Rice, Jonas Shearn (1855–1931)

By: Kaye A. Walker

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 2017

Jonas Shearn Rice, banker, businessman, and civic leader, the son of Frederick A. and Charlotte M. (Baldwin) Rice, was born on November 25, 1855, in Houston, Texas. He attended local schools and the Texas Military Institute at Austin until October 1874, when he became a railroad clerk for the Houston and Texas Central Railway. In that year he joined the Houston Light Guards. In 1875 he was a bank teller for the National Exchange Bank, and in 1881 he and William Marsh Rice engaged in sawmilling in Tyler County. Rice was a receiver for the Kirby Lumber Company (see KIRBY, JOHN HENRY) from 1904 to 1909 and subsequently its vice president. In 1905 he became president of the Union Bank and Trust Company of Houston (later the Union National Bank), and in 1923 chairman of the board. Among his numerous posts he was chairman of the Bankers Trust Company; an organizer and first president of the Great Southern Life Insurance Company; vice president of the J. S. and W. M. Rice Lumber Company, the Houston Interurban Land Company, and the Houston Title Guaranty Company; a director of the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad, the Hogan-Allnoch Dry Goods Company, and Guaranty Life Insurance Company; and treasurer of the Keithly Company. In 1887 Rice married Mary J. Ross, with whom he had three children. In 1895 he became a financial agent for the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville and in 1899 superintendent of the prison system. Rice was active in the Texas National Guard, served as a member of the commission to improve the San Jacinto battleground, and was king of the No-Tsu-Oh Carnival Association in 1905. He served as first chairman of the Houston Red Cross and was a Mason. He died on March 31, 1931, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery.

Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas (4 vols., 1929?). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.

Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kaye A. Walker, “Rice, Jonas Shearn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rice-jonas-shearn.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 2017

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