Today begins a new blog feature in which will be displayed the headstones of those who have gone on before us. I can think of no one in our family line deserving the honor of being visited first than Dorcas Amidon Rice. Dorcas endured over a century, passing away at the venerable age of 104!
Dorcas Amidon Rice was the 3rd great grandmother of my maternal grandmother, Delia Feister Irvine (1918-1982), i.e. my 5th great grandmother.
The memorial erected for Dorcas is located in the Fitzwilliam Village Cemetery, town of Fitzwilliam, Cheshire County, New Hampshire.
Dorcas was born Dec. 20, 1769, to Philip Amidon and Eunice (Shumway) Amidon in the town of Oxford, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Dorcas was the eldest of nine children, her siblings being: John, Roxana, Lavina, Polly, Eunice, Josiah, Cynthia and Keziah. The family lived in Worcester County, MA, until about 1784, when Philip Amidon relocated to Fitzwilliam, NH. Dorcas was about 14 years old when they moved to Cheshire County, NH, and she would live there for the next ninety years.
According to The History of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, Philip Amidon is listed among the earliest setters of the town, so we can imagine the area was pretty primitive at the time. Philip owned over 120 acres in the town and built the town’s second grist-mill. The mill is long gone, but we can imagine it resembled something like the image shown.
In May of 1790, Dorcas married David Rice. She was 20 and he was 21. Dorcas gave birth to 10 children and bestowed on them some interesting names: Azubah, Faxon, Madame, Susannah, Arethusa, Roxalana, David, Betsey, Laban and Mary.
I haven’t yet determined what David Rice did to support their large family, but apparently it was a strain on him because in 1828 he hung himself! From a notice in the newspaper, it is appears he was an alcoholic. Another newspaper item shows that he was very much in debt, for his estate was sold at public auction after his death to satisfy his debts.
Census records in years following the death of her husband show that Dorcas resided with either her children or grandchildren: with her daughter, Mary, and family in 1850; then with her son, David, in 1860; finally with her grandson, George, who operated a hotel in town.
In later years, Dorcas went on to gain some notoriety as the State’s oldest living person. In August of 1873, the centennial anniversary of the town of Jaffrey was celebrated and four generations of the Rice family road in a 4-horse wagon in procession with a banner honoring Dorcas.
What a woman she was! It is likely that she didn’t enjoy a very wonderful life with an alcoholic husband who drove the family into debt and loss. She endured 46 years following his death, saw the nation go through a Civil War and many more social and political changes, and watched her family grow and grow.
“Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.” – Menachem Mendel Schneerson