From: "Claudia Svoboda"
I am very interested in genealogy, and I have traveled to southwestern
Scotland plus Glasgow and Edinburgh, and love that country very much!
I am a member of DAR, and serve as Chaplain of the Olde Towne Fenton Chapter
in the nearby town to us of Fenton, Missouri.
I was transplanted to Missouri by way of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin,
so I can't claim to be a Missouri Ferguson, unless some of your ancestors
came through Kentucky...specifically the Bowling Green area.
My father's mother was Margaret Louise Ferguson, born February 24, 1907,
daughter of Eugene and Ollie (Gott) Ferguson. They were farmers (corn and
tobacco) outside of Bowling Green, KY. Grandma's siblings were Rebecca
(Betty), Pauline, Walter, Charles (called "Sam," because he got his first
pair of shoes at Sam Pushin's store in Bowling Green), and Dean. Around
1912 or so, they moved, in a horse and wagon, to Hancock County, Illinois.
I don't know if they actually were ever able to own their own place to farm
or not. Grandma was schooled through the eighth grade, and then she worked
in Charlie Fairbrother's store in Dallas City, Illinois. She married my
grandfather, Charles Harry Rice, in about 1921 or 1922, if I am correct in
remembering she was 14 or 15 at the time. My dad had one older sibling, a
brother, Leroy Dale Rice, born August 19, 1924 (I think that year is
correct, but maybe it was 1923). My dad was born October 31, 1928.
Grandma died in April, 1989, and Dad died February 2, 1997. Grandma had
stomach cancer and heart disease Dad had progressively experienced failing
health since a major stroke in September, 1995. Yes, Dad was a smoker and a
Type A personality. His heart was always in the country, but he had a very
sophisticated and high-pressure career in International banking, and was
Vice President/International at the St. Louis headquarters of Commerce Banks
at the time of his retirement in 1993. He had gotten into that field it
right after graduating from Dallas City (IL) High School. His first job was
at First National Bank of Chicago, both before and after his service in the
U.S. Marine Corps. Since he had enlisted before the end of World War II, he
was still considered a vet of that war. But he actually did not actively
serve until after his high school graduation in 1946. He must have gotten
his yen for international business when he went on his first tour of duty.
They cruised to Puerto Rico, and then over to the Mediterranean, and on the
way back, he was up in Newfoundland. Upon his discharge, he moved in with
his parents, who had gone to the Chicago area where jobs were very plentiful
even before Dad graduated from high school. Grandpa Rice worked for the
U.S. Post Office, and Grandma worked at Chicago Rivet Company. Their
marriage was about on the rocks by then, and Dad had tried to live with them
when they first moved up there, but he hated it. So he went back to Dallas
City, got a job at one of the filling stations in town, and rented a room in
a building across the street from it. Friends made sure he got home-cooked
meals a few nights a week, and he joined the First United Methodist Church,
too. (He and mom were married there November 6, 1949, and he was buried
from there as well.)
Mom met Dad at her older brother's high school graduation. Dad and my uncle
were buddies. Mom was just 13, but she set her cap for Dad. He was on his
ship tour with the Marines by the time she started high school that fall.
She kept up a written correpondence with him but had the freedom to date
other boys. In her words, though, "Everybody knew that when Rice was in
town on leave, though, that I'd be with him!" They had a memorable romance
because of many things, for instance she got to travel to Chicago to meet
his parents when she was 15. To be there for her senior prom, Dad overcame
the obstacle of his car breaking down by taking a bicycle to her house. I
am sure l these memories and many more sustained her when times for them
were difficult in later years of their relationship. As I say, they married
in November of 1949, and I was born August 26, 1950. Dad hitchhiked back to
Illinois from Camp LeJeune with a pickle truck driver to get home in time to
be with Mom when I was born. After she had safely delivered me, he went
over to the wide spot in the Mississippi between Nauvoo and Hamilton,
Illinois, rowed a boat to where there was a patch loaded with water lilies,
and picked a bouquet to take to Mom and me in the hospital at La Harpe,
Dad went to college at night on the GI Bill. He had a Bachelor's Degree in
Commerce from Bishop Shiel Institute (now part of Loyola U.) in Chicago and
was just 8 credits short of an MBA from there when we moved too far away for
him to finish there, and he just never took the time to transfer and finish
Well, I've worn myself out writing all this. I should mention that I had a
dear brother, my only sibling, born on my third birthday. He was one of the
first wave of persons in the country to die of AIDS back in 1987. His brave
struggle has much to do with the career path I have taken in the past
several years. His name was Clark Jamie Rice, and he was in hotel
management but his real love was singing, dancing and acting, all of which
he was very gifted at. He had a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from
UW-Milwaukee, and Willem Dafoe was one of his friends and understudies back
in their days there.
My children have inherited love for the entertainment industry from him.
Corinne, whom he used to take to Disney movies when she was between 4 and 7
years old, has a Bachelor's degree in Film Production and has many
professional credits on her resume as a Producer. Charley is a dedicated
musician and composer, especially of contemporary rock music, but he plays
keyboard and piano with the same ease as his Uncle Clark did.
Thanks for writing! I told Clan President Sam Ferguson he could be my "new"
Uncle Sam since my old Uncle Sam died many years ago. He and I have the
bond of knowing the Madison, WI area well. I graduated with a B.A. in
Journalism from UW-Madison in Dec.,1972. I have since received an M.A. in
Marketing from Webster U. here in the St. Louis area, and am just a few
credits short of having an M.Div from Eden Seminary, right across the street
from Webster U. I am a part-time night chaplain at both Barnes-Jewish
Hospital and St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis. I am married (more
than 26 years now!) to St. Louis native Robert Michael "Mike" Svoboda, an
early retiree of Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., and our two
children--Corinne, 22, a grad student at Webster U., and Charley, 18, a
freshman at Meramec Community College continue to live at home with us.
I remember my great grandad Eugene (Gene) very well. They say he had a hot
temper when his kids were young, but he was such a sweetheart by the time my
generation, his great grandkids, came along. My dad, Leo Clark Rice,
resembled him in his(great granddad's) later years. Great grandad died in
July, 1960, in a nursing home at Blandinsville, Illinois.