PIERCE (Pearce, Pearse). The Pierce family is both ancient and historic in the annals of England, the lineage 0f Richard Pearse, the immigrant to New England and founder of the American family, being traced to the time of Galfred. In more recent English generations were Peter Percy, standard bearer of Richard III. at the battle of Bosworth Field (1485), and Richard Percy, the founder of Pearce Hall.
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The Pierce families of this country are and have long been very numerous. Early in the settlement of New England came representatives from England, most of them not related, so far as now known. Among them were Abraham, of Plymouth, 1623, who became one of the original purchasers of Bridgewater in 1645; Daniel, of Newbury, blacksmith, who came from Ipswich, County of Suffolk, in 1634, aged twenty-three years; John, of Dorchester, mariner from Stepney, Middlesex, before 1631; another John, of Dorchester and Boston; John, of Watertown, 1638; Capt. Michael, of Hingham and Scituate; Richard, of Portsmouth, R. I.; Robert, of Dorchester; Thomas, of Charlestown, who was admitted to the church there in 1634; and Capt. William, of Boston, who was a distinguished shipmaster of his time.
The name is variously spelled, Pearce, Peirce and Pierce being the most common forms. It is probable the name was Percy in its earliest English form, and perhaps yet earlier was Peter. No less than seven family histories and genealogies, devoted to recording the previously named settlers and their descendants, have been published in this country. The most familiar pronunciations nowadays are that used in the. verb “to pierce” and “perce” (purse), for at least several generations used by the family now under consideration. This article is to particularly treat of the branch of the family to which belonged the late Charles S. Pierce, an upright and respected citizen of Brockton, and his sons, the present George R. Pierce, who is one of the leading merchants of that city, and Charles S. Pierce, who is a prominent manufacturer there.
Richard Pearse (name changed in this generation from Percy), born in England in 1590, married in England – his wife’s name being Martha – and was a resident of Bristol, England. He was a son of Richard, who resided on the homestead of his father, grandson of Richard Percy, the founder of Pearce Hall, in York, England, where he lived and died, and great-grandson of Peter Percy, who was standard bearer to Richard III. at the battle of Bosworth Field, in 1485.
Richard Pearse came to America in the ship “Lyon,” from Bristol, England, his brother, Capt. William Pearse, being master of the ship. His children were:
- William and
(Capt. William Pearse, of the ship “Lyon,” was a distinguished shipmaster. He was killed by the Spaniards at Providence, in the Bahamas, 164-. He is credited with being the author of the first almanac, for 1639, published in North America.)
Richard Pearse (2), son of Richard the settler, born in, 1615 in England, married in 1642, in Portsmouth, R. I., Susannah Wright, born in 1620. Mr. Pearse died in 1678 in Portsmouth, and Mrs. Pearse was dead at that time. He was at Portsmouth as early as 1654, and was admitted a freeman of the Colony from Portsmouth. His children were:
- Richard, born Oct. 3, 1643;
- Martha, Sept. 13, 1645;
- John, Sept, 8, 1647;
- Giles, July 22, 1651;
- Susannah, Nov. 22, 1652;
- Mary, May 6, 1654;
- Jeremiah, Nov. 17, 1656;
- Isaac, December, 1658;
- George, July 10, 1662; and
- Samuel, Dec. 22, 1664.
George Pearce, born July 10, 1662, married April 7, 1687, Alice, born March 8, 1664, daughter of Richard and Hannah Hart, of Portsmouth, R. I., and (second) March 22, 1721, Temperance Kirby, born May 5, 1670. He lived in the town of Little Compton, and died Aug. 30, 1752. His wife Alice died March 11, 1718. His wife Temperance died Feb. 25, 1761. His children were:
- Susannah, born Aug. 21, 1688;
- George, born March 2, 1697;
- James, born Sept. 4, 1691;
- Samuel, born Feb. 3, 1695; and
- Mary, born May 16, 1700.
George Pearce (2), born March 2, 1697, married Feb. 20, 1717, Deborah Searles, born Nov. 17, 1695. He resided in Little Compton, and died Feb. 22, 1764. She died May 16, 1776. Their children were:
- Alice, born Nov. 4, 1718;
- Sarah, born in 1720, who died in 1721;
- Jeptha, born Feb. 20, 1722;
- Temperance, born Jan. 26, 1723;
- Jeremiah, born Dec. 22, 1725;
- Nathaniel, born Oct. 13, 1727;
- Sarah, born Jan. 12, 1729;
- Ruth, born Sept. 20, 1731;
- Anstras, born Nov. 12, 1733;
- Deborah, born Feb. 23, 1735; and
- Richard, born April 19, 1738.
Nathaniel Pearce, born Oct. 13, 1727, married Dec. 1, 1750, Sarah Rouse, born Jan. 14, 1728, and they resided in Tiverton, R. I. He died Feb. 19,’ 1801. She died Nov. 23, 1812. Their children were:
- Phebe, born March 21, 1752;
- Mary, born April 30, 1754;
- Elizabeth, born Nov. 14, 1756;
- John, born April 26, 1758;
- George, who died at sea in 1792;
- Valentine, born Feb. 14, 1759;
- Nathaniel, born Dec. 17, 1761 (died at sea in 1779);
- Sarah, born in 1762, and Joseph, born Jan. 26, 1764.
John Pearce, born April 26, 1758, married in January, 1783, Deborah Hicks, born Sept. 8, 1761, and they resided in Tiverton, R. I. He died Nov. 13, 1827. She died Oct. 14, 1834. Their children were:
- Mary, born Dec. 24, 1784;
- George, born Jan. 31, 1787;
- Nathaniel, born May 11, 1789;
- Jeremiah, born June 21, 1791;
- John, born Oct. 19, 1793;
- Philip, born April 17, 1796;
- Sarah, born Oct. 13, 1799;
- Betsey, born Dec. 15, 1802; and
- Peleg, born June 31, 1804.
Philip Pearce, born April 17, 1796, married Fanny Gray. He lived at Taunton, and was a blacksmith by occupation. His children were:
- Philip, who died in North Bridgewater;
- Susan, who died in North Bridgewater, unmarried;
- Sarah, who married (first) a Mr. Borden and (second) a Mr. Gray, and died in Providence; and
- Charles S., the father of George R. and Charles S. Pierce.
Charles Sexton Pierce, son of Philip and Fanny (Gray), was born Aug. 9, 1823, in Fall River, Mass., where in his early life he was engaged in calico printing, which was then done by hand. In about 1850 he came to North Bridgewater (now Brockton), where he entered the employ of Howard & Clark, the well known furniture manufacturers, with whom he soon acquired a thorough knowledge of the details of cabinetmaking, which trade he continued to follow until his death. He was one of the firm’s most reliable and trusted employees. Although of a quiet and retiring nature, Mr. Pierce was outspoken in all matters of moral reform. He was a devout member of the Central Methodist Episcopal Church of Brockton, and an earnest Christian; he was a strong advocate of temperance. In political faith he was an old-line Whig, later becoming a Republican.
Mr. Pierce married Elizabeth Copeland, who was born Oct. 1, 1823, in Fall River, Mass., daughter of Ward Cotton and Martha (Monroe) Copeland. Her father, Ward C. Copeland, was born in Bridgewater, Mass., June 1, 1795, and served in the war of 1812 as a private in Capt. Sears Washburn’s company that served at Plymouth in 1814. He was a wood turner and carver by trade, and after following that vocation in various places came to North Bridgewater in 1850 from Bristol, R. I. Mrs. Pierce was also of distinguished old New England ancestry, being a direct descendant in the seventh generation from
- Lawrence Copeland, of Braintree, Mass., who married Lydia Townsend, and was the first of the name in this country, her line of descent being through
- William and Mary (Bass) Copeland;
- Jonathan and Betty (Snell) Copeland;
- Daniel and Susanna (Ames) Copeland;
- Deacon Cyrus and Abigail (Dyer) Copeland; and
- Ward Cotton and Martha (Monroe) Copeland.
She was also a “Mayflower” descendant, being in the eighth generation from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, whose daughter Ruth Alden married John Bass, of Braintree, and his daughter, Mary Bass, married (first) Christopher Webb, Jr., and (second) William Copeland (II). To Charles S. and Elizabeth (Copeland) Pierce were born four children, as follows:
- Abbie C, born July 24, 1846, married Stanford W. Vincent, of North Bridgewater, where she died in January, 1877;
- George P., born Aug. 20, 1848, is mentioned below;
- Susan M., born Feb. 17, 1850, is the widow of Walter O. Packard, of Brockton, where she resides; and
- Charles S., born Nov. 29, 1851, is mentioned below.
The father of the above named children died in North Bridgewater July 29, 1869, aged forty-six years, being survived by the mother, who passed away May 13, 1898, in the seventy-fifth year of her age.
George E. Pierce, eldest son of the late Charles S. and Elizabeth (Copeland) Pierce, was born Aug. 20, 1848, in Fall River, Mass., and when he was but two years of age his parents removed to North Bridgewater, where his early education was acquired in the common schools. Leaving school when about fifteen years of age, he began his career as a clerk in the grocery store of Simeon Mitchell, in whose employ he remained for a short time, when he accepted a similar position with L. C. Bliss, who later established himself in the shoe manufacturing business which has since become the Regal Shoe Company. After continuing in the employ of Mr. Bliss for about three years he filled a similar position with the late Lyman E. Cobb for several years, and with the late Thomas P. Ripley for a short time, finally accepting a position as clerk in the drug and grocery store of J. J. Whipple & Co., in the employ of which firm he remained for a period of about eight years. Upon leaving the employ of the latter firm Mr. Pierce, in company with Henry F. Packard, in March, 1877, under the firm name of Pierce & Packard, purchased the grocery business of Hayward Brothers, at No. 1048 Main street, Campello, since which time Mr. Pierce has been the senior member of the firm, which has met with deserved success. The store is well stocked with a choice line of groceries, meats and provisions, and the services of about ten clerks and several delivery wagons are required to serve the large and steady patronage.
In political faith Mr. Pierce is a Republican with independent tendencies, an advocate of good government and favoring all moral reforms, and in 1888 and 1889 served as a member of the common council from Ward Three. Fraternally he is a member of Campello Lodge, No. 30, Ancient Order of United Workmen.
Mr. Pierce and his wife both take an active interest and are earnest workers in religious matters, being consistent members of the South Street Methodist Episcopal Church of Campello, of which they were original members. Mr. Pierce has served the church as senior warden, president of the board of trustees, class leader, and for fifteen years as superintendent of the Sunday school, while Mrs. Pierce has served several years as superintendent of the primary department of the Sunday school. In May, 1908, Mr. Pierce and his wife attended the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was held at Baltimore, Md., he being a delegate to the same from the New England Southern Conference. Mr. Pierce has also taken an active interest in the affairs of the Young Men’s Christian Association, having been one of the original directors of the association, in which capacity he served for several years.
On Jan. 16, 1873, Mr. Pierce was united in marriage to Rebecca Drake Reynolds, daughter of the late Philip and Lucy (Drake) Reynolds, of Brockton, and as well a descendant of honored New England ancestry. This union has been blessed with children as follows:
- Mattie Copeland, born Dec. 9, 1873, graduated from the Brockton high school, and on Dec. 13, 1894, married George L. Knowles, of East Bridgewater, who is in the employ of Pierce & Packard; they reside in Brockton and are the parents of two children,
- Irving Pierce, born Oct. 17, 1895, and
- Bernice Louise, born May 15, 1903.
- Edith May, born June 21, 1876, died when fifteen months old.
- Fred Merton, born Sept. 12, 1881, was graduated from the Brockton high school and the School of Technology at Boston, and is now a draftsman in the employ of the Pennsylvania Steel Bridge Company at Beaver Falls, Pa.; on Jan. 1, 1908, he married Charlotte Louise Turner, of Brockton, and they are the parents of one son,
- John Philip, born Nov. 9, 1909.
Mr. and Mrs. Pierce are of a home-loving nature, warm-hearted, and benevolent, and are highly respected by all who know them.
Charles S. Pierce, the youngest son of the late Charles S. and Elizabeth (Copeland) Pierce, was born Nov. 29, 1851, in North Bridgewater, and attended the common schools of his native town until he was twelve years of age. He then decided that he was old enough to work, and taking matters into his own hands obtained employment in the shoe factory of the late Peleg S. Leach, where he had been working for a month before his father discovered that he had left school. Judging it best not to interfere, the father left him to follow his own inclinations, and for a year or more he remained in that factory, receiving four dollars per week for his services. After that he earned fairly good wages, his father allowing him to retain all that he made over five dollars a week. For a period of about ten years he worked for wages, employed in various shoe factories when business was good, and as clerk at other times in the grocery and drug store of J. J. Whipple & Co., and other merchants. Possessed of energy, determination and an ambition to succeed in this life, he resolved to engage in business on his own account, and in 1872, his capital being very limited, he borrowed one hundred dollars, and in company with the late Enos S. Maloon, under the firm name of Maloon & Pierce, established the business of embossing vamps and uppers for boots. This firm continued thus engaged until 1883, when they branched out into the manufacture of shoes, employing at first less than a dozen hands. The embossing, vamping and crimping branch of their business was kept apart from the shoe manufacturing, the latter of which grew rapidly until the firm was giving employment to from one hundred and fifty to two hundred hands, and manufacturing several hundred pairs of shoes, of the medium grade, per day. About 1884 the late William S. Morey became a member of the firm, which was then changed to Maloon, Pierce & Morey, and upon the death of Mr. Maloon, in 1886, Mr. Pierce purchased the latter’s interest in the business and the firm then became W. S. Morey & Co. Like many other of the shoe manufacturers of the city, this firm was handicapped in business by being tied up with the “forty-two” manufacturers in the famous strike of 1886, and two years later, in 1888, Mr. Pierce, having other prospects, purchased the interests of Mr. Morey in the business, and discontinued the manufacture of shoes, since which time he has been without an associate in business. Mr. Pierce was the first to “crimp” congress shoes by machine, a process of adjusting the shoe to the shape of the last, the machine used being known as the J. C. Locket Crimping Machine, which invention Mr. Pierce purchased and has since improved and patented. This machine has since been universally used, and is manufactured by the Carver Cotton Gin Company, of East Bridgewater, by a company formed in 1890 (with offices in Boston) for the purpose of manufacturing these machines, of which company Mr. Pierce is president.
Mr. Pierce’s business having grown to such proportions that he required much more floor space, in 1895 he erected on Montello street the present large factory building which bears his name. This is a substantial frame structure with a frontage of 100 feet, five stories high, and extending back to the railroad, which is connected with the building by a private track. He has since erected other buildings on land adjoining, until he now occupies the greater part of four factory buildings for manufacturing purposes, No. 1 factory being used in the manufacture of box toes; No. 2, in which the power plant is located, being used for the crimping department and in the making of shoe forms and tips; No. 3, devoted to the manufacture of shoe dressings of all kinds, and No. 4, occupied in the manufacture of shoe counters and heels, between three hundred and three hundred and fifty hands being employed in these various departments. The products of Mr. Pierce’s establishment are well and favorably known to the shoe trade throughout the world and are in universal use, and for the purpose of increasing and facilitating the sale of his goods he has established salesrooms in St. Louis, Mo., and Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as in Leicester, England, and Hamburg, Germany.
Fraternally Mr. Pierce is a prominent member of the Masonic organization, being a member of Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M., Satucket Chapter, E. A. M., Brockton Council, R. & S. M., and Bay State Commandery, K. T., of Brockton; and of Aleppo Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Boston. He is also a thirty-second-degree Mason, a member of the Consistory in Boston. Socially he is an active member of the Commercial Club of Brockton, which organization he has served as a member of the executive committee and the house committee, and a member of the Economic Club. He is also a member of the Thorny Lea Golf Club of Brockton, and the Plymouth Golf Club of Plymouth, Mass. Mr. Pierce is a trustee of the Union cemetery of Brockton, and has been active in the improvement and development of same. Although a stanch Republican in political faith he has not taken an active part in such affairs, preferring to devote his undivided time to his various business interests. A Congregationalist in religious belief, he and his family attend the Porter Congregational Church, where Mr. Pierce is a pewholder.
On June 18, 1889, Mr. Pierce was united in marriage to Anna L. Bigelow, daughter of Charles and Hannah B. (Thwing) Bigelow, of Millis, Mass., and this union has been blessed with one daughter, Marian B. Pierce.
While there are numerous cases of men attempting to establish themselves in a business enterprise with no capital other than a willingness to work, combined with a goodly amount of pluck, energy and perseverance, yet many of these meet with failure, and few, indeed, are they who succeed in increasing their trade to the volume which Mr. Pierce’s business has attained. He is regarded as one of Brockton’s successful and progressive citizens. His success has been achieved through perseverance and his ability to take the initiative, combined with natural business acumen, and he has earned for himself a high place in the confidence of the business circles of his native city, as well as in all circles in which he is known. Although he has attained a position of affluence he is still democratic in his manner, unpretentious and retiring in nature, and yet he has just cause to feel a pride in his life’s achievements, accomplished in the city of his birth, where he holds the respect and esteem of the entire community. He is generous in his impulses, charitable, and benevolent to those less fortunate than himself.