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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Harmon Pierce

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 398 - 399

Harmon Pierce has been identified with the history of Sheboygan County since its infancy, and is one of its oldest settlers. He owns a good farm on sections 27 and 28, Sheboygan Falls Township. He was born in Brookfield, Worcester County, Mass., March 11, 1817. His parents were Levi and Lucy Pierce, who had a family of two sons and four daughters, of whom our subject is the sole survivor. The father was born in Plymouth County, Mass., and followed the trade of a carpenter. He worked on the old State House in Boston, and afterward removed to a small farm in Worcester County, where the birth of our subject occurred. The Pierce family traces its ancestry back as far as 1317, when they were residents of England. Members of the family came to America as early as 1623.

Until our subject was twenty-five years old he continued to live with his parents. He often worked from sun to sun for neighboring farmers at fifty cents per day, and at last came to the conclusion that he could do better in the West. He proceeded as far as Detroit by water and made the rest of the journey overland. Traveling, in those days, was a very difficult matter, as there were few roads and only Indian trails in much of the country. Both Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls were settlements of about three families each, and the whole county numbered less than five hundred inhabitants. The settlers depended on the Indians for most of their meat, for which they would trade potatoes. Deer were very plentiful, and a good hunter could secure as much game as he desired. The whole country was a primitive wilderness and the howl of wolves was often heard at night. Mr. Pierce was a miller by trade, and made the first superfine flour in the county, in his mill just below the bridge, opposite the present site of the Brickner Woolen Mills of Sheboygan Falls. This was in 1844, he being one of the company who owned the plant.

On the 28th of March, 1846, our subject married Miss Tryphena S. Patten, and unto them were born five sons and two daughters, five of whom are living: Levi H., who is on the old homestead; Ara P., who is engaged in gardening; Azel R., a farmer of Buffalo County; Daniel S., a traveling man; and Olive T., wife of E. C. Coffin, a telegraph operator of Minneapolis. Lucy E. died at the age of seventeen years, and the mother was called from this life in August, 1878. The second marriage of Mr. Pierce was with Mrs. Maggie Hotchkiss, widow of M. D. Hotchkiss, the wedding being celebrated July 28, 1879. She is a native of New York, born in Tioga County, January 1, 1831, and is the eldest of the eight children of Ralph and Charlotte Ross. The former came to Wisconsin in May, 1846, and was well known here as "Deacon" Ross. For over a quarter of a century he was sexton of the Congregational Church of Sheboygan, and rang the bell at the Peace Jubilee, held at the close of the Civil War. One of his children, Sarah, is the wife of George Pope, of Harlan County, Neb., and his son, Lester E., is engaged in the incubator business in Massachusetts.

One of the first to respond to his country's call when she was in need of patriotic sons, was Mr. Pierce, who enlisted April 19, 1861, and carried the first flag out of Sheboygan County. With his regiment he was sent to defend the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, south of the Relay House, between Baltimore and Washington, where a heavy guard was needed. He was under command of Gen. Butler on the Gulf campaign, and was employed in keeping New Orleans in order for some time. In 1862 he was ordered to go to Vicksburg, which proved too strong to venture an attack, and he therefore returned to Baton Rouge. On the 28th of July, 1862, he received an honorable discharge, on account of disability, as he had sustained a severe injury to his right knee while building a fort near Baltimore. This injury has been a permanent one and he receives a much-deserved pension. He has always been a solid Republican, and cast his first vote for William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate of the "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too" campaign. He has never accepted or desired local offices, but has ever had the interests of his county and the public schools at heart. Since 1847 he has been connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he takes a great interest, and is also a member of Richardson Post No. 12, G. A. R., of Sheboygan Falls. Though not a member of any church organization, he is a man of upright principles, and endeavors to promote all measures which will uplift mankind.

When Mr. Pierce commenced his life as an agriculturist, he had only about $75 to invest, and his first purchase was an unimproved tract of eighty acres, to which he later added fifty acres more. He now lives with his wife on a beautiful little plat of two and a-half acres, one mile from Sheboygan Falls, where he intends to pass his remaining years.


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