Alfred Clark Pierce.The semi-centenary of Kansas's statehood concludes an epoch in her history wherein were developed men, who, from the standpoint of constructive, initiative, and executive talent, rank with the most forceful in the annals of her sister commonwealths. Among those who have realized a large and substantial success, a citizen who has the distinction of having been for fifty-six years a Kansan, one who has been a potential force in practically every phase of her development, is he whose name initiates this article. Coming to Kansas in 1856, he took an active part during the formative period in the settlement of what is now Geary, Dickinson, and Saline counties. His labors in the cause of temperance, while a member of the legislature, would prove sufficient to give precedence and reputation to any man, were this to represent the sum total of his efforts; but Captain Pierce is a man of broad mental ken, strong initiative, and distinct individuality, and he has been a most potent, though unostentatious factor in the commercial, social, and religious life of Geary county, where he took up his residence, in 1860.
Alfred C. Pierce was born at Cooperstown, Otsego county, New York, Sept. 13, 1835, son of Benjamin and Polly (Bowen) Pierce. His ancestors on both sides were among the early settlers of America, and numbered among them are men who achieved distinction in the frontier life of those early days, in the commercial era which followed, in the French and Indian wars, and later in the war of the Revolution. The Pierce family became established in America early in the Seventeenth century, when one of the name settled in Rhode Island and married there. His youngest son, John Pierce, married and had five sons, the youngest of whom, Mial Pierce, born in the town of Dover, Dutchess county, New York, in May, 1766, married Isabel Chase, of Pittstown, Rensselaer county, New York, and this couple were the grandparents of Alfred C. Pierce. They had thirteen children, two of whom died young, and the youngest, Benjamin, was the father of Alfred C. He was born on Sept. 30, 1804, and married Polly Bowen, of Middlefield, Otsego county, New York, born Sept. 29, 1808. The Bowen family was founded in America by Griffith Bowen, who came from Langerrith, Wales, in 1638, and settled at Roxbury, Mass. A brother, Lieut. Henry Bowen, followed soon afterward and also settled in Roxbury, where he married a daughter of Isaac Johnson. He fought in the Indian wars of his time, in Isaac Johnson's company, and later became one of the promoters of the Connecticut colony. The line of descent from Lieut. Henry Bowen to Alfred C. Pierce is as follows: Isaac, son of Henry Bowen, was born in Roxbury, Mass., April 20, 1676, and died Jan. 1, 1727; Henry, son of Isaac, was born at Farmington, Mass., June 30, 1700, and died at Woodstock, Conn., Jan. 1, 1758; his son, Silas, was born at Woodstock, Conn., April 17, 1722, and died Feb. 16, 1790; Henry, son of Silas, was born at Eastport, Conn., March 9, 1749, and died Dec. 8, 1830, and his son, Henry, known as "Deacon Henry," was born Sept. 10, 1780, and settled in Otsego county, New York, where he became an influential farmer. He was the father of Polly Bowen, who married Benjamin Pierce and became the mother of Alfred C. The Bowen family has furnished men who have attained to positions of prominence in the civil, professional, and political life of the country, as well as members who served in the war of the Revolution. Benjamin and Polly (Bowen) Pierce were the parents of thirteen children: Cynthia Ann, born Sept. 25, 1827; Laura Elvira, born March 8, 1829; Henry Bowen, born Sept. 10, 1830; Sabrina M., born Dec. 25, 1831; Horace Milton, born Jan. 5, 1834; Alfred Clark, born Sept. 13, 1835; Elmer Wood, born Nov. 2, 1837; Ellen, born July 29, 1839; Marcia, born May 1, 1841; Silas E., born Jan. 11, 1844; Arthur S., born Feb. 28, 1846; Amy L., born May 5, 1848, and Sumner W., born May 24, 1851 (see sketch).
Alfred Clark Pierce was reared on a farm near Cooperstown, N. Y. His education was acquired in the Cooperstown Academy, supplemented by a course of two terms at the State Normal School, at Albany, N. Y., which course he completed in 1855. He took a keen interest in the problems then confronting the nation, particularly those concerning the future of Kansas. Deciding to join the free-state party, he began his journey to the territory, stopping for a time at Adrian, Mich., with an uncle, Lucien Bowen, who secured a school for him and he taught one term. Continuing westward, he reached Iowa City, where he remained for three weeks. Here he became acquainted with the late Preston B. Plumb, and a friendship was formed which remained unbroken up to the time of Senator Plumb's death. Mr. Pierce, Mr. Plumb, and a party of eight others, left Iowa City, Sept. 3, 1855, conveying 250 Sharp's rifles, a supply of ammunition, and a small brass cannon, intrusted to them for delivery to the Free-Soil party in Kansas. The rifles and ammunition were turned over at Tabor, Iowa, and the cannon was taken on to a point near Topeka, where it was concealed in the woods. On the way west, the party divided at Manhattan, Mr. Plumb following the valley of the Smoky Hill, westward, and Mr. Pierce going up the Blue river. They rejoined each other at Chapman, whence Mr. Plumb returned to Lawrence and Mr. Pierce went on west and located a claim, on which has since been built the city of Salina. There, with seven companions, he erected a log house, the first building of any kind in Saline county, and which he subsequently sold to Colonel Phillips, the founder of Salina. Mr. Pierce abandoned this claim in November, 1855, and went to Ogden, where he was employed in cutting logs. From that time until the spring of 1857 he secured such employment as was offered, working in the district from Junction City to Atchison. Upon the establishment of Kansas Falls by the Massachusetts colony, he became superintendent of building operations for the settlement, and was also engaged in surveying. He also filed on a claim and got out logs and lumber. In 1860 he located permanently at Junction City, where he has since resided, being now the oldest living resident. He was first engaged in surveying, looking up lands and locating settlers. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company G. Eleventh Kansas infantry, which in 1863 was made the Eleventh Kansas cavalry. He was promoted to first lieutenant, then to captain, and was mustered out with that rank in August, 1865. Returning to Junction City, he was elected county surveyor, later county clerk, and also served as register of deeds. In 1867 he opened the first real estate office in Geary county, later adding to his business insurance and loans. He compiled the first abstract books in the county and added that department to his business. From the start this venture proved a success and the business became the most extensive in the county, as well as one of the most important factors in the development of this section of the state. For forty years Mr. Pierce remained in charge of this business, retiring in 1906, when he was succeeded by his son, Hal Pierce, who is one of the successful men of the county. Owning about 5,000 acres of land in Geary county, Mr. Pierce has, since 1906, been fully occupied in the management of his extensive cattle interests. He is a lifelong Republican and has been an active factor in state, county, and city affairs. He has been three times elected to the state legislaturefirst in 1861, again in 1867, and the last time in 1879. A consistent and conscientious advocate of temperance and prohibition, he labored unceasingly for the measures which have done so much to place Kansas in the front rank as regards prosperity and citzenship.[sic]
On May 9, 1865, Mr. Pierce married Miss Harriet L. Bowen, daughter of Levi H. Bowen, of Cooperstown, N. Y. She died June 2, 1910. Mrs. Pierce was a woman of broad culture and refinement, one who exerted a great influence for good in the social and religious life of Junction City, and one whose charities were many and varied. Her death removed from Geary county one of its noble women, whose loss is keenly felt by a wide circle of friends. Her family lost a mother who believed in her husband, her children, and her fireside, and did her utmost to create an ideal home. Mr. and Mrs. Pierce became the parents of seven children: Alfred Bowen is associated with his father in the cattle business; Mary is the widow of Joseph Gillett, of Purcell, Okla.; Hal (see sketch); Madge is the wife of Frank Smith, of Byers, Okla.; Levi Benjamin is engaged in farming with his father; Marcia resides with her father, and Maud is the wife of Frank Kibby, of Junction City.
Captain Pierce is in all respects a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, diligent in his commercial affairs, and conscientious in all things. To do justice to the many phases of his career in an article of this order would be impossible; but in even touching the more salient points there may come objective lessons and incentive, and thus a tribute of appreciation. As a man among men, bearing his due share in connection with the practical activities and responsibilties of a work-a-day world, he has been successful; but over all and above all, he has gained a deep knowledge of the well-springs from which emerge the streams of human motive and action. He has gained a clear apprehension of what life means, what its dominating influences and its possibilities are, and is ever ready to impart to his fellow men the fruits of his investigation, contemplation, and mature wisdom. As an evidence of his progressiveness, it is worthy of mention that he built the first silo in Kansas and was one of the first to use ensilage in feeding cattle. He has known, more or less intimately, every governor of the State of Kansas, and met nearly all the territorial governors. At the age of seventy-six he is a marvel of mental and physical strength and energy, frequently spending a whole day at a time in the saddle, giving his personal attention to his cattle ranches, etc.Pages 864-867 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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