COL. JONAS SHEARN RICE, president of the Union Bank & Trust Company, of Houston, is one of the most influential men of Texas and one of the most active in the larger business and financial affairs of the state. In addition to the bank presidency just mentioned his principal business connections at this time are: President of the Great Southern Life Insurance Company of Houston; chairman of the board of directors of the Bankers’ Trust Company; vice president of the Texas Trust Company; vice president of the J. S. & W. M. Rice Lumber Company; vice president of the Kirby Lumber Company; director of the Guarantee Life Insurance Company, of which he was one of the organizers; and director of the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railroad.
Colonel Rice's family have been identified with the prominent spheres of civic and industrial advancement in Texas from the time Texas entered the Union. Colonel Rice himself is a native of Houston, where he was born November 25, 1855. His mother, whose maiden name was Charlotte M. Baldwin, was a daughter of Horace Baldwin, who brought his family to Houston in 1845. Horace Baldwin was a brother-in-law of A. C. Allan, one of the townsite owners and founders of the city of Houston. The former on coming to Texas engaged in shipping on the Gulf coast and later became one of the first mayors of the city of Houston. Charlotte M. Baldwin was born in the state of New York. On both sides Colonel Rice is a descendant of American Revolutionary stock, and is of Scotch-Irish and English extraction. His great-grandfather, Hall, was wounded at the battle of Lexington in 1775, but lived to be one hundred and two years old, spending his life in Massachusetts.
The father of Colonel Rice was Frederick A. Rice, a native of Massachusetts, who settled at Houston in 1850 and was for many years identified with mercantile and railroading affairs. He was one of the builders of the H. & T. C. Railroad, and one of Houston’s most progressive citizens. He died in 1901, at the age of seventy-one.
Colonel J. S. Rice, the oldest of seven sons and three daughters, finished his education at the Texas Military Institute in Austin. He left school in October, 1874, to become a railroad clerk under J. Waldo, general freight and passenger agent of the H. & T. C. Railroad. Leaving this position in 1879. he became bookkeeper and teller for the National Exchange Bank of Houston. In 1881 he and his brother, William M. Rice, engaged in the sawmill business in Tyler county, and from that time forward was identified with many of the larger business affairs and interests of the state.
In 1895 Governor Culberson appointed him financial agent of the Texas State Penitentiary, a position which he held until 1899, when he was appointed, by Governor Sayers, superintendent of the Texas State Penal system. He resigned in 1902 and then returned to Houston, where he has since made his home. From 1904 to 1909 he was one of the receivers of the Kirby Lumber Company, and became vice president at the time of its reorganization. He was chosen president of the Union Bank & Trust Company in August, 1905.
In 1874 he became a member of the Houston Light Guards, and became prominent in the state national guards. He held the commission of adjutant in the first regiment of militia organized after the war. He served as adjutant general of the First Brigade on the staff of Gen. F.W. James. and his final service in military circles was chief of staff of Governor L. S. Ross.
Colonel Rice affiliates with the Masonic Lodge, Chapter and Commandery, and also with El Mina Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Galveston, and is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Hoo Hoo’s. He is a member of the commission appointed by Governor Campbell for the improvement of the San Jacinto battle ground, and one of the ex-presidents of the Thalian Club of Houston, and in 1905 was king of the No-Tsu-Oh Association.
He married, in 1887, Miss Mary J. Ross. She is a daughter of Colonel P. F. Ross, a niece of Governor L. S. Ross, and her grandfather was General James E. Harrison of Waco. They have three children, Laura F., Kate Padgitt and Lottie, all at home.