flames O. Rice
Iero of the battle ao the Sam Vabriels
WILLIAM L. MANN
MONUMENTS and likenesses carved in marble and cast in
bronze commemorate many Texas heroes' deeds of val-
or and daring. History books contain their portraits
taken from oil paintings and old daguerreotypes. Cities, towns,
and counties bear their names, but the name of James O. Rice,
one of the most colorful of these heroes, is almost forgotten save
by a few students of Texas history and perhaps a few residents
of Williamson County who have grown old in the shadows of
the giant cottonwoods lining the banks of the San Gabriel River
and Rice's Crossing. Even those persons, in the main, attach no
historical significance to the name, Rice's Crossing, other than
the fact that "it was probably named for some old settler who
used to make his home near the place."
While it is true that Rice did live there,1 he deserves to be
remembered even more as a pioneer, Indian fighter, and soldier.
In later years, he settled in opulence and assumed an active part
in local organization, development, and improvements, but from
the brief sketches available, he appears in his early life to have
been a daring young man who had more than his share of excite-
ment and many narrow escapes which would have caused others,
more cautious, to turn back, but James O. Rice never ran from
a fight. Charming and thoroughly likeable, he was not lacking in
humor and wit even in times of stress and danger. Rice's
chief bid for fame rests on his successful engagement with Man-
uel Flores at the battle on the San Gabriels on May 17, 1839, but
his other fights should also be credited to him in the permanent
ledger which history keeps of the deeds of men.
Probably his first military service came in January, 1836, when
'The Census of 1850 (MS., Texas State Archives), the first in the Williamson
County area, lists James O. Rice, age thirty-five from South Carolina. His house-
hold at that time included his wife, Nancy D. Rice, age twenty-five; his daughter,
Elizabeth Rice, age two; and Mary W. Fox, age thirteen, from Germany.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/. Accessed May 6, 2015.