Scope and Contents
The material in this collection, a combination of business and personal correspondence, dates primarily from the first thirty-three years of the twentieth century. It begins with earlier correspondence of Jonas Shearn Rice, the father of Laura Rice Neff, continues with both personal and business correspondence of Laura Rice Neff herself, and of her husband, Richard Wayne Neff. There is a small amount of correspondence of family members Katherine Rice Neuhaus, Hugo V. “Sonny” Neuhaus, Lottie Baldwin Rice Farish, and S. P. Farish from 1929 to 1931.
Contents of the first series represent business activities of Jonas Shearn Rice from 1859 to 1902. Items in the rest of the collection originated between 1900 and 1933. Letters to Laura from her father in 1929 and 1930 fill a box and a half. He died at the age of 76 the year following the last of these letters.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the William M. Rice family collection, 1880-1941 must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
Biographical / Historical
The particular members of the William Marsh Rice family who are represented in this collection are a nephew, a great niece and her husband, and her cousin (thus great nephew of William Marsh Rice).
Jonas Shearn Rice (1855-1931) is the oldest of these descendants. Jonas was the oldest of nine children of Frederick Allyn Rice, the youngest brother of William Marsh Rice (his senior by fourteen years), who brought Frederick into his business ventures.
According to Frederick A. Wallace, a descendant three generations after William Marsh Rice and the compiler of Ancestors & Descendants of the Rice Brothers of Springfield, Massachusetts, Frederick the father of Jonas and his oldest brother (William M.) carried on numerous joint ventures. Wallace writes,
“. . . their relationship, which had begun as ‘mentor’ and ‘apprentice,’ so to speak, matured into one of equals, sharing deep trust and affection for each other.” [Frederick A. Wallace, Ancestors & Descendants
Of the Rice Brothers of Springfield, Massachusetts, Baltimore, 2005, p. 58]
The woman with the greatest quantity of material of the group represented in this collection, Laura Rice Neff (1887-1983), was the first of three children of Jonas and thus a great niece of William Marsh Rice. There is material also of her husband, Richard W. Neff, in the collection.
The cousin of Laura Rice Neff who is represented is Horace Baldwin Rice (1890-date of death unknown).