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Jessie Fern Rice Copeland

Jessie Fern Rice was born in Afton, Iowa, Oct. 29, 1879, to Thomas and Evaline Good Rice. Coming to Osceola with her family as a child, she attended school and graduated from Osceola High School with the class of 1897.

Jessie was a universal favorite in Osceola among the people. She was a stenographer in the Des Moines office of the Equitable Assurance Company of New York for a few years.

Jessie met Malcolm J. Copeland in Des Moines. They were later married at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon — Sept. 24, 1907 — at the home of her parents in Osceola.

The Rev. G. H. Cotton, pastor of the Presbyterian church, performed the ceremony.

Mr. and Mrs. Copeland left on the afternoon train for Chicago by way of Des Moines and were at home later in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Copeland was the state manager for the Loyal Americans of the Republic.

Nearly all of their married life was spent in Galesburg and Moline, Illinois. He was a promoter for the building of mausoleums, and the greater part of his life was spent doing this kind of work.

The Copelands returned to Osceola where Jessie worked as a sales lady at Rafferty’s store in 1931. Mr. Copeland suffered a stroke and died in 1932.

Jessie was elected to two terms as county recorder in the mid-1930s. She was a splendid officer, conscientious in the performance of her duties, courteous to those who had business in office, and above all, economized in the conduct of the office. She later worked at the newspaper office.

Jessie was active in the Order Eastern Star, Past Matrons Club, Chautauqua Circle, an elder in Osceola Presbyterian Church, member of Chapter K P.E.O., Business and Professional Women’s Club, Study Club and was once secretary of the chamber of commerce.

She lived in her home on East Clay Street and passed away in 1963. She was survived by a niece and several cousins. She is buried by her husband in Maple Hill Cemetery in Osceola.

Jessie’s wedding dress was later donated to and may be seen at Clarke County Historical Museum in Osceola.

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