was a native of New York, and accompanied her parents to their settlement in Fort Madison in 1839. Her father, Josiah Cowles, was a botanic doctor, and practiced throughout the community in an early day, being remembered by the old settlers as a man of more than ordinary character and ability. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Rice were born a family of six children, the oldest of whom, Oscar J., is now dead. The second child, Harriet Amanda, married William Benbow, and died in Washington township. The third child, Phoebe Lillian, married Ira Dow, and is living in Denmark township. Lucy Ida, the wife of G. Henry Colvin, lives in Washington. John G. is a resident of the township. Edward Josiah is still under the parental roof.

Mr. Rice and his excellent wife are memsirable farm land, which he has well improved, and under a high state of cultivation. When he bought it, it was nearly all unbroken, and it has been the labor of a lifetime to bring it into its present condition. He is still actively engaged in farming, and takes immediate supervision of all that is done on his place.

Mr. Rice owns a half section of very debers of the Christian church, in which he has been an elder for many years. Politically he is a Republican, and has been trustee of his township many times, filing other local positions of trust and responsibility to the perfect satisfaction of all who have had to do business with him in his official capacity.

The many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Rice will be interested in this sketch of a career creditable alike to the heart and character of one of the oldest living settlers of Lee county.


Transcription typed/proofed as article was originally published in 1905


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