The following letters were written by Pauline (Rice) Booth to my grandmother, Florence Mabel (Bowles) Cross during the 1970s. Their common ancestor was their great-grandfather Joel Wise Crowner Rice who was the first born son of Joel P. Rice and Elizabeth Crowner, pioneer settlers of Jefferson County.
Joel W. C. Rice and family eventually settled where Jefferson, Lewis & St.Lawrence Counties meet. My great-great grandmother Sarah Jane owned her house in Lewis, her brother Gilbert in Jefferson and two brothers, William and Hiram Andrew, in St. Lawrence. I have a picture of one homestead taken in the 1970s as well as the cemetery and county cornerstone. I also have pictures of the cemetery that I took in 1999 and 2004 and on my last visit the older headstones are really starting to deteriorate. I have been unable to find the county cornerstone but I believe the cemetery is in Jefferson County and the headstone transcriptions are at the bottom. Email me if any questions. I'd be glad to share photos or research information.
July 24, '77
Dear Cousin Florence,
Don't try to guess who I am. I am one of Winford & Myrtle Frazier Rice's daughters. Valerie is the oldest and I'm the next in line. I can remember you being at John Hall's funeral. Valerie was here today. She is a widow andmlives in Theresa. I thought she might like to write this letter.
One of my younger sisters lives in Idaho. She is working on the Rice family tree. She was here and in Carthage a few years ago but we didn't know any relatives still lived there. Your sister, Elva, I think ?, went to high school in Syracuse together, I was living there then and the sister was Mildred (Idaho).
My husband and I own Uncle Will's place. We sold off the farm land. The Rice's cemetery is across the road. Camp Drum has the land your grandmother got. (Sarah Jane Rice) It's not good farmland.
We live on Black Lake but lived in Syracuse for many years before I married.
My husband worked there too. Then the depression struck-1933 was not enough
work to get along on.
I found your write-up in papers. Hoping you can help us some.
Your Cousin, Pauline Rice Booth
(*My note-In this next letter the 'war' referred to is the Civil War. Joel Crowner Rice died of disease Nov 21, 1861 and his body returned to NY for burial. John Wesley Rice was killed in action during the battle of Petersburg on April 2, 1865 and he is buried there.)
Aug. 12, '77
You never know how surprised and glad I was to get the Rice records and have quite a bit from your great grandparents down. There never was a son Samuel and the girls on any of our records. Your grandmother Sarah Jane was on the deed. We have Andrew, Joel, Wesley, Gilbert, Sarah Jane and William. The deed I have has Sarah Jane.
There were houses on each corner at Rices' Corners located at St. Lawrence, Jefferson & Lewis Counties. Your grandmother had the best house. (It was in my day there-any way over 50 years ago) Hers was in Lewis County and now gone because Camp Drum has the property up to the corner stone. Uncle Will's (William Rice, son of J.W.C. Rice) was in St. Lawrence and Gilbert's in Jefferson. Later my fathers.
I was the only one born there and we lived on rented farms near Antwerp up until I was over 9. Then Dad & Mother bought the next place after where I was born. The corner one was not enough land. There were six of us. Gilbert lived in your grandmothers house. I understand Dad bought it from Sarah Jane. He gave it to his parents before he was married and he took the corner house where I was born. You see we were the only ones of the younger generation who lived there. We weren't always happy tho'-Mother and Dad didn't get along and separated more than once. They finally separated for good at the time of the Armistice, World War I.
We went up to Rice's Corners this week to take pictures of the Rice Cemetery, farm house and corner stone of the 3 counties. Look on a map. Its not a popular farm district. The people on Uncle Will's place could never make a good living. Most others didn't either. Joel, their father, and the boys cleared their land and raised sheep. There was a creek behind the house. Springs of water everywhere.
I think I remember Bert's mother-her name was Allace according to deed. I didn't know Bert had a daughter but just looked at Mildred's record and she spoke of Thelma, Delbert & Gilbert. One of the boys in Goshen, NY.
Bert Rice had a sister Grace who married George Wilton. They lived on a farm next to us. Mildred was east in 1972 and had Valerie take her to Carthage and she covered the cemetery good. She found Janes's and Will's stones. By the way, my people always speak of your grandmother as Aunt Jane.
We do have pictures of the places but Mildred has the negatives. She isn't home this summer. I wrote her and told her to let me know when she was. The delay in writing directly back to you was because I was waiting to be alone. We live on Black Lake. The Booth family own the Island which has the State Road crossing it to make route 58 from Morristown to Gouverneur. There are stores, hotels, motels. and many camps across at Edwardsville. We use to have fisherman's cottages but am retired now. (nothing fancy) no running water and all the trimmings. My husband finally went to work in Gouverneur as he had been a draftsman in Syracuse. He worked for Rouse's Iron Works.
I read in the paper when LeRoy Woods sold the former Joel Rice farm. I have saved the clipping. He left for Conn. to live with his daughter I think.
Now I will talk about the Great Uncles that I know about. Andrew (sometimes called Hiram) had a farm next to Uncle Will's in St. Lawrence County toward Spragueville. He moved accordingly to Carthage. Uncle Joel and Wesley went to war. Uncle Joel's body was sent home and he is buried in the Rice Cemetery. Uncle Wesley drowned as near as anyone knows.
Gilbert and William were the only ones that stayed around. Their parents are in this cemetery also my father's. There were babies buried there but we don't know where or whose.
Do you know anything about Ann or Carolyn? I see them listed with the rest of Joel's children. Will send you some pictures when we get some. It rained Wednesday when we went up at the corners. I guess I'm the only one who takes any interest in the place. We have been going to tear the house down but just wonder how long it will hold up.
I hope to hear from you again. Remember me to Elva when you write her.
Your Cousin, Pauline
Aug. 31, '77
Just a note this time, altho' I like to write about the past and the farm. (Great Uncle Will's). It was the Joel Wise house built after they cleared land. I don't know who did the building but it sure held up well. It's nothing to brag about now but Emmet (her husband) took a colored picture and it looks better than the real thing. I'm sending you some snapshots, I promise you.
Dad's stone is small and left toward the back of the large Rice stone. This is the way he wanted it and his name is on the large stone with his father and mother. If I didn't tell you, Joel and his wife Permelia are buried there. Also Joel that his body was sent home from the war. I didn't know what year they settled there but I can find out.
I hope your foot is lots better. I have gout and don't walk much besides in the house. It isn't too bad now.
Your Cousin, Pauline
(My note- In this letter, Bessie is Bess (Bowles) Andrus, Florence's sister. Also note that Hiram was 4 years old in 1850. Joel and family were living in Lyme, Jefferson County according to the 1840 census. The 1850 census shows them in Fowler, St. Lawrence County so sometime between 1840 and 1850 they moved to the area that later became known as Rices Corners at Jefferson, Lewis & St. Lawrence Counties.)
Apr. 26, 1978
I haven't forgotten you. I rec'd a letter from my sister Mildred the same day as I did yours. She has her D.A.R. Now I guess there won't be so many questions. She got help from Marion Buck, Syracuse who had help from Mildred Rice-deceased.
I'm sorry you had to copy my ? all over. The only ones I wonder about are 3 that aren't on our list. We have Hiram A., Joel W., John W. (who must be Wesley) William, Gilbert W. & Sarah Jane. I have their births if you want them taken from 1850 census, as Mildred says can be wrong. I think they came to Rices Corners in 1840-Hiram was only 4 years old. It seems like they used middle names for first ones. Always heard of Andrew, Wesley & Jane. (aunts and uncles) Mother was a great one to discuss relatives.
I have been in Hospital for X-rays. I have had Diverticulosis for years. Now the pockets have expanded & I have to eat different-not use to it yet. I was on low residue diet for 16 years. I manage to cook & do dishes but arthritis bothers worse right now. Summer is coming & I should feel better.
Do hope you & your husband are O.K. Mine is working in garden & getting a few bull heads. The ice is still in the Lake.
The ice is gone but never came down the Lake. Melted these last few days. I'm doing a little better. Hand laundry, etc. I'm way behind on my correspondence! Did you tell Bessie the house is where her grandmother was born. I hate to have it go. Own a little property there. I think Joel Wise was born in West Carthage.
Your cousin, Pauline
(My note-In this letter Pauline talks about a package she had received from Florence. It was sent by her sister Bess and it was an oil painting she had painted from a picture of the old Joel Wise Crowner Rice homestead. She apparently painted more than one as I recently found this oil painting in my mother's collection. My mothers name was Marjorie Cross, daughter of Florence (Bowles) Cross. The painting is titled The Old Homestead, 1978 by B.A.)
May 11, 1978
I received your package today. It sure was a great surprise. When you write Bessie thank her for me. It looks better than the house really does. It use to be larger than it is now. Maybe a summer kitchen. I was only in it once in my girlhood. We think Bessie did a wonderful job.
The place is on the right hand side just before you get to the corner. Cemetery on left hand side of road. You will see our signs on trees, etc. You go from your place* to Harrisville & then to Balmat. This is a 4 Corners. Take left hand road. You will come to Kellogg corners first, go straight ahead. I think its about 4 miles or a little more from Balmat. Not a very populated place now. It was much different in the days we were there.
I am writing directly back just in case your sister comes soon. Next time you write send me Bessies address.
You & I seem to be alike. Were the second daughter. I use the same pudding now. They didnt use to be as good. I made a mistake last year and picked them up. My work is never done. I use to be strong & worked outdoors besides doing ? I dont seem to have strength in my legs. I think medication might have something to do with it.
Your Cousin, Pauline
*Driving instructions to Rices Corners, St. Lawrence County, NY This is not to be confused with the Rices Corners located in Adams, NY.
From Carthage, take 3 East to Harrisville.
3 East becomes 3 East & 812 North. Follow this and it becomes 812 North to Balmat. Just past the 'Town of Balmat' sign, is 4 corners or an intersection. (No stop sign or light.) Turn left onto County Road 24. 2 lane road turns into single country lane. Go just over 3 miles from where you turned onto County Road 24. Small Rice cemetery located on left. This is the area where Rices Corners once stood before Fort Drum took over the land.
1ST Row- J.W.C. Rice
Died March 27, 1880
Aged 70 yrs. 1 mo. 19 ds.
Inscription unreadable 2004
Wife of J.W.C. Rice
Headstone broken in half and very unreadable 2004
Son of J.W.C. & Permelia Rice
Broken in half and very unreadable 2004
2nd Row- Large Rice Headstone-Good condition 2004
Ellen A. his wife
Son Winford Wesley Rice
1st Row- Far left side
Daughter of Wm. Hill or Hall
Died Sept. 5, 1865 AE. 20 ds
There is also an unknown headstone leaning on top of this headstone as well as a footstone that may go with it. Headstone very unreadable. The best could make out was J? Rice Jan ? 1865.
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