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At the age of eighty-one, bearing the impress of a life of remarkable experience, a pioneer builder of Kansas, for many years identified with its public and business life, this venerable citizen is now living in comfortable retirement at Junction City.
A small party of free state men arrived in Kansas in 1856. It comprised eight or ten men. One of them was Preston B. Plumb, whose name is a household word in Kansas. Alfred Clark Pierce was also in that little party. At Iowa City, Iowa, he had first met Mr. Plumb, and they were ever afterwards intimate friends. Besides coming to Kansas as pioneer settlers and for the purpose of lending their individual aid to the free state movement, this party convoyed a very significant train of supplies, including 250 Sharpe rifles, a supply of ammunition, and a small brass cannon. Those who are acquainted with the seenes anacted on Kansas soil in subsequent months need not be told to what purpose these military supplies were devoted.
At Manhattan the party divided. Mr. Pierce went to what was then the far western Kansas, and located a claim on which the City of Salina had since been built. However, in November, 1856, he abandoned the claim and went to Ogden. There he was employed in cutting logs and later took up surveying. Mr. Pierce permanently settled at Junction City in 1860, and had lived in that community continuously for more than fifty-five years, For some time he was chiefly employed at his work in surveying.
His part as a maker of Kansas also included military service. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company G of the Eleventh Kansas Infantry, which in the following year was made a cavalry organization. He went in as a private, became captain of his company, and was mustered out with the rank of captain in August, 1865.
On his return to Junction City after the war he was elected successively county surveyor, county clerk and register of deeds. In 1867 Mr. Pierce opened the first real estate office in Geary County. Later he added insurance and loans. He compiled the first set of abstract books for the county and for years furnished nearly all the abstracts to the lands in that county. He was very successful in business, but it was not until 1906, when he had passed his seventieth year, that he retired, and turned over the management of his affairs to his son Hal Pierce. During his active career his interests extended to the ownership of a large amount of land and he was long engaged in the cattle business, and is widely known over the state among the old time cattle men. Though his activities have brought him into close touch with Kansas affairs for more than half a century, and though he had known nearly all the prominent men of the state since territorial days, he had always retained the character of the simple and massuming American. He had been a loyal republican since the formation of the party. He did all he could to bring about the abolition of slavery and afterwards was equally ardent as a prohibitionist. He had helped to make Kansas laws, having been elected a member of the state legislature in 1861, again in 1868, and again in 1880. Captain Pierce is a life member of the Kansas State Historical Society. He is one of the most prominent of the surviving soldiers of the Union, and had long been setive in the Grand Army of the Republic and in the military order of the Loyal Legion.
His family history shows that his antecedents took firm root on American soil when this nation was still in the making. Alfred Clarke Pierce was born at Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, September 13, 1835. The first member of the Pierce family in America settled in Rhode Island in the early years of the seventeen hundreds. His youngest son, John Pierce, removed to Dutchess County, New York. Mial Pierce, one of the five sons of John, was born in Dutchess County in 1766. He married Isabel Chase, and by her became the father of thirteen children, The youngest of these was Benjamin Pierce, father of Alfred C. Benjamin Pierce was born September 30, 1804. He married Polly Bowen, who was born in New York State. She was descended from Henry Bowen who came from Langerrith, Wales, in 1638, and settled at Roxbury, Massachusetts. There he married a daughter of Isaac Johnson, in whose company he fought in the Indian wars, with the rank of lieutenant. The successive generations come down through Isaae, son of the immigrant Henry, Henry, who was the father of Silas, the father of Henry, the father of Henry known as Deacon Henry, who settled in Otsego County, New York, and Deacon Henry was the father of Poliy Bowen, mother of Alfred Clark Pierce.
Benjamin and Polly (Bowen) Pierce were the parents of thirteen children: Cynthia Ann, Laura Elvira, Henry Bowen, Sabrina M., Horace Milton, Alfred Clark, Elmer Wood, Ellen, Marcia, Silas E., Arthur S., Amy L. and Sumner W.
Mr. Alfred C. Pierce spent his early life on his father’s farm in Otsego County, New York. He was able to secure what was then considered a liberal education. He attended the Coopertown Academy and in 1855 attended the State Normal School at Albany. With this equipment he started west, taught one brief term of school in Michigan, and from there went on to Iowa City, from which point his career as a Kansas pioneer had already been traced.
On May 9, 1865, Mr. Pierce married Harriet L. Bowen. Mrs. Pierce, who was a woman of many fine qualities of heart and mind, died June 2, 1910. They became the parents of seven children: Alfred Bowen, Mary, Hal, Madge, Levi Benjamin, Marcia and Maud.