William & Etta Bice Family of Merrick County, Nebraska

William H. Bice was the son of Jeremiah and Irene Bice and was born July 21, 1860, at Schenectady, New York.

Jeremiah Bice was the son of Joshua Bice, who was born in the late 1700s in New York State.

Jeremiah and his family immigrated to the state of Iowa in the 1870s and later came to Merrick County where he bought a farm north of Chapman. A son, James Ozra, also farmed in that area.

William Henry Bice followed in April of 1884, where he farmed and taught school that winter in District #32.

He married Anna McQuiston in Boone County, Iowa, on December 28, 1887, and they made their home in Merrick County. He bought his father’s farm but later sold it and bought the 160 acres 4 ½ miles northeast of Chapman in 1903. He also taught school in District #39, which was on the Bice property.

Anna died in childbirth in May of 1889.

William Bice married Etta V. Campbell on March 9, 1892, at Palmer, Nebraska. To this union was born Lawrence S. Bice, Ethel Bice Tilley, and Stanley B. Bice.

Mr. Bice attended Grand Island Business College. During the ensuing years, he attended many Lyceum and Literary Societies and was known as a great debater in the area. He was also an excellent sprinter and took many prizes at get-togethers in the community.

Mr. and Mrs. Bice lived on the home place until his death in 1944, except for ten years spent in Central City.

Mr. and Mrs. Bice were active members of the Chapman Baptist Church. They organized a Sunday school which was held in District #39 schoolhouse. He was instrumental in the building of one of the first square school buildings in the county. In 1914, he built a large farmhouse which was one of the first in the area to have indoor plumbing, central heating, and Delco electricity.

Lawrence Bice lived there and farmed with his father. Later Stanley Bice farmed the ground. In 1937, Ethel and Ralph Tilley moved there and farmed until it was sold in 1950.

The Bices were lovers of fruit and planted a large orchard and vineyard, and a strawberry bed which supplied fruit in the area for a good many years.

Among Mr. Bice’s hobbies was raising bees, and many people were repaid for their kindnesses in honey.

At this time, Lawrence S. Bice and his wife Dorothy are in Paradise, California.

Ethel Bice Tilley and her husband Ralph live in Grand Island.

Stanley B. Bice and his wife Opal live in Central City.

There are five grandsons: Larry, Boyd, and Roger Bice; Donald and Loran Tilley, and Thomas Bice.

Mr. and Mrs. Bice are buried in the Chapman Cemetery.

Submitted by Ethel Bice Tilley and Stanley B. Bice


Merrick County Historical Society, History of Merrick County, Nebraska (1981), Volume I, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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