FRANCIS LIVINGSTON PIERCE. Distinguished not only as a pioneer settler of Kearny County, and an important factor in the development of its agricultural resources, but for the prominence he has attained in literary, political and fraternal circles, Francis L. Pierce, of Lakin, is eminently worthy of representation in this volume. He was born December 28, 1846, in Woodstock, Windham County, Connecticut, of honored New England ancestry and of Revolutionary stock. A descendant in the eighth generation from one John "Pers," the immigrant, his line of descent is thus traced: John(1), Anthony(2), Joseph(3), Francis(4), William(5), Francis(6), Francis(7), Hezekiah Francis(8), and Francis Livingston(9). Francis, grandfather of Hezekiah Francis, as a boy, went with a company under Captain Prescott of Concord, upon an expedition to Cuba in the French and Indian war. He was one of thirteen who enlisted there and took part in the siege of Havana and was the only one to return.
John(1) Pers, the immigrant ancestor, was born, reared and married in England. Coming to America with his family, he settled in Watertown, Massachusetts, where he was a landholder prior to 1644. His son, Anthony(2) Perse, he having added an "e" to the original name, immigrated to this country in 1629, and having located at Watertown, Massachusetts, purchased land, and there spent the remainder of his years.
Francis(7) Pierce, grandfather of the subject of this brief sketch, was born October 9, 1779, in Connecticut, where he spent his entire life. He married Lucy Wood, a daughter of Hezekiah Wood, a soldier in the Revolutionary war. Eight children were born to them, as follows: Susan, Lucy, Seth, Lois, Mary, Betsey, Hezekiah Francis and Joseph W.
Hezekiah F.(8) Pierce was born in Pomfret, Connecticut, December 2, 1819. During his earlier life was a millwright and after completing his three years' apprenticeship was detained for sugarmill construction in Brazil but because of a revolution there he did not go. He was what was then called a "Yankee peddler," and later traveled with his cart loaded with tinware and other merchandise popular with the New England housewife. About 1852, deciding to make a change of residence and occupation, he started westward with his family, going via the Hudson River and the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York, from there by way of the Great Lakes to Chicago, and thence by stage and afoot to Henry County, Illinois. Two years later he brought his family out and engaged in farming. He was quite successful as an agriculturist, and was subsequently similarly employed in Iowa for awhile. Subsequently coming to Kansas, he took up school land in Norton County, and on the farm which he improved resided until his death, in 1898. A stanch republican in politics, he was an ardent supporter of John C. Fremont, and the badge that he wore in the Fremont campaign of 1856 is now in the possession of his son Francis. He was reared as a Baptist, but never united with any religious organization. He married Julia Robinson Wilson, who was born in New England, of colonial ancestry, a daughter of Zadock and Annie (Robinson) Wilson. Four children were born of their union, namely: Julianna, wife of Christian D. Breniman; Francis Livingston; William L., of Norton County, Kansas; and Minnie E., deceased, married Reuben Breniman.
Francis L.(9) Pierce was but six years old when his parents left the historical spot where he was born, it having been in close proximity to the "Wolf Den," made famous by Gen. Israel Putnam, and also having been the birthplace of General Lyon, who was killed at Wilson Creek. He acquired his preliminary education in Illinois, from there going with his parents to Powesheik County, Iowa, in 1864. There he engaged in farming, and likewise taught school a number of terms, having completed his studies at Grinnell College in Iowa. Mr. Pierce also became active in public life, filling various township offices while there, and serving for two years as county auditor.
In 1879 Mr. Pierce located at Lakin, Kearny County, Kansas, and entered the land on which he now lives, and which he has since occupied. The land was in its primitive condition, but he felt that if it were properly cared for would respond readily to the planter's art. He made improvements of value, and had the distinction of being the first farmer in the county to fence his property. Paying 35 cents each for oak posts, and 12 1/2 cents a pound for wire, he fenced a whole section of land. He was also the first to introduce alfalfa into this section of the country, paying 40 cents a pound for the seed. Instead of general farming Mr. Pierce has made a specialty of raising alfalfa, cattle and horses, in which he has been eminently successful, at one time having owned the third largest herd of horses in the county. Since the farmer's problem has been partly solved by irrigation, he has devoted much more time and space to general farming, and has found it quite remunerative. He still owns the timber claim that he took up so many years ago in addition to his homestead property. He has passed through all the trials and tribulations of pioneer life, and is now enjoying all the comforts and pleasures of modern times, the change, with all of its accompaniments, from the rude dugout which he first lived in to his present comfortable home having been gradual but very satisfactory.
During the time of the county seat scramble in Kearny County Mr. Pierce was living on the section which was platted as a town site, and was called "Chantilly" after the battlefield where Gen. Phil Kearny was killed. That was in 1888, and in the enumeration this town was favored with the greater number of votes, but at the election it lost.
Mr. Pierce married in Montezuma, Iowa, March 7, 1877, Mrs. Caroline Virginia McClellan, daughter of Maj. General Gray, of Pennsylvania, who married Lucy Woodberry. Mrs. Pierce died January 1, 1888, leaving one daughter, Mrs. Virginia (Pierce) Hicks, who was the fourth child born in Kearny County, her birth having occurred November 16, 1880. She is now principal of the Stanton County High School, and has one daughter, Virginia E. Hicks. Mrs. Pierce's first child by her first marriage was a daughter, Virginia D. McClellan, who married Senator Cheshire, of Iowa, and died in early womanhood, leaving one daughter, who now lives in Los Angeles, California. Mrs. Hicks, Mr. Pierce's daughter, is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and of the Kansas Society of the Mayflower descendants. This Pierce family traces its lineage directly back to five of the 100 people aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, among them being Miles Standish, John Alden and his wife, Priscilla Mullins, as well as her parents. The family is related also to the noted Indian missionary, John Eliot, who translated the Bible into the Pequot tongue, and who wrote the catechism and grammar, and was called "The Apostle of the Indians." Mrs. Hicks is also a member and past presiding officer of the Order of the Eastern Star; of the Daughters of Rebekah; of the Pythian Sisters; and of the Knights and Ladies of Security. She is also a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Politically Mr. Pierce has been actively identified with the republican party since casting his first presidential vote in 1868 for Gen. U. S. Grant. In 1880 was elected justice of the peace in Kearny County, and was the first resident officer to solemnize a marriage ceremony in the county. In 1904 he was elected county clerk, and served in that capacity for six years. He has been connected with the public education service, and for twelve years was chairman of the Lakin School Board, occupying that position at the time the splendid grove about the school building was set out.
Fraternally Mr. Pierce was made a Mason in 1869, in Brooklyn, Iowa. He is a member of Emerald Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he was the first master. He is also a member of the Chapter, the Council and Commandery and of Isis Temple and of the Wichita Consistory. He is likewise a member of the three branches of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and past presiding officer of each, a member and a past chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, and is a member of the Pythian Sisters. He belongs also to the Knights and Ladies of Security. He has the distinction of being the second oldest secretary of the Masonic Lodge in Kansas, having held the office since 1890.
Mr. Pierce is a member of the Kansas Historical Society; of the Mississippi Valley Historical Society; and of the National Society of American History. He is also secretary of the Old Settlers Association of Kearny County. He has accumulated a library of 1,000 volumes of various works, including much Kansas literature, and he and his daughter have a genealogical record back to the immigrant of the various families from which they are descended, and the coats of arms of some of them.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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