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The Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the 1844 farmhouse on the westward trails as a memorial to some of Jackson County's early pioneer settlers, enslaved individuals, and to the subsequent families that kept this house intact for future generations. This is the story of the Archibald Rice family, Sophia White, the families of Joseph and Roger Lowe and of Louis G. and Gloria Hartshorn Tremonti.
The Rice-Tremonti Home is available for your small-to-medium size indoor event or larger outdoor picnic. The home is perfect for wedding and baby showers, birthday parties, small wedding receptions, etc. Because of the historic nature of the home we prefer to keep indoor activities limited to approximately 50 attendees.
Facilities include a formal parlor, dining room, entrance hallway, restroom and catering kitchen.
For information on availability and current rates, please contact Leigh Elmore at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome all groups from schools, churches, civic organizations or just you and/or your family and friends for tours of the home and grounds. We ask for a $5 donation for each adult, children 12 and younger admitted free. No charge for school groups.
To book your tours please contact Leigh Elmore at email@example.com
In the photo above, Judge Joseph Lowe, a founder of the National Old Trails Assn., relaxes in a rocking chair in front of his house, circa 1911
The family of Archibald Rice emigrated from Caswell County in North Carolina to Missouri in the late 1820s, shortly after Missouri was admitted to the Union, settling in eastern Jackson County near Ft. Osage in the early 1830s.
In 1836 they claimed 160 acres located on the Santa Fe Trail in what is now Raytown in what was known as the “Lost Township,” which was unsurveyed land with no legal description, thus opening the door to squatters, that is, the Rices and their neighbors
Archibald, his wife Sally, and nine children settled in a two-story log cabin and cabins were built for the enslaved people. One of the slave cabins, known as Aunt Sophie’s Cabin, has been restored several times but is still on its original site from the 1830s.
The Rice farm quickly became a popular camping site for travelers on the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails, which bisected the property. It had space for wagons, springs for watering and corn and prairie grass for feeding animals.
The Rices sold barrels of corn to travelers to feed their mules and oxen for the first leg of their journey west and also human provisions.
Traveling from Independence, Santa Fe-bound traveler Matt Field wrote in 1841 for the New Orleans Picayune newspaper:
"About a half day's travel brings the Santa Fe bound traders past the flourishing plantation of Farmer Rice, where leisure travelers often linger to enjoy his sweet bacon, fresh eggs, new milk, and other nutritious and unsophisticated luxuries that always appease appetite without encumbering digestion."
In 1844 Archibald Rice obtained legal title to his property through a pre-emption deed issued in Clinton, MO. The family then built the wood frame Gothic Revival house that still remains.
Reports indicate that in 1849 about 490 men and 132 wagons were camped at the Rice farm, with both sides of the trail lined with emigrants waiting to go west.
Archibald died on Oct. 14, 1849 and ownership of the property passed to his son Elihu Coffee Rice and his wife, Catharine. Sophia White, a slave, came with Catharine to her new home in 1850 and took up residence in the cabin nearest the main house. Known as “Aunt Sophie”, she was the personal servant of the Rice couple and cooked most meals on the hearth in the log cabin and was midwife to their children.
The Rice family evacuated to near Ft. Worth, Texas in 1861 to avoid the violence of the border warfare erupting over Kansas statehood. The caretaker family, the Hunters, were evicted from the house under the Union’s draconian Order No. 11 in 1863, yet the house survived.
The Rice-Tremonti Home remains one of fewer than 10 homes in Jackson County built prior to the Civil War. We don’t know why it was spared when so many others were destroyed in the war.
The Rice family returned in 1866, reclaimed the property and continued to farm until Coffee Rice died in 1903 and the property was sold. Sophia White remained with the family after emancipation. During her last year in 1896 she was cared for by the Rice family and living in the main house. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Independence.
Judge Joseph Lowe of Plattsburg, MO bought the property in 1908 and set up his son Roger Lowe and family in the house where they farmed. They were prosperous and had several children born in the house, a few of whom recounted their early days in the home to the Friends of Rice-Tremonti.
The house served as a country inn for several years in the 1930s until it was purchased by Dr. Louis G. Tremonti, an immigrant from Sicily, and his wife Gloria in 1935. The Tremontis restored the old house and added windows to the upstairs. Dr. Tremonti died in 1949 and Gloria continued to live in the house until 1987, well aware of its historical significance.
In 1987 the not-for-profit Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home Association purchased the property and began their effort to restore and preserve one of the few remaining original pioneer homes in the Kansas City area. That effort continues to this day.
2023 will mark the 179th year that the white frame house has stood in Raytown.
Photo below, Aunt Sophie's Cabin
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
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The home is available for your private or group tour. Just contact Leigh Elmore, firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone, 816-510-8179 to make arra...
There are so many ways to support our mission. Contact us to find out more about volunteer opportunities, fundraising events, and ways to get our message to your community.