Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


John Dice[p. 265] the beloved and honored pastor of the Bethel United Presbyterian Church of North Beaver township, was born in Poland, Ohio, Nov. 12, 1844. He sprang from an honored ancestry, his parents being George and Catherine A. (Phillips) Dice, and his grandparents John and Mary (Spargo) Dice.

John Dice, the grandfather, was of German birth, coming from Saxony, while the grandmother had English blood in her veins. John Dice came to America and settled in Washington Co., Pa. He was for years a successful and leading farmer, finally retiring, and died at the age of eighty-four. His wife attained the advanced age of seventy-seven years. The children born of this union were: John, born in 1800; Betsey, 1802; Joseph, 1804; George, 1806; Polly, 1808; Abraham, 1810; Jacob, 1812; Henry, 1814; Lydia, 1816; James, 1818; Matthew, 1820; and Eli, 1823.

George Dice, the father of Rev. John S., was the fourth child of that remarkable family, and was born in Washington Co., Pa. He early in life learned the shoemaker's trade, but later on became a farmer. His first farm was near Poland, Ohio, then he bought a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits in Crawford Co., Pa., and finally moved to a farm he purchased near New Wilmington, Pa., where his death took place at the age of seventy-six. His wife, the mother of our subject, was in many ways a notable woman. She was a daughter of James and Margaret (Renfrew) Phillips. Margaret Renfrew was a daughter of a Scottish nobleman of the highest rank. Her marriage out of her position in life for a time caused an estrangement between herself and her parents, but later on her family, becoming aware of the true worth of the man she loved, forgave her freely. Catherine A. (Phillips) Dice attained the age of seventy-seven years. She bore to her husband a family no less worthy of notice than that of which he himself had been a member. The children were: Tershand Renfrew, born July 31, 1831; Mary Jane, Oct. 23, 1833; George Warner, Nov. 19, 1834; a son, Sept. 6, 1836; Lydia Eliza, Nov. 22, 1837; Jeannette, Feb. 12, 1840; James Phillips, Jan. 31, 1842; John Smith, our subject, Nov. 12, 1844; William Henry, March 16, 1847; Alice Henrietta, Nov. 9, 1849; and Orris Fowler, May 6, 1852.

John Smith Dice first of all received a careful home training. He next prepared for and entered the Westminster College of New Wilmington, and was graduated in the Class of 1869. He then became a student in the Allegheny Theological Seminary, and graduated in 1873. He had been licensed to preach the previous year, and was formally ordained as a minister of the gospel, April 21, 1874. His first call was to the church of which he is to-day the pastor. A service of a quarter of a century in this field has so identified the Rev. Mr. Dice with his charge that a few words in regard to the history of the church would not be amiss at this point.

The Bethel United Presbyterian Church was founded in 1797 or '98, and was known as the Seceders church; it was later known more familiarly to residents of this part of the county as the Little Beaver Church, and was located three miles south of its present site, near the Samuel Taylor farm. The Rev. James Duncan was the first regular pastor, being installed and ordained in 1800, and he remained four years. Up to 1804 services had been mainly held in a tent; in that year the first church building was erected. It was of round logs, 18X20 feet on the ground, and stood where the present structure is located. In 1816 the old log church was enlarged. The first frame edifice was constructed in 1836 or '37; this building was 44x56 feet in dimensions and answered all demands until the present church home, 40x60 feet, took its place Sept. 22, 1870.

Margaret DiceThat the twenty-five years, during which the Rev. Mr. Dice has labored in his Master's vineyard, has been productive of the greatest possible amount of good to the church and the community at large cannot be doubted. A man of more than ordinary ability as an evangelist, of warm heart, and of deep Christian fervor and convictions, he is the friend of all. In times of trouble and deep distress his heart and sympathy are known to the community. On joyful occasions, no one adds more to the pleasant hour. His piety is undoubted. He is withal a broad-minded man, and alive to human feelings and interests. When he came here, the flock numbered eighty-four souls, and now there are nearly two hundred members. As a leader, a teacher, and an expounder of true Christian principles, he has succeeded beyond the shadow of a doubt. His home, which he built in 1878 on a ten-acre plot, which he bought from the J. R. Hayes farm, is a model of beauty and good taste; surrounded as it is by shrubbery, flowers, and green lawns, it is indeed a place good to live in. His esteemed wife, Margaret, who was a daughter of Charles and Margaret McQuigg of Allegheny City, Pa., has borne him four children: Charles Lyle, now in college; Alice Bovard, now a student in the Allegheny High School; James Renfrew; and Margaret McQuigg.

In his lovely home, in the midst of his family, and the many near and dear ones, whom Mr. Dice's life-work has drawn to him, the honored pastor lives a calm and peaceful life. Apart from those elements which so often harrass and worry, with his life-work clearly marked out ahead, and a clean record of a life well-spent behind, the Rev. John S. Dice is a happy man in the fullest sense of the word. To those of his many acquaintances, who have learned to love him and respect his noble worth, the likeness of him that appears on a page in proximity, will appeal with far more than passing interest. Mrs. Dice also has a large circle of warm and intimate friends, and it is with pleasure that we also publish her portrait as a companion picture to that of her husband's.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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Updated: 16 May 2001