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James William Rice


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 18:47:42

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Hon. James William Rice, a prominent and influential citizen of Farmington, is well known all over Van Buren County and is deserving of a representation in this volume where are recorded the lives of the pioneers and leading citizens of the county. A native of Massachusetts, he was born in Waltham, June 11, 1921. He traces his ancestry back to 1620, when the founder of the family in American, one of the Pilgrim Fathers, landed from the “Mayflower” at Plymouth Rock. His father, James Rice, was born in 1796 and wedded Dolly L. Carr, who was four years his junior and was also a descendant of New England ancestry. Unto them was born a family of four children, one son and three daughters, namely: Dolly, who became the wife of Thomas Drummond, emigrated westward in 1839, settling in Fairfield, but died in Danville Illinois; Jane married Thomas Crim and they became residents of Van Buren County but her last days were spent in Keokuk; Hannah L., was the wife of Jonathan Bedell of Denver Colorado; and James w. completes the family, of which he was the eldest. The father died in Massachusetts in 1834, after which Mrs. Rice became the wife of Abner Kneeland a noted infidel and the founder of the Boston Investigation Society—a man who gained a world-wide reputation on account of the position which he took regarding religious subjects. Three children were born of this marriage—Albert, a rancher of Colorado died in 1885; Susan, wife of Thomas B. Boler, of Farmington; Maria, wife of George D. Johnson of Rosedale Kansas. Mr. Kneeland died in Van Buren County in 1844, and the death of his wife occurred in Farmington in 1872.
James William Rice acquired his education in the academy of Concord Mass. and the high school of Boston. When a lad of fourteen years he was bound out to the painter’s trade in the latter city and after the expiration of his term of apprenticeship followed that business for a number of years. In 1839 he accompanied his parents to the west, the family locating on a farm near Farmington, where he continued to make his home until 1875, since which time he has lived in the town.
On January 1, 1848, Mr. Rice was united in marriage with Sarah a. Smith, daughter of Silas and Sarah W. Wilder Smith. She was also a niece of Marshall Wilder. By their union were born three children, all yet living, namely: Mrs. Ella L. Whitten; Nellie, wife of L.L. Therme, the present postmaster of Farmington; and Mary A. at home.
In early life Mr. Rice was a Democratic Abolitionist, that is, he entertained the principles of Democracy and was also strongly opposed to the institution of slavery. On State and National questions he yet supports the Democracy, but at local elections votes for the man and not the party. The fellow citizens of Mr. Rice appreciating his worth and ability have frequently called upon him to serve in public positions. For six years he held the office of Mayor of Farmington, was Town Clerk for three years, Justice of the Peace for fourteen years and Notary Public for six years. The duties of these offices he has ever discharged in a prompt and faithful manner, thus winning the respect of even his political enemies. In his business he has prospered and by an upright life, he has won the respect of young and old, rich and poor. He has ever been a friend to education and to all moral and social interests and has done what he could for the advancement and building up of the county.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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