Genealogy of Pierce Family

John Harwood Pierce

Sometime after the 1889 publication of Fredrick Clifton Pierce's genealogy, John wrote a small booklet of his own entitled, "Genealogy of the Pierce Family."

The first six generations of this genealogy merely paraphrase information found in the Fredrick Clifton Pierce genealogy. But the document gives completely new information about the 7th and 8th generations, and therefore the verbatim text of these two generations is given in full, below. It provides a treasure of names leading to further genealogical research. In this document, John tells about his grandparents and parents, and gives detailed information on all living and recently deceased relatives.

The first few pages of this genealogy summarize information found in Fredrick Clifton Pierce, "Pierce Genealogy Being the Record of the Posterity of Capt. Michael, John and Capt. William Pierce" (Albany, NY: Joel Munsell's Sons, 1889) concerning John's particular family line. That book, and John's genealogy show John Harwood Pierce descending from Captain Michael Pierce as follows:

  1. Captain Michael Pierce, b. 1615 (m. ____ d. 1662)
  2. Captain Benjamin Pierce, b. 1646 (m. Martha Adams)
  3. Benjamin Pierce, b. 1683 (m. Mary Cowan)
  4. Benjamin Pierce, b. 1721 (m. Charity Howard)
  5. Deacon Benjamin Pierce, b. 1746 (m. Priscilla Merritt Wade)
  6. Benjamin Pierce, b. 1777 (m. Deborah James)
  7. John J. Pierce, b. 1801 (m. Fanny Harwood)
  8. John J. Pierce, b. 18-- (m. ____)
  9. John Harwood Pierce, b. 1848

John's genealogy adds detailed information about his grandfather and father. These 7th and 8th Pierce family generations are given in full below:

(Gen. 7th) JOHN JAMES PIERCE born Apri. 14, 1801. Married Fanny Harwood. Fanny Harwood has a brother living at Utica N.Y. John James Pierce died, Oct. 8, 1870. This marriage of John J. and Fanny Harwood was consummated somewhere in the Green Mountains District. Children: Harwood, Henry M. (who formerly lived at Elk Point, S. D.), Maria, Mary, Benjamin, Julia C. (who married Robert Bulmer and lived at Rose Forrester Falls, Canada), John J., Harvey A. and Henry M. (who served in the Union Army and suffered serious wounds.)

(Gen. 8th) JOHN JAMES PIERCE was a Methodist Missionary, born at Hillsboro, N.H. He removed to Waltham, Pontiac Co., Privince of Quebec, Canada. Three children were born to him in this place - Clarissa Matilda, John H. and Louis. Colonel John H. Pierce, son of John James Pierce, writes of this early environment as follows: "Every river, pool and lake in that region has yielded its fish in abundance to my lure. Every den and swale, every cliff and crag, were known to me; and the bear, the deer, the mink, the beaver, the fox, the wolf, and the panther or mountain lion, were the victims we gloried in deluding to their death. It was war, and we would have gone down in the fray if they had had the better skill. Often, we were near to death with the powers of the wilds proving stronger than we, but God's goodness remembers the sparrows. Black River on which the "Pierce Place" is situated, is a deep, dark, swift, dangerous stream. It buried my brother Louis." After years spent in this northern wilderness, John James Pierce and Harwood Pierce were called to undertake a mission in the Southern states. They were sent to preach abolition of slavery. They met with reverees and severe violence at the hands of the Southern mobs and returned north. At Davenport, Iowa, John James met Judge Loren T. Hill, and at his suggestion undertook a journey to Nebraska to buy land. He purchased the old town site of Ionia for Judge Hill and sent word for his family to join him in the west.

John H., his son, was already in the States. His wife and daughter, Clarissa Matilda undertook the long and dangerous journey. They travelled the first lap of the trip by water, and were shipwrecked, barely escaping in their night clothes in an open boat. The journey accross Illinois and Iowa was accomplished in rude ox carts, devoid of springs, and with high wooden wheels hewed out of solid timbers. The country was new and the roads were rough. Very often, stretches of corduroy road would extent for miles. [John's young sister] Clarissa Matilda, walked the entire distance accross the State of Iowa, preferring to walk rather than ride in the ox carts. The caravan would make, on average, about ten miles a day. But the journey was made, and a home was built on the banks of the Missouri River about three or four miles above the old town site of Ionia. This farm has long since been swept into the treacherous river. John James Pierce, [John's father] is buried on the hill overlooking the town of Vermillion, S.D.

In November of 2007, Charles Albert Lynds (great-grandson of Clarissa Matilda Pierce Smith), forwarded a genealogical document to Barbara Case (granddaughter of John Harwood Perice) that had been in the hands of his family. This document was probably created by Clarissa's son Walter. It matched verbatim the document quoted above in John Harwood Pierce's papers; however, Lynds' document had one difference. It had a (Gen. 9) included at the end giving information about the life of Clarissa. Here below is that 9th generation of the Pierce family tree as found in the Smith/Lynds family archives:

(Gen. 9th) CLARISSA MATILDA PIERCE was born in Waltham, Pontiac Co. Quebec, July 3, 1845 [see note 1, below]. In company with her mother she removed to Ionia, Nebraska, in 1866 [see note 2, below]. She was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She married Charles H. Smith, of Ionia, Nebr., in 1862. Eight children were born. Nothwithstanding the fact that the envirronment was rough she succeeded in binding her children to her and kept them true to the highest standards. At Ionia the nearest neighbors were 25 miles distant. Foodstuffs had to be hauled by teams from Sioux City, Iowa, 35 miles away. Cloths were provided for the first born children by carding, spinning, and weaving within the household. Notwithstanding the heavy burdens incident to pioneer life Mrs. Smith was enabled to keep her children in school and make her home the social center of the rural community. Games were provided for the younger children while the long winter envenings were occupied by the older members of the family in reading aloud the best books the times afforded.

Note 1: The July 3, 1845 date of birth for Clarissa is probably incorrect. More likely, the year was 1844 as Clarissa gave her age as 35 on the June 22, 1880 census. Various documents give her birthdate at July 3 or 31, the exact day is unknown.

Note 2: This date of arrival in Ionia is surely wrong. Ionia was not purchased as a townsite untill 1858, and was not settled until 1859. She does not appear to be living in Ionia in the 1860 census. It would therefore seem that she arrived in Ionia sometime shortly after the 1860 census.

Please refer all inquiries to Barbara Case at:

Last Updated (BC), 11/02/07