The Rice Family

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Andrea Jane Rice

Guest
Is there anyone who has, or has access to, any information about the Rice family. They were 3rd class passengers.

All historical information I have read states that Mrs Rice was a widow and was travelling with her 5 sons to start a new life in the US. They were apparently last seen in the 3rd class lounge and she was holding the youngest with the others clutching on to her skirt. They all perished.

However, I'm now reading a book by Geoff Tibbals called How it Happened, which has an extensive selection of statements from survivors. One lady, Bertha Mulvihill, stated that "there was a family named Rice consisting of the father, mother and 6 children. The father was not permitted to board a lifeboat and she refused to leave without him. The result being that all 8 perished. The passenger records show only 1 Rice family.

The reason for my query is that I am married into a Rice family and know it is an Irish name, but I don't think a common one - there may be a family connection.

Any info gratefully received.

Andrea
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Andrea,

Are we reading different versions of Tibballs' book? In Bertha's account; pages 150/151 I see mention of a mother with 6 children who refused to get into a lifeboat because it meant the woman being parted from her husband. Then "... I will always see that mother clinging to her husband and six children."

What leads you to belive that the family Bertha saw were named Rice?

Lester
 
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Richard Coplen

Guest
Hey Andrea,
I think I can help you here as I've been interested in the Rice family almost as long as I've been interested in the Titanic - which is a LONG time!!! The only Rice family aboard were the 6 that boarded at Queenstown consisting of widowed mother, Mrs Margaret Rice (nee Norton) and her 5 young sons - Eric, Arthur, Eugene, George and Albert. Their story is as follows...

Margaret Rice was born as Margaret Norton in the town of Athlone, Co. Westmeath (my home-county), Ireland on the 6th of October, 1872. She grew up in the town and about the age of 20 met and married an Englishman by the name of Mr William Rice in St. Mary's catholic church - the same church where she was baptised. They lived in Athlone for a while, but then decided to emigrate to the States. They left Ireland and eventually reached New York where they lived for a while. William worked as an engineer on the railroads there and brought in a steady income. Then when his work required him to transfer to Montreal in Canada, they then moved there. This was about 1902. It is interesting to note that the railroad which William worked on in Canada belonged to none other than Charles Hayes - the first class passenger who would later go down with the Titanic along with the Rices. It is about this time that the Rices were blessed with their first child. I can't recall the name just now - but I think their first-born was called Francis or Hugh(?). It is also then that the first in a series of tragedies began to plague the family. Their first-born choked to death on his pacifier (dummy). The couple were devastated. However, they were further blessed with 3 more boys in Montreal. About 1908 the family were again uprooted by William's work and they moved to Spokane in Washington. All seemed to go well for the family here and they were yet again blessed with two more boys. Just as Margaret and William were settling down in life tragedy was yet again to pay them a visit. In 1910 William was killed in a horrific accident while working on the railroad. This was more than Margaret could bear - she could'nt face life alone bringing up 5 young boys in a still unfamiliar place. With the money she received as compensation for the loss of her husband, Margaret returned with her boys to Ireland. Back in Athlone she gradually came to terms with her devastating loss in the care of her family. However by the Spring of 1912 she began to ask herself if her children would have a better chance at life in the States. In early April she booked passage home to Spokane via New York aboard the brand-new liner Titanic. The family's last few days in Ireland were spent in a lodging-house on Mardyke Street in Athlone. The day before the family were to board Titanic at Queenstown - the 10th of April, Margaret purchased a box of pills in "Fleming's" chemist Athlone as well as a brand-new pair of shoes in "Parson and Sons". The next morning Margaret and her boys found themselves boarding Titanic at Queenstown (now Cobh) in Co. Cork. They all must have had mixed emotions - fear, anxiety, excitement, loneliness... However once the voyage began Margaret quickly made friends with the likes of fellow Athloner Miss Bertha Mulvihill. The boys also made friends with other youngsters. The voyage went exceedingly well for the Rices up until the night of Sunday, April 14th. We all know what happened over those couple of hours. Tragically the Rices never made it to a lifeboat - the last that was seen of them was when Bertha Mulvihill spied them on deck as she boarded a lifeboat. Margaret was seen holding baby Eugene while the other boys clutched fearfully to her skirts. Of the 6 Margaret's was the only body to be recovered, speculation has it that "the unknown child" is Eugene - but who knows. Margaret's body was posititvely identified through correspondance with "Fleming's" chemist concerning the box of pills recovered on her body and by a label in her new shoes with "Parson and Sons, Athlone" on it. Her body was eventually laid to rest in Mount Olivet cemetery in Halifax, finally laying to rest the last member of a seemingly cursed and tragic family.

I hope this helps you Andrea. Senan Moloney's "The Irish aboard Titanic" is an excellent source for the story of the Rices - it even includes a photo taken of Margaret surrouded by her 5 boys. I highly recommend this book.
Best wishes,
Richie.
 
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Andrea Jane Rice

Guest
Morning Lester,

Bertha Mulvihill stated that she saw them standing together prior to the sinking. It was on Page 77, paragraph 7, The Mammoth Book of How it Happened by Geoff Tibballs. But if you look at page 494 it shows only Mrs W. Rice and 5 sons. The web passenger records stated that she was a widow, her husband had died in a motor accident a year or two back, and that she was travelling to the States to start a new life with her boys.

I was wondering if anyone knew of a way to check into this family history.

Andrea

P.S. Where in NZ are you from, my brother-in-law is from Christchurch and his family still live not far from there? I also have other friends in NZ and Oz.
 
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Andrea Jane Rice

Guest
Richard,

Many many thanks for this information. The story how you have relayed it is what I was led to believe in the beginning. How Bertha thought otherwise, as said in here statement following the disaster, I don't know. You'd think as she had got to know her that she would have known. Unless it was another family she was talking about and was confused regarding their surname - whatever.

It's hard though - i've always been interested in the Titanic's story, but have never really researched it before now. Reading the book I am, with statements from survivors, really brings it to the fore and you can almost feel and see how it must have been - well, to a point.

There was a young newlywed couple whose little dog they had to leave in their cabin. No mention is ever made of the poor panic stricken animals that perished. It was all such a tragic set of circumstances and unbelievable loss.

Anyway, again, thanks for the information.

Best regards,

Andrea
 
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Richard Coplen

Guest
Hey again Andrea,
The mother, father and 6 children that Bertha Mulvihill was describing may have been the Goodwins and the interviewer may have taken her up wrong. I know that George Rice - the eldest lad became good friends with the younger Goodwin kids - William, Harold and Jessie, I think. I recall reading somewhere that a group of 3rd class kids including these 4 hung around with eachother for much of the voyage. If young George Rice was friends with the young Goodwins, then I'm sure that Margaret Rice may have befriended Lillian Goodwin - they were approximately the same age. They may have been together as a group on the night of the disaster and Bertha Mulvihill's intended accounts of two seperate groups may have been misinterpreted as one family group.
Just a thought,
Richie.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Andrea,

Auckland. Thanks for the added info. Tibballs has published part of the same account in two parts. Remember with the published accounts that many contain misinformations. Errors caused by both the survivors themselves and by reporters. Caplan's edition of Marshall's: The Sinking of the Titanic, tells how Jack Thayer put his mother into a boat and kissed her ..... Jack's accout follows in which he clearly states he was separated from his parents .... It would seem Marshall did not read Thayer's written account.

Lester
 

Ben Lemmon

Member
Oct 9, 2009
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Just so you know, I'm not talking about grains here. (No disrespect to the family meant.)

Anyway, it says this family boarded the Titanic at Queenstown, Ireland. However, Rice doesn't seem like an Irish name to me. Were these people actually Irish, or were they immigrants who happened to be in Ireland when the Titanic stopped in port?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Were these people actually Irish,<<

Yes. Mrs. Rice was born in Westmeath according to Her Biography.

As to immigrants overall, it was entirely possible that they would come from somewhere else and end up in a British port as a transit/transfer point from wherever they started out from. Titanic's 3rd class passengers came from all over Europe and some even from the Middle East. As far as I know however, Southampton was the usual transfer point for most, while some embarked in Cherbourg.

[Moderator's Note: This message and the two above it, originally a separate thread in a different topic, have been moved to this pre-existing thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
 
Nov 11, 2005
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Can anyone pinpoint when Margaret's first born was actually born, year wise? He was either Francis or Hugh, but choked on his pacifier.
I am very curious as i have often read that this child was her firstborn and was born in 1902.
Now, that doesn't make sense because we know Albert Rice was born 1901(aged 10 on Titanic),
and George Hugh was born 30 nov 1902.
Can anyone shed some light?
 
Apr 16, 2009
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Hi Hildur,

I read about that as well. I am guessing 1899 sometime. Yes, one of the five boys are named after the first baby as I recall, maybe Albert.

Sincerely,

Melinda
 
Nov 11, 2005
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Hmm....i listed it also around the a time, between 1899-1900, if any of the boys we're twins, we would know. I have the name written as being either Francis or Hugh, not Albert.
In Finnish culture, (i don't know about Irish), it wasn't weird to name a living child after a dead child...the Panula's did it with Juha Niilo (he was named as Juho Eemeli, who died in 1982, aged 2m)
 
Nov 11, 2005
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I have Albert being the oldest surviving son, and i have two birth date being 1902 and 1901, and aged 10.
I also have George Hugh being the first born, and born either 30 nov 1902, or 30 nov 1903, aged 8. I have also found him listed as aged 10.

I also have no birth dates for Arthur and Frederick Thomas (or "Eric") I have Eugene Francis's birth dates and there is no issue. Just the older boys.
Also does anyone have any information on the correct name and birth year of Margaret and William's first born son, who passed away soon after. I have being born around 1899/1900 (i have also read him being born in 1901--conflicting with Albert) and named either Francis or Hugh.

Thanks for any help,
Hildur Panula-Heinonen