Belle RICE, as she was known, was my Great Grandmother. She was born Mary Belle RICE, on February 27, 1856 in Springfield, Oh. She was the daughter of Alonzo and Mary Ellen ALT RICE. Both the RICE family and the ALT families were very early pioneer families in Clark County Ohio. She wrote her diary in 1874, just 17 years old. 128 years later, in April 2002, I found her diary among my Grandmother's things.
Belle grew up in and spent most of her life in Springfield, OH with the exception of 19 years the family spent in St. Mary's (Auglaize Co). OH during the late 1800's and early 1900's when her husband worked for the State of Ohio as an Engineer at the St. Mary's Resevoir. She married Wesley MCDONALD in Springfield on Dec. 20, 1877 and they had 3 children, the youngest of whom was my Grandmother, Flora (Flo) Belle MCDONALD.
Belle lived to the age of 88 and died in Springfield on April 17, 1944. She outlived all of her siblings, her husband and her two sons, leaving only my Grandmother, Flora Belle MCDONALD FOLEY and a step-daughter to survive her.
Belle's grandaughter, Barbara Lou FOLEY MARTIN (my mother), wrote about Belle in her memoirs. The photo, right, is of Belle and her granddaughter, Barbara in about 1923. Belle's daughter, Flo (Barbara's mother) is far right. Wesley MCDONALD is seated, right, on the bench. The other woman is unknown.
"Grandmother McDonald was a member of the Baptist Church, an active member of the Pythian Sisters, a seamstress of some note, and a milliner. She was a marvelous cook, a woman of wit, and a devout student of the Bible. (She was also great at telling bedtime stories to a small girl (me) as they snuggled in the middle of a huge feather bed on cold winters' nights). Whenever I was ill, Grandma McDonald was summoned for home remedies (onion poultices, mustard plasters, and mysterious medicines concocted in the kitchen and administered with a spoon and a loving hand) and for cutting out paper dolls and making doll clothes and for reading and for all those things that tender grandma's can do that nobody else can."