Rice Cemetery

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    Rice Cemetery is the largest city cemetery in the city of Elkhart. As of December 31, 2000, there have been over 25,000 burials in the cemetery. Rice Cemetery is located at 400 James St. in Elkhart, Indiana. The property of which it is located on was deeded to the city of Elkhart on September 5, 1908 by James Addison Rice. As an only child of John Rice, he inherited the family farm consisting of approximately 90 acres from his father. His father had previously deeded land for Grace Lawn Cemetery in 1862.

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    James Addison Rice was born on July 12, 1845 in Seneca County, New York. James and his family came to Elkhart in 1855. James's father, John Rice, purchased the land mentioned above shortly after arriving in Elkhart. James left the Elkhart area to study law and the ministry at an Eastern college. He not only earned both degrees, but also received three gold medals for his scholastic abilities. He was a noted benefactor to many charitable projects. James Addison Rice was a bachelor and died at his residence, 427 Goshen Ave. on July 28, 1923. He is buried in Rice Cemetery where only a small stone inscribed James Addison Rice 1855-1923 marks his grave. In 1962, Frank Erb, Superintendent of Cemeteries, started a fund drive to erect an appropriate monument honoring the donor of the land for the cemetery as well as the other land he donated to the city. A seven foot high by three foot wide monument made of northern black granite, quarried in Canada, was unveiled on July 29, 1962. It is located just to the right of the entrance to Rice Cemetery (pictured on right). A circular flower bed surrounds the monument and the inscription reads: "James Addison Rice, 1845-1923, farmer, realtor, lawyer, philanthropist - in appreciation of his generosity which made possible beautiful Rice Cemetery, Rice School, Rice Field and Rice Park. Erected by the grateful citizens of this community as a token of their respect."


    The first burials in Rice Cemetery took place in 1913. Versa (Bessie) Koebernik was the first burial recorded on September 4, 1913. On the 11th of September, Jennie Ransier was buried. Obadiah Bore was buried December 31. There were four burials in 1914 and four burials in 1915.


RiceOffice    In 1921 a mortuary chapel and vault was built in the center of the cemetery (pictured on left). It is believed that this building was designed by E. Hill Turnock. This was eventually converted into the current sexton's office and maintenance department. E. Hill Turnock designed the initial portion of the cemetery in 1918.


    At the entrance to Rice Cemetery, just off James St. stands a 32 foot high monument (designed by Nelson P. Doty) in polished brass and white limestone with a pedestal of Bedford Indiana stone. A bronze statue of a Civil War Union infantry soldier, standing at parade rest, can be seen at the top. Carved at the base are the four Civil War battle names of Shiloh, Stone River, Atlanta and Appomattox.


    Although Grace Lawn Cemetery in Elkhart has the distinction of having the youngest enlisted Civil War Union soldier (drummer boy, Avery Brown, age 8 years 11 months) buried in the cemetery, Rice Cemetery also has a young Union soldier buried in its cemetery. George Bickford Coleman, born April 22, 1852, joined the 13th New York volunteer regiment at the age of 9 years as a drummer boy. When his widowed mother found what her young son did, she went to the training camp and brought him back home. Two years later, at the age of 11, he again left home and joined the army as a bugler in the 21st New York Cavalry H Troop and was mustered out at the end of the war in 1865 (age 13). He died May 19, 1929.


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    In 1971, as Rice Cemetery began to fill up, the first mausoleum Chapel of Peace was built. The interior walls are of marble from Italy and the exterior walls are granite. The mausoleum has spaces for 756 interments and 48 niches. A second identical mausoleum Chapel of Memories was built later, and between the two are Hope and Faith having room for 264 outside interments.

* Historical facts provided by Patricia K. Johnson & Jeffrey L. Keim





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  • News
  • Related Pages
  • Cemetery spring cleanup approaching
    Monday, March 05, 2018
    Mayor Tim Neese announced today that the Cemetery Department will be having its yearly spring cleanup beginning Monday, March 12 and ending Friday, March 16, 2018.
  • City to replace mausoleum roofs at Rice Cemetery
    Wednesday, July 05, 2017
    The city of Elkhart announced today that they will replace the roofs on all four of the mausoleums at Rice Cemetery. Work is anticipated to begin the week of July 10 and is expected to take several weeks.
  • Cemetery Spring Cleanup Approaching
    Thursday, March 16, 2017
    Mayor Tim Neese announced today that the Cemetery Department will be having its yearly spring cleanup beginning Monday, April 3 and ending Friday, April 7, 2017.

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