Jonas Shearn Rice, biography c. 1926
[from New Encyclopedia of Texas]
  Source: Davis, Ellis A. and Edwin H. Grobe, eds. New Encyclopedia of Texas. Dallas, Tex. Texas Development Bureau, 1926. Vol. I, 230.

COLONEL JONAS SHEARN RICE, president of the Union National Bank and for many years until recently the head of various other financial and business institutions, has long been the most popular banker of the city, and by virtue of business and social prominence and connections with the pioneer family that has done so much for Houston, would perhaps be almost universally regarded as the first citizen of the city. In August, 1905, Colonel Rice became president of the Union Bank and Trust Company, now the Union National Bank, with a capital stock of $1,000,000.00. On September 15th, 1922, the resources of this institution were $19,245,051.35 and deposits S16, 125,516.69. The Union National Bank owns the building occupied by them, and known as the Union National Bank Building. The board of directors is made up of the leading business and professional men of Houston. Other officers of the Union National Bank are: Thomas C. Dunn, vice president; George Hamman, vice president; D. W. Cooley, vice president, and H. B. Finch, cashier. The title of Colonel, always used as a prefix to the name of J. S. Rice, was honorably earned. In 1874 he became a member of the Houston Light Guard and was prominent as adjutant in the First Regiment of Texas Militia organized after the close of the Civil War. He was captain of the Houston Light Guard when that company was the crack company of Texas and one of the best in the United States. He was adjutant general of the First Brigade on the staff of General F. W. James, and was chief of the personal staff for Governor Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Colonel Rice has been the recipient of many honors at the hands of Houston's citizenship, and many positions of trust from the chief executives of the State of Texas. He is expresident of the Thalian Club, and was appointed by Governor T. M. Campbell as one of the San Jacinto Battleground Commissioners and has been active in the work of beautifying that historic battlefield, sacred to the hearts of all Texans. He was chosen as the king of the No-Tsu-Oh Carnival and his daughter, Miss Laura F. Rice, was queen of the same festival. In 1895 he was made financial agent of the Texas State penitentiary, which post he held until he was in 1899 appointed by Governor Sayers as superintendent of the Texas National Penal System. Colonel Rice held this position until 1902, when he resigned in order to devote his attention to the banking business in Houston.

A native Texan, Colonel Rice was born in Houston in 1855. His father, Frederick A. Rice, came to Houston from Massachusetts, in 1850, when Houston was a village, but at that early date was aspiring to greater things. The broad western plains stretched for hundreds of miles over an empire of open cattle ranges, and railroads were only in the minds of the early settlers, and Frederick A. Rice was one of the builders of the first railroad, the Houston and Texas Central. He remained in Houston and saw the village grow to a busy, thriving city and died here in 1901 at the age of seventy-one years. His mother was Miss Charlotte M. Baldwin, a daughter of Horace Baldwin, who was mayor of Houston during the days of the Republic, and who was a brother-in-law of A. C. Allen, one of the founders of Houston. Colonel Rice's forbears, both paternal and maternal, are of old Revolutionary stock which came from the sturdy Scotch-Irish and English pioneers of Colonial days in America. His Great-grandfather Hall was one of those wounded at the Battle of Lexington in 1775, but despite that fact lived to reach the age of one hundred and two years; living most of that time in the State of Massachusetts, where he died. Colonel Rice is the eldest of a family of ten children — seven sons and three daughters. A younger brother, H. B. Rice, served the city of Houston with distinction as mayor for many years. His services to the city have become a part of the history of the city, and his name will be perpetually associated with the beneficial achievements of his administration. Two other brothers — W. M. and B. B. Rice — are prominent business men of Houston. Colonel Rice's education was obtained in the public schools of Houston, and the Texas Military Institute at Austin.

The business career of Colonel Rice has been uniformly brilliant and successful. Following his graduation at the Texas Military Institute, he became a railroad clerk in the office of the general passenger agent of the H. & T. C. R. R. In 1879 he became bookkeeper and teller of the National Exchange Bank of Houston. In 1881 he and a brother, William M. Rice, who is now one of the trustees of the Rice Institute, engaged in the sawmill business in Tyler County. From 1904 to 1909 he was one of the receivers of the Kirby Lumber Company, and was elected vice president of that company on its reorganization. Through the competent management of this company during the period it was in the hands of receivers brought it out of its difficulties. Colonel Rice has served in many important capacities, among them being: President of the Great Southern Life Insurance Company, chairman of the board of directors Bankers Trust Company, vice president of the J. S. & W. M.' Rice Lumber Company, vice president of Houston Title and Guaranty Company, vice president Houston Land Corporation, and a director in the following: Guarantee Life Insurance Company, T. & B. V. Railroad Company, Southern Drug Company, R. M. Gordon & Company, Hogan-Allnoch Company, Houston Recreation and Community Service Association and many others. Colonel Rice was married at Waco in 1887 to Miss Mary J. Ross, a daughter of Colonel Pete F. Ross, "The hero of Corinth" and a niece of former Governor L. S. Ross, and a granddaughter of General James E. Harrison. Three children were born of this union — Misses Laura F., now Mrs. Richard Wayne Neff, and Lottie B. Rice, now Mrs. S. P. Farish, and Kate Rice, now the wife of Hugo V. Neuhaus. Colonel Rice is a member of the A. F. and A. M. with membership in the local lodge, Chapter and Commandery, and is a Shriner of Arabia Temple. He is also a member of the B. P. O, E., and of the Houston Country Club, and is a Democrat of the "old school" and a staunch admirer of Woodrow Wilson. Colonel Rice has always been prominently identified with all movements tending to promote the growth and importance of Houston. He is loved by his associates and the public, and while not engaged actively in any work, is regarded as one of Houston's most popular, public-spirited, and progressive citizens whose life has been a success and a help to all who have been fortunate enough to know him.

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