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The Jenkins Family Moves to Texas

This story, "In the Name of Rice", is included in the book, Jenkins of Northern Neck and Old 96, by Amelia Cleland Gilreath. It was sent to Amy by a Jenkins descendant in Greenville, SC. The story has been passed around for years at Jenkins family reunions there. Amy says there is no copyright and gave me written permission to use it. Rebecca Rice Kelton wrote this recollection in 1939 about her mother, Rebecca Alethea Jenkins, who married Thomas Butler Rice. Rebecca Rice Kelton was the first cousin of my grandmother Gladys Jenkins Holdridge. Aunt Mollie Jenkins in the story is my great-grandmother Mollie Ida Jordan Jenkins. Uncle Jake is my great-grandfather Jacob Reece Jenkins.


Rebecca Alethea Jenkins and her sister, Mary Matilda married brothers. They were the sons of William and Clarissa Rice. William was the son of John and Sarah (Hampton) Rice. Richard Rector Rice (husband of Mary Matilda) was born 4 Aug. 1849 d. 1930. Thomas Butler Rice, who married Rebecca, was born 22 Oct. 1847 d. 17 Feb. 1928. Rebecca and Thomas were married in her father's home, in Greenville County, S. C. by Rev. W. L. Ballard. The bride was dressed in white dotted Swiss. The women and the negro help cooked cakes for a week before the wedding. They had a long table for the wedding supper and there were about 150 guest, friends, neighbors and relatives from far and near.

I have stood in each room in this home, where mother was born and married. The old house is still occupied. The spring from which they had water is beautiful, all covered with long ferns and trees.

They had eight children:

  1. Nora Myrtle, b. 11 March 1872, S. C., d. 26 Sept. 1927, m. 19 May 1895 James A. Summers
  2. Lula Rebecca (who wrote this history) b. 27 Nov. 1874, (16 miles north of Waco, Texas) m. A. L. Kelton I Jan. 1900.
  3. Wade Hampton (Rice) b. 16 Nov. 1876 d. 12 June 1878 - I remember when brother Wade died. Father took me to his cradle afterward and I can remember very clearly seeing Father and Mother crying. Wade is buried in McClellan Co., Texas.
  4. Leonard Mercer b. 21 July 1879 m. Nora McCracken 3 July 1898. I can remember in early July, Father brought Grandma Tolar to come stay with mother. Grandma Tolar was a midwife. I can remember the day Leonard was born, sister Nora and I went over to Mrs. Lemons' house. I cannot remember Leonard as a little baby. I remember Father took us to Dr. Spencer's on horseback. It was Feb. 13th and it got so cold, Leonard went home.
  5. Imy Alethia b. 21 Jan. 1882, Navarro County, Texas.
  6. Eugene Claude b. 13 Feb. 1884 m. 13 Feb. 1905, Louise Frazier at Coolidge. That was the day I got so cold.
  7. Bess Clarissa b. 21 June 1887 m. Corby L. Blackwood 26 April 1910. He died 17 Aug. 1910 and she married David N. McClure 5 Oct. 1914, Greenville, Texas. We all went to Aunt Mollie Jenkins' house the day Bess came.
  8. Isla Ruth b. 16 Aug. 1891 d. 11 June 1911. Old Dr. Spencer brought all the children from Leonard on into the world.

Thomas Butler Rice and his wife, Rebecca Alethea Jenkins came with baby Nora to Texas in January 1873. He had come the first time in 1869 and picked the spot where they settled in Washington Co., near Navasota. In 1874 they were on the move again, this time to McLennan County, 16 miles north of Waco.

When they came to Texas, railroads were few. They drove to Williamston, S. C. to take the train for Savannah, Ga. On to Atlanta, then Mobile, Al., then New Orleans. They took a boat from New Orleans to Galveston, a boat to Houston, and another train to Navasota. It took over a week. Father had nearly $800.00 with him. A lot of money then. Oh, so much has changed!

On the train, as they were leaving Atlanta, the conductor got "smart" and tried to force them into the second class coach. They had to draw their guns on him before he would leave them alone. They told him they wouldn't go, and that he dare not put his hands on their wives. So they rode in the coach their tickets called for.

In those days you made people walk to the point of a gun. "Gun-totin" was lawful; you had to go armed for protection. While they lived in McClellan Co. [Texas], horse thieving was rampant. The officers could not catch the thieves for they kept in the thick "cedar brakes" and usually rode at night. People knew better than to turn their young calves out over night; they would disappear. Often the horses would be tied to the porch posts at night, and the man sleep with the gun near. Wherever the thief was caught, he would be hanged to the nearest tree. One day as Father was going home from Waco, he saw four man-made graves in "Double-Hollow". He did not have to ask any questions. He knew.

When I can first remember, John Nails was a terror to me. He rode out one morning and deliberately killed one of our fine neighbors, Mr. Parrymore, when he and his daughters had gone to the spring for water. Nails had not been caught by the summer of 1880 when Father, Mother and we children visited in Worthan's Bend. We were wading in the creek. Docia Crawford screamed, "Let's run to the house! Yonder comes John Nails!" And sure enough, it was! Afterwards he was caught and hanged.

In 1879, Father bought 80 acres in Navarro County (2 miles north of Frost, Texas) of the Haggerty Survey. He paid $2.50 per acre. Then he lived on a rented farm. They moved into the new home in 1881. Uncle Jake Jenkins was living with us then. He lived with us six years. In a few years, Father bought 100 acres from Uncle Billy Heseser / Hooser. He paid $15.00 per acre for this. Finally, in January 1898, they bought the house in Frost, Texas where they lived for 30 years. Father was the District Judge, and served as mayor for about 15 years.

Father was ill for about 14 months before he died, 17 Feb 1928. Mother passed away suddenly, 11 days later. They lay side by side in the Frost Cemetery.

Going back for a moment to Jesse Mercer Jenkins. He married Rebecca Reece daughter of Jacob Reece (b. 1783 d. 9 Nov 1873) and Rebecca Pinion (b. 1787 d. 25 Sept 1865). Jessie and Rebecca lived in the old Jenkins house built in 1800 by great grandfather Micajah. [Note: This should be Owen Jenkins--ACG] Jesse was born, lived and died in this same house. It is well preserved and occupied.

Great grandfather Reece's home was built in 1790. It is still used as a dwelling. The big spring has quenched the thirst of five Rebeccas, our great grandmother, grandmother, mother, myself, and little Rebecca.

Grandfather Rice's home is one and a half stories. A beautiful walnut tree stands in the yard. Grandmother Rice planted it when father was a little boy. The spring at this home is so pretty; the gourd still hangs on a bush nearby to quench the thirst of any who come.

A very unusual tie of similarity exists in the Jenkins and Rice families. Both the older sons, named James H., went to war. One was killed, one died and neither body was brought home. One lies in the national cemetery at Chattanooga Tennessee, one in Virginia. In each family there is an Ann, a Louise, and a Mary. The old homes are about two miles apart.

The last Christmas Thomas B. and Rebecca Jenkins Rice spent in SC before moving to Texas, the ground was covered in ice, too slick for a horse to stand. They walked from Grandfather Jenkins' home to Grandfather Rice's, Father carrying my sister, Nora, in his arms.

The Rices and Jenkins all attended Fork Shoals Baptist Church. The four of my great-grandparents lie buried in adjoining lots in the church cemetery here. The old stump of a tree where Grandfather Jenkins hitched his horse when he came to church still stands. He was a Deacon.

Lucy Rebecca Rice Kelton was born in 1874. She was 61 years old when she wrote the history of her ancestors; her mind still clear, her thinking extremely lucid and her memories sharp and vivid.

Great grandfather Owen Jenkins and his wife, Nancy Henderson, lived on a farm near Fork Shoals, South Carolina in Greenville County. They built a nice one and a half story frame house. They are buried in the "family burying ground" on the farm [now owned by a grandson, David B. Jenkins].