GRACIA MARIA PEIRCE-The Peirce family, at least that branch of it which has been indigenous to New England soil for nearly three centuries, is believed to have descended from John Pers, who came from Norwich, Norfolk County, England, to New England in 1637, being accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth and their four children. They made the voyage either on the “John and Dorothy” of Norwich or the “Rose” of Yarmouth. A register of certain emigrants to New England has the following item: “April the 8th, 1637. The examination of John Pers, of Norwich, weaver, aged 49 years, and his wife, Elizabeth, aged thirty-six years, and four children-John, Barbre, Elizabeth and Judith, and one servant, John Gedney, aged 19 years, are desirous to passe to Boston, New England, to inhabitt.” This John Pers is identified by Bond and Savage with the John Peirce, of Watertown, Massachusetts, who was a weaver and appears to have arrived in America in 1637, and whose wife was Elizabeth, and had children John,. Elizabeth and Judith. If this identification is thus established some of his children must have preceded him to New England, and the four named above were probably the youngest of the family. Elizabeth, without doubt, was ten years older than she here is represented. She is said in the county records to have been “aged about 79” at the time of her death in 1667.
John Pers (or Peirce) was a freeman of Watertown, Massachusetts in 1638 having been one of the original proprietors of that town. He was born in 1588, and died August 19, 1661. He owned considerable land in Watertown. His wife Elizabeth was born in 1601 (1591?), died March 12 1666-67. Children: 1. Anthony, born in 1609, in England. 2. Esther, born in England ; married, in 1636, Joseph Morse, Jr.; children: i. Joseph, born April 30, 1637, married Susanna Shattuck- ii. John, boom February 28, 1638-39, married Ann Smith and Abigail Stevens. iii. Jonathan died in May, 1643. iv. Jonathan, born November 7, 1643, married Abigail Shattuck. v. Esther, born May 7, 1646, married, Jonathan Bullard. vi. Sarah, married Timothy Cooper. vii. Jeremiah, married Abigail Woodward and Sarah Woodward. viii. Isaac. 3. Mary born in England, died January 26, 1704-05; married Clement Coldam, of Lynn and Gloucester, Massachusetts; children: i. Judith, died February 28, 1650. ii. Elizabeth, married Francis Norwood. 4. Robert, born in England, about 1620; married before October 16, 1646, Mary Knight; children: i. Judith, born September 30, 1651, died May 30, 1689. ii. Mary, born January 21, 1653-54, married, October 14, 1672, John Walker. iii. Nathaniel, born December 4, 1655, married, December 27, 1677, Hannah Converse. iv. Elizabeth, born March 6, 1658-59, married, February 24, 1681-82, Samuel Wilson. v. Jonathan, born in February, 1662-63, married, November 19, 1689, Hannah Wilson. vi. John. vii. Benjamin. viii. Joseph, born May 1, 1672, married Ruth, surname unknown. 5. John, born in England; married Elizabeth, surname unknown; children: i. and ii. John and Elizabeth (twins), born June 16, 1643, both died young. iii. John, born November 23, 1644, married Ann Huthwitt. iv. Joseph, born September 12, 1646. v. Thomas, born May 3,: 1649. 6. Barbre, born in England, may have died on the passage over, as nothing further is known of her. 7. Elizabeth, born in England; married, in 1643, John Ball, Jr., and had children: i. John, born in 1644, married Sarah Bullard. ii. Mary. iii. Esther. iv. Sarah, born in 1655. v. Abigail, born April 20, 1658. 8. Judith, born in England; married, January 30, 1644-45, Francis Wyman.
(I) Moses Peirce, great-great-grandfather of Gracia Maria Peirce, and thought to be a descendant of John (Pers) Peirce, the immigrant, was born in 1718. He lived in Middleboro, Massachusetts, and died in 1802. He married ?. Children: William, Moses, Joseph and David, of whom further.
(II) David Peirce, son of Moses Peirce, went to live in Prescott, Massachusetts. He served in the Revolutionary War, and died on the way home from the war. He married Martha Canada, of Colerain, Massachusetts, and had children: Alexander, Alden, John and Caleb, of whom further.
(III) Caleb Peirce, son of David and Martha (Canada) Peirce was born April 15, 1771, died in Prescott, Massachusetts, May 11, 1829. He was a well-known school teacher (now retired) of North Amherst, Massachusetts. He was a farmer. He also served the State as a notary and the town as an assessor. He married (first) Nancy Aldrich, who died February 1, 1817. He married (second) Sophia Abbott, who died Decemher 27, 1880. Children of first marriage : Pomeroy, Natalie, Appleton, Moiselle, Caleb, Jr., Nancy, Madison, Clesson, Martha and David. Children of second marriage: Cheney, Henry, Joel Foster, Charles A., George L. and John A., of whom further.
(IV) John A. Peirce, son of Caleb and Sophia (Abbott) Peirce, was born in Prescott, Massachusetts, in September, 1828, and died in Amherst, Massachusetts, March 12, 1902. He had lived in Prescott and Shutesbury, Massachusetts, and later took up a residence in Amherst, where he lived on East Main Street. In the younger years of his life he was engaged in the palm leaf hat trade, and this occupation necessitated his spending considerable time traveling. Eventually he entered the grain business at Coldbrook, Massachusetts, where he was engaged in that line for twenty years, while he retained his residence in Amherst. He was a member of the Universalist Church at Amherst and participated actively in its affairs. He married Amelia Maria Hannum, of Pelham, born January 1, 1829, died May 4, 1911, daughter of Grove Wright and Amelia Brown (Newell) Hannum. Their children : 1. Alice F., born October 7, 1854, died February 15, 1913; married William C. Bliss, and they have two children: Mildred F. and Edward L 2. Amelia L., born September 20, 1856; married George L. Clark, and has one son, Leverett M. 3. Ella L., born February 23, 1860; married Gordon W. Stewart, now deceased. 4. Sophia Abbott, born August 22, 1862; married Henry D. Clark, and has children, Elizabeth, Grace, deceased; Chester, Luther, deceased; Eloise, Maria, Harry. 5. Gracia Maria, born September 26, 1867.
Amelia L. (Peirce) Clark, Ella L. (Peirce) Stewart, Sophia Abbott (Peirce) Clark and Gracia Maria Peirce are all graduates of high school, and have contributed most excellent service to their generation as school teachers. Miss Gracia Maria Peirce is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is now retired from the profession of teaching, and has her residence at North Amherst.