LUCIEN G. C. PEIRCE.
Seventy five years ago Lucien G. C. Peirce entered upon the journey of life and is today living retired at Grinnell
in the enjoyment of a competency which he earned through industry and good judgment. He looks back on many years
of activity, in the course of which he extended a hand of sympathy to many a wayfarer whose lot was less fortunate
than his own. He comes of an illustrious line of ancestors and was born in Villenovia township, Chautauqua county,
New York. February 5, 1836, a son of Austin and Mary Ann (Sterling) Peirce. The father was a native of Thetford,
Vermont, and was born in 1799. He was married to Mary Ann Sterling, March 17, 1826, and they removed to Villenovia
township. Chautauqua county, New York, three years later when that section of the state was still only thinly settled.
He engaged in the practice of medicine until 1850, when he was attacked by spinal disease and confined to his bed
for nearly twelve years. He passed away June 17, 1861. He was a firm believer in the Christian religion and a devout
member of the Presbyterian church. For many years he took, an active interest in politics and was supervisor of
his town, serving also as member of the state legislature of New York in the winter of 1841-2.
The Peirce family was very prominent in the early days of New England. The emigrant ancestor, Thomas Peirce, was
born in England about 1583 and emigrated to this country in 1633 or 1634, settling at Charlestown, Massachusetts.
His wife, Elizabeth, was born in England about 1595. Thomas Peirce was made a freeman in the colonies May 6, 1635,
and was one of the twenty one commissioners appointed by the general court of Massachusetts to see that saltpetre
heaps were made by all the farmers of the colony. Several members of the family served in the Revolutionary war
and since that time many of them have been prominent in public life and also in business in various states of the
Union. On the mother's side the subject of this review is descended from noted ancestry of Scotland, Mary Ann Sterling
having been a daughter of Lord Sterling. The ancestry is traced back to Walter De Streverlying, who lived about
1130 A. D. The name underwent various changes until it became Sterling.
Lucien G. C. Peirce was reared in his native town Villenovia township and educated in the public schools, remaining
at home until seventeen years of age. In 1853, having a desire to see the world and also to carve out a fortune
for himself, he went to Kane county, Illinois, where he worked on a farm in the summer and clerked in a store in
the winter. For several years, beginning in 1858, he was employed by Brady & Pease at Aurora. He spent ten
years in Kane and Kendall counties, Illinois, and for two years was deputy postmaster at Lisbon.
In the meantime Mr. Peirce purchased one hundred and sixty acres in Poweshiek county, Iowa, four miles southeast
of Grinnell and in the fall of 1862 he visited this county and in the spring of 1863 brought his wife and two children
to their new home. It was for some time a lonely spot as there were no neighbors within several miles, the eye
being greeted only by the open prairie and blue sky. He built a house fourteen by eighteen feet in size, still
standing, in which the family lived until 1880, when he erected a modern residence, having meanwhile applied himself
to good advantage as a farmer and stock raiser. In 1889 he removed to Grinnell and for three years was interested
with a partner in the creamery business. Since that time he has lived retired. He is a member of the board of directors
of the Interurban Telephone Company, which operated between Grinnell and Montezuma, and for twenty five years was
secretary of the Powesbiek County Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, displaying in the discharge of his duties an
ability that made his services highly acceptable to all concerned.
In 1860 Mr. Peirce was married at Batavia, Kane county, Illinois, to Miss Esther M. Snow, who has been to him a
true and loving companion. Nine children came to bless this union, namely: Austin P., now living at Des Moines,
lowa; Byron B., of Kearney, Nebraska; Edna L., widow of William Philpott, of Grinnell; M. Genevra, now engaged
in teaching at Blue Island, Illinois; Lucia E., who is also a teacher and is living at home; Gurdon D., deceased;
Helen T., now Mrs. C. S. Williston, of Chicago; William S., an osteopathic physician, who is engaged in practice
at Lima, Ohio; and Tiny V., deceased.
Mr. Peirce and his wife are identified with the Universalist church, in which he has served as clerk. He is now
independent in politics but for many years was a prominent factor in political affairs in this part of the state.
Originally a republican, he became an advocate of the greenback party and was a candidate for the state legislature,
carrying every precinct outside of Grinnell with a majority of fourteen votes, but he was defeated by the labor
element of the city. He was prominent in the organization of the populist party and was one of the leaders in the
Patrons of Husbandry, occupying all the chairs in that body from secretary to master. He is also an active worker
in the Grange, remaining with it until the local organization went out of existence. He has been a director of
the Poweshiek County Central Agricultural Society and served as its treasurer for three years. He and his estimable
wife have a legion of friends in Poweshiek and adjoining counties who have been attracted by their interest in
the welfare of others. As the shadows lengthen this venerable couple are blessed with the love of their children
and neighbors, and they have the satisfaction of feeling that in an important degree they have performed their
duty. Always progressive in business, kindly in disposition and generous in estimate of others, Mr. Peirce has
retained the high regard of those with whom he has come in contact either in social, business or political life,
and is one of the most honored residents of this city.
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Poweshiek County, IA
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