HISTORY OF MACOUPIN COUNTY, ILLINOIS
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS DESCRIPTIVE OF ITS SCENERY,
AND

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS.

Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia 1879

Page 234

THOMAS B. RICE.

Judge Rice, one of the old settlers in the neighborhood of Medora, was born in Frederick county, Virginia, April 17th, 1806. His ancestors were residents of Virginia from the first settlement of the state. His grandfather, James Rice, resided in Culpepper county. His father, James Brown Rice, was born in Culpepper county, and was sixteen or seventeen years of age when he enlisted in the Continental army, during the Revolutionary war. He served during the closing years of that memorable struggle, and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He had a distinct recollection of witnessing the landing of Lafayette and other French officers on their arrival to assist the American army in the siege. After the Revolution Judge Rice's father and grandfather went to Kentucky when it was still a wild and unsettled country. His father returned to Virginia, and, in Culpepper county, married Susan Wallace, daughter of John Wallace. She was born in Culpepper county, on a farm which lay along the Rapidan river, at Raccoon ford, thirty miles above Fredericksburg. Thos. B. Rice was the fourth of ten children. His birth place was at the little town of Millwood, within two or three miles of the Shenandoah river, and twelve miles from Winchester. His father was at one time a man of some property, but had become one of the securities on a delivery bond, a circumstance which unfortunately swept away all his means. Judge Rice was obliged to work hard on the farm, and had but limited opportunities for getting an education. After reaching his majority he was employed for five years in overseeing and managing the farm of Bushrod Rust. April 17th, 1828, he married Mahala Farrow, who was born in Culpepper county, Virginia, December 22d, 1807. Her father was William Farrow, and the family had resided for a long number of years near Flint Hill, now in Rappahannock county, Virginia.

He afterward carried on the saddle and harness business at Upperville, a little town lying near the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains, in Fauquier county, Virginia. His shop burned down in the spring of 1835, and he determined at once on coming to Illinois. he settled at Rhoads' Point, and the next year (1836) moved to his present residence in section 6, township 8, range 9. He entered two hundred and forty-two acres of land, and began improving it. Part of the log house, which he built in 1836, is still standing, and forms part of his present residence. His settlement was on a much traveled thoroughfare, and from the first he considered that at some future time a town would be built in the vicinity. When the Rockford & Rock Island Railroad was surveyed and graded, he filed the first plat of the town of Medora, and in 1871 on the completion of the road made a second addition to the town. He was chiefly instrumental in building the first mill ever erected in Medora, and from that time has been more or less interested in the milling business. His ten children are all living. Susan C. married John Cleaver, and now resides in Oregon; John W. Rice is engaged in the milling business at Medora; Elizabeth S. is the wife of Imri B. Vancil of North Palmyra township; James Washington Rice is farming in Chesterfield township; Thomas Brown Rice, Jr., is a resident of Medora; Mary Virginia is the wife of H. W. Westbrook of St. Louis; Stephen F. Rice lives at Medora; Amanda M. is the wife of John Payne. The other children are Emma A. and Charles A. Rice. Four were born in Fauquier county, Virginia, and the remainder in Macoupin county.

In politics he has been a democrat. As a private citizen he has commanded the respect of the community, and is known as a man of personal honesty and undoubted integrity. He was elected county judge in 1862, and served two terms. As a public officer he advocated economy and freeing the county of debt, as rapidly as possible. When he first went into office county orders sold at from sixty-five to seventy-five cents on the dollar, and under the measures instituted by the new board of county judges they advanced to ninety-five cents. His administration received the popular approval, and he was re-elected to a second term, but declined to be a candidate for a third election. He was post master at Medora for a number of years. He is one of the old residents of the county, and one whose life has been beneficial in developing its resources and contributing to its prosperity. He and his wife have spent together over fifty years of married life, and have raised a large family, among the members of which not a single death has occurred. Since 1836 he and his wife have been members of the United Baptist church, in which he has held the office of deacon. He was clerk of the church at Rhoads' Point till within a few years, when his disability to do much writing caused his resignation of the position.


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