Biography - Stephen Rice

STEPHEN R. RICE, one of the most prosperous and happy farmers in Pitman Township, resides on his fine farm on section 19, and there enjoys the comforts and pleasures of middle age, which have been gained by his energy and persevering labor. The birth of our subject took place in Macoupin County, Ill., March 14, 1833. He was the son of a man whose memory is still green in this section, and he has grown up and done that father honor.
William B. and Elizabeth (Cave) Rice were the parents of our subject, and both ancestral families came from below Mason and Dixon's Line. William B. Rice was a native of Kentucky and came into Illinois in the '30s with his family, and spent the first year in Sangamon County. He then decided that this was a good State to live in and moved to Macoupin County, and there entered land on the edge of a belt of timber, knowing that where there were trees there would be water. One of the most distressing wants of the pioneers was the lack of water, and as Mr. Rice had thought of that possibility, he selected his land where there was no fear of such a calamity. His location was near the site of the present village of Palmyra, and here he yoked up his ox-team and went to work breaking the land.
Mr. Rice became a prominent man in his locality and served as Justice of the Peace, a very important position in those days, and as one of the pioneer school teachers of Macoupin County. The family that he left at the time of his death, in 1864, consisted of six children, four of whom are now living, viz: Stephen R.; Lucretia V., who married Daniel Chapman; John F. and Charles W. In his death Macoupin County lost one of her first settlers, and one of her strongest men. In early life he had been a Whig, but later became a Republican.
Stephen Rice was reared among the scenes of pioneer life and early learned the use of six yoke of oxen and a wooden moldboard plow in breaking land, and can give much information about the early methods of farming, because he made practical tests. His education was obtained in the subscription schools of his time, and he well remembers the log hut with its puncheon floors and slab seats. Human nature, especially boy nature, was probably the same then as now, and there was plenty of playing and little learning. The education which finally became his he gained in contact with the world, as he has always kept well posted on topics of general interest.
When the time came for our subject to think of forming his own home, he prevailed upon Miss Polly A. Dalton to become his wife, and they were married September 21, 1854, after which she took up the reins of his domestic affairs, and has made his home in all of these years a place of peace and pleasantness. She still continues by his side, and none realizes more than he what a blessing a good wife can be. The birth of Mrs. Rice occurred in Morgan County, Ill., February 19, 1837, and she is the daughter of Isham and Rebecca (Ray) Dalton. Her father was a native of Virginia and her mother was born in North Carolina. In 1817, her parents started for Illinois when it was yet a Territory, and settled in Madison County. They resided there for a number of years, and then moved to Macoupin County, and subsequently went into Morgan County, where her father mainly reared his family. He finally returned to Macoupin County, and resided there until his death, in 1875, his wife living until 1884. Three children survive: Lewis, Mrs. Jackson Seymour, and Mrs. Rice. The occupation of Mr. Dalton was that of a brick mason and manufacturer and farmer, and he was an early settler of the township.
To Mr. and Mrs. Rice two children have been born, William H. and John B. The acres of which our subject is the owner amount to ninety-one, and this fine land has been accumulated by the efforts of one man, assisted by a capable and industrious wife. They are both valued and beloved members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which body Mr. Rice has long been a Class-leader, and is now a Trustee and Steward. For twenty-one years he has served as School Director, and for four years as Road Commissioner of Pitman Township.
Mr. Rice always is in the front rank when improvements in the county are suggested, and the society of both church and neighborhood would seem wrong and wanting if the genial presence of Mr. and Mrs. Rice was withdrawn. In 1859, Mr. Rice located on this place and has improved it in every way. He is a Republican in politics and a good all-round man, who would be sadly missed by his neighbors and friends should he remove from this locality.

Extracted 04 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 186-189.

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