Rev Spottswood Rice

Rev Spottswood Rice

Death 31 Oct 1907 (aged 87)
Burial Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA
Plot Block 0000D 000001 - 0ALLEY
Memorial ID 35146577 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Reverend Spottswood Rice (1819-1907)
Former Slave, Civil War Veteran, Minister
Block D, Lot 1 Alley

Spottswood Rice was born a slave on November 20, 1819 in Madison County, Virginia. His was a hard life but his story really doesn't begin until 1843 when he was sold to Benjamin Lewis and moved to Missouri.

Although it wasn't officially recorded until 1864 Spottswood married Arah Ferguson. They would go on to have 7 children. Spottswood, Arah and the children all were moved to Missouri although under different masters. While Spottswood worked the Lewis farm, his wife and children were slaves by Kitty Diggs at a separate farm in Madison County. Spottswood was allowed to visit from time to time.

Benjamin Lewis was a physically abusive master causing much harm to Spottswood. Several of the visits to his family were spent cleaning and dressing wounds. In February 1864 Spottswood had had enough and left. He made it to the Union line near Glascow, Missouri where he enlisted in the 67th United States Colored Infantry the same night he arrived. His master came looking for him and found him but it was too late to take him back. He was informed by the officers Spottswood was now a soldier and could not be touched. Ben Lewis was likely compensated for his loss however as that was the custom whenever an owner "allowed" his slave to enlist.

Spottswood was injured early and was sent to Benton Barracks in St Louis, Missouri to recover. While there he was able to reunite with his wife and some of his children but a couple of his daughters were left behind. As Spottswood now considered himself a free man he made an offer to buy his daughters from Kitty Diggs but the offer was refused. On September 3, 1864, Spottswood wrote two letters, one to his daughters and one to their Misses. These letters still stand today as an example of the depth of love a father can have for his family and the efforts he would take to have them back. In the letter to his daughters he wrote:

"now my Dear Children I want you to be contented with whatever may be your lots be assured that I will have you if it cost me my life on the 28th of the mounth. 8 hundred White and 8 hundred blacke solders expects to start up the rivore to Glasgow and above there thats to be jeneraled by a jeneral that will give me both of you when they Come I expect to be with, them and expect to get you both in return. Dont be uneasy my children I expect to have you. If Diggs dont give you up this Government will and I feel confident that I will get you".

His letter to Kitty Diggs was just as straightforward:

"I received a leteter from Cariline telling me that you say I tried to steal to plunder my child away from you now I want you to understand that mary is my Child and she is a God given rite of my own and you may hold on to hear as long as you can but I want you to remembor this one thing that the longor you keep my Child from me the longor you will have to burn in hell and the qwicer youll get their" and "I want you to understand kittey diggs that where ever you and I meets we are enmays to each orthere I offered once to pay you forty dollers for my own Child but I am glad now that you did not accept it Just hold on now as long as you can and the worse it will be for you".

Spottswood did get his daughters back and eventually the whole family was reunited.

After the war the family settled in St Louis with him becoming an ordained minister in the AME church in 1874. This was the start of a new life for him as his devotion to faith led him to start new churches in the west. In Albuquerque, New Mexico he founded the first black church, Grant Chapel, in the state. That church is still the oldest operating AME church in the state. Arah Rice died in St Louis in 1888 and about a year later he married Eliza Lightner in New Mexico.

About 1890 Reverend Spottswood and his new wife relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado to found yet another church. That church was the Payne Chapel AME and that church still functions to this day as a community of worship. Reverend Spottswood would continue his relationship with that church for the remainder of his years.

On October 31, 1907 Spottswood Rice died at the age of 88.

This man, born a slave, was motivated by of love for his wife and children was also a devoted man of faith. He was determined to keep his family together, fight for his freedom, and serve his church wherever it took him.

Information provided by FAG volunteer Ron West

Family Members

Gravesite Details Buried: 10/31/1907, Source: City of Colo Spgs cemetery data 3/20/09

Sponsored by Ancestry


Planning a visit to Evergreen Cemetery?



  • Created by: Joe & Connie, and Mariah
  • Added: 25 Mar 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 35146577
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Spottswood Rice (20 Nov 1819–31 Oct 1907), Find A Grave Memorial no. 35146577, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Joe & Connie, and Mariah (contributor 46889617) .