Want to take home a 7-month-old baby? Come on down to the Salvation Army, where little George will be handed over to someone as an “interesting feature of the afternoon’s services.” Thus was apparently the fate of infants unwanted or parentless in 1909 Santa Rosa; the Lytton Springs Orphanage, which was likewise operated by the Salvation Army, did not accept youngsters under school age.

The spring of 1909 was the season for orphaned children: A few weeks earlier, a family of seven kids found themselves alone when their widowed mother Ida May Rice died. The day after her funeral, the court named as guardian the local probation officer, who promptly said that all of the children had been placed in homes. The Assistant District Attorney complemented his swift work was done “without any expense in the county.”

It would not be cynical to presume unhappy fates awaited the Rice children; this was the era when orphans were still taken into homes to work as domestic servants or farm laborers, and three of these children were in their early teens, a prime age for such exploitation. Happily, the 1910 census shows that five of the children were adopted by Myron and Eva Goodsell of Janesville, Wisconsin, who were presumably relatives. What happened to the eldest daughter, 17 year-old Nellie, or the newborn is unknown. Hopefully the latter didn’t end up as another Salvation Army door prize.

Ida May, with her husband Charles Rice, are buried in Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, Eastern Half Circle 36.


The services at the Salvation Army on Sunday will be conducted by Major Willis of San Francisco. Special subjects will be dealt with at each meeting. An interesting feature of the afternoon’s services will be the giving away of a baby boy, by name of George. George is seven months old, weighs 22 pounds. The public is invited to come.

– Press Democrat, May 22, 1909

Leaves Six Children Orphans to Face the World

Mrs. Ida May Rice passed away on Friday morning at her home on Charles street, leaving several children, among them a new born babe, to mourn her loss. Mrs. Rice succumbed to double pleuro-pneumonia, and everything possible to medical science was done to save precious life to the family. She sank steadily and her spirit was transferred to the better land, leaving the motherless and fatherless children.

Mrs. Rice had resided at 740 Charles street, the place where the Angel Death found her, for the past five years. She was a woman devoted to her family, of lovable disposition, and endeared herself to all with whom she came in contact. Her husband succumbed last autumn and left her a widow. There are six children in the family. Rev. Leander Turney, pastor of the Baptist church, will officiate at the funeral.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 19, 1909

Probation Officer Plover’s Good Work in Behalf of the Poor Rice Orphans

The six little orphan children left by the late Mrs. Rice , who was buried on Monday afternoon, have been found homes by Probation Officer J. P. Plover. This is good news for many people who were attracted to the case by the sad details connected with the death of the mother, preceded as it was by that of the father a short time ago.

Probation Officer Plover was named guardian of DeWain Rice, et al., by Judge Seawell yesterday morning. After this was done Assistant District Attorney Hoyle told a Press Democrat representative of the home finding.

“That’s a pretty good piece of work on the part of Mr. Plover in itself,” said the Assistant District Attorney. “He has found homes for those six Rice children without any expense in the county.”

– Press Democrat, March 24, 1909

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