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Rice Family Papers

An inventory of their papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: Honor Conklin
Date: --

Biographical History

[See also Rice family tree and Kingston family tree.]

In 1638/9 Edmund Rice came from Barkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England and settled in Sudbury and Marlborough, Massachusetts. Known to his descendants as Deacon Edmund Rice, he was appointed Selectman in 1644 and Deacon in 1648 and performed duties for the General Court. His first wife Tamazine, or Thomasine, Frost Rice was the maternal antecedent to this line. She died in 1654 and Edmund married his second wife, Marcie, the widow of Thomas Brigham, in 1655. Edmund Rice died on May 3, 1663 and was buried in Sudbury at the approximate age of 62.

The line picks up again five generations later with the removal of William Rice to western New York state. William Rice was born March 28,1787 in Cambridge, New York and after his marriage to Rachel Waldo, removed to Mayville, New York in 1810 and to Clymer in 1821, being its first settler. For eleven years he was Supervisor of the town and many years Justice of the Peace. In 1830 or 1840 he was a Representative in the New York State Assembly. William Rice died in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

Victor Moreau Rice, the son of William Rice, was the family's most prominent member. He was born in Mayville, New York on April 5, 1818. In 1841 he graduated from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania and in 1843, with partner John Drew, taught penmanship, bookkeeping and Latin in the private, Buffalo Classical School. He married Maria Louisa Winter on November 26, 1846 in Madison, Ohio (the couple had nine children, four of whom survived to adulthood). He studied law with William Smith of Mayville and later with Millard Fillmore of Buffalo and was admitted to the bar in 1845 but did not practice. An evening commercial school was started by him in 1845 for the education of business clerks. In 1847 he became editor of "The Cataract" which became the "Western Temperance Standard". Along with Platt Rogers Spencer, he coauthored Spencer and Rice's System of Business Penmanship, circa 1848.

Victor Rice taught in the Buffalo public schools beginning in 1848, was elected Superintendent in 1852 and became President of the New York State Teacher's Association in 1853. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Central High School of Buffalo in 1853. In 1854 he was elected by the New York Legislature as the first State Superintendent of Public Instruction for New York State. Elected three times, he served from 18541857 and from 1862-1868. In his capacity as Superintendent he authored reports on public instruction, three of which are in this collection. During the interim between terms he was elected as a Republican member of Assembly and as Chairman of the Committee on Colleges, Academies and Common Schools. He made several recommendations which shaped the public school system; the creation of more schools, increased funding of teacher's institutions, that school laws be codified for which he wrote Code of Public Instruction, and in 1867, that the rate-bill system be abolished, making all schools free. Victor Moreau Rice became President of the American Life Insurance Company in 1868 and later, President of the Metropolitan Bank of New York City.

Medicine, law and business are also featured as professions among the Rice family members although not as pervasively as education and politics. Edmund Chauncey Rice, the brother of Victor Moreau Rice was prominent in the grain business as a partner in Rice, Quinby, and Company of the New York Produce Exchange was the exchange's treasurer. Victor Moreau Rice's son, Clark Wilder Rice, and grandson, Homer Donald Rice were insurance brokers. Grandson and namesake, Victor Moreau Rice II became a doctor as did his great niece Harriet Hosmer (not to be confused with the American sculptor, who was also a descendent of Deacon Edmund Rice). Several family members were Masons, including William H. Rice, a manager for R. G. Dunn, Clark Wilder Rice, and George Langtree Kingston and his brother, Henry Orr Kingston, both attorneys.

Spencer Victor Rice, the son of Victor Moreau Rice, was born in Buffalo on December 14,1847 and graduated from Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute in 1871. He taught drafting at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from 1871-1889 before becoming a draftsman in industry. Spencer Victor Rice married Eliza Kingston Rice in 1878 and had six children, four of whom survived.

Education and politics was the prevalent pursuit for four generations of Rice and collateral families. The journal of Daniel Winter recounts his teaching experiences as well as his personal desire for knowledge. School composition books, diplomas and the diary of Lubin Waldo Rice saved by the family, attest to the priority that education had on their lives. William Smith Rice, the brother of Victor Moreau Rice, was a school teacher in the Buffalo schools for twenty-one years and was superintendent of education in 1875.

The women in the family also played a strong role in education, politics and social work. Aurelia Winter Warner, the sister of Louisa Winter Rice, and nicknamed "Ilo", was for over fifty years a teacher in the Buffalo school system. Her undated obituary states that "She and her sister were among the first college women of America and were graduated from Oberlin...".

Emily Rice, Victor Moreau's sister, was principal of Female Seminary in Yonkers, New York.

Helen Rice Hosmer, the niece of Victor Moreau Rice, wife of Eli T. Hosmer, and mother of Dr. Harriet Hosmer, was elected to the first State Board of Moving Pictures Censors. She was also the first woman vice-chairman of the Republican County Committee and was President of the Prison Gate Mission and of the First and Second Assembly District Republican Women's Club. She was credited as being instrumental in getting women elected to political positions.

Emma Kingston Gordon, the sister of Eliza Kingston. Rice, taught in public schools and was primary supervisor until 1917. She authored a textbook on the Gordon method of teaching reading and for several years taught the children of Americans and prominent Chinese in Peking, China, beginning in 1919.

Gratia L. Rice, the daughter of Victor Moreau Rice, with her friend Kathryn I. Hewitt, oversaw the operation of the Bridgeport Protective Association, an agency concerned with social welfare. Helen Dorothy Rice, her niece, was also employed with this agency for a time. Gratia Rice was later a matron of Bridgeport's Juvenile Court and a State Instructor of Drawing.

Helen Dorothy Rice, the daughter of Spencer Victor Rice, was later employed by the Connecticut Children's Aid Society, a home and placement agency for children in New Haven, Connecticut.

Elizabeth L. Rice, also a daughter of Spencer Victor Rice, taught mathematics in Buffalo's Technical High School. Photographs in this collection illustrate Emma Kingston Gordon's experiences in China, Helen Dorothy Rice and the children's home, and the experiences of Elizabeth L. Rice and Helen Dorothy Rice at Syracuse University circa 1904 and 1913 as well as the home life of Eliza Kingston Rice.


Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: Appleton, 1894-1900. Reprinted, Detroit: Gale, 1968. 7 volumes.

Biographical Dictionary of American Educators. Greenwood, 1978. 3 volumes.

Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner 's Sons, 1963. p. 546.

Guide to Historical Resources in Chautauqua Co., New York Repositories. Ithaca: New York Historical Resources Center, Olin Library, Cornell University, 1982. p. 184.

Fredonia Normal School Collection, 1867-1915. 8 cubic feet. Letterbook of Almond Z. Madison, 1867-1869, Trustee and Secretary of Fredonia Academy, concerns the beginnings of the Normal School, correspondents include V. M. Rice, Superintendent of Public Instruction at Albany.

Harlow, S.R. and Boone, H. H. Life Sketches of the State Officers, Senators and Members of the Assembly of the State of New York in 1867. Albany: Weed, Parsons, and Company, 1867.

National Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White and Company, 1910. p. 178.

New York Times, October 20,1869.

Young, A.W. History of Chautauqua County, 1875.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Rice Family Papers comprises correspondence, genealogical material, legal and financial papers, memorabilia, photographs, and writings relating to three generations of the Rice and collateral Kingston and Winter families. Genealogical material in the collection traces the Rice family back to the seventeenth century with the arrival of Deacon Edmund Rice in America, while photographs extend the family forward into the twentieth century. During this time the family was located primarily in western New York, specifically Buffalo, but materials can also be found regarding Bolton on Lake George, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and China, and genealogical material on Vermont and Massachusetts. A predominant theme throughout this collection was the family's preoccupation with, and respect for, education.

Correspondence, 1823-1960 and undated, is arranged chronologically and is primarily between family members. There is a lack of dialogue in the correspondence due to sporadic preservation. Letters in the span of 1823 to 1846 and the undated, early correspondence, contain material on the Winter family; Daniel Winter's conflict with his church, Lydia Ware Winter's parents' fears that due to her marriage and relocation they might not see her again, the importance of education in the family, Maria Winter's cancellation of a cherished newspaper subscription due to her father's disappearance. The correspondence between 1852 and 1869 is predominantly that of Victor Moreau Rice to his family from his position as Superintendent of Instruction in Albany. A letter dated February 23, 1861 from Victor to his son Spencer recounts his meeting President-elect and Mrs. Lincoln and their sons. The correspondence from 1852-1876 include letters from Victor Rice's children to their mother Louisa W. Rice from school. These letters include some on the resentment that Gratia Rice had toward the preferred status of her brothers. The majority of subsequent letters and invitations are of a more superficial nature or pertain to genealogical research with the exception of condolence letters regarding the premature deaths of Rice family children. A letter dated April 1, 1920 to "George and all", from Emma Kingston Gordon recounts her impressions of Chinese tradition during her stay there. A folder on Emma K. Gordon in the photograph series contains a few photographs from that period.

Genealogical material consists primarily of research notes, charts and printed material on the Rice and collateral families. The collateral families are accessible alphabetically by the family name that joined with the Rice family. Each of these folders contains additional related families. The miscellaneous clipping folders and scrapbooks contain articles primarily on the Spencer Victor Rice family and friends, including births, deaths, activities and achievements. The scrapbooks were compiled by Eliza Kingston Rice and also contain poetry, and articles on motherhood.

Legal and financial material, 1812-1953, contains miscellaneous certificates for a birth record; clerkship, and marriage, and a few receipts. There are also two financial ledgers, one regarding stock holdings and the other household expenses. The majority of materials are military land grants and muster rolls of the New York Volunteer Militia (Fort Erie), for 1812, 1814 and 1838.

Memorabilia, 1810-1957 and undated, contains autographs, diplomas, directories, notebooks and printed material. Among-primary importance to the Rice-family in the printed material is a book on the Connecticut Children's Aid Society mentioning Helen Dorothy Rice's participation in the organization, three reports by Victor Moreau Rice in his capacity as Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of New York, the Spencer and Rice's System of Penmanship, which Victor M. Rice coauthored, and a diagram of his seat in the New York state Assembly Chamber, 1861. The printed material also contains the Winter family Holy Bible, published by Matthew Carey in 1817, containing the family vital records, and Lydia Ware's The Royal Harmony of Zion Complete (songbook), published by H. Mann in 1810.

Photographs, 1956 and undated, contains two ambrotypes, tintypes, carte-de-visite, cabinet cards, as well as snapshots and negatives. The photographs are arranged alphabetically by the individual's name and in the case of group poses, are cross-referenced. Portraits of individual family friends who are also to be found in group photographs with family members are filed first under the name of the family member and then alphabetically within the group. Photographs and negatives of residential interiors can be found in both the folders of Eliza Kingston Rice and that of her husband, Spencer Victor Rice, family groups. The photographs also include a carte-de-visite of Ulysses S. Grant and a "Life Motion Picture" by Eastman Kodak which, by moving the end of the mount, three different poses of a woman may be seen.

Some formal portraits, especially those found in oversized folder 2, are by Francis Sipprell of Buffalo, New York, the brother of photographer Clara Sipprell whose papers are also in the Special Collections Research Center.

Writings, 1800-1965 and undated, include compositions by family members. Most prominent are the writings of educators, Victor Moreau Rice, and his father-in-law, Daniel Winter. The writings of Daniel Winter are, with the exception of his 1815 journal, undated, but are probably circa 1818 and before his disappearance in 1836.

The Diaries include the partial 1815 journal of Daniel Winter on religion and his teaching experiences, Eliza Kingston Rice's brief entries that record her daily activities for 1890, 1923-1927 and 1933- 1934, and Lubin Rice's diary for 1873, written at about age 14, on his impressions of books, concerts, sports, family activities, Republican politics and world events.

There is also one banker's box of unprocessed additions, which includes correspondence, diaries, diplomas, photographs, and assorted other items.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Genealogical material and memorabilia are arranged alphabetically by type. Legal and financial material is arranged alphabetically by subject. Photographs are subdivided into Rice family and Others; the former is arranged alphabetically by subject and the latter contains a photograph of Ulysses S. Grant as well as a substantial number of miscellaneous unsorted photographs, both labeled and unlabeled. Writings are arranged alphabetically by author. The 1969 accession is unprocessed and is in original order as received.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Kingston family Genealogy.
Rice family Archives.
Rice family Genealogy.
Rice, Victor Moreau, 1818-1869.
Winter family Genealogy.


Education, Compulsory.


New York (State)

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Ledgers (account books)
Muster rolls.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Rice Family Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Genealogical material

Legal and financial 1812-1953

Memorabilia 1810-1957

Photographs 1956, undated

Writings 1800-1965

1969 accession (M69-106:2)