Bio Sketch: Joseph Peirce (1786-1821), pioneer, merchant, & banker in Dayton, Ohio

Joseph Peirce was born March 6, 1786, in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Isaac Peirce (1749-1821) and Mary Sheffield (1757-?). The other children of Isaac and Mary Peirce were: Phebe Peirce, who married James Steele; Samuel Peirce; Lucy Peirce; Elizabeth Peirce; and Eliza Peirce.[1]

Joseph’s father Isaac Peirce was a Revolutionary War veteran, having served in 1779 as an aide-de-camp to General Horatio Gates. Isaac was a shareholder in the Ohio Company and migrated with his family to Marietta, Ohio, in 1788, then became one of the founders of nearby Belpre, Ohio, in 1789. Isaac eventually moved to Dayton, Ohio, after his son Joseph, and died there on August 28, 1821.[2]

Joseph Peirce spent several years of his childhood living in the stockade at Belpre during the Indian Wars. He received a good education even on the frontier, because the Ohio Company had brought excellent teachers with them.[3]

In 1805, at the age of 19, Joseph Peirce moved to Dayton, Ohio, apparently at the urging of Daniel C. Cooper, who has been credited with influencing many of Dayton’s earliest important settlers to the town between 1804 and 1808. Joseph’s cousin Charles Russell Greene was another who came to Dayton at Cooper’s urging, about 1804 or 1805. Joseph’s and Charles’s mothers were sisters, and their fathers had both been shareholders in the Ohio Company.[4]

Joseph Peirce's signature, 1812

Joseph Peirce’s signature, 1812 (FPW 37:3)

On December 2, 1807, Joseph entered into a business partnership with James Steele (who would later marry Joseph’s sister Phebe). The firm of Steele & Peirce sold general merchandise, and the pair remained in business together until Joseph’s death.[5]

Articles of Co-Partnership, Steele & Peirce, 1807, pg 1

Articles of Co-Partnership, Steele & Peirce, 1807, pg 1 (FPW 38:14)

.

Steele & Peirce co-partnership signatures, 1807

Steele & Peirce co-partnership signatures, 1807 (FPW 38:14)

.

Steele & Peirce operator's license, 1808

Steele & Peirce operator’s license, 1808 (FPW 38:13)

On November 10, 1810, Joseph Peirce married Henrietta Eliza Elliot (1792-1864), sometimes called Harriet, daughter of Dr. John Elliot. Henrietta was born in June 1792 in Vincennes, Indiana.[6]

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce, undated

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce, undated (FPW 37:21)

.

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce's signature, 1840

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce’s signature, 1840 (FPW 37:18)

In 1812, Joseph Peirce served on the Ohio legislature. In 1813, he was elected a trustee of the newly established Dayton Bank, and in 1814, he became its president, a position he held until his death.[7]

Joseph Peirce died on September 27, 1821, at the age of only 35 years, as a result of a fever which swept through Dayton, taking the lives of several other residents as well. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[8]

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce died on February 13, 1864, probably in Dayton, Ohio, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[9]

Tombstone of Joseph and Henrietta Peirce, Woodland Cemetery, Section 77

Tombstone of Joseph and Henrietta Peirce, Woodland Cemetery, Section 77 (Photo by the author, 2011)

Joseph and Henrietta Peirce had five children:

  1. Mary Ann Peirce (1811-1880);
  2. David Zeigler Peirce (about 1813-1853);
  3. James S. Peirce (1815-1816);
  4. Jeremiah Hunt Peirce (1818-1889); and
  5. Joseph Crane Peirce (1821-1899).

Mary Ann Peirce was born in September 1811 in Dayton, Ohio. On November 24, 1829, in Montgomery County, Ohio, she married Edward Watts Davies (1802-1873). They had several children, including: Eliza Peirce Davies, who married Joseph Dart; Samuel Watts Davies, who married Eliza P. Howard; Lucy Z. Davies; Joseph Peirce Davies, who married Louie Phillips; Julia Crane Davies, who married Robert C. Schenck. Mary Ann (Peirce) Davies died September 24, 1880, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[10]

David Zeigler Peirce was born about 1813 in Dayton, Ohio. On December 15, 1842, in Montgomery County, Ohio, he married Eliza Johnston Greene (1821-1885), daughter of Charles Russell Greene and Achsah Disbrow. David died August 17, 1843, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[11]

James S. Peirce was born May 1, 1815, probably in Dayton, Ohio. He died May 15, 1816, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[12]

Jeremiah Hunt Peirce was born September 8, 1818, in Dayton, Ohio. On June 9, 1846, in Dayton, Jeremiah Hunt Peirce married Elizabeth Hannah Forrer (1827-1874), daughter of Samuel Forrer and Sarah Howard. They had eight children: Samuel Forrer Peirce; Henrietta Elliot Peirce, who married Henry Eugene Parrott; Edward Davies Peirce; Sarah Howard Peirce; Mary Forrer “Mellie” Peirce; Elizabeth Forrer Peirce; John Elliot Peirce, who married Mary Frances Harsh; and Howard Forrer Peirce. J. H. Peirce married Mary Forrer as his second wife. Jeremiah H. Peirce died on May 6, 1889, in Dayton, Ohio, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.[13]

Joseph Crane Peirce was born January 13, 1821, in Dayton, Ohio. On December 23, 1856, in Montgomery County, Ohio, he married Louise Smith. They had no children. Joseph C. Peirce died September 24, 1899, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[14]

*****

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.


[1] Harvey W. Crew, History of Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889), 143; John F. Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 116; Robert W. Steele and Mary Davies Steele, Early Dayton (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 80; Ohio Adjutant General’s Office, and Daughters of the American Revolution, The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio (Columbus, Ohio: F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1929-1959); Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org; “Jamestown Births and Deaths,” in James N. Arnold, Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, First series: Births, Marriages, and Deaths (Providence, RI: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1891), 26.

[2] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[3] Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80, 88.

[4] Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80, 87-88; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Roz Young, “Dayton Final Resting Place for Cincinnati’s First Mayor,” Dayton Daily News, 20 Aug. 1994, accessed 14 Mar. 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/youngdanielcooper.htm. See also Series III, Subseries 6: Cooper/Greene Family.

[5] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80. Business documents pertaining to Steele & Peirce can be found in Series III, Subseries 5: Steele Family. The articles of co-partnership, dated December 2, 1807, can be found in Box 38, Folder 14.

[6] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. See also Series III, Subseries 4: Elliot Family.

[7] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116.

[8] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 81.

[9] Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[10] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 211-212; Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 25 Jan. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[11] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[12] Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[13] Frank Bruen, Christian Forrer, the Clockmaker, and his Descendants (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1939), 106-129; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116-117; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. See also FPW, Series II: Jeremiah H. Peirce Family.

[14] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116-117; County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

6 responses to “Bio Sketch: Joseph Peirce (1786-1821), pioneer, merchant, & banker in Dayton, Ohio

  1. Pingback: Bio Sketch: Dr. John Elliot (d. 1809), first doctor in Dayton, Ohio | Glancing Backwards

  2. Pingback: Bio Sketch: James Steele (1778-1841), pioneer & merchant in Dayton, Ohio | Glancing Backwards

  3. Pingback: Bio Sketch: Cooper and Greene families, pioneers in Dayton, Ohio | Glancing Backwards

  4. Pingback: Bio Sketch: Maj. David Zeigler (1748-1811), pioneer & first mayor of Cincinnati,Ohio | Glancing Backwards

  5. Pingback: Bio Sketch: Jeremiah H. Peirce (1818-1889), Dayton lumber dealer and founder of Five Oaks | Glancing Backwards

  6. Pingback: Bio Sketch: Elizabeth H. (Forrer) Peirce (1827-1874), wife of J. H. Peirce | Glancing Backwards

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