Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

The Centennial History of Hurricane: Meet Some of Hurricane’s Oldest Families

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. Since the Centennial History is now out of print, the Breeze is reprinting articles from the book as space allows. This week’s selection will be the 197th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by O. R. Miller

William Rice was born on Oct. 29, 1820, in Forcheim, Germany, and is the progenitor of our Rice clan in America. He arrived in the Hurricane area by a very circuitous route. After serving an apprenticeship and becoming a master carpenter, he then fulfilled his military obligation by serving three years in the army. He was then employed in a spinning wheel factory as a “turner,” lathe operator. In 1847, looking for better opportunities, he made the journey to America. He went first to Louisa, Ky., and became a cabinet maker. While there, he met and married Nancy Jane Akers, daughter of Robert and Rebecca Hollandsworth Akers, in Feb. 1850. After a few years, William and Nancy made the first of several moves, to Guyandotte, Cabell County. A short time later they moved to Ironton, Ohio, where the boat building industry was thriving and he was employed for a number of years as a ship’s carpenter.

When the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Union Army and served until the end of that conflict. He resumed his work in the boatyards but that industry fell upon hard times and he began hauling coal from area mines and operated a feed store. In 1876, they returned to Huntington for a few months and then moved to Wayne County where he engaged in furniture making. While living there, Nancy and oldest daughter Rebecca died, so in 1880, William moved his family to Lincoln County where he continued working as a carpenter.

William and Nancy had become the parents of twelve children: Henry (1852) died in infancy; William (1854) died in infancy; Rebecca (1856) died of bums at age 22; Joseph (1858) married Ann Moreland and lived in Huntington; David (1860) married Dolly Merritt and later lived near Hurricane; Mary (1863) died young; Noah (1866) married Ida Miller and lived on Sycamore; Dan (1868) married Ann Hicks and lived in Hurricane; Charley (1870) married Margaret Reynolds and his family later lived in Hurricane; Emma (1870) twin of Charley, married Will Jordan and lived on Charley’s Creek; Albert (1873) married Margaret Fizer and lived on Laywell Creek; Sarah (1875) married Frank Smith and lived in Minnesota.

While living in Lincoln County, William left his mark for posterity. Nearing age 70, he helped build the Harvey’s Creek Baptist Church building in 1888 and “turned” the main support columns that are still in evidence today. By 1895 most of the family had moved to Charley’s Creek and Hurricane. William followed and lived among his children until his death in 1904. Many of his descendants remain in the Hurricane area but others are to be found coast-to-coast.

William Rice – a citizen of two nations and soldier in two armies. In the United States, he lived in 3 states, 6 counties and a dozen homes. Although possessed with a fierce temper that got him in trouble more than once, he was held in high esteem by both family and friends.


A digital copy of the Centennial History can be obtained from the Hurricane City Hall for a small donation. For more information, call the City of Hurricane at (304) 562-5896.

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