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Harrison Amsden Rice, a successful dairy farmer of Henniker, was born in this town, June 18, 1816, son of Jacob and Lovisa (Howe) Rice. The Rices are descendants of Edmund Rice and his wife, Tamazine, who emigrated from England and settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1639. The great-grandfather of Harrison A. Rice was Elijab Rice, son of Charles and Rachel Rice. Charles was the third in line from Edmund. Elijah Rice (second), the grandfather, who settled in Henniker at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, was a carpenter by trade. He served at the battle of Bunker Hill, and was commissioned an Ensign in 1779. He acquired a tract of land now located in the centre of the village, affording the site of the present hotel. His death occurred in 1805. In the year 1779 he married Margaret Patterson, who died October 5, 1797. He subsequently contracted a second marriage with Margaret Stuart, a native of Warner, N.H., who died December 18, 1859.
Jacob Rice was born in Henniker, January 23, 1787. When about seven years old, while visiting the family of Thomas Brown, a neighboring farmer whose son Nahum was a deaf mute, Jacob learned to converse by signs with the boy. This so pleased Mr. Brown that he agreed to do well by Jacob if the latter would remain with him until he came of age. Jacob accepted the proposition. When twenty-one years old he began to work by the month. A year later, in company with his brothers, Isaac and James, he bought a farm; and for some time he assisted in its cultivation, besides working for others when opportunity permitted. The farm was carried on by them until the brothers separated by marrying and settling elsewhere. Jacob, who made several changes, eventually purchased of Nahum Brown, the deaf mute, for seventeen hundred dollars, the farm upon which his son, Harrison A., now lives, and where he settled in March, 1825. Although he was obliged to incur a debt in order to secure the farm, he soon freed it from encumbrance. It contained one hundred acres of land, lying upon the main road, within easy reach of the village. A strong and able farmer, whose industry fully equalled his strength, Jacob’s activity continued almost to the moment of his death, which occurred April 14, 1879, at the age of ninety-two. In politics he was originally a Democrat. Later he became an abolitionist and a Republican. He served as a Selectman for the greater part of the time between 1820 and 1837, and was a Representative to the legislature in the years 1828 and 1829. In July, 1810, he wedded Lovisa Howe, daughter of Micah and Lovisa (Amsden) Howe. She became the mother of five children, namely: Adeline, now deceased, who married Jeremiah Foster, who was a farmer and surveyor, and is also deceased; Susan Lovisa, who married John Smith Morrill, and died in Nashua, N.H., two years after marriage; Harrison A., the subject of Maria Wallace, who married Obadiah E. Wilson, and died in Henniker, at the age of forty-six; and George W., who resides in this town. Mrs. Jacob Rice died in December, 1867, aged eighty-one years.
Harrison Amsden Rice was reared and educated in Henniker. After reaching his majority he entered into partnership with his father. In time he acquired by purchase the entire farm, together with the stock and implements; and since then he has carried it on upon his own account. By adding the Eli Howe farm and other tracts he now owns five hundred acres of good land. His principal occupation is dairy farming. He keeps some fifteen cows, and is now giving his attention to the breeding of Holstein cattle. Six years ago he erected a new house upon the site of the old Brown residence. He has also built a barn, ninety feet in length. His prosperity is chiefly due to untiring energy and enterprise. It is worthy of note that he was the first farmer in Henniker to purchase and use a mowing machine. He has also been engaged in lumbering to some extent.
Mr. Rice has been twice married. On January 23, 1845, he wedded for his first wife Susan W. Foster, daughter of Zebulon Foster. She died June 2, 1867. On June 18, 1868, he married Charlotte I. Steele, daughter of Jeremiah and Irene (Felt) Steele, of Peterboro, Hillsborough County. Born of his first union are John Jacob and Adeline Eliza. John Jacob occupies the Jacob Rice farm, and carries it on in partnership with his father. He married Eliza J. Sawyer, and has two children. The latter are: Susan Frances, born December 17, 1877; and Bertha Maria, born October 14, 1886. Adeline Eliza is now the wife of Edward Connelly, a tinman by trade. Mr. Rice’s present wife acquired her education at Peterboro Academy. She began to teach at the age of nineteen, and continued in that occupation for nearly ten years.