Nathan Lewis Rice (1841-1907) and Nancy Elizabeth Burks (1845-1927)


Nathan Lewis Rice and Nancy Elizabeth Burks were born and died in Monroe County, Indiana.  They married in Monroe County in 1861.


Nathan's parents: Robert Rice (1802-1863) and Harwar Roe (1805-1899)

Nancy's parents: Floyd Burks (1815-1878) and Helen E. Thompson (1816-1870)


Children of Nathan and Nancy:


US Census records:

  • 1850, Van Buren Township, Monroe County, Indiana; Nathan is listed in the household of his parents.
  • 1850, Beech Creek Township, Greene County, Indiana; Nancy is listed in the household of her parents.
  • 1860 Van Buren Township, Monroe County, Indiana; Nathan is listed in the household of his parents; Nathan's occupation is farmhand; Nancy is listed in the household of her parents.
  • 1880 Van Buren Township, Monroe County, Indiana; Nathan, Nancy, and three sons in the household along with Nancy's sister, Dora Burks; they live near Nathan's mother Harwar; Nathan's occupation is farmer.
  • 1900, 516 W. 3rd St., Bloomington, Indiana; Nathan, Nancy, and son Roy in the household; Nancy is listed using her middle name Elizabeth; Nathan's occupation is physician.
  • 1920, 516 W. 3rd St., Bloomington, Indiana; Nancy is listed as Elizabeth and has rented a room to a lodger.


The 1860 US Census indicates that Nathan and Nancy lived on adjacent farms.  The Civil War began in April 1861.  On July 11, 1861, Nathan (age 20) and Nancy (age 15) were married, and on June 21, 1862, their son Benjamin Floyd Rice was born.  On August 27, 1862, Nathan enlisted as a Corporal in the 82nd Indiana Infantry (Company I) of the Union Army.  Imagine how worried Nancy must have been at age 17 with an infant son and her husband headed off to war.


Fortunately, Nathan would return in five months.  He became ill in early October 1862, suffering from "catarrh of head and throat and weakness of back and legs caused by hard and force marching from Louisville to Broonerstown, Kentucky."  He spent part of his time in army hospitals before being honorably discharged from service on January 12, 1863, with the official reason for his discharge given as "bronchitis."  A few days before, on January 9, 1863, Nathan's father Robert Rice died at the age of 60.  Two months later, on March 13, 1863, part of his father's land was deeded to him, which Nathan would farm for nearly 20 years.


In 1881, Nathan graduated from the Indiana Eclectic Medical College in Indianapolis, and at the age of 40, began his new career as a doctor.  This was back in the day when doctors routinely made house calls.  A grandson, Frank Burns Rice, Sr., passed this recollection down to his son, Clarence Alfred Rice, who wrote in 2001: "Dad [Frank Burns Rice, Sr.] said the Doc, his grandfather, said the horse that pulled his buggy got his best rest before midnight, people do, too.  Thus he disliked being called out before midnight, after was okay."


A 1914 history of Monroe County, Indiana, describes Nathan as a physician of "marked professional ability" who was "notably successful in the practice of his profession."  He enjoyed "the confidence of the people among whom he mingled."


Civil War pension forms acquired from the National Archives tell us that Nathan and Nancy lived in the town of Dudley (in Monroe County, Indiana) from 1882-1887 and in the town of South Union from 1888-1889, and moved to Clear Creek by the Fall of 1889.  According to doctor's reports from the Archives, Nathan's height was between 5'11" and 6'1" and his weight was between 132 and 141 pounds.  He had a fair complexion and blue eyes.  He had dark hair in 1882 at age 41 and gray hair in 1905 at age 64.  One report noted that he had "no vicious habits," meaning no vices.


The Bloomington Evening World reported on September 21, 1907, that Dr. Nathan Rice "is in Indianapolis taking treatment for cancer of his jaw and is improving."  However, from paperwork acquired from the National Archives, it was learned that Dr. Lindermuth gave Nathan about 15 "electrical therapeutic" treatments for his jaw in Indianapolis, and according to Dr. Lindermuth's report, they "did but little good."  Doctor's reports disagree whether he had cancer.  He died on December 4, 1907, at age 66.  From the Bloomington Weekly Star, December 6, 1907: "Dr. N. L. Rice died in this city last Wednesday.  He formerly lived in Ellettsville and was highly esteemed as a veteran soldier and an honorable citizen."


In October 1908, Nancy applied for a Civil War Widow's Pension.  She wrote: "I was married about 47 years ago, last July, the 11th day.  I was not quite sixteen when I was married.  There was just 4-1/2 years difference between our ages.  Neither of us had been previously married – we had been raised up together.  Rev. Barry Bray of Bloomington married us…  For about five or six months before he died I noticed him beginning to fail.  He commenced with a hurting in his teeth and from that time on he kept getting worse…  He had a lower tooth pulled along in the summer before he died.  It was paining him sour before he had it pulled.  It didn't help the hurting after it was pulled…  He was operated on, and the bone of his lower jaw removed…  He just gradually grew weaker and weaker…  The only income I have is from the rental of part of my house, amounting to six dollars per month."  Nancy was approved for a Widow's Pension of $12 per month, raised to $20 per month in 1916, and then raised to $50 per month in 1926.

Nancy Elizabeth Burks Rice, circa 1915-1925
Nancy's obituary in the Bloomington Daily Telephone, December 27, 1927: "Death of Mrs. Rice at the age of 82.  Mrs. Nancy E. Rice, age 82, ill for several months from the infirmities of age, died Saturday night at the home of J.M. Rice, the son, who lives on east 2nd street.  She was the widow of Dr. Nathan L. Rice, who died in 1907.  Mrs. Rice was a devout member of the Church of Christ and had a large number of loving friends.  The children who survive are Gus, of Detroit, Roy, of Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Marion, of this city; also a sister, Dora Rice of Owen county.  The funeral was Monday at 2:30 at the Lincoln Street Church of Christ in charge of Elder A.W. Harvey and burial at Rose Hill.  The pall bearers were Harry Gale, Claude Burch, Harry Rice, Wood Wiles, Harry Harris and Waler Hottel."
Nathan and Nancy are buried in Section L of the Rose Hill Cemetery, West 4th Street and Elm, Bloomington, Indiana, along with their sons Benjamin Floyd Rice and Joseph Marion Rice.