The following account was found in the archives of the library at Princeton, MA, and reproduced here in its entirety.

Historical Narrative

The history of David Rice was written by Peter Viles who has done extensive research on the Rice family.

David Rice was born in 1757 in Rutland, Massachusetts, the son of David and Love (Moore) Rice and died in Princeton, Massachusetts in 1825, aged 68 years, 6 months, 14 days. He was a sixth generation descendant of Edmund Rice, one of the early settlers of Sudbury and Marlborough, Massachusetts.

David served in the Revolutionary Way, enrolling from Rutland in August and October 1777. He was first in Bent's and Boylston's Companies (Nathan Sparhawk's Regiment) and marched to Bennington, later claiming 102 miles for travel home. From 1 - 18 October, 1777, he served in James Mirick's Company (Josiah Whitney's Regiment; also under Lt. Col. Ephraim Sawyer), marching to reinforce General Horatio Gates at Saratoga.

Although it is not clear just when he came to Princeton, it was most likely shortly after his marriage to Abigail (Newton) Read in 1785. Abigail was born in 1761, the daughter of Peter and Hannah (Child) Newton and had married Joel Read in 1782. Joel drowned in Muscapauge Pond in Rutland just a year later, leaving Abigail with an infant, a boy who was named after his father. Only 22 years old, Abigail probably returned home with her newborn.

David's father had bought land in Princeton in 1772 and 1775, 180 acres of which he gave to his son in 1780 "for [the] love, good will and affection I have for him" in September 1780. David Rice's first homestead was probably the house on "the county road from Princeton to Hubbardston" known now as Old Colony Road and, earlier, Thompson Road. Blake, in his History of Princeton, states the house dates from 1785 and states was 27 by 36 feet. It contained 10 windows, double hung as 6x8 panes. This would correspond to the structure now at 113 Old Colony Road.

Soon after David's arrival in Princeton, the insurgence of rural and western farmers and land owners made itself known in what was to be named Shays' Rebellion. Although popularly thought of as an uprising of poor and indebted farmers in the western counties, a recent study indicates the unrest with the Commonwealth government in Boston and its taxation and monetary policies was more widespread and involved many prominent civic and social leaders. Certainly the eastern Worcester County towns of Bolton and Princeton were regarded as hotbeds of support for reform, even violent reform. According to Blake, David Rice, while not a leader of the Princeton faction was certainly a strong supporter. It is likely he marched in early September 1786 to close the court session in Worcester.

Regardless of his post-Revolutionary War politics, David became very active in town affairs. He started as assessor in 1792-93 and was elected selectman 1793-1800 and again from 1804-07. He served yet two more terms as assessor, 1806-09 and 1818-19 as well as being town treasurer in 1813. Finally, he was Princeton's representative to the General Court on five occasions (1801-02, 1813, 1818 and 1821). In addition, he was running a tavern from his homestead by 1795. One suspects this gave him political knowledge and a certain following in the district.

David gave various parcels of land to his sons as they reached maturity and married. By the time of his death, sons John, Aaron and David had married, and Reuben Walker apparently also received his inheritance. Son David received the original homestead (present-day 113 Old Colony Road) at the time of his marriage in 1822, and the father most likely built a new house about a half mile further east along the Princeton-Hubbardston Road, the present day 147 Old Colony Road. The styles of the respective houses are in keeping with those dates of design and construction.

David died 2 September 1825 and his estate came to probate in October of that year. His will was made 15 August 1825. He opens by stating "being in an infirm state of health and sensible to the liableness to sudden death at the same time being of sound mind and memory, blessed be to God for the same..." His son, David, had died just a month prior and the father may have been shocked into making his will by this event. The use of the term "sudden death" probably connotes "imminent" rather than "unexpected" or "abrupt", the association of chest pain (angina) with coronary artery disease being eighty years in the future and the concept of sudden cardiac death unknown for even longer. In any event, the document provides insight into his family and subsequent history of the homestead.

The widown, Abigail, and son, Nathan, continued to live in the "new" homestead. Nathan married Cynthia Derby/Darby of Westminster in 1827 and they had nine children, all apparently born in Princeton. There isn't much information about Nathan over the next 25 years, but we can be confident about one thing: whatever he did, he wasn't very successful at it. He gave several mortgages for the land, sold other parcels, and also mortgaged personal property, including the inherited clock.

Abigail died in 1850 and Nathan sold her dower lands and the homestead two years later to Simeon Clark. We can only speculate why he sold the homestead but we do know that he also owned land in Hubbardston and was perhaps in poor health. Also, the need for money seems to have been chronic. Whatever the reasons, he remove to Hubbardston where he died in 1854 of consumption (tuberculosis). Cynthia (Derby) Rice remained in Hubbardston for at least another year, but 1860 finds her back in Westminster working as a "chair seater" (probably caning chair seats in one of the several Westminster furniture factories). Four of her children would die of tuberculosis before that time and a fifth, Theodore, would die in 1863 at age 21 of "canker rash" (probably scarlet fever). She eventually moved in with her oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who had married J. Hervey Miller in 1866. Cynthia died in 1877 at age 71.

Mary M. Fuller owned this house in 1916, and later Clarence Evans was the owner. Clarence Evans built the house at 10 Worcester Road in 1937. Victor and Norma Passage lived here in 1959, at which time they named it the "Owl's Nest" because of all the owls living in the woods around the house. Norma was the town librarian and also held the position at the library in Mechanics Hall in East Princeton.

Architectural Description

This late 18th Century Federal-style house is a side-gabled, two-story dwelling, of three bays in length and a single bay in depth. The street-facing facade of the home features the typical five-over-four window layout with a central entry door and two narrow chimneys, each one located at the center of the two end gables. The windows are in the original six-over-six configuration and the house is sided in horizontal wood clapboarding. There is a bulkhead entry to the basement located in the left gable-end of the house. The house features a rear addition which begins in the mid-rear of the house and continues out past the right gable end. The integration of this one-story lean-to type ell with the two-story Federal dwelling and the fact that it does not extend the entire length of the building gives this end of the house the appearance of a two-bay deep, half-saltbox while the other end of the building looks like a simple two-story building of one-bay in depth. With some minor details that lean to the Greek-revival, such as the heavy, broken pediment cornice molding on the gable ends, this building is as near as can be in style and original layout to that of the structure located at 27 Gates Road.