A Family Passage
Mrs. Geneva Irene (Rice) Carlson

By PHGS Member Richard A. Rice
Fall 2000

A little noted event occurred on Tuesday, August 22, 2000, in Jamestown, NY, with the death of Mrs. Geneva Irene (Rice) Carlson. The third child of Russell Albertus Rice and Gertrude Ione (Wandover) Rice, she was born August 2, 1904, on the family farm between Portville and Main Settlement. Aside from a long and productive life, at age 96, she was the last of that large family to pass from this life. A gracious loving person, a wife, a mother, and a teacher for many years in Cattaraugus County, she left a positive and indelible mark on family and friends alike.

Her parents were married December 23, 1900, in the Ceres Methodist Church, a building that straddles the New York/Pennsylvania state line. It is not clear if they were pronounced man and wife in New York or Pennsylvania. Their life together began in Port Allegany where Bert, as he was called, was a glass blower and Gertie, a housewife. My father, Forest L. Rice, and a sister, Lillian G. Rice, were born in Port Allegany in 1901 and 1903, respectively. Dad passed away in 1974, while Aunt Lillian (Mrs. Harold D. Johnson of Olean), died in 1997.

Although Bert (Grandpa to me) was born and reared in Coryville, PA, his mother, Lucy Palmyra Crandall, was part of a large family who came to the Portville area about 1830. The farm, near Main Settlement, was owned by an uncle and purchased by Bert and Gertie in 1904. Geneva was the first to be born there, followed by: George in 1907, Carl in 1909, Ellen in 1913, Lucy in 1915, and Milton in 1916. All lived long productive lives, except Lucy who died in 1916 at 18 months of age.

The Rice family history in Olean, Portville, Eldred and Coryville began in 1818 with the arrival of at least five sons of Eliphalet and Mary (Nichols) Rice from Cortland County, NY. George Rice, my third great grandfather, settled near Coryville and most likely died and is buried there. Luman settled in Olean and later moved to Portville in 1822. With the exception of a few years spent in Cincinnati during the mid 1840's, his life was lived out in Portville. Justus had a farm near Eldred and later in life became a Methodist Episcopal clergyman. He is buried in Portville's Chestnut Hill Cemetery near his brother Luman.

The remaining brothers posed a bit more genealogical intrigue. Grove Rice most likely died in Olean in 1840 and is buried next to his wife in Mt. View Cemetery, although only her grave is marked. Allen Rice was involved in several business ventures including partnering with a Reuben Lamberton to build a dam and sawmill at what is now Westons Mills about 1818. In the mid 1830's he disappeared. It wasn't until July 2000 that his final resting place in a Martin's Ferry, Ohio cemetery was discovered. Finally, the last of the pioneering Rice brothers who came from Cortland County had been found.

The one hundred sixty-one year family presence in the Town of Portville ended in November of 1979 with the death of my mother, Belle (Nagel) Rice. We had all moved on to greener pastures and careers far from our deep Portville roots, although a few are left in surrounding towns. Aunt Geneva and my mother were good friends in high school and had graduated in the 1922 class of then Portville High School. Those who went on the senior class trip to Washington, D.C., had the honor of shaking hands with President Warren G. Harding, who had been quoted during his campaign as saying, "Handshaking is the most pleasant thing I do." Most likely Aunt Geneva was the last of that class, ending another chapter of Portville history.

Somewhere along the line, Aunt Geneva met and fell in love with a young U.S. Army veteran of the Great War. Wedding plans soon followed and the Main Settlement farm was chosen for the nuptials. Only it was not be a single ceremony. Older sister, Lillian, had fallen for the man she would ultimately spend nearly 70 years with, and joined her sister at the altar of matrimony.

At three o'clock on the afternoon of June 29, 1927, Miss Lillian G. Rice and Mr. Harold D. Johnson, of Eldred, were united in holy matrimony by The Rev. Frank Houser of Olean. The Rev. Thayer of Conewango then united Miss Geneva I. Rice to Mr. Fred C. Frank of Conewango. The first of those unions would not be broken until the death of Uncle Fred in 1969. Aunt Lillian passed away in 1997, at the age of 94, just a few months before her 70th anniversary. Uncle Harold lived a couple more years, but it was Aunt Geneva who lived the longest of those happy couples who chose to be wed on that June day of 1927.

Aunt Geneva found several more years of happiness with her second marriage to another Portville native, Carl Carlson. They met at a Portville Central School Alumni banquet in 1974 and had nearly nine years together before his passing in 1983.

People and families come and go. Historians and genealogists are more keenly aware of the magnitude and frequency of family transitions than others. As a sort of family historian and genealogy buff, I feel a great need and desire to record and share information. While we don't seem to have any family members who reached national fame (or infamy) most were/are solid, respectable, productive, and contributing members of society. Those of us left who remember the family gatherings at the Main Settlement farm have fond memories of romping in the hay mows, playing in the fields and woods, drinking that pure, crystal-clear, ice cold spring water, and the wonderful food grandma cooked on that old wood burning cook stove. Aunt Geneva's passing brought to an end a family which began with a marriage in a Ceres church nearly 100 years ago

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