Feb 27

Xander’s 13X Great Grandfather Michael Pierce

pen and ink drawing of Micheal Pierce

Michael Pierce

Michael Pierce.  

  Michael Pierce is another of our ancestors who gained a note in history.  Michael and his brothers John and William were an important part of the settlement of the New England region.  Michael’s Brother John obtained the charter for Plymouth and was an important backer.  William was a sea captain and brought many immigrants to Plymouths shore.  Michael however seems to be the one who settled and stayed in the region.   There seems to be a bit of disagreement in genealogical circles over whether or not these brothers were indeed brothers and whether or not there was a fourth brother –Robert.  I have chosen to list them as brothers.  We know that colonizing was not a cheap endeavor.  John and William are well known for their efforts it only makes sense to me that their brothers would be involved in a family enterprise as communications were slow during this era and a trusted representative was needed- who else but a willing brother to feel the position.   It may be possible that Michael and Robert were cousins of John and William or some other sort of family arrangement- nephews perhaps.   

     Michael Pierce was born in 1615 in Dorset England.   He came to New England in 1645, spent some time in Hingham- outside of Boston- and settled in Scituate MA in or around 1676.   Scituate is outside of Plymouth.   Michael erected and ran the first commercial saw mill in New England.  He was a prominent member of the Scituate community.  He became a Freeman in 1670.  Freeman  were citizens of standing in Colonial community’s- they were allowed to vote (most communities had some sort of land requirements) and were expected to serve in some fashion as community leaders they also took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown- Michael renewed his yearly from 1633-1668.  .   Michael served at Grand and Coroner inquests, as a surveyor of highways and as Selectman.   All of these duties were important in helping to form the government that we know today.    Michael served on a committee of eight who were responsible for the dividing of available lands in his region in 1673.  This was an important position as by this time first generation children had grown and new immigration was continuing and it was seen as a community responsibility to decide what and whose land was available for further expansion of the community.  

      By the 1670’s the Puritan/colonial colonies began to have serious problems with the local native population.   The principal of land ownerships was not known to the Native Americans prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the new world.  The native American-Indians (an erroneous term coined by the first explorers who believed they had somehow found their way to India but commonly used in reference to what we now know as Native Americans) were largely a hunting nomadic society.  They had familiar grounds where they hunted on a seasonal basis.  There were many groups and they tolerated some overlapping of their grounds by other tribes but often came into conflict amongst themselves.  It was considered a matter of pride amongst the groups to be able to control regions.  However they never considered themselves as owners of any region.   The Europeans on the other hand were ownership based.  Land was claimed and fenced by the 1600’s.  The majority of Europeans who ventured to the new world did so with a dream of owning their own land.    I won’t go into the native American/immigrant land struggle too much as it was not a huge factor in the settlement  of our family lines but it did effect who went where and how they settled and established communities throughout most of the early History of the United States.   

    Michael was considered a well-established member of the Scituate community by the year 1675.  The Native Americans of the New England region had formed an alliance under the leadership of a man known as King Phillip.    In May of 1675 Michaels’ saw mill was burned to the ground by the ‘Indians.’    Michael had joined and was appointed Captain of a local militia group in an effort to protect the colonist’s property in 1669.   Michael would be active in the defense of the colony and is recorded and mention in almost every reference to the first American War.   Michael lost his life in one of the largest battles of King Phillips war on March 28th 1676.    Michael Pierce was married to Persis Eames.   

I view Michael as one of the first great American Heroes.   In today’s Scituate there is a road named after him: Captain Pierce Road.  In Cumberland Rhode Island there are two monuments: one known  as Nine Men’s Misery that reads:  

Nine Men’s Misery                                                                      

Monument for Micheal Pierce

Monument for Micheal Pierce

On this spot whereThey were slainBy the IndiansWere buriedThe Nine soldiersCaptured inPierces FightMarch 26, 1676.   

This monument is considered to be the oldest monument erected to honor United States Veterans.  What an honor. The other describing the events and naming a park and Riverwalk after Michael.   



1 comment

  1. Lou Ann Schornick

    Hello from Houston on July 4th weekend! I’m very interested in geneology and googled Nine Men’s Misery after my mother, Arlene Pierce Cockrell, and I talked about it this morning! She mentioned it before awhile back. Her father, Neale O. Pierce, told stories of Michael Pierce when she was growing up. Mother, who just turned 90 last week, is a direct descendant of Michael Pierce, as well. I found your article most interesting and mother and I learned new information about our ancestor! Would love to hear from you, as we are most probably related!

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