Elihu S. Rice

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General information

  • Birth: 28 Feb 1827[1]
  • Death: 1912[2]



Biography taken from Biographical and genealogical history of Cass, Miami, Howard and Tipton counties, Indiana, Volume 2, 1898 (p. 624–627)

ELIHU S. RICE.—This name is familiar to thousands of music-loving people in all parts of the United States, as that of the composer of some beautiful hymns and anthems which have been sung in churches, Sunday schools and homes for years. He has been an honored and respected citizen of Logansport for sixty years, much of this time having been actively engaged in business enterprises here.

Though he has passed the usual life period of man, three-score years and ten, Mr. Rice is still hale and hearty, giving promise of many years of usefulness and activity, as he is sound in mind and body. Born in Genesee county. New York, February 28, 1827, he is a son of Erastus and Lucretia M. (Howe) Rice. The father, who was a native of Massachusetts, died in 1833, and five years later our subject, with his widowed mother and brothers and sisters, came to Logansport. Though his school days ended when he was sixteen years old, he was by that time master of the more practical branches of learning, and ready for beginning his business career. He obtained a position with the firm of Henry Martin & Company as clerk in 1843, and one of his associates here was the late J. C. Merriam, with whom he afterward was financially connected in one way or another as long as Mr. Merriam lived. During this long period, from 1843 to 1890, their relations were thoroughly harmonious, and were attended with marked success.

In 1845 the firm of Henry Martin & Company ceased to exist and for the following eight years Mr. Rice was in the employ of the dry-goods house of Pollard & Wilson. The senior member of the company withdrawing from the concern in 1852, a new firm was organized under the style of Wilson, Merriam & Company, Mr. Rice and Mr. M. H. Thomas being' the silent partners. Four years later another change was made and up to the close of the war the company did business under the name of Merriam, Rice & Howes. Mr. Rice purchased the interest of Mr. Howes in 1865 and for the next seven years the house was known as Merriam & Rice. In 1872 E. L. Metzger was taken into the business as a silent partner, but his share was purchased by the others at the expiration of six years. From 1865 a general stock of merchandise was carried, Mr. Rice having special charge of the hardware department. In 1879 the firm sold out their dry-goods stock and devoted themselves to the sale of hardware exclusively.

Desiring to take his son Frank into business with him, Mr. Rice bought his partner's interest in 1884 and since that time the style has been E. S. Rice & Son. In 1881 our subject built a substantial business block on Market streel, and this has been the location of his store ever since. He has met with success in his various financial ventures and enjoys the respect of all with whom he has had business dealings. In 1862 the Logansport Gas Light & Coke Company was organized, and four years afterward Merriam & Rice became financially interested in the same. The affairs of the company being in a "run-down" condition in 1870, Mr. Rice purchased a controlling interest, assumed the management, reconstructed the plant, and made it a success. For a quarter of a century he remained at the head of the enterprise, which, in 1895, was sold to a New York syndicate. Since 1885 Mr. Rice has been a stockholder in the King Drill Company, and for the past six years has been its president. For several, years he has been a stockholder and director of the First National Bank of Logansport.

In 1854 the marriage of Elihu S. Rice and Miss Jeannette Mabon was solemnized. For forty-one years they pursued the journey of life together, and in 1895 the summons to the better land came to the devoted wife and mother. Of their two children Frank M. has been previously mentioned in this sketch; and the daughter, Annie E., is the wife of George C. Taber, of Logansport.

From his boyhood Mr. Rice has taken great pleasure in music, and at an early age was able to read notes readily. By close study he acquired a considerable knowledge of the art and in 1848 was chosen leader of the social glee club of mixed voices, for which he composed his first musical piece. The same year he organized a male quartet comprising, besides himself, D. E. Bryer (whose campaign songs, in later years, were published by the Home Music Company), James Bryer (deceased) and Allen Richardson. In 1856 this quartet, as "The Rocky Mountain Glee Club," assisted in the presidential campaign of that year and became celebrated. Four years later Mr. Rice became director of the Logansport choral union, which numbered about fifty persons. For over thirty years he has been the faithful leader of the Baptist church choir, he having been connected with that church as an active member for years and for over a quarter of a century having officiated as one of its trustees. In 1866, while secretary and chorister of the Sunday school, he wrote the popular music to H. L. Hastings' hymn, "Shall we meet beyond the river?" More than twenty-five years ago he composed the music for that beautiful anthem, "Come, let us sing unto the Lord," and during a recent trip to Salt Lake City and the west he was pleasantly surprised, upon the occasion of his attending the services in the great Mormon tabernacle, to hear the choir of over two hundred well-trained voices, accompanied by the wonderful great organ, render the anthem mentioned in an excellent manner. Music has been a recreation and a pastime with him, for his soul delights in it. His life has been that of a noble Christian man, of love and service toward God and man, and he may well look back upon the past with few regrets and with the assurance that to him will come the verdict, "Well done, good and faithful servant."