The Rice Family
The lovely territory at the foot of Lookout Mountain in Lookout Valley was long a favorite haunt for the Cherokees. Then, when they were forced to vacate, the Rices and a handful of other pioneer families occupied the prime territory near Lookout Creek. Elijah C. Rice, who was originally from Washington in Rhea County, was a neighbor to the Parkers, Lights, Hixsons, Williamses, Boydstons, Fryars, Cummings, Rowdens and a few others.
Just after the removal, this section was connected to Chattanooga only by the Federal Road, which had been constructed about 1805 with reluctant permission of the Indians. It was also known as the Georgia Road. The section across the slopes of Lookout Mountain opposite Moccasin Bend had still another title. It was locally referred to as the Jackson Road. Though Andrew Jackson may not have traveled the road himself, some of his troops marched across it during the War of 1812 and camped nearby. The road was so steep that teams of up to 12 horses had to pull the wagons that brought the mail to Chattanooga from Nashville. The bluffs were so precipitous where the mountain meets the Tennessee River that the road followed an old Indian trail far up the slopes. E. C. Rice and his neighbors took this road – or the ferries across Moccasin Bend – into Chattanooga until about 1845 when Kelley Pike was blasted on a more direct route across the end of the mountain. This follows a portion of the present Old Wauhatchie Pike. Portions of the old Federal Road can still be seen today. It leaves Old Wauhatchie Pike at the Cravens Road near the Page property, goes under a trestle of the old Broad Gauge Railroad (Guild Trail), below some houses on Lower Cravens Terrace and below former Pan-O-Ram and 19th Hole clubs and just below Ruby Falls. It comes out at Old Wauhatchie Pike at a Park Service trail across from the Alford House bed and breakfast inn. One branch of the Federal Road went in the direction of the present Reflection Riding. The crossing was at the Light farm. Another branch of the road veered past the Jeremiah Fryar place, crossed the creek, then went toward Kelley’s Ferry and Nashville. There was a connection to the Brown’s Tavern, which still stands today, and Brown’s Ferry. Kelley’s Pike also crossed by the Fryar place, but it went up to the Sky Harbor Bavarian Inn by use of two switchbacks. That section of road, which passes what is now a small motel on Cummings Highway, has long gone out of use. Another portion of the old road is now a part of the Old Wauhatchie Pike Greenway hiking and biking trail.
Elijah C. Rice was allied to several of the valley families. His wife was Sarah Rowden, sister of Squire Isaac Rowden. In turn, Rowden was married to Sarah Eliza Rice, younger sister of Elijah Rice. Another sister of Elijah Rice, Elvira, became the young bride of valley patriarch Elisha Parker. She was about 30 years younger than Parker. There were also Condras living in the valley, and Harriet Rice, sister of Elijah Rice, married Lilburn Condra. Other brothers and sisters of Elijah Rice included George W. who married Emaline Payne in Rhea County in 1827, Margaret Ann who married John B. Inlow. Emily who married Benjamin K. Hudgins, and Minerva Dialpha who married Elijah Thurman, son of the Revolutionary soldier Phillip Thurman and his wife, Kesiah. Minerva Rice Thurman was born in 1816 when the Rice family was living at Washington in Rhea County. She died at St. Elmo in 1890.
E. C. Rice and his brothers and sisters were children of Col. John B. and Sarah Rice of Rhea County. Sarah Rice was born in Pennsylvania about 1780. John Rice was in Rhea County as early as 1813. He was one of those signing the petition asking the Indian Agent Return Jonathan Meigs to locate the Cherokee Agency at the Rhea County seat of Washington when it had to be moved from Hiwassee Garrison. John Rice was sued by Blackburn Jones in 1814 over a debt of $29.50, but the matter was stayed in October because Rice was then “in the service of his country in a campaign against the hostile Creek Indians.” The complaint was resurrected the following year when John Rice had returned from the Indian wars. He lost the suit and a levy was taken against three lots he owned at Washington. A grandson said John Rice commanded a regiment of men at the battle of New Orleans.
Col. Rice was president of the Tennessee Academy at Washington in 1824-25. John and E. C. Rice were partners in a trade and merchandise firm. However, they fell on hard times and came into default on a note of $5,287.07 taken in 1840. James and William Park and Archiblad McAlester sued them over the debt, and some property the family owned in Harrison was sold to the highest bidder. This sale brought $905. Before coming to Lookout Valley, Elijah Rice often speculated on property in Rhea County. He owned several lots in Washington. In 1836, he put in a claim for 5,000 acres on Walden’s Ridge in Rhea County. His brother-in-law, John B. Inlow, filed a similar claim in the vicinity of Duncan Creek. John Rice was chosen as postmaster when an office was set up for Lookout Valley on Jan. 17, 1834. He was succeeded by Elijah C. Rice in 1839, and he served until 1842.
Col. Rice died about 1840, and Sarah Rice came to live in Lookout Valley near her son, Elijah Rice. Later, she resided with the Isaac Rowdens. In the mid-1840s, Elijah Rice died also. His children included Adaline, Minerva, James William and John E. C.
At the start of the Civil War, Sarah Rowden Rice was living in Chattanooga with her sons, James William and John E. C. James William Rice was involved in speculating and John E. C. Rice was a clerk. However, the elder brother was in feeble health and he died in 1862. He left John E. C. Rice the boy slaves Andrew and Charles. To his sister, Minerva Rice Fisher, he willed the girl slave Sarah. Minerva, whose husband was a carpenter by trade, also resided in Chattanooga. John E. C. Rice died in 1868, apparently bringing an end to this male Rice line. Sarah Rowden Rice died in Chattanooga on Nov. 8, 1873.
Hamilton Settlers” by John Wilson