When I was at the NGS conference in Cincinnati in May, I was browsing thru some books for sale in the Exhibit Hall. I came across a book about soldiers in the Revolutionary War, so I checked the index for Philip Rice and there he was -- in his own little paragraph! All the information agreed with what I already knew, but there was something new. He had a boat!
I knew from Philip's pension papers that he had been involved in transporting a cannon from Cumberland to Taylor's Ferry during the war, but I always assumed that it was part of his duties as a soldier in the war. When I got home from the conference, I searched Google for Philip Rice boat cannon Revolutionary War and Taylor's Ferry. Google books responded with the 33rd Congress, 2nd session, Report No. 42 - Philip R. Rice - Heirs of, to accompany bill H.R, No. 696, January 30, 1855 from the Committee on Revolutionary War Claims. What a fabulous find! The following is some of the information I learned about my ancestor.
In 1781 while a resident of King William County, Virginia, he owned a small trading vessel. He and his crew (also identified as his slaves) were trading in the York, Potomac, James, and Pamunkey Rivers. He was pressed into service of the United States by press-masters Robert Radford and Micajah Crews for the purpose of transporting supplies for the revolutionary army. After transporting munitions of war, military and quartermasters stores from Cumberland to Taylors Ferry, they went to Newcastle where they obtained flour from Colonel Simm's mill and other supplies which they were to take to Yorktown. Before they reached Goodman's Island, they were attacked by the British who had just taken possession of Yorktown. Rice and his crew scuttled the vessel to prevent the British from getting any of the cargo. They were able to escape in a skiff.
Several depositions were taken in regard to this bill with the following information:
John Butler - met Philip when they were young boys and were friends until Rice left for Kentucky in 1797. He said Rice was a young, enterprising, active Whig.
Samuel Rice - was an early childhood friend (possibly a relative). He was on board the vessel when the cannon was being transported. Also, a resident of King William County, Virginia.
John Young - of Bracken County, Kentucky knew Rice from 1776 til the end of the war.
Major Hudson - of Pendleton County, Kentucky.
Jim Top and Abraham - names of the crew aboard the vessel when it was attacked.
These are all pieces of a puzzle that has yet to be put back together. At one time they all fit together to present a picture of a person's life, but over the years they became scrambled. This is what genealogists do -- they put the pieces back where they belong.
At the end of Philip Rice's pension papers, I found the papers for his widow's pension. Seems she had a rather difficult time convincing the government that she was legally married. After much correspondence, I found a letter that just said it all. She "bothered me so much" and "she became so anxious" that I "just want to get rid of her" plus "she threatened to write the President of the United States". Needless to say, Granny got her pension!!
Another thing that I found to be rather interesting in Philip Rice's pension papers was a letter from my great-great grandfather in 1885 requesting copies of these papers "in order to complete our family history". This could mean that we have over 125 years of genealogists in my dad's family. That, to me, is amazingly wonderful.