Sumner W. Pierce, of Junction City, president of the Central National Bank and one of that city's leading capitalists, has been identified with various business enterprises which have had a direct and important bearing upon the development and progress of his adopted city and state. He was born in Cooperstown, N. Y., May 24, 1851, a son of Benjamin and Polly (Bowen) Pierce and a descendant of two old New England families, which were established in America early in the Seventeenth Century. The Pierce family originated with one of that name who settled in Rhode Island and married there. His son, John Pierce, had five sons, the youngest of whom, Mial Pierce, was born in the town of Dover, Dutchess county, New York, in May, 1766. Mial Pierce married Isabel Chase of Pittstown, Rensselaer county, New York, and to them were born thirteen children, the youngest of whom, Benjamin, was the father of Sumner W. Pierce. Benjamin Pierce, born Sept. 30, 1804, married Polly Bowen, who was born Sept. 29, 1808, and lived in Middiefield, Otsego county, New York. The Bowen family was founded in this country by Griffith Bowen, who emigrated from Langerrith, Wales, in 1638, and joined the Massachusetts colony at Roxbury, Mass. His brother, Lieut. Henry Bowen, followed soon after and also settled at Roxbury, where he married a daughter of Isaac Johnson. Lieutenant Bowen fought in the Indian wars of his time, in the company of Isaac Johnson, and later became a promoter of the Connecticut colony. The line of descent, from Lieut. Henry Bowen to Sumner W. Pierce, is as follows: Isaac, son of Lieutenant Bowen, was born in Roxbury, Mass., April 20, 1676, and died Jan. 1, 1727; Henry, son of Isaac, was born in Farmington, Mass., June 30, 1700, and died at Woodstock, Conn., Jan. 1, 1758; his son, Silas, was born in Woodstock, Conn., April 7, 1722, and died Feb. 16, 1790; Henry, son of Silas, was born at Eastport, Conn. March 9, 1749, and died Dec. 8, 1830; 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, the mother of Mr. Pierce. The Bowen family has furnished men 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 (see sketch); 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, is the youngest.
Mr. Pierce was reared in his native town and was educated at Cooperstown Seminary and at St. Lawrence University, Canton, N. Y. Endowed with the proverbial Knickerbocker traits of thrift and industry, and believing in the greater opportunity of Kansas for the young man, he came to this state in 1870 and joined his brother, Alfred C. Pierce, at Junction City, where he began a business career which subsequently became one of exceptional success. He first entered the real estate, loan and insurance office of his brother, Alfred C. Pierce, where he was employed one year; he then, with borrowed capital, established a music, insurance and sewing machine business in a small frame building on his brother's lot, where the Woodman Hall is now located. The first year's business showed the profits on the wrong side, but perseverance is also one of his traits and, besides, he was learning. He was proprietor, bookkeeper, traveling salesman, clerk and janitor, and slept in the back end of his store. Piano sales were slow in those days, and after keeping his first piano in stock several months he traded it for a lot on Washington street, to which lot he removed his store building. The following is an incident illustrating the vicissitudes of a sewing-machine salesman in early days. While acting as salesman, one day, he loaded two sewing machines in his covered machine wagon and started north. His first call was at the home of ex-Governor Harvey, where he obtained permission to leave a machine on trial. Being unable, physically, to carry a machine complete, he was obliged to take it apart and deliver it in sections. He intended delivering the other machine at a ranch, several miles north of Milford, but night overtaking him he tied the colt he was driving to the wagon and camped therein. The next morning the colt was found at a farm house, some miles away. A night in a straw stack was of common occurrence. His business prospered, nevertheless, and in 1880 he began making loans on real estate and selling the mortgages in the East. In 1884 he organized the Central Kansas Bank, with a capital of $50,000, and bought the business and fixtures of the J. Monroe Smith Bank. This bank was incorporated under a state charter and Mr. Pierce became its cashier, while his brother, Henry Bowen Pierce, became its president. In 1886 he purchased his brother's interest in the bank and then became its president; this bank was organized as the Central National Bank, in 1890, with a capital of $100,000, and with Mr. Pierce at its head as president, under whose conservative, yet energetic, management it has become known as one of the soundest financial institutions of the state. It has a surplus of $30,000 and deposits of $500,000, and in November, 1910, the business was removed to its new home in the elegant new bank building, just then completed, which is one of the finest of its kind in the State of Kansas. In 1910 was organized the Union State Bank, of which Mr. Pierce is also president. This institution took over the savings business of the Central National Bank, as well as the real estate, loan and insurance business of Mr. Pierce, established by him in 1880. In November, 1908, Mr. Pierce organized the Junction City Creamery & Cold Storage Company, of which he served as president until 1910, when he sold his interests to W. F. Jensen. It is now known as the Jensen Creamery Company and, in 1909, the butter output was 500,000 pounds.
Mr. Pierce is justly credited for the promotion and success of the Junction City Electric Railway, Light & Ice Company, which has done so much for the advancement of the city. He has been a director and treasurer of this company since it was organized, in 1900, and financed the proposition when it required both nerve and capital. The project had long been contemplated, but it was not until Mr. Pierce announced to the small group of men interested in the project that, if a company were organized, with a capital of $80,000, and would pay in 20 per cent., he would cash its bonds to the amount of $60,000, which made it possible to make the dream a fact. The plant was completed and began operations in August, 1901; it was succeeded, in 1909, by the Union Light & Power Company, of which Mr. Pierce is treasurer. He is a director of the Jensen Creamery Company, capitalized at $50,000. Politically he is a Republican, but does not take an active part in party affairs. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and of the Church of Christ, Scientist. He has been a resident of Junction City continuously since 1870, except the period from 1890 to 1895, when he removed to Kansas City, Mo., and organized the Provident Loan-Trust Company, of which he became president, and during all of those years his energies have been directed toward the development and progress of his community, not only in a commercial way, but also in every way which would contribute to the general public welfare. He therefore richly deserves the stronghold which he has upon the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens and business associates.
On Jan. 14, 1874, Mr. Pierce was united in marriage to Miss Anna E. Manley, a daughter of Charles Manley, a merchant of Buffalo, N. Y. Mrs. Pierce came to Kansas in 1870 with her mother and brother. To Mr. and Mrs. Pierce have been born four children: Lulu Belle, born Dec. 30, 1875, is the wife of Hale P. Powers, a salesman for the Jensen Creamery Company of Junction City; Horace Manley, born Aug. 25, 1882, is cashier of the Union State Bank and assistant cashier of the Central National Bank of Junction City; Charles Sumner, born in October, 1874, died in April, 1877, and Clarence Earl died in infancy. Mrs. Pierce is a woman of charming grace and culture and their beautiful residence on the hill, known as "Sumner Hall," is the scene of many social gatherings, where their hospitality is greatly enjoyed by their many friends.Pages 1056-1058 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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