Alfred Pierce, of Attleboro, now living retired after a long business career, bears lightly the weight of his ninety years and is enjoying the fruits of his labor, happy in the companionship of his family and in full possession of all his faculties. He can look back with pride on a life well spent and feel that it has not been lived in vain.
Mr. Pierce is a native of Bristol county, Mass., born in the old historic town of Rehoboth Jan. 1, 1822, son of Jeremiah and Candice (Wheeler) Pierce. This branch of the Pierce family in America is one of long standing and among the first settlers of New England. The name has been variously spelled, but the change to Pierce has been made in the last three-quarters of a century. In the Old World the members of this family have been quite prominent, and the name can be traced through a loner and distinguished line back to the days of the Norman Conquest. Brave Galfred, born 972, who left his Normandy castle to come over with venturesome Rollo, assumed the name of Percy. From him the line is traced to the American progenitor as follows:
William Pierce, his son.
Allan Pierce, son of William.
William Pierce, son of Allan.
William Pierce, son of William.
Agnes Pierce, daughter of William, who married Josceline De Louvaine, who was Prince of Normandy, but who on account of his marriage relinquished his own name and assumed that of Perci; however, he kept his royal coat of arms of Brabant.
Lord Henry Pierce of Petrovith, who married Isabelle De Bruce.
William Pierce, third Lord of Petrovith, who married Ellen De Baliol.
Henry Pierce, who married Eleanor Plantagenet.
Henry Pierce, first Baron of Alnwick, who from youth to old age was a warrior and was one of the victors at the battle of Dunbar and was highly distinguished throughout the Scotch war during the reign of Henry I. He married Lady Eleanor Fitzalan.
Henry Pierce, second Lord of Alnwick, born 1299, who in 1346 was the chief of forces and gave battle to the Scots at Neville’s Cross, where he took the King, David Bruce, prisoner. He married Idonea De Clifford, and died in 1351.
Henry Pierce, who in 1346 accompanied King Edward III. to France and was at the victory at Crecy and afterward held high offices under the King. He married Mary Plantagenet.
Henry Pierce, first Earl of Northumberland, who fell at the battle of Branham Moor in 1408. He married Margaret Navill.
Henry Pierce, born May 30, 1364, who fought in the battle of Shrewsbury against the Crown, 1403. He married Elizabeth De Mortimer.
Henry Pierce, second Earl of Northumberland; according to an old ballad of which he and his bride were the hero and heroine, he fell fighting – for Lancaster. His bride was Lady Eleanor Nevill.
Sir Ralph Pierce, who fell at Towton field, 1464, fighting with his father and brothers for the house of Lancaster.
Peter Pierce, son of Sir Ralph, who was standard-bearer for Richard III., 1485 at Bosworth Field.
Richard Percy Pierce, son of Peter, founded the Hall at York, England.
Richard Pearce, Jr., resided at the home of his father in York. He spelled the name Pearce, which name and way of spelling continued to within the last three-quarters of a century, since when some members of the family have used the form Pierce.
Michael Pearce, or Pierce, brother of Capt. William, of London and construed by this branch of the Pierce family to be a son of Richard Pearce, Jr., was born in England. He came to the New World about 1645, settling first at Hingham, Mass., and afterward moved to Scituate, Mass. He is said to have built the first sawmill in the Colony. It was burned by the Indians in May, 1676. Capt. Michael Pearce, commissioned such officer by the Colony Court 1669, was in the Narragansett fight of December, 1675, and in the campaign that followed was one of the forty-nine or fifty Englishmen who were slain March 26, 1676. He was twice married, his second marriage, which took place about 1663, being to Annah James, of Marshfield, Mass. Children:
- Persis Pearce
- Benjamin Pearce
- John Pearce
- Ephraim Pearce
- Eliza Pearce
- Deborah Pearce
- Anna Pearce
- Abiah Pearce
- Ruth Pearce
- Abigail Pearce
Ephraim Pearce, son of Capt. Michael, married Hannah Holbrook, daughter of John Holbrook, of Weymouth, Mass. Mr. Pearce removed from Weymouth to Warwick, R. I., and was at Providence, where he was made a freeman of the Colony May 3, 1681. He died Sept. 14, 1719, and his wife died the same year. Children:
- Isricion Azrikim Pearce, born in 1671
- Ephraim Pearce, 1674
- Michael Pearce, 1676
- Rachel Pearce, 1678
- Hannah Pearce, 1680
- Experience Pearce, 1682
- John Pearce, 1684
- Benjamin Pearce, 1686
Ephraim Pearce (2), son of Ephraim, born in 1674, married April 16, 1692, Mary Low, and they resided in Rehoboth and Swansea, Mass. Children:
- Mial Pearce, born April 24, 1693
- Mary Pearce, born Nov. 16, 1697
- David Pearce, born July 26, 1701
- Elizabeth Pearce, born May 30, 1703
- Clothier Pearce, born May 26, 1728
- Ephraim Pearce
Deacon Mial Pearce, son of Ephraim (2), born April 24, 1693, married Judith Ellis, born in 1686, daughter of Judge Ellis, and they made their home for a time in Warwick, R. I., and later moved to Swansea, Mass., still later to Rehoboth. Mrs. Pearce died Oct. 6, 1744, and Mr. Pearce married (second) Jan. 30, 1763, Lettice Mason. He died Oct. 18, 1786. Children:
- Ephraim Pearce, born Nov. 9, 1712
- Wheeler Pearce, born July 11, 1714
- Nathan Pearce, born Feb. 21, 1716
- Mary Pearce, born Oct. 18, 1718
- Judith Pearce, born Oct. 21, 1720
- Mial Pearce, born March 24, 1722
- Job Pearce, born April 25, 1723
- Joshua Pearce, born in 1725
- Caleb Pearce, born in June, 1726
Joshua Pearce, born in 1725, in Rehoboth, Mass., married there March 24, 1748, Mary Horton, daughter of John and Mary Horton, of Rehoboth, Mass. In the Massachusetts records of Soldiers and Sailors who fought in the Revolution we find the name of Joshua Pierce or Pearce, who was a private with Capt. Stephen Bullock’s Company, Col. Thomas Carpenter’s Regiment, four days’ service; marched from Rehoboth to Bristol, R. I., on an alarm, Dec. 8, 1776. Mr. Pearce made his home in Rehoboth, Mass., where his family were born, viz.:
- Shubael Pearce
- Israel Pearce
- Henry Pearce (born in 1750)
- William Pearce
- Joshua Pearce
- Sarah Pearce
- Barnard Pearce (born Feb. 4, 1764)
- Silence Pearce
- Hannah Pearce
- Mary Pearce
Barnard Pearce, son of Joshua, born Feb. 4, 1764, was married Jan. 14, 1785, to Mary Bounds, daughter of Chase and Hannah (Mason) Bounds. The family resided in Rehoboth, where Mr. Pearce was engaged in farming. He died May 5, 1842, his wife passing away Nov. 16, 1849. Children:
- Jeremiah Pearce, born Aug. 29, 1786
- Mary Pearce, Dec. 18, 1788
- Nathaniel E. Pearce, Jan. 1, 1792
- Hannah M. Pearce, Nov. 17, 1794
- Barnard Pearce, March 15, 1797
- Charles M. Pearce, Aug. 9, 1799
- Otis N. Pearce, Feb. 3, 1803
- Chase E. Pearce, May 12, 1805
- Bradford S. Pearce, Jan. 14, 1808
- Mary A. Pearce, May 7, 1811
- Joseph Pearce
Jeremiah Pearce, son of Barnard, born in Rehoboth Aug. 29, 1786, grew to manhood there and learned the carpenter’s trade, which he followed successfully, also engaging in farming. He was known as a hard-working, honest, upright. man, a good citizen, and one worthy of the utmost respect. He died March 23, 1837, at the age of fifty-one years. On Nov. 9, 1806, Mr. Pearce married Candice Wheeler, who was born Sept. 30, 1789, daughter of Shubael and Chloe (Martin) Wheeler. Shubael Wheeler was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, in which his father, Capt. Philip Wheeler, and his father-in-law, Lieut. Daniel Martin, were also very active. Captain Wheeler gave notable service in the furnishing of troops. Mrs. Pearce survived her husband many years, living to a great age, ninety-three; she died Oct. 17, 1882. She was a woman of strong character and rare goodness, a devout Christian, and noted for her kindness and her devotion to her children. Hers was a large family, as follows:
- Abraham Pearce, born Feb. 1, 1808, married Harriet E. Freeman
- Mary W. Pearce, born Jan. 13, 1809, married Gilbert Carpenter
- Chloe M. Pearce, born Nov. 27, 1810, married Stephen Clarke
- Jeremiah Pearce, born June 23, 1812, married Hepsibeth Mallette and (second) Laura Godfrey
- Candace Pearce, born July 9, 1813, married Leprelet Capron
- Charlotte Pearce, born Nov. 5, 1818, married Horace Carpenter
- Albert Pearce, born Dec. 31, 1821, married Ellen McFarland, and (second) Miss Cowan
- Alfred Pearce, twin of Albert, born Jan. 1, 1822, is mentioned below
- Galen Pearce, born July 18, 1824, married Phebe A. G. Barney and (second) Emma Wilmarth
- Sarah J. Pearce, born April 29, 1830, married Horatio Briggs
- Martha Pearce, born Sept. 15, 1832, married Hale S. Luther, of Rehoboth.
Alfred Pierce, son of Jeremiah, was born in Rehoboth and reared on his father’s farm. He received such education as the common schools of his neighborhood afforded, attending during the winter season. At a suitable age he was apprenticed to learn the carpenter’s trade. When nineteen years old he began life, as it were, for himself, and at Pawtucket, following his trade. Here he remained some four years, thence in 1844 going to Attleboro, where he also followed his trade, remaining until 1851. In the last named year, allured to the Pacific coast by the good prospects, he went to California, where he was for two years occupied in mining and met with some success. He then went to Australia, where he was located at Melbourne and was engaged in mining and where he was also rewarded with fair success. En route home, in 1854, he stopped for a time at Aspinwall. Returning to Attleboro in the year just named he has since been a resident of this place, actively engaged in the business of contracting and building for the long period of fifty-one years, in which time he erected and rebuilt perhaps five hundred public and private buildings through Bristol county. He retired from the contracting business about 1875 or 1877. About 1869 he associated with him for the conduct of a lumber, coal and wood business, Mr. Arthur B. Carpenter, under the firm name of Pierce & Carpenter. They carried on the business successfully until 1905, in which year Mr. Pierce sold out to his partner, who has since continued it alone.
Mr. Pierce has long been regarded as one of the substantial men and citizens of Attleboro. He has been a self-made man in the true sense, beginning life poor, but with that ambition, that earnestness of purpose, which, steadily held, often conquers all obstacles and leads to position and wealth. He has always devoted himself to his business and his home, and though a Republican since the formation of the party he has never gone into politics or sought office, though he has endeavored to do his full duty as a private citizen. As a business man the growth and prosperity of his adopted city were naturally of the greatest importance to him, as he demonstrated in many ways. During the Civil war he was an ardent supporter of the Union and did much to help the cause, being quite active at Washington and other points.
On Dec. 6, 1865, Mr. Pierce married Martha Richardson Williams, who was born in Attleboro July 12, 1837. She was a descendant of one of the town’s oldest families, being a daughter of Thomas and Polly (Richardson) Williams, and granddaughter of John and Nancy (Brown) Williams, the former of whom was a drummer boy in the war of the Revolution; she was also a granddaughter of Abitha and Martha (Faulkner) Richardson, he a soldier in the war of the Revolution and she a daughter of Edward and Martha (Stuart) Faulkner and a descendant of the royal Stuarts of Scotland. Abitha Richardson established the Richardson school fund. Mrs. Pierce’s people have been prominently identified with the town for many years past. During her busy life she occupied a prominent and useful place in the community. She was a member of the Attleboro Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in which she took an active part, and of the New Century Club. For over half a century she was a member of the Second Congregational Church of Attleboro, which Mr. Pierce attends. She died Jan. 6, 1910, after a brief illness, at the home at No. 21 Bank street. Mrs. Pierce had not enjoyed good health for many years before the illness which preceded her death, but was always active and prominent in her sphere of life, forming and continuing many warm friendships by her genial and lovable disposition. Mr. and Mrs. Pierce had one child, Marion Williams, born May 24, 1867, who received unusual educational advantages. After attending the local public and high schools she was a student at Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass., Lasell Seminary, Auburndale, Mass., and the Cowles School of Art, Boston, and she has been a teacher of art for some time, making a specialty of figure work, and landscape on china and porcelain and designing conventional study. She has been a member of the Providence Keramic Club for four years. Her artistic taste and ability have brought her much success in her chosen work. On June 30, 1892, she married Miles Leach Carter, who was born July 12, 1865, in South Hope, Maine, son of Joseph Oscar and Rosenna (Burrows) Carter and grandson of Joseph and Lola H. (Fiske) Carter, and also grandson of Simmons and Mary (Packard) Burrows. They have had one child, Bernandetta Richardson, born Dec. 6, 1904. Mr. Carter is senior member of the jewelry manufacturing firm of Carter, Qvarnstrom & Remington, of Attleboro. Mrs. Carter was one of the founders and organizers of the Attleboro Chapter, D. A. R., and was its first regent, holding that office for three years. She has continued to take a deep interest in the chapter and in the order generally, and has served as a delegate to both State and national conventions.