Rice History 1933
Rice History Written in 1933
Rice. Before the present location of Rice was settled by white people it was inhabited by the Tehuacana and Keechi Indians. This part of the country was on the border line between the woodland and the prairie Indians and was not a safe place for the headquarters of either tribe. The Kickapoos who lived East of the Trinity River occasionally made an excursion into this part of the country. The Woodland Indians were usually friendly, but the prairie Indians were a constant source of annoyance. No settlements were made here until long after the Indians were driven into Oklahoma although there were settlements in other parts of Navarro County.
The first settler came here in the Sixties. At this time Chatfield and Porter's Bluff were important places. Porter's Bluff was an important shipping point. The Trinity River was navigable with flatboats for a part of the year. By 1872 there were about a dozen settlements within four miles of Rice. Messrs. Burl Edmunson, Lucian Lockhart, I. B. Sessions, E. G. Sessions, W. D. Haynie, J. M. Bartlett, Ben Langham and Major Rose each owned large farms.
Cotton was the staple crop then as it has always been. A good many cattle and horses were raised. Fences were not used. All live stock grazed on the open prairie. Prairie grass grew so luxuriantly that when a grass fire started it would sometimes sweep for miles before it could be checked. These fires were stopped by flat-breaking long stretches of land in advance of the fire.
The few settlers that lived here did their trading in Corsicana. Trips to Corsicana were made in wagons or on horse back. The most interesting and spectacular thing to be seen there was the "Brick" court house.
In 1872 the H. & T. C. railroad was built through here. One of the owners of the railroad, William Marsh Rice, for whom this town was named, gave some land for a church and cemetery.
The same year the first business firm of Rice was established. L. B. Haynie and B. M. Clopton who were in business at Chatfield dissolved partnership as soon as the railroad was built and Mr. Haynie came to Rice. He went into business with Rev. Jerry Ward. They put up a two story wooden structure on the site of the Loop and Walker store. A general store was kept in the lower story and a hotel in the upper story. Ed Taber and wife ran the hotel. Soon afterwards B. M. Clopton came to Rice and went into the drug business. He built his store just across the street from Haynie & Ward. The Rice post office was established October 2, 1872, with L. B. Haynie as postmaster. For a while Rice was a fairly important trading center but in 1875 the Haynie & Ward firm quit business. At about the same time their gin burned. Prospects for a town here then looked very dark. The post office was taken over on November 23, 1875, by William Holmes, who owned a small store just across the street West of Haynie & Ward.