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Guide to the Rice Family Papers
MS-R45  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Rice Family papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1812-1972,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1875-1919
    Collection number: MS-R45
    Creator: Rice family
    Extent: 4.8 linear feet (9 boxes and 4 oversize folders)
    Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Abstract: This collection comprises materials from the James S. and Cora Rice family of Tustin, California, and other relatives, including Harvey M. Rice, father of James and an Ohio author and legislator; Nettie Rice, sister of James and the first wife of James Irvine I; and the family of J.H. Martin of Carson Valley, Nevada. It also includes material from the Polish-born Shakespearean actress Helena Modjeska who had a summer home in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County. The collection includes correspondence, documents, ephemera, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Rice Family papers. MS-R45. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Harvey M. Rice, 1966

    Processing Information

    Processed by Phil Brigandi, 2001.

    Biography

    The Rice family was an important ranching family in Orange County and figured prominently in the growth and development of Tustin. The family is especially noteworthy for its connections to the James Irvine family and to the actress Helena Modjeska.
    Harvey M. Rice (1800-1891) was born in Massachusetts and settled in Cleveland, Ohio in 1824, when the community was still a small, frontier town. He worked as a teacher, a newspaper editor, and later as an attorney. In his retirement, he wrote historical sketches and travel pieces, including Life from the Pacific Slope, or First Impressions, which documents an 1869 overland journey to California. He served as an Ohio legislator in the 1830s and as a State Senator in the 1850s. He was noted for having written Ohio's original "common school" law in 1851, a bill later copied by other states. Harvey was honored in later years for his pioneering work in public education, and a statue honoring him was erected in Cleveland in 1899.
    Harvey and his wife Maria's daughter, Henrietta Maria (Nettie) Rice (1841-1874), was the first wife of James Irvine I (1827-1886), the founder of the famous Irvine Ranch in Orange County, California. She was the mother of James Irvine II (1867-1947), who was responsible for much of the development of the ranch in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    Harvey and Maria Rice's son, James S. Rice (1846-1930), worked in the furniture business in Cleveland with one of his older brothers for 11 years before coming to Southern California in January 1877. His first California venture was raising stock on the Irvine Ranch in partnership with his brother-in-law, James Irvine I. After approximately one year he bought land near Tustin, where he planted oranges. Later he bought 50 acres on First Street, near Tustin, which he planted in grapes. During the Southern California real estate boom of the late 1880s he subdivided and sold much of his ranch, but for many years he retained a 12-acre parcel for oranges. At various times he was also engaged in growing walnuts, celery, and sugar beets in Orange County, and was involved in the early development of Laguna Beach. In 1872, while still in Ohio, James married Coralinn (Cora) Barlow (1850-1919). Cora was a noted singer and actress, and James was well regarded for his musical talents, whistling, and imitations. They often performed for benefits and social events in Orange County and became close friends of the country's most noted actress of the day, Polish-born Helena Modjeska, who also lived in Orange County. Cora's brother, Charles Barlow, settled in the Bakersfield area, where he went on to serve as the local Congressman.
    James and Cora Rice had four children: James W., Merrill, Harvey, and Percy F. James W. (ca. 1874-ca.1950) followed in his father's footsteps both as a rancher and as a musician. In approximately 1905 he acquired his own ranch on 17th Street in Tustin. In 1908 he married Reubel Martin (b. 1883), the daughter of Nevada pioneers, who had been educated at Mills College in Oakland. James W. and Reubel had two children, James W. Rice, Jr. and Harvey M. Rice (1913-1974). Reubel Rice's father, J. Henry Martin, had settled in the Carson Valley in Nevada in the 1860s. He was a farmer and a teamster, and he engaged in various business activities in Carson City and in the mining camps of western Nevada and eastern California, including Bodie, California. By the 1880s Martin was active in politics and served as State Senator, representing Douglas County in the late 1890s. He married Katie F. Child, whose family seems to have settled in Nevada in the 1850s.
    Merrill (ca.1876-ca.1919) inherited some of his parents' musical talents but seems to have become estranged from his family. Harvey (1879-1900) was considered a promising young man, but he died at the age of 21 due to consumption. Percy F. (1882-1950) became an inventor and patented several devices, including improvements for printing presses, radio tuners, and automotive transmissions. He lived in Orange County for most of his life.

    Chronology

    1824 Harvey M. Rice settles in Cleveland, Ohio.
    1851 Harvey M. Rice drafts Ohio's common school law.
    1866 Nettie Rice marries James Irvine I.
    1866 James S. Rice enters the furniture business in Cleveland in partnership with his older brother.
    1870 Harvey M. Rice publishes Letters from the Pacific Slope, describing his first visit to California in 1869.
    1872 James S. Rice marries Coralinn (Cora) Barlow.
    1874 James S. Rice makes his first visit to California.
    1877 James S. and Cora Rice move to Southern California; after living briefly on the Irvine Ranch, they settle in Tustin.
    1887 James S. Rice subdivides his property and places it on the market as Rice's Addition to Tustin.
    1888 J.H. Martin runs for the Nevada State Senate.
    1896 Harvey Rice loses an arm in a shooting accident.
    1896 J.H. Martin is elected to the Nevada State Senate to represent Douglas County.
    1899 Reubel Martin enrolls at Mills College.
    1899 A statue in honor of Harvey M. Rice is unveiled in Cleveland.
    1903 Percy Rice invents an automated paper feeder for printing presses, his first important invention.
    1920 James S. Martin serves as Chairman of the Orange County Democratic Central Committee.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection comprises materials from the James S. and Cora Rice family of Tustin, California, and other relatives, including Harvey M. Rice, father of James and an Ohio author and legislator; Nettie Rice, sister of James and the first wife of James Irvine I; and the family of J.H. Martin of Carson Valley, Nevada. It also includes material from the Polish-born Shakespearean actress Helena Modjeska who had a summer home in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County. The collection includes correspondence, documents, ephemera, newspaper clippings, and photographs.

    Arrangement

    This collection is organized into four series.
    • Series 1. Rice family material, 1812-1972. 2.4 linear ft.
    • Series 2. Helena Modjeska material, 1879-1970. 0.2 linear ft.
    • Series 3. Martin family material, 1822-1907. 0.5 linear ft.
    • Series 4. Photographs, 1854-1961. 1.7 linear ft.

    Related Material

    Additional material on Helena Modjeska may be found in the Helena Modjeska Collection (MS-R37).