Tarrant County TXGenWeb

William M. Rice
(August 22, 1803 - February 16, 1878)

by Michael E. Patterson
Member, Tarrant County Historical Commission

When aging pioneer William M. Rice settled in Tarrant County about 1874, he was able to look back upon an active, useful life. He had lived under the jurisdictions of three sovereign nations, had lived and worked in at least five states, had served Texas as a government official and soldier, and had served his family and community as a farmer, stockraiser, and merchant.

William M. Rice was born in North Carolina on August 22, 1803. Few facts concerning his early life are known. In August 1834 he entered the Mexican State of Coahuila y Texas and settled in present-day Nacogdoches County.1 He soon became involved in frontier defense and helped protect the Anglo-Americans in Texas from Indian depredations.2 At one time during his first two years of Mexican citizenship, he served as an alcalde, a minor government official whose duties were similar to those of today's Justices of the Peace.3

When Anglo settlers in Texas began to feel increasingly threatened by Indian attacks and by incursions of Mexican troops, many Texans began to join local volunteer militia companies. William Rice enlisted in an infantry company under Captain Robert P. Stuard and Colonel Thomas J. Bennett.4

William Rice continued to serve the Republic of Texas as a soldier during the frantic days of early 1836 when it seemed Santa Anna's army would crush Texan resistance. Just before the battle of San Jacinto, Rice was detailed with Erastus "Deaf" Smith to drive a number of beeves to the Texan army there. On April 20, 1836, the day before the battle, he and Smith were riding alone when they were fired upon by a Mexican cavalry patrol. Smith escaped unhurt but Rice was shot in the right leg below the knee. A second musket ball struck him in the upper part of his head, clipping out a small part of his skull.5

Rice was carried by Captain Kokernut(?) to the home of settler William Rankin in Montgomery County, Texas where he spent several months recuperating. He was treated and nursed by the Rankins and by a Dr. Quimby, who extracted the ball from his leg. Rice suffered pain and disability from both his wounds for the rest of his life.6

William Rice apparently returned to the United States for a time just after his recovery. On January 24, 1837. he again entered the service of the Republic of Texas as a corporal by joining Captain O. H. Peters' Company of the First Infantry at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The enlisting officer was Captain Clifton. At the time of his enlistment, Rice was six feet tall, and had a dark complexion, light hair, and gray eyes. He was a merchant by trade. He was entitled to a bounty of $24 for enlisting.7

On June 15, 1837, Rice was issued a voucher for $66.40 in payment for his services to May 31.8 He was honorably discharged at Houston on October 23, 1837;9 on that day he was issued another pay voucher for $47.66 for his services since May 31, 1837.10

On July 8, 1838, Rice was issued a Bounty Land Warrant by the Republic's Secretary of War (Warrant #2302) for 1280 acres of land.11 He did not immediately locate the land; he assigned his rights to it to Quimby and Pyle, who later located the land in Hunt County in two tracts, one in 1857 and one in 1873.12 On September 25, 1838, Rice was issued a voucher for back clothing and rations allowances for the period June 4, 1837 to October 23, 1837.13

Around 1840, William Rice again left the Republic of Texas and returned to the United States. About 1842 he was married to his wife, Mariah, whose maiden name has not been discovered. She was a native of South Carolina and was born about 1819. Their marriage may have taken place in Alabama, since their first two children were born there about 1843.14

This is concerning your "William M. Rice" story. I noticed his wife Mariah had no known last name. I ran across a death certificate for Emily Jane Rice Haney wife of Joseph B. Haney. On her death certificate it lists William Rice and her Father and Mariah Pike. Joseph Haney was my Great Grandfather. -- Tony Crow

William Rice, his wife Mariah, and their twin children Elijah and Emily left Alabama about 1845 and returned to Texas. By 1850, they established their home in Harris County, where William farmed and continued his occupation as a merchant.15

Family traditions recall that Sam Houston was a personal friend of the Rices and often visited their home. One of Mariah's most valued possessions was a gold ring given to her by Houston. Mrs. Rice also enjoyed telling her grandchildren exciting tales about Indian raids during their life in early Texas.16

William M. and Mariah Rice were the parents of at least seven children: Elijah T. Rice, Emily Rice, Mary Ann Rice, Ruth Ellen Adeline Rice, Elizabeth Texas Rice, Josephine R. P. Rice, and Sarah Ellen Rice. All grew to adulthood and married.17

Elijah T. Rice was born about 1843 in Alabama. He was married about 1871 to Nancy (surname unknown), and in 1880 lived in Jack County, Texas.18

Emily Jane Rice (also recorded as Emma Jane and Emily Ann) was first married to a Mr. Silivan who died in the late 1860's.19 By 1879 she was the wife of Joseph B. Haney.20

Mary Ann Rice was born about 1846 in Harris County, Texas21 and was married to George Donoho. The Donohos made their home in the Handley section of east Fort Worth and died in that community.22

Ruth Ellen Adeline Rice (also recorded as Ruth Elizabeth Ann) was born in late 1849 or early 1850 in Harris County, Texas.23 She was first married to John McKillip in Dallas County, Texas on January 1, 1872.24 She was next married to William J. Manus on January 13, 1881 in Tarrant County.25 The Manus family left Tarrant County about 1895 and moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma; next to Mill Creek, Oklahoma about 1899; then to Konawa, Oklahoma; then to Lostanos, New Mexico for about three years; then back to Konawa, Oklahoma; then to Atoka, Oklahoma where Ruth died about 1920. William J. Manus died about 1922.26

Elizabeth Texas Rice was born in Harris County, Texas about 1854.27 She was married to Edward Blake in Tarrant County on July 18, 1877.28 About 1894, the Blakes moved to a farm near Ardmore, Oklahoma; in 1902 they settled near Duncan, Oklahoma where Mr. Blake died a few months later.29

Josephine R. P. Rice was born about 1856 in Texas,30 and was married to W. R. Barbee in Dallas County, Texas on February 29, 1872.31 Mr. and Mrs. Barbee were buried in the cemetery at Wynnewood, Oklahoma near their home.32

Sarah Ellen Rice was born in Texas about 1858.33 She was first married to Wesley M. Manes in Tarrant County on November 29, 1877.34 She was later married to John Ashburn and lived for a time at Ardmore, Oklahoma.35

Family tradition says that the Rices continued to live in Harris County until after the start of the Civil War. The family does not, however, appear in the 1860 Federal Census of Harris County. Mr. Rice operated a hatter's shop in Houston during the early part of the War and made soldiers' hats, the best of which sold for $40. Rice kept busy during the early part of the War by hauling supplies for widows and their children.36

While the War was still in progress, family sources recall, Rice decided to move the family to Kansas. He and his family moved 1000 head of cattle through the Cherokee Nation and arrived in Kansas during the winter. A family member wrote of their stay there:

"The severe cold killed many of the cattle as there were no wind breaks on the prairie. They sometimes counted as high as 18 head frozen in one night. He kept a number of cow hands who boarded with them and grandmother often cooked a whole ham for one meal; also she baked her light bread in half bushel ovens. But they had plenty. She bought up trunks full of calico to make their nice dresses, paying 50¢ per yard-also by the help of the girls in carding her cotton she wove cloth with her loom including blankets."37

In the late 1860's William Rice and his family returned to Texas and settled at Sceyne in Dallas County, about three miles southwest of present-day Mesquite.38 He brought his remaining cattle with him. Probably on May 7, 1869, he purchased the 160-acre Thompson M. Prince survey in northwest Tarrant County, about three miles southeast of present-day Azle; the 1869 purchase price was $400.39 Rice and his family continued to live at Sceyne, however, until about 1874 when they moved to their Tarrant County property.40

On August 13, 1870, the Texas Legislature passed a law which provided for the pensioning of wounded men who had fought in the Texas War for Independence. On February 25, 1871, William Rice addressed a letter to Texas's Reconstruction governor, Ed. J. Davis, asking his assistance:

"Seyen 25th February A.D. 1871

Govr. E. J. Davis
Dear Sir I must Inform you that I have takin the presant oppertunity to Write you a few lines to Inform you that I am an old Texan Soldier who Inlisted in Libber Rating Texas from Mexico in AD 1835 & 1836 also In 1837 which you will find by Examining the Records of the Genl. land office that I Recd. an honorble discharged for my Servises in Said Texin army & In the A.D. 1836 February which being on detail with Capt So cold Deaf Smith to drive beefe to our army I was shot by a body of Mexicains and Wounded

Govr. Davis
Dear Sir
I must Inform you that I Imigrated to Texas & Cowheler in A.D. 1834 While this presant Government was under the Control of the Mexicain Government

also Govr.
I must Inform you that while under the Mexicain Government I was a pointed alcaldo which what called a Justice of the peace
theair for

Gov. E. J. Davisdear Sir
you will pleas be so kind as to Confer a favour as a friend to Inform the legislatur of these facts and much oblidge yours Respectfuly
William Rice"41

After he gathered several depositions from eyewitnesses to his military service,42 and after the Legislature passed another act on April 21, 1874 granting further privileges to veterans, Rice's application for a pension at the rate of $500 per year was granted on March 9, 1875.43 At about the same time, a group of his neighbors signed a memorial petition and presented it to the Legislature asking that Rice be exempted from paying license fees and taxes to follow his trade as a merchant or peddler.44 On January 15, 1877, Rice was granted further pension privileges under a legislative act passed July 28, 1876.45

The Rice's Tarrant County home was a frame house which faced south along the north side of present-day Nine Mile Bridge Road, about .3 mile southeast of its intersection with Silver Creek Road.46 The house had a long porch across its south side and stood, with additions, until the 1950's when it burned. The site today is marked only by a windmill, a concrete watering trough, and three old pomegranate bushes.47

William M. Rice continued to live on his acreage near Azle until his death on February 16, 1878.48 He was buried in Azle's Ash Creek Cemetery. The cemetery straddles the Tarrant-Parker County line. No memorial stone was erected at his grave for many years, and when about 1900 his grave was finally marked, the dates of his birth and death were incorrectly carved. The stone's inscription reads "1805-1880" instead of the correct "1803-1878." Family members commissioned the marker inscription to include a five-pointed star above his name and the legend, "Texas Vet."49

For a time after his death, Mariah Rice continued to live on the Thompson Prince survey. At the September term of the Tarrant County Court, she applied for a pension as the widow of a Texas Revolutionary soldier, citing extreme financial need.50 On January 6, 1879, she was enrolled as a pensioner in Tarrant County, and was awarded back pension money of $150 for the period April 1, 1878 to March 31, 1879.51 On January 15,1879 she gave power of attorney to Eggleston and Bro. to collect her claims.52

Mariah Rice and her heirs sold their 160-acre tract in northwest Tarrant County on August 11, 1879 to John G. Bulla of Wise County. They received $700 for it.53 No further records of Mariah Rice have been located. If she lies buried in Ash Creek Cemetery beside her husband, no stone now marks her grave.

The Tarrant County Historical Commission is eager to erect a State Historical Marker at the grave of William M. Rice. An easily accessible interpretation of his life as an exemplary Texas pioneer is especially significant to Tarrant County since so few veterans of the Texas War for Independence settled in the area. With the approach of the Texas Sesquicentennial, this remembrance of William M. Rice and his service to Texas will be an impressive addition to historical preservation in Tarrant County.

Gravestone of Wm. M. Rice in Ash Creek Cemetery, Azle, Tex.
Rice's dates of birth and death were carved incorrectly.


William Rice (1803-1878), deposition filed in Dallas County, Texas, October 13, 1874. From the collection of the Texas State Archives, (hereafter TXA). Eula Aurora Grisham McKillip (b.1874), personal reminiscences, MS in possession of James McKillip, Fort Worth, Texas.

[Family tradition states that Rice was born in England and came to the U.S. as a sailor about 1825, and that he soon thereafter settled in North Carolina.]


Texas, Legislative Memorial #170, File Box No. 78, Letter No. R, Dallas County, Texas, no date [circa 1874]. (TXA)


William Rice, letter to Gov. Ed. J. Davis, dated Sceyne, Texas, February 25, 1871. (TXA)


Texas, Legislative Memorial #170. Thomas Lloyd Miller, comp., Bounty and Donation Land Grants of Texas 1835-1888, (Austin: UT Press, 1967, p. 553.

[There are contradictions within Rice' s personal files in TXA regarding his first enlistment date. The "Memorial" states he enlisted in February 1835. Miller states Rice received his Bounty Land Warrant for service which began June 24, 1835.]


William Rice, deposition, October 13, 1874.




Capt. O. H. Peters, Republic of Texas voucher, June 2, 1837. (TXA)


Republic of Texas, voucher #2456, June 15, 1837. (TXA)


Barnard Bee (1787-1853), discharge of William Rice, Houston, Texas, October 23, 1837. (TXA)


Republic of Texas, voucher #4406, October 23, 1837. (TXA)


J. Groos (1824-1878), Commissioner of General Land Office, affidavit at Austin, Texas, October 7, 1874. (TXA)


Miller, Bounty...Warrants, p. 553.


Republic of Texas, War Department, voucher, September 25, 1838. (TXA)


U. S. Federal Census; 1850 Harris County, Texas, #834; 1870 Dallas County, Texas, pct. 5, p. 308.

[Mariah Rice was aged 32 in 1850 and 50 in 1870, according to census schedules.]


1850 Harris County, Texas census.

[Two men named William M. Rice maintained households in the 1840's, 1850's, and 1860's in Harris County. The other William M. Rice (1816-1896) was a prosperous merchant and civic leader for whom Rice Institute was named.]


McKillip reminiscences.


Tarrant County, Texas, Deed Records, Vol. V, p. 587.


1850 Census, Harris County, Texas. 1880 Census, Jack County, Texas.


1870 Census, Dallas County, Texas. Tarrant County, Texas, Deed Records, Vol. V, p. 587. McKillip reminiscences.

[The 1850 Harris County census lists the name as "Emily Jane." "Emma Jane" Haney signed a deed in 1879. Family sources also record "Emily Ann. "]


Tarrant County, Texas, Deed Records, Vol. V, p. 587.


1850 Census, Harris County, Texas.


McKillip reminiscences.


1850 Census, Harris County, Texas. McKillip reminiscences.

["Ellen Adeline" Rice appears as a three-month-old child in 1850. Family sources record "Ruth Elizabeth Ann."]


H. M. Lu and G. B. Neumann, eds., Marriages, Dallas County, Texas, Books A-E, 1846-1877, (Dallas: Dallas Genealogical Society, 1982), p. 27.


Tarrant County, Texas, Marriage Records, Vol. 2, p. 202.


McKillip reminiscences.


1870 Census, Dallas County, Texas.


Tarrant County, Texas, Marriage Records, Vol. 1, p. 152.


McKillip reminiscences.


1870 Census, Dallas County, Texas.


Lu and Neumann, eds., Dallas County Marriages, Vol. 1, p. 27.


McKillip reminiscences.


1870 Census, Dallas County, Texas.


Tarrant County, Texas, Marriage Records, Vol. 1, p. 194


McKillip reminiscences.






William Rice, letter, February 25, 1871. (TXA)


Tarrant County, Texas, Deed Records, Old Series Vol. K, p. 274.

[On March 29, 1876, the records of Tarrant County, Texas were destroyed by fire. Prior to that date, two sets of abstract books were compiled from those records. One of those was the Hanna and Hogsett Abstract Books. No deed transferring land to William M. Rice was re-recorded in the county records after 1876. The Hanna and Hogsett Abstract Books were consulted during the compilation of this paper, but no transactions are shown within the Thompson Prince survey between the years 1865 and 1879. The deed transferring the land from Rice's heirs to Bulla is shown. The second set of abstract books prepared before 1876 was known as the Gause and Phillips Abstract Books; they could not be located during the course of this research. J. P. Landers, present owner of a portion of the Thompson Prince survey, has in his possession a handwritten abstract of the Prince survey which was prepared about 1900, apparently from the Gause and Phillips Abstract Books. His abstract records the issuance of a Warranty Deed on May 7, 1869 in which John D. Walker and wife conveyed the entire 160-acre Prince survey to John G. Bulla. The next item in the abstract is a record of the transfer of the same property from Rice's heirs to John G. Bulla; this abstract entry agrees perfectly with the deed now on record in the Court House. Since Bulla probably did not receive two warranty deeds to the same property, and since the Rice family obviously purchased the property before 1879, it is probable that the May 7, 1869 entry should correctly list William M. Rice as the grantee instead of John G. Bulla.]


The several documents filed by and in behalf of Rice indicate his residence changed from Dallas County to Tarrant County in mid-to-late 1874. Family sources state his grandson, James McKillip, was born on the northwest Tarrant County property in 1872; this fact may be true if indeed the 1869 transfer of the property was to Rice and not to Bulla.


William Rice, letter, February 25, 1871. (TXA)


John Henry Brown (1820-1895), letter dated Dallas, Texas, January 20, 1875 to S. H. Darden? of Austin, Texas. Drs. Paul and John S. Carrington, affidavit filed in Dallas County, Texas, October 14, 1874. Alfred Kelso, affidavit filed in Travis County, Texas, January 23, 1875. A. A. Kemble, affidavit filed in Ellis County, Texas, January 16, 1875. Robert Rankin and Mrs. C. E. Andrews, affidavit filed in Ellis County, Texas, September 24, 1874. Zoraster Robinson, affidavit filed in Leon County, Texas, January 4, 1875. (all TXA)


Texas, Pension Claim #1033, approved March 9, 1875. (TXA)


Texas, Legislative Memorial #170. (TXA)


Tarrant County, Texas, County Court Minutes, Sept. 1878. (TXA)


Sam Street's Map of Tarrant County, Texas, December, 1895. Copy at Tarrant County Junior College, Northeast Campus, Hurst, Texas.


J. P. Landers (b.1903), interview with Jim McKillip and Mike Patterson at Azle, Texas, August 1, 1983.


Tarrant County, Texas, County Court Minutes, Sept. 1878. (TXA)


Ash Creek Cemetery, Azle, Texas, gravestones.


Tarrant County, Texas, County Court Minutes, Sept. 1878. (TXA)


Texas, Comptroller's Office, pension certificate issued to Mariah Rice, January 6, 1879. (TXA)


Mariah Rice (b.1819), Power of Attorney, January 15, 1879. (TXA)


Tarrant County, Texas Deed Records, Vol. V, p. 587.


Ash Creek Cemetery. Azle, Texas. Gravestones.

Bee, Barnard (1787-1853). Discharge of William Rice. Houston, Texas, October 23, 1837. (TXA)

Brown, John Henry (1820-1895). Letter; Dallas, Texas, January 20, 1875 to S. H. Darden (?) of Austin, Texas. (TXA)

Carrington, Paul and John S. (Drs.). Affidavits filed in Dallas County, Texas, October 14, 1874. (TXA)

Groos, J. (1824-1878). Commissioner of General Land Office of Texas. Affidavit, Austin, Texas, October 7, 1874. (TXA)

Kelso, Alfred. Affidavit filed in Travis County, Texas, January 23, 1875. (TXA)

Kemble, A. A. Affidavit filed in Ellis County, Texas, January 16, 1875. (TXA)

Landers, J. P. (b. 1903). Interview with Jim McKillip and Mike Patterson at Azle, Texas, August 1, 1983.

Lu, H. M. and Neumann, G. B., eds. Marriages, Dallas County, Texas, Books A-E, 1846-1877; Vol. 1. Dallas; Dallas Genealogical Society, 1982.

McKillip, Eula Aurora Grisham (b.1874). Personal reminiscences. MS copy in possession of Jim McKillip, Fort Worth, Texas.

Miller, Thomas Lloyd, comp. Bounty and Donation Land Grants of Texas, 1835-1888. Austin: UT Press, 1967.

Peters, O. H. (Capt.) Republic of Texas voucher. June 2, 1837. (TXA)

Rankin, Robert and Andrews, C. E. (Mrs.). Affidavits filed in Ellis County, Texas, September 24, 1874. (TXA)

Republic of Texas. Voucher #2456 for William Rice. June 15, 1837. (TXA)

__________________. Voucher #4406 for William Rice. October 23, 1837. (TXA)

__________________. War Department Voucher for William Rice. September 25, 1838. (TXA)

Rice, Mariah (b.1819). Affidavit filed in Tarrant County, Texas. July 15, 1878. Tarrant County, Texas County Court Minutes. (TXA)

__________________. Power of Attorney to Eggleston and Bro. January 15, 1879. (TXA)

Rice, William (1803-1878). Letter dated February 25, 1871 at Sceyne, Texas to Gov. E. J. Davis, Austin, Texas. (TXA)

__________________. Affidavit filed in Dallas County, Texas. July 13, 1874. (TXA)

__________________. Power of Attorney filed in Dallas County, Texas. September 7, 1874. (TXA)

__________________ . Affidavit filed in Dallas County, Texas. October 13, 1874. (TXA)

Robinson, Zoraster. Affidavit filed in Leon County, Texas. January 4, 1875. (TXA)

"Sam Street's Map of Tarrant County, Texas, December, 1895." Copy at Tarrant County Junior College, Northeast Campus, Hurst, Texas.

Tarrant County, Texas. County Court Minutes.

__________________. Deed Records.

__________________. Marriage Records.

Texas. Comptroller's Office. Pension Certificates.

__________________. Legislative Memorials.

United States. Federal Census. Dallas County, Texas: 1870; Harris County, Texas; 1850; Jack County, Texas: 1880.


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