Biography - Martin Rice

Martin Rice, who was up to the time of his death, in 1883, prominently identified with the interests and growth of the county, came to Illinois in 1849, and to what is now Camargo township in 1853. He was descended from old Virginia and Kentucky families, and his grandfather, Charles Rice, was a pioneer in the wilderness of Kentucky, a companion of Daniel Boone, and a participant in the romantic incidents which marked the early frontier life, when the present Commonwealth of Kentucky formed a county of Virginia. He was born in Virginia, and about the breaking out of the Revolutionary war resided in Kentucky. The maiden name of his second wife was Sarah Bryant, she being a member of the family which gave the name to the fort known as Bryant's Station, celebrated in the annals of the early history of Kentucky. Charles Rice took part with Daniel Boone in the adventures which have made historic the home of the early pioneers. He bought of Boone a tract of land in what is now Fayette county, and settled there. Boone subsequently lost nearly all of his estates in Kentucky through his carelessness in neglecting to record and prove his title, and among the tracts which changed ownership in consequence was the one occupied by Charles Rice. One thousand and six hundred acres were subsequently confirmed to Boone, and of this, in compensation for his loss, he gave Rice a portion lying within the present limits of Madison county, and here Charles Rice lived to the close of his eventful life. He had borne the hardships and dangers of frontier life, had been through the memorable siege of Bryant's Station, and taken part in many other conflicts with the Indians of that day.

Martin Rice was born in Madison county, Kentucky, July 28, 1822. He was brought up on his father's farm, where he remained until after reaching his majority. He attended subscription school, which was of the rudest character, but he diligently improved his time and formed the foundation for a sound, practical business education. In the summer he spent the time working on the farm, and on November 16, 1843, he married Mary Ann Adams, who was a native of the same town in Kentucky. After his marriage Mr. Rice took up his residence on a farm belonging to his father, where he lived for about four years. when he removed to Illinois. This was in November, 1849. He settled in Coles county, nine miles cast of Charleston, he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, upon which he lived for four years. He found this tract too small to suit the plans according to which he proposed to carry on agricultural operations, so in the fall of 1853 he disposed of his land in Coles county and removed farther north. The place in which he settled is now the home of his son, Eugene. Land here was cheaper, the location better and the soil richer than on his former farm. The neighborhood had but few residences. There were some settlements in the neighborhood of Camargo, but with one exception no improvement had been made for eight miles west until the timber bordering on the Okaw was reached. As the country settled up Mr. Rice became recognized as one of the leaders in the community. He was deeply interested in the formation of Douglas county, and did all in his power to make the measure a success, there being considerable opposition at the time in some sections in Coles county, from which the territory was taken. After the new county was organized he was a member of the first political convention ever held in it. The convention, which placed in nomination the candidates chosen as the first board of county officers, was held in a temporary board shanty on the farm of Col. McCarty, two and a half miles east of Tuscola. The men composing the ticket were nominated and elected irrespective of party. In 1869, the second year after the township organizations were effected, Mr. Rice was elected the first supervisor of Camargo township, and re-elected in 1873, 1874 and 1875. He also took a deep interest in the cause of the common schools. In the early day he was a Whig in politics, and cast his first vote for Henry Clay, and later became a Republican. His first wife died in 1869. His second marriage occurred October 25, 1871, to Mary Jane Caraway, a native of Virginia, and whose father's family came to Vermilion county from that state in 1834. Of his six children, three are living: Eugene, Josephine (now Mrs. Goff, of Tuscola), and Martin, who resides on part of the old homestead in Camargo township.

Extracted 30 Jun 2017 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 162-163.

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