From the Collection of Edward L. Williams
John Holt Rice, III, County Judge
Jan 28, 1853 - Jan 11, 1921
JUDGE RICE PASSES AWAY
Funeral Will Take Place Thursday From First Presbyterian
JUDGE j. h. Rice, who had been a highly esteemed citizen and prominent
member of the Corsicana bar for many years, died at his home here last
night, after many months of ill health. The deceased was born in
Charlotte Courthouse, Va., July 28, 1853, and came to Corsicana many
years ago while his father was pastor here. He was a life long member of
that church and was a member of Hella Temple, Dallas, and well known as
a Mason over Texas. He was at one time county judge of Navarro county,
and in all the walks of life was known as a man of the highest
character, and as such was esteemed by all who knew him. The deceased is
survived by his wife, one brother, D. N. Rice, and three sisters, Misses
Fannie, Porter and Lacy Rice.
Interment will take place in Oakwood tomorrow afternoon after services
at the First Presbyterian church at 3 o’clock, and will be under the
auspices of the Masonic lodge.
Following are the active pall bearers:
J. S. Murchison, Dr. T. W. Watson, R. J. Graves, S. J. Helm, R. C.
Calkins, B. F. Hartzell, Kenneth Bullock, W. W. Evans.
The following will act as honorary pallbearers:
J. M. Blanding, Dr. J. S. Daniel, Dr. E. H. Newton, Dr. I. N. Suttle,
Capt. Jas. Garitty, R. E. Prince, J. M. Dyer, E. L. Bell, Dr. J. B.
Cooksey, W. M. Clarkson, Geo. T. Jester, S. A. Pace, L. B. Cobb, Richard
Mays, E. P. Walker, R. L. Frazier, H. E. Wassell, Kerr McClellan, W. M.
Tatum. Rufus Hardy, G. W. Mitchell, W. J. McKie, Murphey Williams, Wylie
Johnson, R. R. Owen, J. H. Woods, B. L. Davis, A. A. Wortham, W. G.
Baker, A. G. Elliott, J. A. Thompson, B. B. Munsey, I. N. Cerf, G. W.
Tidd, Meyer Cohen, A. D. Porter, E. Raphael, Robt. Jerrett, B. Marks,
Isaac Levy, J. M. Gordon, A. M. Milligan, A. Fox, C. C. Walton, Bige
Tinkle, E. D. McCarver, W. J. Lunn, J. T. Robinson, W. H. Penland, H. G.
Bryant, Ralph Beaton, T. M. Cobb, George Crumley, J. S. Sands, J. G.
Comfort, C. G. Davidson, R. M. McMullen, Chatfield; W. L. Medaris,
Roane; F. C. Hand, Dallas, W. G. Proctor, Dallas; W. E. Elliott, Dallas;
Hal W. Greer, Beaumont; L. Edward Greer; E. J. Gibson, Dallas; Homer
Carrol, Kerens; P. H. Loggins, Ft. Worth; R. H. Daniels, Kerens; W. S.
Price, Kerens; J. E. Butler, R. B. Molloy, Mike Howard, Harry D.
Johnson, R. L. Hamilton.
Will Adjourn for Funeral.
The district and county courts will adjourn tomorrow during the funeral
services for the late Judge J. H. Rice in honor to his memory.
The Corsicana Daily Sun - Wednesday, January 12, 1921 - Submitted by
A SPLENDID TRIBUTE
Large Number Attended Funeral of Judge Jno. H. Rice.
It was a splendid tribute that the people among whom he had lived for so
many years paid Judge Rice yesterday. When the hour for the funeral
exercises to begin had arrived the First Presbyterian church was filled
with the men and women who had known him from youth to old age. The
alter was covered with flowers and so was the casket. The members of the
bar were in attendance, district and county court having suspended out
of respect to him. He had practiced law for many years and had been
honored with office. His follow lawyers were his friends, therefore they
paid him the respect of their presence. Members of the Masonic lodge
were out in force and the regalia of the Blue Lodge and the uniform of
the Knights Templar. He had been an honored member of the Masonic Lodge
for many years and was always faithful and true. He had drunk deep at
the Masonic fountain of knowledge. His brothers loved him and will miss
him. The members of the First Presbyterian church were in attendance.
Throughout his long life he showed unfaltering devotion to his church.
He was a constant attendant on its services and contributed liberally to
its enterprises. The members are sad at heart because he has left them,
and there were many present to pay their respects. There were men and
women who were not members of the fraternal order to which he devoted so
much time nor of the church of his preference present who in that way
bore witness that they too, mourned his departure.
The services were conducted by Rev. Mr. Storey, the pastor. There were
songs by the choir. The pastor read a scripture lesson and Rev. Mr.
Booth, pastor of the First Methodist church, offered a prayer. Rev. Mr.
Storey, after dwelling upon points of scripture that were comforting to
the bereaved wife, brother and sisters and other relatives, spoke
fervently of Judge Rice’s love for his church. He missed none of the
services and regardless of his great love for the Masonic lodge he did
not permit that love to lure him even temporarily from the Wednesday
night prayer meetings. “He loved the Masons second to the church,” said
the pastor but when meetings of the two conflicted he invariable gave
his church the preference, often going from the Wednesday night prayer
meeting to the attendance of lodge.
Presiding Elder Porter of this conference district spoke of Judge Rice
as a Mason. He told of their first meeting which was in the lodge room,
and said that meeting had resulted in other meetings in which he had
learned much of Masonry. He knew the order, said the speaker, from
Entered Apprentice to the Commandery, and gave much time to the order.
In point of membership he is the oldest Mason among us. We looked to him
for guidance. That first meeting ripened into a friendship that to me
became very valuable. The speaker referred to the open meeting of the
Knights Templar a few weeks ago and of Judge Rice presiding. He referred
to his gentleness, knightly bearing and gallantry as he passed among the
members and their wives greeting them, and said, “I shall always
remember Judge Rice at our last meeting. I stand today with a tear and
choked voice while I recall how I saw and heard him speak,” and closed
by saying that “Judge Rice believed that to be a Knight Templar meant to
be a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Then followed a prayer with every head bowed, the Masons took charge of
the funeral and at the cemetery the order of which he was an honor
member laid him to rest.
The Corsicana Daily Sun - Friday, January 14, 1921 - Submitted by Diane
IN MEMORY OF JUDGE RICE
Bar Association Called to Meet Sunday, February 20th
I hereby call a meeting of the Navarro County Bar Association to be held
in the District Court room, on Sunday, February 20th, 1921, at 3 o’clock
p.m. The purpose of this meeting is to hold a memorial service for our
late friend and brother, Judge John H. Rice. All members of the Bar are
requested to be present and the public are invited to take part in these
J. M. BLANDING, President.
Resolution committee—Messrs, W. J. McKie, L. B. Cobb, R. B. Molloy.
Program Committee—Messrs. Richard Mays, C. L. Jester, Luther A. Johnson
The Corsicana Daily Sun - Saturday, February 12, 1921 - Submitted by
Corsicana Bar Pays Tribute to Memory Of John Holt Rice
Survives him. Of this union there were no children.
Upon the death of his father, he returned to Tennessee and brought back
with him to Corsicana his widowed mother and four young sisters and from
that time to the day of his death cared for and cherished them as
tenderly and lovingly as a father always living with them and giving
them the benefit of his advice, counsel and protection. At the death of
one sister, he took her baby boy, two days old (John Rice Rose) and
reared him as his own, cherishing and caring for him as a wise and
loving father, until the death of this boy soon after reaching young
A few years ago, upon the death of his cousin, B. R. Forman, of New
Orleans, he sent for his orphan son, Benjamin Rice Forman, and had him
brought to Corsicana, then a young boy of eight, and again took upon
himself the responsibilities and care of a father, although at that time
he was in declining health, and at the time of his death was rearing and
educating this boy as his own.
He is survived by his wife, three sisters and his orphan cousin, all
members of his household, and a brother, D. N. Rice, of Corsicana.
He was a life-long member, and for much of the time an officer, in the
After Victor Hugo had filled and thrilled the world with the noblest
thoughts and truest sentiments that ever adorned the literary page, he
is reported to have said that his divinest thoughts and sublimest
sentiments had never been expressed because there were no words, known
to the vocabulary of men, by which to express them. And we fell the
inadequacy of mere words to express our appreciation of the life and
character of our deceased friend.
As a judge, he displayed marked ability; he was fair, impartial, and
demeaned himself as a pure and unselfish patriot and able officer.
As a lawyer, he served his clients with energetic zeal and ability and
was always affable and courteous to the other members of the bar, and
scrupulously observant of all those finer amenities that characterize
the real gentleman.
As a citizen of this community for many years, his life as a courteous
gentleman justly merited the approbation of all with whom he came in
He was a democrat of the old school and his life was characterized by
unswerving loyalty to his party and state. He staunchly adhered to the
principles of the great primary sovereignty of the state and the
maintenance of power always remaining in it and residing with the people
and he believed that the highest order of patriotic endeavor and the
most sincere contribution to the cause of good government was to be
found in that which magnified and dignified the state in all its
pristine vigor as the fathers intended it to exercise over its internal
affairs and he believed in the highest standard of political virtue and
He was a man of wide reading not only of ancient and modern history, but
greatly enjoyed the high class productions of ancient and modern
fiction, both of prose and poetry and perhaps in this line of study and
cultivation he has not been surpassed by any member of the Corsicana
His clean business life and high integrity was not only well-known to
his brother lawyers, but to the entire business community. He stood for
the right always and along all lines, this being a well known and
distinguishing characteristic of his life and personality, and with this
purity of character, he was a courteous, polished gentleman—as refined
and gentle as a woman, yet strong and courageous to the end, as
evidenced by his uncomplaining, courageous fight against the Grim Reaper
for the period of at least sixty days before his removal from among us.
He was a zealous member of the Masonic fraternity, and at the time of
his death he was regarded as one of the most learned Masons in the
state. Entering the ancient order with a classical education, its
history and philosophy grasped his thoughts, and he delved deeply into
its mysteries and symbolism, showing a love, zeal and loyalty to the
fraternity, which is equaled by few. All the honors of the subordinate
bodies were given him, and he was a faithful and beloved member long
after he had enjoyed all the honors. The excellent moral teachings made
him consider Masonry second only to his church. He also served the grand
bodies in important places and lent his attention to the solving of
problems of statewide scope, involving law, finance and education. In
every capacity, he served with credit and distinction to himself and
honor to the fraternity.
Now that our friend has passed beneath the glow of life’s setting sun,
we feel that we may truthfully say of him:
“Life’s race well run,
Life’s deeds well done,
Life’s crown well won.”
Therefore be it resolved that in the death of John Hold Rice, the bar of
Texas has lost one of its highly honored and distinguished members, and
the bar of Corsicana, a brother whose loss we deeply deplore, our state
and city, a good citizen, and his family, an affectionate husband and
brother. That we tender the bereaved family of our deceased brother, our
sincerest sympathy in their loss; that his report be spread upon the
minutes of the District Court of Navarro County Texas.
W. J. McKIE,
R. B. MOLLOY,
L. B. COBB
Hon. W. J. McKie seconded the motion to adopt and in doing so spoke of
Judge Rice as “A Man and a Lawyer,” in the course of which he referred
to his first acquaintance with him, his close association with him in
the practice of law as a partner. “I knew him for more than forty years.
“ said Mr. McKie. He knew him as “a good lawyer and an honest man, and,”
he said, “my association with him was very close and for two years as
young men, we roomed together, and that association laid the foundation
for a life friendship. We were associated together in the practice of
our profession, and as a lawyer he impressed me as being discriminating
and accurate in all matters that came to his attention. He was
scrupulously honest in all his advice. He was always conscientious. He
handled his cases well in the courthouse and showed careful preparation.
He took pride in exhausting his subject before committing it to paper
and his papers were perfection.” Speaking of him as a man, Mr. McKie
introduced that part of his subject by saying, “To be a real lawyer one
must be a man and he should be a man. Judge Rice was a good lawyer and a
man—a good, high-minded man. As a companion he was not surpassed, he was
not inferior to any man within my acquaintance. Intelligent, well read,
entertaining, fond of his friends and democratic, cordial to all and to
his close friends he was an ideal associate.:
Mr. J. S. Callicutt said he “had heard with pleasure the reading of the
resolutions and I add my complete endorsement to them.: He, too, spoke
of his first acquaintance with Judge Rice. Mr. Callicutt was then a boy
and he spoke of the manly manner in which Judge Rice had conducted his
campaign as a candidate for county judge and how it had impressed him.
He spoke of the personnel of the bar of that day, saying it “was made up
of distinguished lawyers. Judge Rice had an unswerving devotion to
matters he thought to be right yet you never heard him harshly criticize
a man who did not agree with him.” In this connection Mr. Callicutt
referred to Judge Rice’s devotion to his church, “yet he had not a harsh
word for those who did not agree with him,” and added, “so also in his
political convictions.” Judge Rice’s work as a member of the school
board, and his successful efforts in “importuning the legislature” to
make appropriations for the betterment of conditions at the State Orphan
Home, and how he had seen the “children there gather about him, clinging
to his coat and his hands,” all portrayed the great heart and the
tenderness of the man and, he declared, “there was never a more
immaculate or a more generous character.” Closing, Mr. Callicutt said
with feeling: “He was a courteous, knightly Southerner and a Christian
Hon. R. E. Prince recalled the death of Judge Frost January 1, 1908;
Judge R. S. Neblett, January 18, 1918; Judge J. J. McStellan, July 16,
1920, and Judge Rice, January 11, 1921, and said, referring to the
latter, “We have come to pay the last respect to his memory,” and added,
“this was a stalwart company that has passed from us,” and said if we
have not profited by the lives of these men “then we must have no desire
to become great characters.” Continuing Mr. Prince said, “He knew and
was known of God” and making a further quotation from the Bible, Mr.
Prince declared, “those words cover Judge Rice as with a mantle.” Asking
“what part did he take in glorifying God” and “what is it to glorify
God,” he answered. “Faith and love of his fellow man. John H. Rice
exercised faith in a rare degree. He put into existence those Godly
attributes that make character great.” His honesty was referred to as
were his other virtues and these he “put into existence in his life and
glorified God.” His family relations were referred as being sacred, as
was that of his love for his fellow man and “therefore beyond a doubt he
knew and was known of God.”
Judge H. B. Daviss referred to him as an upright, Christian gentleman,
honest in every sense and also spoke of his excellent qualities as a
Hon. Richard Mays had a letter from State Senator J. H. Woods, now in
Austin attending to his legislative duties, in which the writer referred
to Judge Rice as his friend and neighbor and as a useful man to the bar
and the community.
After reading the letter Mr. Mays asked “ permission to add my own
personal testimony.” He spoke eloquently of Judge Rice’s life and in
closing he said he felt that he had “suffered a personal loss: and that
a “prince has fallen in Israel.”
Mr. Ballew spoke earnestly of the life and character of the man and the
influence that Judge Rice’s life had had upon him. Judge Rice had told
him that he had “had the death sentence passed upon him in 1894 by his
physician and he knew it was only a question of time but with faith and
trust and manhood he never lost his courage nor shuddered or trembled,
but walked in a manly, upright manner.”
Judge Stout had known him intimately for forty-four years and spoke of
him as a lawyer and Christian gentleman, and said, “I endorse everything
that has been said.” He reviewed the early history of lawyers in the
practice of law here and paid Judge Rice a particularly high compliment
in which he said his advice was always good and the bar has lost one of
its most substantial members.
Mr. Mays offered the suggestion that when the proceedings of the
memorial service were spread upon the records of the court that space be
left at the top of the page for a photograph of Judge Rice to be placed
for the purpose of “not only reflecting his worth but giving expression
to his physical action.:
Judge Blanding announced the adoption of the resolutions, and the Rev.
Mr. Storey was called on to pronounce the benediction.
In this impressive manner the final tribute to Judge Rice was brought to
The Corsicana Daily Sun - Monday, February 21, 1921 - Submitted by Diane
TRIBUTE TO MEMORY OF JUDGE RICE
Lifelong Friend of Deceased Writes Interestingly on Subject
The following tribute to the late Judge John H. Rice has been received
by Miss Fannie Rice from Judge B. L. Davis, a life long friend of the
Corsicana, Tex., Feb. 28, 1921.
Miss Fannie Y. Rice,
Dear Miss Fannie:
I regret beyond expression in words that my physical condition was such
as to render it impossible for me to attend the recent memorial services
held in honor of your lamented brother, the Hon. John H. Rice. I was
just recovering from a spell of “grippe” which had settled in my throat
so that I could scarcely speak above a whisper without coughing. I am
not entirely over it yet, but feel that I can not delay longer conveying
to you and the family my sorrow at being absent on that occasion, and in
doing so I can not resist the desire to give expression to some of the
thoughts which come trooping to my mind with reference to his life and
work in this community.
My acquaintance with Judge Rice began in the summer of 1884. I had spent
some five years away from Corsicana attending school and had returned
here the previous year almost a stranger in my own home, in debt and
compelled to earn my own living while studying law. Judge Rice was in
the midst of his race for County Judge, to which position he was elected
the following November, defeating one of the brightest young lawyers and
fascinating gentlemen our bas has ever known. Having recently married a
young and beautiful wife, the youngest daughter of one of the foremost
families in the State, and having been elected to the office of his
choice—educated, polished and refined—he was my ideal of everything a
young lawyer should be. My admiration and attachment for him was
spontaneous and complete. You can therefore imagine my delight when he
invited me to come into his office as a student and assistant, giving me
the benefit of his library and instruction and paying me besides the sum
of twenty-five ($25.00) dollars per month, which was very liberal
considering the meager pay the County Judge received in those days.
Though I had been receiving the same pay and instruction from another
firm, I did not hesitate to accept his offer. And just here I trust you
with pardon for digressing enough to say for the benefit of the present
generation of young people that I not only lived on that twenty-five
($25.00) dollars, but paid board and went into society; but in those
days “a man and a maid could entertain each other without the aid of the
moving picture show and the automobile. Thus was begun an attachment and
friendship which continued to the day of his death.
Corsicana has always had and now has an unusually able bar, but I
believe that at the period mentioned, she had the greatest galaxy of
legal talent of any small country town within my knowledge. Among the
older men were the firms of Frost, Barry and Lee, Simpkins and Simpkins,
Neblett and Hardy, Croft and Blanding, Nic and F. N. Read, R. C. Beale
and J. F. Stout. And fresh in the minds of all were the names of Clinton
M. Winkler, Joshua L. Halbert and Roger Mills, the last mentioned then
serving this District in the National Congress with distinguished honor.
In the younger set were the Greer Bros., W. J. McKie, John H. Rice,
McClellan and Prince, Jas. L. Autry and E. O. Call. These men were
giants in the profession, and Judge Rice by his learning and fairness as
presiding judge won instant recognition from them, and from that time
until death maintained his place as one of the leading lawyers at this
Fifteen of the best years of my life were spent in his company, one year
as his disciple and employe, and fourteen years as partner in the
practice of law. He presented my application to the District Court for
license to practice law, and was one of the committee which examined me.
During the period that Judge Rice was serving this County as Judge
(which, by the way, was as long as he would accept the office) I was
working on a salary as attorney for some of the land mortgage companies
which required my removal to Ft. Worth. Some time before my contract
with the Land Mortgage Company at Fort Worth expired, I realized that if
I ever had a business of my own or ever hoped to be my own master, I
must quit the salary and go into the practice on my own account. I
returned to Corsicana for this purpose. Judge Rice had a short time
before this quit the county Judge’s office and again entered the
practice. We were instinctively and naturally drawn together. We had
many things in common. We had become intimately acquainted during the
year spent together as above stated. We were each the son of a minister
who had spent his life in the active ministry. We were both poor, and
having been out of active practice so long, we had no established
clientle and had to depend on our own efforts for success. At this time
and under these conditions he offered me a partnership which I gladly
accepted. We were constantly together in this relationship for fourteen
years, and I believe I knew Judge Rice better than anyone else outside
of his own family.
I have visited in his house, I have “broken bread” at his table, and
have been in constant communion with him as partner and friend for many
years, and I can not close this letter without testifying to his great
worth as a man and a citizen. He was a good citizen in all that term
implies. In every relationship of life he was faithful and true—true to
his family, his church, his friends and his State. Although a busy
lawyer during our association, he gave much of his time to service of
his city, county, and state. And in this connection I will mention two
matters which I have not seen referred to and which I am sure are not
generally known to the public:
(1.) It was directly through his skill and untiring efforts that the
city acquired that splendid block of ground known as the “Convent School
Property,” at a price much below the value of the ground alone.
(2.) He was the moving and directing factor in the purchase of the
ground on which the Masonic Temple is situated and the erection of the
beautiful building that now adorns it. He made the deal for the ground,
examined the title to it. He was the most active member of the building
committee, and procured the funds with which to, complete its erection.
That building was a source of constant delight to him, and no parent
ever watched the growth of a child with more pride that he watched its
erection and furnishing.
His friends were co-extensive with his acquaintances. If he had any
enemies I never heard of them. People of all classes loved and trusted
him because they knew he was dependable, that he never broke a promise
or betrayed a trust, that they could place their money, their honor and
business in his hands and sleep sound over it. He was a man of broad and
varied information, a ripe scholar and a writer of classic English. All
his papers, whether civil, ecclesiastical or legal, were gems of their
kind. He was a safe and reliable attorney, but his most noble work was
as a counsellor, wherein he displayed distinguished ability. His advice
was sought and accepted on many weighty and complicated problems. About
a year ago he was called upon for an opinion on property rights running
well up into six figures in value. At the same time the opinions of some
three or four other eminent law firms in different parts of the state
were taken on the same question, none of them knowing that the others
had been consulted. These opinions afterwards fell into my hands for
consideration and review, and in going carefully over them both Judge
Jester and myself decided that Judge Rice’s was the soundest and best
reasoned of them all.
He was a Christian gentleman of the highest order. For more than a year
before his death he knew he was afflicted with a malady that was
gradually sapping his strength and that might take his life at any time,
but no word of complaint escaped him. He fought bravely on for life, yet
death had no terrors for him. It was not permitted me to be with him in
his last hours, but in my vision of that death bed scene I can see him
as he crossed the dark river of death with calm and unruffled mien, with
a smile of victory on his lips as he hears the Master’s voice saying:
“Well done thou good and faithful servant enter thou in the Kingdon of
Heaven,” and I see the radiant faces of his sainted father and mother as
they lean over the battlements of Heaven to welcome their first born son
into his everlasting home.
B. L. DAVIS.
Cemetery, Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas
Marker Photo by
Dana (Bell) Stubbs