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The Family Lines of Seretha Dora Rice


 Seretha Dora Rice:


Seretha Dora Rice was born on May 12, 1906 on the Rice family farm on the Morganville Road near Milford Corner, sometimes locally known as Porcupine Corner, off the Sissiboo Road about two and a half miles west of Bear River, NS. That road ties Morganville to Milford Corner where it intersects the Sissiboo Road.  She was the seventh of ten children and youngest daughter born to Forman LeClair Rice of Bear River, NS, and Hannah Sheriffs of Caledonia, NS.


Seretha Dora was named after her grandmother Soretha Jane Poole (spelling of Soretha from the Rice Family Bible and the 1871 census).


In her late teens she ventured to Saint John, NB, to learn the seamstress trade. In order to remain financially viable while she studied she appears to have taken on at least the part time role of what today we would call a nanny for a Saint John family. Oral history suggests she moved with the family to Montreal but the detail is speculative. The record is clear that in 1926 at 20 years of age she married a 45 year old widower in Montreal, one Leo Krant, born in Germany c1881 and an immigrant with his family into New York City in 1883. The record is also clear that Leo and family had been living in Saint John, NB during and before the 1921 census. His wife had died in February of 1926 from diabetes at her family home in Peterborough, ON.


Dora and Leo proceeded to have three children of their own - Shirley in 1927, Clyde (later to be nicknamed “Rusty” because of his dark red hair) in 1928, and Thelma after the onset of the Great Depression in 1930. Because father Leo was a businessman and followed the available entrepreneurial opportunities, her children were all born in or near Albany in northern New York State. 


In 1933 Leo Krant (1880-1933) died in Watertown in upper New York State of a heart attack at 53 years of age. The result of this tragedy was that 27 year old Seretha Dora and her three small children were literally abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Dora managed to somehow get the family to her sister Ethel's home in Detroit where she spent several months amassing the funds to get she and the children back to Nova Scotia, a feat eventually accomplished in late 1934 by bus, ferry, and train via Boston, MA.


 In 1941 she married Alban Ernest Riley in Quebec City shortly before he was posted overseas with the RCAF. Alban, born 1913, was the sixth child and third son of John P Riley and Alice Trimper of Virginia East, NS. Dora and Alban had one son Ray in early 1942. Alban died in Middleton, NS in 1990, Dora in that same community in 1994.



Forman LeClair Rice:

Dora’s father, Forman LeClair Rice, was born in Nova Scotia in 1868, the first of three children and only son of Benjamin Rice and Soretha Jane Poole. In 1894 he married Hannah Sheriffs of Caledonia at Caledonia, Queens County, the daughter of David Sheriffs (c1821-1900), from Aberdeen, Scotland, and Hypsobeth Harlow (1829-1925). Foreman died in Bear River, NS in April of 1943. Of interest, Hannah Sheriff's mother Hypsobeth Harlow ties all of the Foreman and Hannah offspring back to Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton  (1617-1699) who arrived at Plymouth, MA with her parents and brother on Nov 9, 1620.


Forman and Hannah (Sheriffs) Rice had 11 children, the first, seventh and ninth of which died at or shortly after birth. The surviving children included Ethel May (1896 1991), Edith Lindsay (1897-1967), Beulah Benton(1899-1961), Rex Ray (1901-1975), Boyd Brenton (1903-1981), Seretha Dora (1906-1994), Kenneth LeClair (1910-1978) and Max Laughlin (1912-2003).    


  • Ethel May (1896-1991) married PEI-born John Kellogg (1888-1964) in 1921 and spent most of her adult life in Detroit, MI. The couple had two children – Lavina J (b NY) and Richard.


  • Edith Lindsay (1897-1967) married butcher Charles VanTassel of Digby and the couple had eight children – Ruth, Keith, Helen, Donald, Ira, Shirley, Barbara, and Alice; Edith was living in Seabrook, Digby County in 1954.


  • Beulah Benton (1899-1961) married Leo VanTassel (1899-1956) also of Digby. Leo spent much of his working years as a greens keeper at the golf course at the CNR Digby Pines Hotel. The couple lived in Mount Pleasant just a few miles north of Digby and had three children – Cecil, Clayton, and Doris.


  • Rex Ray (1901-1975) remained a bachelor, migrated to Massachusetts where he spent most of his adult life; prior to his death Rex was living in Weymouth, MA.


  • Boyd Brenton (1903-1981) married Ruby Milbury who had lived not far from the Rice farm. The couple moved to Saskatchewan where they had three girls – Pearle, June, and Bonnie – before the marriage dissolved.


  • Kenneth LeClair (1910-1978), like brother Rex, remained a bachelor. He eventually abandoned the Milford Corner farm c1949 and moved to Alberta where he worked in wrangling horses in the tourist trade and later farming. He lived in Brooks, and later Clairsholm. Kenneth died of heart problems and is buried in Queens Park Cemetery in Calgary.


  • Max Laughlin (1912-2003) married Alice Dukeshire (1911-2003) of Clementsvale, NS. The couple started married life in Bear River and had two children. Like many of his siblings Max followed the vision of a better life in the west and moved his family to Hamilton, ON c1950. The couple died in Burlington, ON in 2003 within a few months of each other.  Max and Alice had two girls Marilyn, who died early in Nova Scotia in 1950, and Sharon who passed away in Hamilton, ON in 2018.


Forman Rice owned and farmed property on the west side of the Morganville Road where it is intersected by the brook flowing from Barnes Lake, commonly known in the 1950s as Daddy Franklin Brook. The property was initially part of a larger land grant from the Crown to Captain Christopher Benson et al c1784.


On his 1871 map Church attributed residency/ownership of the property, as well as an additional property to the north to B Rice, ostensibly Benjamin Rice. One W Rice occupied the next property north, and B Rice held a property on the south side of the brook. Circa 1953 the Forman Rice property was sold to Will Dondale of Sissiboo Road after Forman's son Kenneth determined he would not return from Alberta to resume farming.



Benjamin Rice:

Benjamin Rice was the son of William Rice and Jane Cushing. He was born in Bridgeport (the Annapolis County side of Bear River) in 1823 and died in Hillsburg, NS, (the Digby County side of Bear River) in 1902.


    • In 1849 Benjamin first married Elvira Odle, born at Smith’s Cove, NS, in 1826, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Odle of that community. From that union there were six children – Narcissa Jane (1852-1860), Elvira Ann (1854-1860), Eliza Barrett (1857-1888), Georgiana (1859-1860), Pricilla Hall (1861-1882) and Benjamin (1864-1951). Elvira died in Hillsburgh, NS, in 1867.


Benjamin married second Soretha Jane Poole who was born in NS in 1843 and died in 1878. The couple was married in 1867 when Soretha was 24 and Benjamin 45. Soretha was the daughter of James William Poole and Deborah Thomas.


    • Benjamin and Soretha had three children Forman LeClair (1868-1943), Edith May (1871-1954), and Inez Anastasia (1878-1934). On March 13, 1889 in Digby, NS, Edith at 17 married William H Thomas, 25, farmer, of Smith’s Cove, NS, son of mariner Henry and Susan Thomas of Smith’s Cove. William died in Digby in 1941; Edith died in the US after having spent time in both MA and CA.  Inez appears to have been raised by her grandparents in Smith’s Cove, NS, and the 1891 and 1901 census records give her last name as Poole. Her death record in 1934, with information supplied by her Aunt Jessie, links her back to her Rice parents. 


    • Marion McCormick records that Soretha was one of the first female members of the Smith’s Cove Temperance Society. 


    • The spelling of Soretha’s first name has been variously interpreted. It was spelled ‘Ceretha’ in her 1867 marriage record to Benjamin; it was recorded as ‘Seretha’  in a handwritten commendation in a book prize (Triumph Over Midian) to her for “…Diligence in Study, and Good Conduct in School, during the winter of 1866-7.” by her teacher F M Denton; and it is recorded as ‘Soretha’ in the Poole family bible and the 1871 census. The latter spelling has been followed in this summary.  


Benjamin married third Eliza Harlow (1933-1910) in 1881; Eliza Harlow was the aunt of Hannah Sheriffs who eventually married Forman Rice. There were no children from this marriage. The couple lived in Hillsburg, Digby County, between 1891 and 1901 and Eliza was living there in 1911 with stepson Forman and family.



William Rice Jr:

William Rice Jr. was born c 1801, the youngest and child of William Rice and Anna Hardy. He married Jane Cushing, daughter of Benjamin Cushing. Jane Cushing died in 1866, William died in 1869 at Bear River, NS.


    • William and Jane had nine children as follows: Benjamin (1823-1902), Ambrose (1825-?), Olivia Isabella (1827-1913), Elmyra (1830-1900), Susan Ann (1834-1860), Edwin (1836-1908), Charles (1839-1907), Stephen (1841-1919), and Arabella (1844-1860)



William Rice:

William Rice the elder was born in 1774 at Annapolis Royal, NS and died in 1833 at Bear River, NS. He married Anna Hardy, daughter of Aaron Hardy Jr. and Eunice Gaskill, in 1795 in the Anglican Church in Granville, NS. Anna (Hardy) Rice died at Bear River, NS in 1845.


 William and Anna had six children: Stephen (1797-1881), Ann “Nancy” (1800-1820), Mary (c1800-1888), James, John, and William (1801-1869).


The family is recorded to have lived on the east side of the Bear River in Clements Township.  



John Rice:

John Rice, eldest son of Matthias Rice and Mary Boyden, was born at Worcester, MA, in 1738 and died 1811 at Annapolis Royal, NS. In 1761 he married Sarah Smith, daughter of Zephaniah Smith and Abigail Wheeler at Sudbury, MA; Sarah was born in Sudbury in 1743 and died, likely in Annapolis County, NS, in 1784.


    • Children of John and Sarah Rice were Silas (1762-1855), John (1764-1784), Sarah (1766-1784), Mary 1765-1849), Joseph (1771-1784), William (1774-1833), and Thomas (1779-1861).


 In 1785 John married 2nd Mary Potter, daughter of Joseph Potter and Zebudah Hayden in Clements, NS. Children of John Rice and Mary Potter were Joseph (1787-1795) and James (1790-1886). Subsequent to John’s death Mary married Capt. Henry Harris in Bridgetown, NS, in 1823; Mary died in 1858.  


It appears that John emigrated from MA to the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, possibly in 1760 along with cousins Beriah and Ebenezer Rice Jr.; we have no direct evidence of his the voyage or arrival. His name was listed on the first request for a grant of land in 1759 and as well in the census of 1768 and 1770. His name was not found on the request for confirmation of township in 1765.


John was responding to a call by the Governor of Nova Scotia for settlers, more recently having become known as “Planters”, from the New England Colonies to remove to Nova Scotia and assume land recently abandoned by the deported Acadians. In all some 8,000 settlers were enticed to Nova Scotia from New England during this recruitment campaign and their descendents have played a significant role in the growth and development of the adopted home over the past 250 years.   


He was listed in the township records as surveyor of land in April 1792 at Annapolis Royal, Annapolis Co, NS.


Calnek reported in his History of the County of Annapolis that John Rice settled on the farm of Colonel John Hoar, a 500 acre grant on the [south] west side of the Lequille River and that all of his eight children were born there. He apparently looked after the farm when the good Colonel was absent. John Rice purchased part of the farm upon Colonel Hoar’s death and eventually passed it on to his son James who lived there for nearly 96 years from his birth in 1790 to his death in 1886.


It is worthy of note that three of the children of John and Sarah met their demise in 1784, suggesting the presence of contagious disease in the community during that year.



Matthias Solomon Rice:

 Matthias Solomon Rice was born circa 1707 in Groton, CT, the youngest son of Gershom Rice and Elizabeth Balcom. He married Mary Boyden in 1738 and they had the following children: John (1738-1811), Bathsheba (1741-1742), Ithamar (1742-1824), Bathsheba (1744-?), Josiah (1846-?), Solomon (1749-?), Matthias (1752-1798), Luke (1754-?), Artemas (1758-?). He later married Mary Brown in Sudbury 1773 but the couple had no children.


In 1729 his father Gershom deeded him land and half a house in Worcester for love and goodwill. Matthias and Mary (Boyden) Rice resided in Worcester, MA, c 1737. He was a petitioner to have the community of Sutton, MA, annexed to Worcester in 1743.


He moved to Sudbury sometime after 1747 and enrolled in the Alarm List (a military unit) for Sudbury County in 1756.  


Matthias was on the preliminary Planters Grant at Annapolis but apparently cousin Beriah went in his stead, taking along Matthias oldest son John.  



Gershom Rice:

Gershom Rice was born in 1667 at Marlborough, MA and died at Worcester, MA 1768 at age 101 years. He married Elizabeth Balcom, daughter of Henry Balcom and Elizabeth Hayes, who died in 1752. The couple had six children: Gershom (1696-?), Elizabeth (1698-?), Abishai (1701-?), Sarah (1703-?), Matthias Solomon (1707-?), and Ruth (1710-?).


Gershom apparently moved to Groton, CT, before 1698 since the birth of 2nd child was recorded there along with next four.


Between 1704 and 1714 Gershom, frequently with his brother Jonas, was involved in a number of land transactions in the Groton, CT area.   


In 1712 Gershom, while still living in Groton, appears to have purchased land in Worcester, MA. In 1713 he and his brother Jonas petitioned for land in Worcester, MA from which they had been driven during the Indian War; this would be the third settling of Worcester. Gershom settled in the community in 1715 and was granted 80 acres in 1718. He planted the first local orchard. In 1721 he is recorded as selling 206 acres of land in Worcester, MA.



Thomas Rice

Thomas Rice was born in 1621 (?) and died in 1681. In 1651 in Sudbury, MA, he married Mary King, daughter of Thomas King and Anne Collins, who was born c 1630 and died 1715. The couple had the following children: Grace (?-c 1653), Thomas (1654-1747), Mary (1656-c 1736), Peter (1658-1753), Nathaniel (1660-1722), Sarah (1662-1742), Ephraim (1665-1732), Gershom 1667-1768), James (1669-1730), Frances (c1670-c1776), Jonas (c1672-1753), Grace (1675-c1769), and Elisha 1679-1761).


Thomas’ birth date is uncertain; The Boston Gazette gives it as 1611 but it was likely a decade later since a 1611 date would make him only 17 years younger than his father Edmund, and he would have been 43 before any of his children were born.


Thomas lived first in Sudbury (the couple had their first six children there), and later in Marlborough, MA, where he was listed as a proprietor. His will was made Nov 11, 1681, and proved on Apr 4, 1682; Thomas left property to his four oldest sons and to his widow Mary who was to provide for the younger children.


There is a different Canadian connection to another component of Thomas’ family:


    • Thomas’s grandsons (after Thomas Jr (1654-1747)), Ashur (10) and Adonijah (8), along with two second cousins Silas (9) and Timothy (7) were captured by Iroquois on August 8, 1704 at Thomas Jr.’s home near Westborough, MA, while the family was spreading flax. The children were carried off to Canada. Nahor, the five year old brother of Silas and Timothy was killed on the spot. 


    • Thomas Jr finally managed to ransom Ashur circa 1709. The subsequent history of his brother Adonijah has been difficult to trace but the best ‘historical speculation’ has him early baptized by the Sulpician priests, with whom he may have spent some time, and eventually marrying a French and later a Dutch woman and raising a family in the Oka area of Quebec, not far from Montreal. There is no record of him ever returning to the US. There is speculation that his daughter may have married back into the extended Rice family.


    • The other two boys, Silas and Timothy, were adopted into the Caugnawaga Band of Mohawk and chose to live their lives in their new cultural environment.  Silas, now called Tannahorens, married into the community, raised a family, and likely never ventured again back to the Massachusetts of his childhood.


    • Timothy, renamed Onserogoton, was adopted by a Chief, later becoming a Chief himself and likewise married into the community and had a family. In 1740, aided by an interpreter due to his loss of English, Timothy returned to Westborough for a visit but chose to return to Canada. Timothy died in Canada sometime after 1790.   


    • Silas’ granddaughter Konwatewentekon, or Marian de Rice, in 1779 married Tehoragwanegan, or Thomas Williams, the grandson of Eunice Williams, a captive taken by the Mohawks in the well known raid on Deerfield, MA, in February of 1704. Eunice had early on elected to remain with the Mohawks in the Oka area, and although she made at least four trips back to MA as an adult, she called the community home for the rest of her life.


    • In relationship to Seretha Dora young Ashur and Adonijah would be 1st cousins, 6 times removed, while Timothy and Silas would be 2nd cousins, 6 times removed.



Edmund Rice:

Edmund Rice (c1594-1663) married Thomasine Frost (c 1599-1681) in Bury Saint Edmunds, County Suffolk, England, in 1618. Thomasine was the            daughter of Edward Frost and Thomasine Belgrave; no record of Edmund’s birth or christening has yet been found. In 1627 the couple and family resided at Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England.


The couple and children arrived in Massachusetts in 1638 and settled in Sudbury, MA. The couple had the following children: Henry (c1617-c1710), Edward (c1619-1712), Thomas (c1621-1681), Matthew (bapt 1629-1717), Daniel (bapt 1632-1632), Samuel (bapt 1634-1684), Edmund, Benjamin (1640-1713).


After Thomasine’s death in 1681 Edmund married Mercy (Hurd) Bingham (her second of three husbands) and had two additional children, Lydia and Ruth.


In 1863 Edmund Rice acquired 4 acres of land in Sudbury (now Wayland), MA. He later received 42.5 acres of “Meadowlands” and an additional portion of uplands to amass a total of 247 acres as an original inhabitant.


Edmund Rice was a Selectman in 1639, 1643, 1644 and subsequently, was designated a Freeman in 1640, was recorded as a deputy of the Legislative Assembly in Boston in 1640, was in 1841 appointed an associate for the Courts and a commissioner for the town of Sudbury, a Deacon of the church in 1848, a deputy to the MA legislature in the 1652-1654 period, and a petitioner in 1665 for a new plantation west of Sudbury eventually named Marlborough. He lived at Marlborough after 1856.



08.08.08, with minor revisions 19.08.18

Most of the historical material extracted from Marion McCormick's 1967 draft of The Rice Family.