by John Vincent Carney
“John Brice was a prince of a fellow and remained one of my favorite buddies for years and years. He was a young good looking, strong boned Irishman with a hearty laugh and a shiny gold tooth up front.”
. . . . -from the John Kilker Carney Manuscript Kilker—page 8
John Patrick Brice was born 24th Mar 1891 in Braxton Co. W.Va. He was the youngest of 13 children born to Irish immigrants John and Mary Ellen (McFadden) Brice who had been born in County Donegal.
John was orphaned at the age of 6 or 7. His parents both died from tuberculosis, his father at age 43 and his mother a year later at the age of 31. The two youngest of the couple’s children, John Patrick and his brother Michael Vincent remained in Orlando but the older eleven children went to New York to someone who knew the family. They were raised under the family name of Brislin and not Brice.
Right, above: John Patrick Brice
Left: brothers John Patrick, Michael Vincent, Charles and James
John's brother Michael Vincent was adopted by Michael and Margaret Gallagher while John Patrick found a home with James F. Carney. The 1900 census shows John Patrick living with the family of Ellen Carney, widow of Patrick Carney, with their son James F., 29 and single, listed as head of household. Later John P. Brice was living with James F. Carney and his wife Catherine Lorena (Moran) and their children.
My father was one of James F. and Lorena (Moran) Carney’s children. His name was, like myself, John V. Carney (1908-1981). John P. Brice was a big help to this Carney family; he was somewhat older than the children of James F. and Lorena.
Michael V. Brice’s records indicate that he was a railroad engineer at the time he married and his death record stated his occupation as “plumber.” As far as we know, John remained in farming.
John P. Brice was drafted to serve in the First World War on June 5th 1917 at the age of 27. Lee Paul Moran, son of Orlando mortician and businessman Mike Moran, recalls seeing John in military uniform in a photo which was displayed in the Brice living room on Three Lick. John was proud of his military service and was a member of the American Legion until his death.
In 1920 at the age of 30 John married another child of Irish immigrants, 33 year old milliner (maker of ladies’ hats) Celia Tully. Celia was the daughter of John and Margaret (McNeal) Tully. Celia was also the great aunt of Mike Moran, Orlando mortician and businessman.
Left: the marriage certificate of John and Celia (Tully) Brice.
Right: Examples of fashionable hats in 1920.
Click on these graphics to enlarge them.
I can remember my dad taking us back to see John and Ceclia Brice on their farm. John Brice tried to show me how to milk a cow, what an experience for city boy of only 10 years old or so from Clarksburg.
John Patrick Brice died on Christmas Eve, 1972 in Weston.
Children of John and Mary Ellen (McFadden) Brice
1. James Brislin
2. Margaret Brislin
3. Patrick Brislin born in 1861 in Pennsylvania
4. Hannah Brislin born in 1864 in Pennsylvania
5. Mary Brislin born in 1867 in Pennsylvania
6. Katie Brislin born in 1868 in Pennsylvania
7. Charles Brislin born in 1872 in Pennsylvania
8. Nellie Brislin born in 1874 in Pennsylvania
9. Michael Brislin born in 1876 in Pennsylvania
10. Annie Brislin born in 1879 in Pennsylvania
11. Thomas Brislin born in 1880 in Pennsylvania
12. Michael Vincent Brice born in 1887 in Braxton Co. W.Va. and died 1962 in Richwood, W.Va.
13. John Patrick Brice born in 1891 in Braxton Co. W.Va. and died 1972 in Weston , Lewis Co.W.Va
Comment by Bob Pumphrey
The story about John Brice brought back memories of yesteryear and my efforts to obtain my driver’s license. Growing up on Three Lick in a family without an automobile did not afford me many opportunities to practice the “black arts” of parking between parallel lines, signaling left turns, and following the directions of a fearsome state policeman. Needless to say, my fantasies of operating a motorized vehicle were far above my skills to do so, especially for a country boy trying to navigate the busy streets of Weston. My first three efforts to obtain my driver’s license were attempted in an old ¾ ton cattle truck, complete with cattle racks, which belonged to Jimmy Feeney. Somehow, the old cattle truck, which I think was an old 1949 Chevrolet, had been disoriented by all of the old stubborn cattle which Jimmy Feeney had hauled to market. The truck just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do and bucked me at every turn. The state policeman, I’m sure, enjoyed a good laugh as he related to the other state policemen, the tale of the country bumpkin who was trying to tame an old cattle truck. Giving up after my third failure with Jimmy Feeney’s cattle truck, I somehow was able to convince John Brice to let me try again, this time in his smaller compact 1950 Ford automobile. John was reluctant to let me try my fourth effort in his relatively new Ford, probably because he had heard from Jimmy Feeney that I had already failed the test three times. But kind John gave in and with much trepidation took me to Weston to the State Police station to try again. Before the test, I noticed John speaking privately with the state police examiner, and pointing in my direction. I couldn’t tell whether the state policeman was laughing or not, which was probably a good thing, because I was nervous enough the way it was. At any rate, my fourth effort was a charm and I finally passed my driver’s test in 1952. Looking back, I always wondered whether John Brice told the state policeman to be lenient with me on the driver’s test, because I was persistent and would harass both John and the state policeman forever more unless I passed. It was a relief for all three of us that I finally passed my driver’s test, and many thanks to John Brice.
Comment by Tom Jeffries
I read the interesting story about John Brice by John Carney. The Comment by Bob Pumphrey to the John Brice story also attracted my attention, particularly the mention of John Brice’s automobile. Although I was quite young at the time, I always had a great interest in automobiles around the Orlando area and remember Mr. Brice’s Ford very well. I believe his automobile was a black 1951 Ford Coupe. The Coupe was distinguished from the Tudor Sedan by having a single small rear side window, as opposed to the longer roll down window and wing window on the Tudor. The names “Coupe” and “Tudor” were marketing names used by the Ford Motor Company. The 1951 Ford Coupe was very similar to the 1949 and 1950 model, but had double “bullets” made in the grill. I thought that was so cool when I was young. I still like the 1951 models better than the others of similar look.
Mr. Brice kept his Ford in a garage across from his house and drove it sparingly, except to town and to church in Orlando. I remember him hauling his push lawn mower to St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Orlando to mow the lawn. Mr. Brice kept his car very clean and I considered it as one of the most beautiful and well kept cars in Orlando. I don’t know whatever became of the car after the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Brice, but I always hoped that the person who got the car took good care of it. It was a beautiful car.
Comment by Bob Skinner (son of Glen and Virginia (McCoy) Skinner)
You are correct about John Brice's car. He and Celia were our neighbors on Grass Run when I was a small boy. Mom and Dad used to play cards with them on Saturday nights. Before the '51 he had a Model A that I barely remember. He kept it in the barn below the house that Martin Posey ended up buying when we were in school at Walnut Grove. That is where Goldie and Raymond Posey lived. I think Sonny Wymer and Dosie Posey live there now. At least they did last time I was back there with Mom for her 75th high school reunion. I think that was in '99. Our old house and all the buildings had been torn down. It was so sad Mom would not get out of the car
An interesting side note is that my Aunt Audrey (uncle Junior McCoy-Mom's brother) and John Brice had a fender bender not far from the house where the Brice's moved. I think it was Aunt Audrey's fault if I remember correctly. She had a lead foot. Now the funny part. Aunt Audrey was pregnant at the time, and unbeknown to her that Mrs Brice's name was Celia, she named the baby girl in her tummy Celia. That has always been a laugh in our family.