THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   FRANCIS T. PIERCE. Among the enterprising and progressive agriculturists of Madison County the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this sketch easily occupies a leading position. He is a descendant of one of the original settlers of Hamilton, where he was born March 4, 1837, on the farm where he now lives, and which was also the birthplace of his father. His paternal great-grandfather was a resident of New York, and served in the French and Indian War, dying soon after from disease contracted while in the army, leaving a widow, in limited circumstances, with five children. His eldest son, Theophilus Pierce, grandfather of our subject, was born in Canaan, Columbia County, and was but seventeen years of age when his father died, and the care of the family devolved on him. He was faithful to his duty, and found a home for each before he settled in life. He married Sarah Beach, who was also a native of Columbia County; and they continued to reside in Canaan for several years thereafter. In 1794 a little band of people, consisting of five families from Columbia, one of them being that of Theophilus Pierce, journeyed with teams across the country to Hamilton, which was then included in Herkimer County, and was a howling wilderness, Deacon Payne and his family being the only residents of the place. Mr. Pierce selected five hundred acres of land belonging to Dominick Lynch, of New York City, going there to make his payment. He went as far as Albany on horse-back, thence, by sloop, down the picturesque Hudson River to the city. The deed which he received was written on parchment, bearing date of October 28, 1794, and is now in the possession of our subject. One-half of the land he sold to his brother Benjamin, and on the other half erected a log house, which the family occupied for several years, and in which the father of our subject was born. He cleared a good farm, and in later years built a frame house and convenient farm buildings, residing there until his death, in 1841. His wife died in 1838. They reared a family of five children--William, Lucinda, Alanson, Sally, and Alvah. The three eldest were born in Canaan, and, Sally was the first white child born in Hamilton.
   Alvah Pierce, father of our subject, was born on the home farm in Hamilton, July 20, 1800. He was educated in the pioneer schools, and when a young man was employed as a teacher two terms. He always took great interest in educational matters, and was for fifty years Treasurer of the Baptist Educational Society of New York, being also a member of the Board of University Trustees. He succeeded his father in the ownership of the homestead, and here spent his entire life, with the exception of three years in Fabius, where he was engaged in the mercantile business and milling. He was a man of marked business ability, and one of the organizers of the Hamilton Bank in 1853, being Vice-President of the same till 1875, and President from that time until the year preceding his death, which occurred December 26, 1891, he being probably the oldest bank President in the United States. In politics he was formerly a Whig, but a Republican from the formation of the party. Both he and his estimable wife were valued members of the Baptist church, which he served as Deacon for fifty consecutive years. The maiden name of his wife was Caroline Whitmore. She was born in Wilbraham, Mass., June 26, 1804, and died January 7, 1892. She was the daughter of Francis and Sally (Stebbins) Whitmore, early pioneers of Madison County. To Alvah Pierce and his wife were born two children: Harriet L., who married Henry 0. Wheeler, and died in 1882; and Francis T.
   The latter, the subject of this brief biography, received his education in his native town, attending the district school, the academy, and Hamilton College, ranking well in his studies in each. He succeeded his father in the ownership of the old homestead, which has always been his place of abode. In 1863 he was united in marriage to Miss Louise Burchard, daughter of Sylvester and Anna (Platt) Burchard. She was born in Remsen, Oneida County, and died at the family homestead in October, 1876, leaving an only child, Frank, whose birth occurred February 28, 1868. He was a studious, ambitious boy, and, after being graduated from the public schools, pursued his studies in Colgate University, from which he was graduated in the class of 1888. He was a young man of rare personal merit, a general favorite among his fellow-students; and his death, January 4, 1892, after four years of invalidism, was a sad blow to his father and friends.
   Mr. Pierce is a worthy representative of the pioneer family whose name is honored throughout this section, the Pierces having taken an active part in the development of the county, and contributed materially to the advancement and welfare of Hamilton. In politics he is a stanch Republican. He is a member of the Baptist church, with which he united in 1868, his wife having been a member of the same denomination from her early youth; and to its support he has always given liberally and cheerfully.

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