Susan Garwood, Executive Director of the Rice County Historical Society and I are in agreement that it's perplexing our county is named after someone who never lived here.

Rice County is named after Henry Mower Rice who was born November 29, 1819 in Waitsfield, Vermont.  After studying law in Virginia briefly he moved to Michigan in 1834.

He worked as a surveyor for the Sault Ste. Marie canal project.  In 1839 he began working for the American Fur Company (AFC) at Fort Snelling.

Information about Rice on states Rice, "As a trader, businessman, treaty negotiator, and legislator, Henry Mower Rice played a crucial role in Minnesota’s statehood and the development of St. Paul. At the same time, Rice was responsible for policies that benefited himself and his business partners at the expense of Minnesota’s Indigenous populations."

Garwood told AM Minnesota listeners today, there is no record of Rice ever setting foot in the county that bears his name.  Meanwhile she pointed out Cook County is named after a Rice County resident who became a Civil War hero.  Michael Cook.

Here is another interesting piece of information included in the Mnopedia article.

"In 1854, Rice passed a bill allotting certificates, or “scrip,” exchangeable for 160 acres of unclaimed federal land, to Metís people dislocated by new Dakota treaties. While scrip was hypothetically non-transferable, a loophole allowed a land holding company owned by Rice’s associates to buy thousands of acres of so-called “half-breed" scrip for pennies on the dollar."

I suggested Whipple County for obvious reasons.  Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple was the first Anglican Bishop of Minnesota and was based in Faribault, Mn. through the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour.  He was known as a friend to the Sioux Indians and used his own money to board a train, go to Washington, D.C. and lobby President Abraham Lincoln to spare the lives of over 300 Native Americans sentenced to hang for the killing of white settlers during the Dakota War of 1862.

The Dalby Database has been a significant gift by John and Jan Dalby that has assisted thousands of families in researching their ancestry through cemetery and obituary research in Rice and Steele Counties.  At least they have lived here.

There are probably literally a couple dozen people this county could be named in honor of but I don't know if enough people care about such things.

Henry Mower Rice was undoubtedly instrumental in the start of Minnesota as a state.  I just believe the county should be named after someone who actually lived here.

What do you think?  I'd love to hear your comments.  You don't have to agree.

Below is the podcast of the program so you can hear the conversation plus genealogy tips and more.

This is always interesting information.

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