One of the earliest families in St. Louis Park was that of Nelson Horatio Rice.
Nelson Rice was born on April 6, 1845 in Watertown, Wisconsin. The 1850 Census shows the family living in Black Creek, Wisconsin. His father was Levi Rice, a farmer born in New York in 1784. His mother was Prudence Rice, born in Vermont in 1802. Nelson had at least six brothers and sisters.
In 1860 he was apparently living with a relative, a farmer in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
A Wisconsin County history book describes Nelson’s service in the Civil War:
When he was 17, he determined to risk the fate of war in his eagerness to aid in bringing about the end of rebellion. He enlisted Aug. 14, 1862, in Company B, 21st Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, at Oshkosh for three years. He received honorable discharge June 18, 1865, at Milwaukee, the war being at an end. Among the battles and skirmishes in which he was a participant, he numbers Perryville, Stone River, Mission Ridge, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, Resaca, Bentonville, Marietta, Allatoona, Buzzard’s Roost. He was wounded at Perryville, Oct. 8, 1862, and from the field hospital was transferred to Lebanon, Ky., and from there to Louisville, Ky. After recovering in a measure from his wound he was attacked by fever which detained him from his regiment, making his hospital experience about six months in extent.
Rumors of his being a prisoner at Andersonville Prison and losing a leg in the war are apparently not true.
On February 6, 1867, Nelson married Margaret Jane Redhead Worden (born 1846) in Menasha, Wisconsin. By 1870 they were back in Black Creek. Margaret had been the wife of George C. Worden, who was killed in the war in 1863 and family lore is that Worden had been Nelson’s best friend. Margaret and Worden had a son, George H. Worden. The 1880 Census shows Nelson and Margaret in Black Creek, farming. His mother Prudence lived with them.
By 1895 Margaret had died and the family had moved to St. Louis Park. Nelson worked as a day laborer in 1900 and 1910. From at least 1910 until his death (November 13, 1930), Nelson lived with his daughter Millie and her husband Jake Werner. He had a leg amputated and was confined to a wheel chair. He loved to read westerns.
The children of Nelson and Margaret Rice can be teased out from the several Census documents. Additional information was provided by Geraldine Kramer Werner.
George Worden (born 1863)
Cora E. (born 1869/71). In 1895 Cora worked as a “stitcher.” She was out of the house by 1900.
Franklin N. (born 1873/4). Frank was an iron moulder in 1900. Frank married Elfrida Keller, whose parents owned the St Louis Park Hotel. They and their two daughters lived in Stillwater where he was a guard at the Penitentiary. He was said to be “a tall thin man, quite handsome.”
Walter L. (born July 12, 1877). Walter enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 5th Cavalry in the Spanish-American War. In 1900 he was in Puerto Rico. He married in 1910 in Ohio.
Orpha M. (born 1880). She worked in a shoe factory in 1900. Possibly moved to Milwaukee.
Margaret (“Maggie”) J. (born April 11, 1883). In 1905 Margaret worked as a domestic in Minneapolis. In about 1909 she married George A. Werner. They had a baby girl in 1911 but she might not have survived. There is no sign of Margaret after 1915.
Leah J. (born 1885). Leah married Alfred Engell and they operated Engell Dairy on Excelsior Blvd.
Millie (“Alfie”) (born 1889). Millie married Jacob “Jake” Werner.
In this 1924 photo, Nelson Rice is in front holding the flag.