Sunday, February 22, 2015

52 Ancestors #8: Apostle of Kentucky

Ancestor Name: Reverend David RICE (1733-1816)

David Rice was the father-in-law of my four times great grandfather, Rev. James Mitchell, who married Rev. Rice's daughter, Frances Blair Rice. I have said many times one of the things my ancestors could do well was marry! And I think you will agree once you've met Rev. Rice.

According to Wikipedia David Rice was born on 29 December 1733 in Hanover County, Virginia, and was one of twelve children. His family was Episcopalian but David converted early in his life and became a Presbyterian. He studied at the College of New Jersey in Princeton and later under John Todd, who had spent a great deal of time working with Samuel Davies among the slaves. In fact, David Rice named one of his son after Samuel Davies.

He spent over 20 years in Virginia, most that time in Bedford County working among the slaves and ministering his congregants, but was forced out of the state by the powerful planter lobby because of his views on slavery. After removing to Kentucky in 1783, he joined its Abolition Society and served as a member of the 1792 Kentucky Constitution Convention. He favored the gradual emancipation of slaves and felt the institution of slavery violated the most basic tenets of moral law. During the convention, he gave a speech entitled, "Slavery: Inconsistent with Justice and Good Policy."

Pamphlet printed of speech given by Rev.
David Rice at the Kentucky Constitution

He married Mary Blair, the daughter of fellow Presbyterian minister Samuel Blair, and had twelve children. Rev. Rice was the was the first Presbyterian minister in Kentucky and founded the Synod of Kentucky and Transylvania Seminary, which later became Transylvania University.

He is buried in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Danville, Kentucky, beside his wife.

David Rice Memorial Monument; photograph
courtesy of Find A Grave member Karen

The inscription on his monument:

David Rice
Pioneer minister of the
Presbyterian Church in KY.
Born in Hanover Co.VA.
Dec. 20, 1733.
Ordained Dec. 1763
Settled in KY. Oct. 1783
Died in Green Co. KY.
June 18, 1816
The righteous shall be in
Everlasting remembrance.
Erected by the Presbyterians
of Kentucky 1892

He was widely known as "Father Rice" or the "Apostle of Kentucky."

A favorite ancestor of mine (also by marriage) once said, "If any family tree is shaken hard enough, I am sure it will produce stories of heroes and horse thieves." David Rice is one of the heroes I discovered hanging on the edges of my family tree thanks to an AncestryDNA match. He stood for his beliefs during a time when they were not popular. Thankfully, more recent history has proved them to be the correct moral path.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Good Deeds.

David Rice was born on 20 December 1733 in Hanover County, Virginia, to David Rice and Susannah Searcy. He married Mary Blair in 1762 and became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1763. The couple had 12 children. Rev. Rice moved to Kentucky in 1783 and died in Green County on 18 June 1816. He and his wife are buried at the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Danville, Kentucky.

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