HISTORICAL MARKERS IN RICE, TEXAS
There are five historical markers placed in Rice by the State of Texas through the Texas Historical Commission. Below are the text of the markers, between quotation marks, and additional information, between brackets.
"Settlers began arriving at this site in the late 1860s, mostly from the nearby settlement of Porter's Bluff, which had been devasted by a flood in 1866. By 1872, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, which bypassed Porter's Bluff, was routed through this site. One of the railroad's principal investors, Houston businessman William Marsh Rice (1816-1900), donated five hundred acres of land for a station and a townsite, which was named in his honor. The Rice Post Office was established in 1872. Cotton was the main crop of the area, and accounted for much of the community's business interests. One of the first businesses in Rice was a cotton gin, and the Rice Railroad Station was a major cotton shipping point. A train carrying Spanish-American War recruits came through the station in 1898, and the Liberty Bell passed through on a World War I Liberty Bond campaign. Early settlers of Rice included Isaac Sessions, who arrived in 1846; Texas Revolutionary War veteran Joseph Calloway Bartlett, who was Rice's first postmaster; and many Civil War veterans. The community's first school opened in 1875. Citizens voted to incorporate the city in a December 1912 election."
[Marker no. 11627. Erected in 1986. Located at the Municipal Building, Calhoun and Sherman Streets, Rice, Texas.]
"The Rice community was settled during the late 1860s and was named for William Marsh Rice, who donated land for the town's railroad station and later founded Rice University. In 1868, the citizens of the community were granted land for a cemetery by the trustees of the William M. Rice interests. Originally located about one and one-half miles south, the Rice Cemetery was removed to this site during the 1870s. The three original cemetery trustees, William D. Haynie, John A. Clopton, and Isaac B. Sessions, are buried in the oldest, or northern section of the graveyard. That section also contains many burial sites that are marked only with small rock fragments or similar material. Rice Cemetery contains marked graves of numerous war veterans, including that of Joseph Calloway Bartlett, a veteran of the Texas War for Independence. In addition, four participants in the Civil War, two Spanish-American War veterans, and numerous World War I and II veterans also are interred here. Tombstones reflect the high infant mortality rate of the 1880s and the early 20th-century flu epidemic. A good example of a pioneer graveyard, the Rice Cemetery is an important part of Navarro County's recorded history."
[Marker no. 11628. Erected in 1985. Located 1.4 miles northeast of Rice, Texas on NE 1070. A picture of the marker is here.]
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF RICE
On Feb. 21, 1875, three years after a rail line was built to the area, a group of local residents met to organize this congregation. Early worship services were conducted in the community schoolhouse. In 1894 a sanctuary was constructed at this site on land acquired from Rice Institute, a Houston organization founded by railroadman William Marsh Rice, for whom this town was named. For over a century, the First Baptist Church has led in the development of the area. Its role in the community continues to reflect the ideals of its pioneer founders.
[Marker no. 7194. Erected in 1983. Located at 201 S. Dallas St., Rice, Texas. A picture of the marker is here.]
HAYNIE MEMORIAL METHODIST CHURCH
The Rev. William Vaughn founded this church in 1874. The charter members were the families of J. M. Bartlett, B. M. and Mrs. J. A. Clopton, L. B. and W. D. Haynie, W. M. Holmes, J. M. Mitcham, E. E. and I. B. Sessions, and J. A. Ward. This site was donated to the church by W. M. Rice, official of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad and founder of Rice University, Houston. The present building, erected in 1908 and named in honor of steward W. D. Haynie, was dedicated in 1909, in the pastorate of the Rev. H. B. Henry, by Bishop Seth Ward.
[Marker no. 7208. Erected in 1976. Located at 200 N. Dallas St., Rice, Texas. A picture of the marker is here.]
THE FORTSON FAMILY
Members of the Fortson family came to Texas from Mississippi and settled in Navarro County in the 1840s. Civil War veteran James T. Fortson wed Ida Clayton, daughter of another pioneer area family, in 1867, and they moved to the Rice area in 1872. Their son, Joseph Benjamin (Joe B.), and his wife Lyda built their home at this site in 1904. Joe B. and brother John acquired large landholdings in the area for farming and ranching, and established a cotton gin operation and a mercantile. They also opened the First State Bank of Rice and began levee improvement districts to aid local farming. In addition, Joe B. served on the school board. The family is remembered for its lasting contributions to the area's history.
[Marker no. 15116. Erected in 2005. Located at Austin and Marshall Streets, Rice, Texas. A picture of the marker is here.]
Texas Historic Sites Atlas, Texas Historical Commission.