Tag: Pierce

John Franklin Pierce An Early Pioneer Settler

John Franklin Pierce was born January 1, 1843, at Sugar Grove, Smith county, Virginia. He was the eldest son of  Alexander and Nancy K (Shaver) Pierce, pioneer settlers of Rye Valley, VA.

1840 to 1860 was a time of prosperity for Smyth Co. VA. Smyth County is a land of rivers and valleys. These river bottom areas provided rich soil deposits that make Smyth County a historically significant agricultural area.  The names of the valleys reflect the agricultural use of the county. Rich Valley to the north is so named for it’s rich soil and the Rye Valley to the south is named for the abundant rye grasses found growing there.  Plainly stated “the oldest and most important industry of Smyth County is farming and grazing”, of which John’s upbringing was clearly engrained.

Agriculturally, Smyth County was established more as family farms than as part of the plantation system prominent in other parts of Virginia. Smyth Country was outside the limits of the “major tobacco producing district” in Virginia. This would account for the relatively low slave population of the 1860 census. Tobacco was grown before the establishment of the County but declined after the creation of Smyth.

 

 

EDUCATION

Education in this frontier was the private responsibility of the family. The wealthier families usually employed private tutors thus John’s early education was received from private instruction by tutors who were employed by the planters of the Valley.

THE CIVIL WAR

John’s school days were limited, owing to the breaking out of the Civil War. Every boy large enough to carry a musket was armed in defense of the Old Dominion. and he enlisted in the Home Guards of Virginia.

The Home Guard was any of several loosely organized militias in various states that were under the direction and authority of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Confederate Home Guard units worked in coordination with the Confederate Army, and were tasked with both the defense of the Confederate home front during the American Civil War, as well as to help track down and capture Confederate Army deserters. The Home Guard was a type of militia for the Confederacy. It had a rank structure and did have certain regulations, whether those were enforced or not.

Home Guard units were, essentially, to be a last defense against any invading Union forces. They also were used at times to gather information about invading Union forces troop movements, as well as to identify and control any local civilians who were considered sympathetic to the Union cause. They received no military training, and although they could be drafted into the Confederate service if need be, there are only a few cases in which that happened. The Home Guard was recognized as a type of service to the Confederacy. It was often made up of older planters or others exempted from front line service. What John’s reason for exemption was can only be queried as the true reason is not known. My belief is that it could have been due to his religious beliefs as the Pierce family was mostly Quaker.

The Home Guard of Rye Valley was established in December of 1860 to patrorl and keep order in the county.  Various volunteer companies immediately began to form, including the “Smyth Blues” from Marion, the “Smyth Greys” from Rich Valley, “Jackson’s Old Division” from Seven Mile Ford, and the “Smyth Dragoons” from Marion to name a few. At this point is only my guess that John was in the “Jackson’s Old Division”.

Smyth County became and important strategic point during the war because the saltworks were the primary source of salt supply open to the Confederate Army. Salt production was carefully rationed and each state in the Confederacy had it’s own furnace.

AFTER THE WAR

At the close of the war John went west to Illinois and was engaged in handling live stock for an English syndicate. In the 1870 Census John’s address is listed to be Cartwright, Sangamon, Illinois shortly after he was transferred to Missouri, where he built up a ranch system for his company, but, owing to the rapid settling up of the country, the ranches were sold to settlers and he moved to Clay, Atchison county, Missouri where he completed his energetic and useful life. Many acres of land he reclaimed from the wilderness and his was the hand that hewed, and broke and planted to crops much of the fertile soil he owned. He was a pioneer whose sword was beaten to a plow- share and who aided and witnessed the marvelous up-building of his commonwealth since the war between the States.

As a general farmer and stock-man he succeeded well, for he had ambition, energy and boundless industry, added to good judgment and perseverance. His broad acres, spacious farm buildings, number of farm conveniences and prosperous condition all bespeak a man of no mean ability.

John Franklin Pierce Family about 1882

He reared a large family giving them many advantages. Every comfort and convenience that could be procured was obtained for the happiness of his wife Alice. He was married, January 18, 1874, at Rockport, Missouri to Miss Alice Roena Johnson the only daughter of Daniel and Sarah (Hays) Johnson. To this union were born five sons and three daughters namely: Chas. S: Lon J., of Pittsburg, Pa; Mrs. Geneva A. Vogel of Valentine, Neb.; Venus V., Zane F., Reno M., Mrs. Charlotte M Raubach, of Valentine, Neb., and Sallie D.

John was among  those sterling men who came west in an early day, virile and strong in mind and body, and built up the country by developing its God-given resource-a direct opposite of so many young men of today, full of schemes for easy living, regardless of their work in the world.

In character he was kind, sympathetic and nearly always cheerful, with and honor that was unimpeachable. Truly, his greatest legacy to his children was what he was and not what he possessed.

At the time of his death he was the grandfather to two grandchildren – Donald W. Pierce and Iva Mae Vogel. Several more were to follow namely: Barbara Mai, and Sara Ann Pierce, Venus John, Clifford Wayne, Cecil Lon, and Jaunita “Carol” Marie Pierce, Thelma Maxine and Reno Eugene, Pierce, Pierce Raubach, Charles, Harold, and Alice Buell.

The Family and Friends of John F. Pierce were shocked to learn of his sudden passing away on the afternoon of August 11, 1910. He had been sick only a few hours for this reason the flow fell heavily upon them.

Elder D.M. Philippi conducted the funeral  services and interment at the  Hunter cemetery south of Rockport, Missouri.

 

If you are a relative or just have more information on John Franklin Pierce to add to this post please leave me a comment in the comment section below.

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

 

Research the Origin of your Surname

When  you first begin your family genealogy you might find it extremely helpful along the way if you first do a quick research for the origin of your surname. In your search you will be starting with yourself and working backwards and in doing so you will gain surnames for each generation as you go back, so having a little knowledge of surname origins can and will be a big help in your research.

Your last name is commonly referred to as your SURNAME. Your first name is referenced as your GIVEN name, and of course you have your MIDDLE name.  You will gain a surname for your mother’s maiden name, your grandmother’s maiden name and so on. A quick research of the origin of that name can tell you where you evolved from in a sense.

     Family tree research is one giant step backwards and one giant step forward—usually at the same time.

My maiden name is PIERCE.  Pierce is an English surname from  the established name Peter, which in medieval England was found as PIERS. Peter come from the Greek word “PETRO” which means “rock”. PIERS is the French version brought by the Normans in 1066 at the time of the Conquest.

From this bit of information I know that the name originated in England. Are all PIERCE’s English. NO! But it is a good assumption, and as to how far back one might have to go to get there is unknown to me at this point.  I merely had to go back to the 1600’s to find my George PIERCE that was born in England. I haven’t gone farther back than that to find if they had been somewhere else first. Family says there was some Irish in there somewhere.

There are as many as 16 versions of the PIERCE name,

PIERCE   PEARCE  PIERS  PEERS  PERES  PERSE  PEERZ                         

just to name a few.  Being able to recognize the variances you will more likely be able to spot a record that you might bypass otherwise, as in many census and military records you will find  have variations in spellings. There are several reasons for this.

  1. your ancestor may not have been able to read or write.
  2.  the census taker spelled it to their interpretation.
  3. the transcriber may not have been able to make out the name and took a wild guess.
  4.  generations back people weren’t as particular about a spelling as we are today. (probably because of the reasons mentioned above.)
  5. Immigrants often times changed the spelling or shortened their names in order to become more “American”.
  6. Many times immigrants did not know the English version and the immigration officer would record it incorrectly.
  7. It could be that the person giving the information didn’t know the correct spelling.
  8. Many of the records are sent over seas to India and such to be transcribed and it could just be a failure on their part to get it correct.

We are human. We make mistakes.

       “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” —Mark Twain

Only four generations back in the PIERCE family tree we find that one half of the family changed their name to the spelling PEIRCE. We believe because the father, MOSES had two families and the second family wanted to associate separately from the first, but that is just and assumption.

While searching for my fourth great grandfather, Adam SHAVER I found several instances where variant spellings came to play. SHAFFER and SHAVEN just to name a couple.  So in searching records don’t overlook the possibility of finding lots of differences.

Surnames became necessary in the 13th century when governments introduced  personal taxation. They originated to help identify people. Centuries ago when the world was less populated people would be referred to has John, or Fredrick. Everyone knew their neighbors and friends, and where they lived, what their occupations were, etc., people did not so readily move, and families lived in close proximity to each other. Therefore, for example, if John had a son down the lane, he might be referred to as Johnson. This would be considered a patronymic name. In most regions and time periods, surnames were assumed based on descent from your male ancestor (generally the father). A matronymic surname would be that deriving from the mother. Use of the mother’s surname is usually due to some circumstance such as  illegitimacy,  inheritance etc., though in some regions culture dictated the use of the mother’s surname. Or perhaps, Joe made pottery. He could have earned the name Joe Potter. They call this an occupational name. I have lot’s of Miller’s in my family. A Miller was someone who ground grain, this is Mueller in German, therefore we also have Mueller’s in the family.  Get the picture?

  • “Genealogy: An account of one’s descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.” —Ambrose Bierce

In many countries, the use of hereditary surnames began with the nobility who often called themselves after their ancestral seats. It wasn’t until the 1500s that surnames became widely inherited and no longer referred to a person’s appearance, job, or place of residence. Perhaps the caveman method would have made it easier for us as genealogist had we had something to go by.  When searching for William Robert GREEN, it would sure be nice to have an occupation or dwelling to go off of if you have no other information. Believe me, I KNOW!

In conclusion, I highly recommend with each new surname you start with a little research.  A few moments to do a little study on the name and it’s origin and the different derivatives of the names and variations of spelling could save you a lot of time and headache down the road as you search. You will come across records that will make you shake your head in wonder.  A little more research and  you might just also learn a good little bit about that special ancestor before you even start your search. Knowing the origin of your name puts you just a little bit closer to who you are and where you came from and what has gone before you.

It’s a feeling only another family historian could explain.

Happy Hunting!

 

 

 

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