Jeremiah Hunt Peirce, often known simply as J. H. Peirce (or “Jerre” to family), was born September 8, 1818, in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Joseph Peirce (1786-1821) and Henrietta Eliza Elliot (1792-1864). He was named after Jeremiah Hunt, in whose family Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce was raised, and who, being from a prominent family of Cincinnati merchants, may also have been a friend (and perhaps business associate) of Joseph Peirce.
Jeremiah Peirce attended Dayton schools as a child, and then attended Miami University at Oxford, graduating in 1835 at the age of 16. In 1836, Jeremiah joined the engineering corps of the Miami-Erie Canal.
Though most histories remember Jeremiah H. Peirce as a lumber dealer, his early business interests were as a manufacture of lard oil. Sometime prior to 1850, Jeremiah became associated with the Miami Lard Oil Company, which had been established in 1844. This was Jeremiah’s primary business activity until at least 1870, though he maintained a connection with the company until 1876.
By the early 1870s, Jeremiah had become interested in the business of building materials. From 1873 to 1876, he was engaged in a partnership with David W. Stewart in the operation of a “planing and flooring mill,” as well as in the manufacture of building materials such as sashes, doors, and moldings.
From 1876 until his death, Jeremiah was senior partner in the firm of Peirce & Coleman, manufacturers and dealers in lumber and other building materials, including sashes, doors, blinds, moldings, flooring, and siding.
In addition to his business interests, Jeremiah was also interested in fruits and flowers and was an active member of the Montgomery County Horticultural Society, serving as its president in 1857.
For several years, the J. H. Peirce family resided on Ludlow Street between First and Water (Monument). In 1854, Jeremiah built a new house in Harrison Township on the west side of what is now Forest Avenue. He named his estate “Five Oaks,” apparently after five oak trees that sat on the property. In 1890, an addition, including a tower, was added to the home. Members of the Peirce family lived at Five Oaks until the 1930s. In 1946, the property was purchased by the city, the house razed, and a park created on the site.
Jeremiah and Elizabeth had eight children, all of whom were born in Dayton, Ohio:
- Samuel Forrer Peirce was born Apr. 24, 1847, and died Jan. 27, 1855.
- Henrietta Elliot Peirce was born Nov. 21, 1848, and died Apr. 21, 1919; she married H. Eugene Parrott.
- Edward Davies Peirce was born Sept. 19, 1850, and died June 14, 1868.
- Sarah Howard Peirce was born Apr. 28, 1853, and died Apr. 9, 1930.
- Mary Forrer Peirce, usually called “Mellie,” was born Jan. 1, 1855, and died July 23, 1892.
- Elizabeth Forrer Peirce, often called “Bess,” was born Sept. 5, 1857, and died Nov. 19, 1930.
- John Elliot Peirce, usually called “Elliot,” was born Apr. 17, 1861, and died June 6, 1940.
- Howard Forrer Peirce was born May 4, 1865, and died Apr. 19, 1899.
Jeremiah’s first wife Elizabeth died in January 1874. A few years later, on October 5, 1882, Jeremiah married Mary Forrer (1838-1929), his first wife’s sister and youngest daughter of Samuel Forrer and Sarah Howard, apparently despite Sarah’s objections. At the time of their marriage, Jeremiah was 64, and Mary was 44; they had no children.
Jeremiah was in ill health by April of 1889. He and Mary traveled to Clifton Springs Sanitarium in New York, where he moved about in a wheelchair. Within a few weeks, he became incapable of speech and was brought home from New York in a private car and was transported from the train station lying down in a vehicle.
This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2012 for the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654.
Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry, or the WorldCat record.
Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.
 Frank Bruen, Christian Forrer, the Clockmaker, and his Descendants (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1939), 106; John F. Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 116. See also FPW, Series III, Subseries 3: Joseph Peirce Family; and FPW, Series III, Subseries 4: Elliot Family.
 Sarah Schenck Crane, The Crane Family History (Cincinnati, OH: Ebert & Richardson Co., 1911), 55-56; Jeremiah Hunt to Joseph Peirce, 17 June 1811, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 37:8, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).
 Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 116; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 106;
 Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 116.
 Frank Conover, Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago: A. W. Bowen, 1897), 305; Augustus W. Drury, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, (Chicago: Clarke Publishing Co., 1909), vol. 2, 663-664; Dayton City Directories, 1850-1889; 1870 United States Federal Census; The Official Railway List (Chicago: The Railway Purchasing Agent Co., 1894), accessed 5 Jan. 2011 on Google Books, http://books.google.com/books?id=o4Q3AAAAIAAJ, 96.
 Dayton City Directories, 1873-1876. There is no 1870 directory, and J. H. Peirce is not listed in the 1871-72 directory. Therefore, a gap exists from 1870-1872 during which time his occupation cannot be determined from the directories.
 Conover, Centennial Portrait, 305; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, vol. 2, 664; Dayton City Directories, 1877-1889.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 106; Minutes, 1857, Montgomery County Horticultural Society Collection, 1:1, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio);
 Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 105. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 2: Elizabeth Hannah (Forrer) Peirce.
 Dayton City Directories; Lisa P. Rickey, “Five Oaks,” Glancing Backwards (blog), 22 Dec. 2011, https://lisarickey.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/five-oaks/.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 106; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 116.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 106-122; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 116. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 10: Henrietta Elliot (Peirce) Parrott & Family.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 122. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 4: Edward Davies Peirce.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 122-123. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 5: Sarah Howard Peirce.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 123. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 6: Mary “Mellie” Forrer Peirce.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 123-124. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 7: Elizabeth “Bess” Forrer Peirce.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 124-126; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 9: John Elliot Peirce, Sr., & Family.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 126-129. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 8: Howard Forrer Peirce.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 136; Sarah Forrer to Jeremiah H. Peirce, 2 Sept. 1877, FPW, 4:9; Jeremiah H. Peirce to Sarah Forrer, undated, FPW, 4:9.
 Mellie Peirce to her father J. H. Peirce, 11 Apr. 1889, FPW, 18:13.
 Mellie Peirce to her brother Howard Peirce, 16 May 1889, FPW, 18:21.
 Bruen, Christian Forrer, 106.