Walter E. Pierce, ex-mayor of Boise, is an energetic, enterprising young businessman who for the past nine years has been closely associated with the commercial, political and social activities of the city. He is a notable example of the self-made man who rising above the difficulties and drawbacks of early environment, makes a place for himself in the world and justly claims the respect and esteem of all.
A native of Bell County, Texas, born January 9, 1860, Mr. Pierce is a descendant of an old and prominent Rhode Island family, many of whose representatives resided in Providence, where they were wealthy and influential. Lyman Pierce, an uncle of our subject, was a very active and popular Democrat, and, having been nominated on that ticket for the governorship of Rhode Island, made a very strong canvass, but was not elected. The parents of Walter E. were Charles and Elizabeth (Harding) Pierce, natives of Providence. In 1854 they removed to a sheep ranch in Texas, but in 1860 were obliged to leave that state on account of the Indians, who were very troublesome. The father did not long survive, his death taking place at Baxter Springs, Kansas, in the fall of 1860. He left a widow and six children, three of whom are deceased. The mother, now in her seventy-fourth year, is making her home with a son in Hanford, California. For a short time after the demise of Mr. Pierce the family lived in southeastern Kansas, thence going to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they dwelt seven years, and subsequently returned to Kansas.
Owing to the vicissitudes through which his family passed, Walter E. Pierce had but limited chances for obtaining an education when he was a lad, and he is largely self-taught. After taking a course in a business college he embarked in various enterprises. For a period he conducted a hotel at Rich Hill, Missouri; then he engaged in raising sheep; and later he constructed a portion of the Kansas City & Southern Railroad in Missouri, under contract. For several years he was very successfully engaged in the real estate business in Richfield, Morton County, Kansas. His fellow townsmen, in recognition of his valuable services in the upbuilding and progress of the city, elected him to a position in the council, and later he was honored by being elected to the responsible office of register of deeds of the county. As a rule the county was strongly Republican, but his personal popularity was such that he, though a candidate of the Democrats, won the victory. He acquitted himself to the satisfaction of all concerned, but declined reelection, as that part of Kansas was suffering from a series of reverses, and he believed that he could do better elsewhere, from a financial point of view.
Accordingly, in 1890, Mr. Pierce came to Boise, and since that time has been accounted one of the leading businessmen of the city. That few have done more for the advancement of the city of Boise and Ada County is a fact generally acknowledged. He is actively engaged in the real-estate business, and it is estimated that fully five hundred persons have settled within the limits of this county annually as the result of the efforts of the firm of W. E. Pierce & Company, consisting of W. E. Pierce, J. M. Haines and L. H. Cox, is the best known and most reliable real-estate firm in “The Gem of the Mountains,” and has done more than all others combined for the advancement and best interests of the city and state. They have induced eastern people and others to become permanent citizens here. Large sums of eastern capital also have been invested in local enterprises, owing to the zeal and executive ability of the firm and the personal influence of Mr. Pierce and his partners. They constantly handle property, both in large and small tracts, and are agents for outside parties, at home and abroad. An example of the enterprise of the firm is shown in the very handsome souvenir pamphlets which they publish annually, illustrating the attractions of the city and setting forth its numerous advantages as a place of residence and business investment.
In 1896 W. E. Pierce was honored by election to the mayoralty of Boise, and the same progressive spirit and executive force manifested in his business career marked the discharge of his official duties. Under his administration many substantial improvements, accruing greatly to the benefit and beauty of the city, were instituted: sidewalks were built, shade trees planted and numerous other necessary and valuable public works were inaugurated. Mr. Pierce inaugurated the first street-paving, at the time he was mayor, even though at that time it was accomplished under great difficulties and met with great opposition, while now everybody concedes that it was the right thing to do. He was the most progressive mayor that Boise ever had, and under his management an immense stride was taken toward a more brilliant future than was ever before thought possible for her.
The marriage of W. E. Pierce and Miss Georgie Mundy, of Keokuk, Iowa, was celebrated in 1882. She presides with grace and dignity over their beautiful home on Franklin, near Eleventh, street.