Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cowboy Legacy -- The short, tragic life of Marcus Pierce

1875 Marcus Pierce photo obtained from descendants of Anna Nary Pierce Moses

At age 7 Marcus was without a father

What happened to James L. Pierce has never been determined.  Did he die, divorce or abandon his wife and children?  When the Federal census was taken in 1850, Marcus, his mother Elvira, and two sisters (Mary and Ellen) were living in the household of William Cory.

Elvira Brayman Pierce married William Cory 8 Feb 1849

At age 20 Marcus was a soldier in the Civil War

Marcus enlisted in the Union Army on Sept. 8, 1862, and served as a Corporal with Company E, New York 109th Infantry Regiment.  He mustered out on June 4, 1865, in Washington D.C.  At the time of enlistment he was described as five feet ten inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, and by occupation when enrolled, a painter.

Marcus married (1) Amanda M. Hallowell April 18, 1866, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Amanda was born July 21, 1849,  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She was the daughter of Amanda Meirio and Lt. Rifford R. Hallowell (1816-1864) who served with Company K, 28th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry as a Second Lieutenant.   

Marcus and Amanda had three children:

Lillian Amanda Pierce (1867-1957), my great-grandmother, married Jackson Bailey in 1885. She lived  to be 90.
Charles Morton Pierce (1869-1869) died in infancy, age 5 months, 27 days.
Luella Olive Pierce (1873-1873) died in infancy, age 4 months, 21 days.

At age 31 Marcus had lost his wife and two children

Amanda died September 13, 1873, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a result of complications associated with the birth of her last child.

About 1875 Marcus was a policeman with the city of Providence, Rhode Island.

Marcus married (2) Anna Nary (1855-1936) on Sept. 27, 1875 at Falls, Pennsylvania.  

Marcus and Anna had two children:

Fredrick M. Pierce (1878 -1893)
Albert Wesley Pierce (1882 -1956)

Marcus was in poor health about 1878 or 1879 when a doctor advised him to seek higher altitude and a dryer climate.  Family members have speculated that lead paints and spirits used when he was a painter caused health problems, but the record shows he died of "consumption," the name for tuberculosis at the time.  I'm inclined to believe tuberculosis may have plagued his family from the beginning. 

At age 37 Marcus is told he has consumption and should seek a better climate

Following the doctor's advice Marcus and Anna homesteaded on the prairie of Valley County, Nebraska in 1880.  The Pierce homestead was legally described as the NW 1/4 of Section 30 Township 19 North Range 16 West of the 6th P.M. Valley County, Nebraska. The land was treeless and nearly level.

Marcus and Anna built the sod house in the photo above. Conditions of pioneer life were harsh.  They gathered buffalo chips for fuel, dug a well for water, and Marcus hunted game with an 1837 US Springfield muzzle-loading rifle he brought with him.

Marcus Pierce died at age 40

Marcus' health did not improve and he died December 6, 1882 in Liberty Twp, Nebraska.  Anna raised two children on the homestead.  Eventually she married William Harrison Moses.  Together they enjoyed a long and prosperous life.

No comments:

Post a Comment