Rice, on Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 287, ten miles north of Corsicana in northern Navarro County, was settled in the late 1860s. By 1872, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway was built through the area, a dozen families lived within a four-mile radius. One of the railroad owners, William Marsh Rice, donated land for a church and cemetery. The first business structure was a two-story wooden building with a general store operated by L. B. Haynie on the lower floor and a hotel operated by Ed Taber and his wife on the upper. A Rice post office opened in 1872. By 1890 the town had a steam gristmill and cotton gin, three general stores, two grocery stores, a blacksmith shop, two wheelwrights, a druggist, and an estimated population of seventy-five. The first newspaper, the Rice Enterprise, was founded in 1898 and operated for only for a few months; it was followed in 1901 by the Rice Rustler, edited by Clarence Urbin. The first school at Rice began operating around 1875; by 1906 the town had two large public schools, one with 127 White students and one with 125 Black students. Rice had a population of 268 in 1900, but in May 1901 a fire destroyed almost a third of the business district. In 1912 the Texas Electric Railway completed the Dallas-Corsicana line through Rice; the town was incorporated that year and adopted the aldermanic form of city government. Rice continued to prosper during the 1920s, reaching a peak population of 900 in 1929. During the 1930s its population began to decline, due in part to the effects of the Great Depression and the flight of local residents to the cities. By 1945 the number of residents had dropped to 489, and the town had only eight registered businesses. By the mid-1960s the population had reached a low of 250. Rice recovered, however, and by 1990 had grown to a population of 564 with seven reported businesses. Many of the residents worked in nearby Corsicana. By this time the community had expanded into nearby Ellis County. In 2000 the population reached 798.
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Rice by the Numbers
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|1,203||2020||United States Census Bureau|
|1,024||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|923||2010||United States Census Bureau|
|798||2000||United States Census Bureau|
|564||1990||United States Census Bureau|