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George Rice
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Old Church Hill CemeteryTurbett Twp., (four miles south of Port Royal) Juniata Co., Pa.The land for the Church Hill Cemetery was first patented by a man named Rankin. Later it was obtained by Zachariah Rice (Reis) and there, on the highest point of ground on his farm, sometime between 1790 and 1802, the cemetery was laid out and the first Lutheran Church in Juniata County was built.In early times there was a school house in connection with the Church and on cemetery ground, probably a parochial school.Zachariah Rice was a colorful character. He was born in 1731, in Palatinate, Germany. He came to America and arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Edinburg, September 16, 1751. He fought in the Revolutionary War and later settled in Chester County where he married Abigail Hartman in 1757. They had twenty-one children. She died in 1789 and it is said the following epitaph was placed on her tombstone:Some have children,Some have none,But here lies the motherOf twenty-one.During his sojourn at Pikeland, Chester County, he and his family attended Trappe Lutheran Church in which the Rev. Henry Melchoir Muhlenburg, father of the Lutheran Church in America, was pastor. In order to go to church, they traveled a distance of thirteen miles on horseback and it was necessary to ford the Schuylkill River.Shortly after his wife's death, he lost his farm by a fraudulent title given by a rascal real estate dealer.After these calamities had befallen him, this stalwart pioneer gathered all he had left and together with his surviving seventeen children and their families started westward.He crossed the Susquehanna River and traveled northward until he came to the Juniata River which he followed until he arrived at the Tuscarora Valley. Here, he and his family settled in what was then Milford Township, but is now Turbett Township.On January 1, 1803, Zachariah Rice deeded his land to his son, Jacob Rice, and the same day, Jacob Rice deeded one and one-half acres to Valentine Wisehaupt and Peter Rice, trustess of the German Lutheran Congregation of the Tuscarora Valley, for sixteen dollars. This land to be used as a burying ground. Zachariah Rice Tombstone (in German)John T. Rice, son of Peter Rice and grandson of Zachary, was the last survivor of Perry's Victory on Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. He died in 1828. Other pioneers who were instrumental in establishing a church and cemetery at Church Hill were Jacob and Samuel Kepner, Major George May, Leonard Groninger, the Wisehaupts and the Benders.It was not long after the purchase of the burying ground that the spectre of death came into the family of Jacob Kepner and took away a six month old son, John Daniel. So in 1803 the first grave was dug in which was placed the body of this little boy.At this funeral six boys were present, each six years of age. These boys lived all their lives in the Tuscarora Valley, were associates and men of importance. All of them lived to be over seventy-five years of age and all, except one, are buried in the Church Hill Cemetery. These boys were: Thomas Stewart, Walker Woods, William Bender, Stuart Turbett, Jacob Groninger and Valentine Wisehaupt. The last named was buried in a private graveyard on the Wisehaupt Farm.Other early settlers who rose to prominence and are buried here are:Captain William Martin of Armand's First Partisan Legion in the Revolutionary War. He died in Turbett Township about 1822.Benjamin Kepner, whose name appears as a taxable as early as 1772, died May 4, 1854, aged 96 years.Prof. David Wilson, Ph. D., Principal of Tuscarora and Airy View Academies to whom a monument was dedicated in this cemetery, by his former pupils May 30, 1895As time passed more land was needed for the cemetery and several acres were purchased from the Hertzler family. This was called the Hertzler addition. The first person buried in this addition was a man by the name of Cooper in 1878.In 1961, the farm adjacent to the cemetery was bought from Harry Horning and five acres were set aside to be used as an addition to the cemetery, more to be added at a future time, if necessary. The first person to be buried in this addition was Floyd E. Bashore and the second was Guy Rice, a direct descendant of Zachary Rice, the founder of the cemetery.
Added by: Ray Kohler

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