The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia


PIERCE, John - Otsego

John PIERCE was born March 15, 1791, in Alfred, Renesslaer 
Co., N.Y. In 1797 his father, Levi Pierce, purchased of William 
COOPER, at $5 per acre, the farm now owned by Mrs. H. A. 
THAYER, of 150 acres, in town of Otsego, Otsego County. In 
1799 he moved with his family, consisting of his wife, two sons, 
and two daughters, and settled upon it. His sons were Joseph, born 
May 22, 1789, who died (Nov. 1, 1861) in Tompkins county; John, 
the subject of this sketch; Sybil, born June 27, 1792, wife of William 
LAWRENCE, of Genesee county; Watestill, born Sept. 29, 1798, 
widow of Gideon H. RUSSELL, still living near her son, Gideon H. 
Russell, in Otsego. The four were born in Alfred, Renesslaer county. 
After the family moved to Otsego the following children were born: 
Rebecca, April 27, 1801, wife of William TURNER, died Nov. 23, 
1829; Thomas, born June 12, 1802, living in Pennsylvania; Lois, 
Sept. 29, 1804, wife of James RANKIN, settled in Iowa; Sophia, 
Jan. 29, 1809, wife of John AUSTIN, died June 5, 1836; Levi, born 
March 1, 1812, a soldier in the Mexican war, also a private in Company 
H, 121st Regiment New York Volunteers, in the war of the Rebellion, 
from both of which he received an honorable discharge.
The father of Levi Pierce died at the age of eighty-eight, Sept. 2, 
1852. His wife, Aug. 3, 1855. John was the "home boy," and to 
him was deeded the old homestead farm. He was married, March 
20, 1816, to Sally KINNEY, daughter of Jesse and Roxy Kinney, 
residents of Brookfield, N.Y. She was born Jan. 30, 1795. They 
had children as follows: Loroxsy, born July 17, 1819, unmarried, 
living with her sister, Mrs. THAYER; Hiram K., born March 15, 
1820, married to Emeline WOODARD, and a farmer, living in 
town of Otsego; Sally Betsey, born Dec. 25, 1821, unmarried, also 
living with her sister, Mrs. Thayer; Phoebe, born Jan. 17, 1824, died 
April 10, 1824; Sophia, born Jan. 30, 1826, died April 10, 1829; 
Nancy C., born April 19, 1828, married Orville BEADLE, Feb. 7,. 
1847, living in Otsego; Harriet Aurelia, born Aug. 22, 1830, 
married Oct. 14, 1866, to Caleb THAYER, a further notice of whom 
will be found below; Rebecca M., born July 8, 1834, married to 
Henry CASEBY, March 20, 1862; after his death she married 
Daniel ROBERTS, of North Adams, Mass., where she resides; 
Elvira Sophronia, born Oct. 2, 1836, married to Menzo BOWEN, 
Feb. 7, 1856, farmer, living in Otsego; Alfred K., born Sept. 8, 1840, 
married, and since the recent death of Caleb Thayer, living upon and 
working Mrs. Thayer's farm.
Mr. Pierce was a good citizen, an accommodating neighbor, and 
a kind and affectionate father. In politics a Democrat. At the time 
of his death he was a member of the Baptist church. He died Aug. 
24, 1862. His wife survived him nearly fifteen years. Her death 
occurred June 6, 1877, at the advanced age of eighty-two years. 
Among the published notices of her death, we quote the following: 
"Her excellent qualities as a neighbor and friend to all, won for her 
the highest estimation of the vicinity in which she has so long 
resided. A characteristic feature of her life, her patience, and
fidelity to the right, will make her memory redolent for many years to
come. As a faithful wife and devoted mother, she served the highest 
interests of society, and now, with many others of the fathers and 
mothers of the past sleeping in the silent house of rest, she is held 
in sacred remembrance, and society rises up with her sons and 
daughters to call her blessed."
Their daughter, Harriet Aurelia, now the widow of the late Caleb 
Thayer, deserves further notice than the mere mention of her birth 
and marriage. From a child she was possessed of a strong desire 
for an education, but the limited means of her parents, with the 
necessity of providing for a large family, together with a personal 
affliction of stuttering, which almost prevented utterance, seemed 
to present insurmountable obstacles in the way of obtaining her 
cherished purpose. By long-continued and persistent efforts, which 
would rival Demosthenes in the accomplishment of the same object, 
she succeeded in almost entirely overcoming her difficulty of speech. 
At the age of twenty-one she had learned the milliner's trade, and at 
odd times had learned to read and write, but knew nothing of grammar, 
arithmetic, and geography, but had accumulated $150 at her trade, 
the whole of which she expended in a term at the normal school at 
Albany; at the expiration of which she passed a successful examination 
for a teacher, and by that means, at the age of twenty-five, had 
earned $200, within $50 sufficient for another course at Albany. 
Upon the recommendation of a friend in Cooperstown, she applied 
to the late William H. AVERELL for a loan of $50. "What security 
can you give?" he asked. "I will get my life insured and assign you 
the policy." She obtained the $50 and returned it in due time with 
interest. She followed teaching for the love of it, having taught in 
the different districts of her native town, Otsego, nineteen terms. 
Her example of perseverance under difficulties is one well worth 
recording. A representation of her home, the old home of her 
parents, which upon her marriage had been purchased and improved 
by her husband, together with the portraits of her father and mother, 
appear, at her insistence, on another page of this work as a grateful 
tribute to their memory. Her portrait appropriately appears on the 
same page with her husband and his former wife.

[Note: see biography for Dr. W. A. THAYER]

Excerpt from History of Otsego Co., NY, page 254


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