Life Story of

Shadrach Rice

1799 - 1869

From the Diary of Shadrach Rice

Written 1826 - 1862



These memoirs are believed to be in the public domain.
If any descendants or others claim copyright to these memoirs, please let us know.



While living in South Carolina

March 24, 1826

Began to plant Fairfield Island and finished it on the 30th, 191½ acres, taken 420 bushels of seed rice. The first week in April finished planting corn and potatoes...

August 14, 1830

Finished getting cooper stuff. Got 30,000 staves and 14,400 heading.

September 12, 1831

Gathered in the corn. Made 830 bushels of cob corn.

October 20, 1831

Finished restacking of rice. The island made 30 stacks and the Main made 24 - 16 feet bottoms. Had to pull 9 stacks down. Commenced to heat.

July 31, 1833

The thermometer stood up to 90º.

August 22, 1833

Killed a buck that weighed 192 lbs.

November 13, 1833

The stars commenced falling about 3 o'clock and continued falling till daylight without intermission. It was an awful sight.

While living in Tennessee

May 29, 1840

This day Isaac Coachman died from the effect of liquors.

October 25, 1840

Had a killing frost. Ice in the bucket.

November 14, 1840

Sent to Thomas G. Rice gin 6,882 lbs. seed cotton.

November 26, 1840

Sent to Thomas G. Rice gin 2,789 lbs.

January 17, 1841

Thermometer was down to 22º below freezing.

March 2, 1841

Got out 80 apple grafts in the garden.

April 1, 1841

Commenced taking the Christian Advocate at Durhamville.

July 5, 1841

Doctor Henning trial came on and he was suspended.

July 7, 1841

William and Susan started to school to Mr. Garvin.

July 16, 1841

Had some ripe musmelons.

September 29, 1841

Commenced to work on the church with three hands and Brother Thomas Rice three hands. Redic was sick.

December 3, 1841

Finished sawing stuff for church.
RECEIPT FOR RHEUMATISM: Two of may apple root, dried in the shade, and finely pulverized, add two quarts of water, boil down to half a pint, then add one quart of French brandy, simmer 20 minutes, covered close. Dose for an adult, one tablespoon every half hour till they have taken eight, rest two days and then go through the same process.

January 4, 1842

We had a severe earthquake. At night.

March 11, 1843

Louisa confined; had earthquake at nine in morning.

November 22, 1844

Sent to Mr. Lucas two cow hides and two deer hides.

December 23, 1844

Killed 14 hogs for bacon.

January 2, 1845

Sent H. S. Payton 38½ pounds of tallow to sell for me.

January 13, 1845

Killed 14 hogs for meat.

January 28, 1845

Bought for T. G. Rice in Memphis, one-half ounce of quinine at two dollars; seven yards cloth, 37½ cents a yard; two dolls for the children; one half pound of candy; one Barlow knife, 10 cents.

March 4, 1845

Amanda Rice confined.

March 11, 1845

Louisa confined (Mattie).

April 8, 1845

Stopped Susan from school.

May 27, 1845

Stop William to plough.

June 1, 1845

Lice is very bad on my cotton.

August 20, 1845

Got from Mr. G. Turner 300 brick at four dollars per thousand.

October 7, 1845

Got from S. S. Doss 60 grains of quinine to be returned.

Dec. 11, 1845

Killed 15 hogs.

January 6, 1846

Killed 13 hogs. Same day children started to school.

September 14, 1846

Commenced to pick cotton, the worms has eaten the leaves off and is eating the small boles.

December 7, 1846

This day received from Memphis 100 pounds of sugar, 18 blankets of a very inferior kind, for the negroes.

March 2, 1847

Hannah Elizabeth, daughter of T. G. and Amanda Rice, age two years, taking two days, died with scarlet fever.

March 9, 1847

Louisa confined. Had a boy.

June 2, 1847

I am told the Planters Bank at Nashville has suspended.

February 6, 1848

Louisa was sick with the fever. The first Washington paper I got was dated the 8th day of Jan. 1848.

July 24, 1848

Started Susan, McKendree and Olin to school to Mr. Beards. Raised my gin house.

September 17, 1848

Dr. Henning's calculations on the proble amound for to attend the lectures in Philadelphia. Matriculation ticket, $5.; anatomy, $15.; practice medicine, $15.; mid wifery, $15.; physiology, $15.; dissecting ticket, $10.; hospital, $10. Total $130. Board $2.50 per week; fuel, $8.; stationary, $5.; washing, $6.; travel, $60.; graduating, $25.

October 23, 1848

William G. L. Rice started to Philadelphia... He taken with him $304. to bear his expenses.

December 27, 1848

Got a letter from son William. The colara is in New York and Philadelphia, also said to be in New Orleans and Memphis.

March 14, 1849

William got back from Philadelphia.

April 45, 1849

William started to study medicine again at Durhamville.

September 12, 1849

Moved to camp ground.

September 19, 1849

Moved back from camp.

June 29, 1850

Mr. Beards examination last night. The scholars done finally.

November 13, 1850

William left Memphis for New Orleans on [illegible] steamer.

May 23, 1851

Caught a cat fish. Weighed 20 pounds.

June 18, 1851

Had a party for son and wife.

January 4, 1853

Received the Duegretipe of the corps of Mr. Linerieux. He died 10th day of December. I received account of his death Christmas Day.

January 20, 1854

The first boat came up the river this winter. The Amanda.

October 26, 1855

Started to Carolina. Returned 1st day of December 1855.

February 9, 1858

Charles, David, and Tom started to school.

September 20, 1858

McKendree commenced to attend my business.

December 11, 1858

William and his family returned from Carolina.

January 18, 1859

Let William G. Rice have 1,033 pounds of pork.

May 16, 1859

The locust has made their appearance after an absence of 13 years.

May 10, 1862

Heavy firing at Fort Pillow.

July 5, 1862

Charles left for his company.

July 12, 1862

The Yankees, twelve in number stayed at my house.

August 6, 1862

McKendree left for the war.



The following background notes for the Shadrach Rice diary are based on material written in 1927 and updated in 1948 by Shadrach Rice's granddaughter Lucia Estelle Rice (1875 - 1958), daughter of Theodore Augustus and Nina Virginia (Green) Rice. They are a slightly edited version of notes published in 1961 in West Tennessee Historical Society Papers.

Shadrach Rice was born Feb. 13, 1799 in Marion District, South Carolina, son of Charles & Hannah (Phillips) Rice who lived in Georgetown District. He had brothers Charles, David, Joseph, John & Thomas, plus sisters Elizabeth (Rice) Kirtin, Jane (Rice) Bradley, Sarah, and Hannah who wed a Mr. Jayroe, then a Mr. Bradford.
On Dec. 20, 1827, Shadrach wed Louis Elizabeth, daughter of William Griffin & Martha (Lyons) Linerieux. Her father was a sea captain and plantation owner and her mother the widow of a Mr. Wilson. Louisa was their only child.
Both families were well-to-do people accustomed to culture and luxury. Louisa was educated in Charleston and reared in the family's summer home at the shore and winter house in Georgetown. Her childhood memories were to include summer nights when slaves served tea under a rosecovered pergola by the sea and pavillions on the beach where young folks danced under the moonlight to gay music. Table light for these outdoor fêtes came from large candles under immense thin blown glass shades that Louisa transported to Tennessee wrapped in the feather beds.

It was late in 1836 when Shadrach Rice, his brother John, their families and slaves headed by wagon train for the West Tennessee wilderness. Despite the death of two daughters by scarlet fever enroute, the party pushed onward, cutting away the undergrowth by day and sleeping under the stars by night. Upon their arrival in Lauderdale Co., Tenn., Shadrach bought 5,000 acres along the Big Hatchie River. First he made a temporary log home and Louisa used to tell her grandchildren how her silver spoons dropped through cracks in the floor. While the Rice brothers and their slaves cleared land, the women and their helpers prepared for the coming winter by weaving flax and drying fruit and herbs. Later, lumber was sawed and planed by hand for erection of a large two-story colonial plantation home. Louisa planted rows of cedar in the front lawn and named the home Clifton Hall for her beloved Carolina seaside home. A few months later Shadrach's brother, Thomas G. Rice, settled nearby.

The nearest market for cotton was over 50 miles of rutted dirt road via ox-drawn wagon to Memphis, then a small town with muddy streets. Since all provisions must come from Memphis, everything that could be made at home, including clothing which was dyed with walnut and pokeberry juice. Game was plentiful and dad, Theodore Augustus Rice, a good marksman with well trained dogs, kept the pantry shelves loaded with duck, geese, and turkey. Grandfather Rice was small with blue eyes and fair complexion, but a sturdy man and a stickler for the right. Grandmother was not large and also had blue eyes. Though reared in an affluent home, she readily adapted to the pioneering life. Doctors were sparse, so with the help of her medicine books and herbs at hand, Louisa prepared what medicines she could.

Father inherited the old mansion house where the family had lived in true Colonial style till the turmoil of the Civil War. Shadrach and Louisa gave five sons to the cause of the war; they were fortunate in that all returned. I have heard grandmother say that during that time she would hear a noise at night and wake to find one of her boys standing by the bed. In passing near, he had slipped in for a few minutes to speak and let them know he was safe. During the war, their horses and cattle were stolen by the Union Army. The barns and smokehouses were raided and their provisions carried off to feed the enemy. My father said when they heard the Yankees were coming, he would hide his sister Mattie, who was very beautiful, in the willows.

About 150 yards from the Rice mansion was a long row of cabins for the slaves. They were well clothed, fed and cared for not only because they were valued for the work they did, but because Shadrach Rice felt a keen responsibility for their welfare as human beings. After the war, Carpetbaggers and troublemakers swept in and tried to stir up former slaves. Some left in pursuit of often false promises, but many stayed under a different set-up, remaining loyal to the family, among them the old black mammy "Mom Bess." The children loved to go to her cabin for cornbread and sweet potatoes roasted in the ashes.

Shadrach died in 1869 and Louisa in 1893. They and most of their 11 children are buried in St. Paul Cemetery near the family home at Orysa, Tennessee.
On September 7, 1915 Shadrach's son, Charles S. O. Rice and his wife, the former Lucy Estes, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. They were wed after his return from the war, she attired in a poplin hooped gown and he in puffed bosom shirt and frock coat of ankle length. The wedding breakfast was ordered from Memphis and the bridal party went via rockaways and horseback to the groom's parents for a feast topped with pound cake and silly bub. A half century later, they entertained guests at an outdoor reception where the centerpiece was a large wedding cake glistening with old-time rock candy and 50 little candles.






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