Biography of Samuel D. Pierson

Samuel D. Pierson, director in the J. W. Smith Dry Goods Company, of Geneva, New York, is one of that class of men who seem destined to overcome by their innate fitness apparently insurmountable obstacles, and his career presents a fine example of honesty and integrity, energy and perseverance, struggling with the adverse circumstances of life and rising into complete triumph. With all the elements of a strong character, he was fitted to assume the responsibilities which have devolved upon him and to increase the value of the interests entrusted to his care.

Rev. Job Pierson his father was born near Troy, New York, in 1824, and died in 1896. He was a well-known Presbyterian clergyman and ministered in many cities of the United States. He was a student at Williams College, from which he was graduated at the early age of eighteen years, and then began to study for the ministry in the Theological College at Albany, New York, being ordained in 1847. His first charge was at Corning, New York, where he remained until his resignation in 1849, and he then filled the following pastorates in succession: West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, until 1850; Catskill, New York, and Pittsford, New York, 1851 Victor, New York, until 1862; Kalamazoo, Michigan, until July 1, 1869; Ionia, Michigan, until 1881, when he resigned, this being his last charge. He was one of the founders of Alma College, Michigan, and spent a large part of his time in assisting Dr. Murray in his work in connection with the new Oxford dictionary, making many important contributions, and was engaged on this work at the time of his death. He was a man whose death was deeply and sincerely lamented, and the influence of his inspired-preaching was more than supplemented by the influence of his exemplary and blameless life. He married Rachel W. Smith, born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1820, a woman of excellent education and ideal characteristics. She was beloved by all with whom she came in contact and was very active in church work. Her death occurred January 19, 1908. They had a number of children, among whom were: Samuel D., see forward; John W. S., resides in Michigan; Philip T. H., resides in Bennington, Vermont.

Samuel D., son of Rev. Job and Rachel W. (Smith) Pierson, was born in Pittsford, Monroe county, New York, October 26, 1851. , His education, which was a good one for the length of time he was able to take advantage of it, was acquired at the Victor schools, and in Kalamazoo and Ionia, Michigan. At the early age of fourteen years he entered upon his business career, and this was commenced with the same qualities of earnestness and attention to detail that have characterized him throughout his life. His first position was that of a water carrier on the trains of the old Kalamazoo & White Pigeon railroad, which is now (1910) known as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and he was thus employed for a period of five years. Being then fitted for work of a more strenuous nature, he became connected with the lumber business in the northern part of Michigan and remained in this employment until 1896. He then went to Geneva, New York, where he retired from business for a time to devote himself personally to the care of his maternal uncle, Solomon K. Smith, one of the two brothers who founded the drygoods house with which Mr. Pierson is now (1910) identified. He also gave much of his time and attention to the care of his mother, who was in feeble health. The J. W. Smith Dry Goods Company was organized in 1847 and was later incorporated as a stock company. In addition to his directorship in this company Mr. Pierson has a number of other business enterprises. He is a trustee of the Geneva Savings Bank; director of the Chamber of Commerce; and interested in other financial undertakings. His social affiliations are with the Country and Kanadasaga clubs, and he is a member of the Episcopalian church. While he has never aspired to the holding of public office he takes an active and intelligent interest in all matters which concern the welfare of his city and country, and has the courage of his convictions in expressing decidedly independent views in all matters of public policy.

Mr. Pierson has never married. His spare hours are spent in varied reading, to which he devotes a considerable amount of time, and his sympathetic nature leads him to make many personal inquiries into social conditions in all classes in the city. In this manner he is more readily enabled to give the assistance which is dictated by his feeling and generous heart, and he has acquired a circle of friends who are representative of all classes of society. All in all, he is a plain, strong, dependable sort of man, in whom everyone seems to place unlimited confidence.

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