Jarvis Pierce Sr. was born 8 November 1771 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the youngest of sixteen children.1 His parents were Josiah Pierce, who was active in the Revolutionary War, and Sarah Gale. His Pierce ancestry goes back to John Pers of Norfolk, England, who came with his wife and younger children to Massachusetts in the 1600s. The family lived in Watertown, Waltham and other places in Massachusetts. His parents, Josiah and Sarah later moved to Worcester, Massachusetts. Pierce was spelled Peirce and Perse by the Peirce family in Massachusetts.

Jarvis Sr. married Rhoda Darby May 15, 1794, in Westminster, Massachusetts.2 Their first child was Myra (Mira) whose birth was recorded December 9, 1794, in Westminster, Massachusetts.3 The Town Records of Craftsbury, Orleans County, Vermont, list the first seven children of Jarvis and Rhoda, including Myra, as being born in Craftsbury.4 The second child, Eliza, was born in 1798 and Jarvis Jr. was born in 1800.5 Why they moved to Craftsbury is unknown but Jarvis Sr. had an uncle living there by 1810, Byfield Peirce. In 1800 Jarvis Peirce is listed in the census for Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Jarvis and Byfield are both in Craftsbury in 1810.6 Since Jarvis was in Massachusetts in 1800, it seems unlikely that the first three children would have been born in Vermont.

Jarvis and Rhoda moved with their family to Springfield, Illinois, sometime before 1820. They did not remain in Springfield long, moving by 1820 to southern Illinois, near Carmi, in White County. A Jarvis Pierce is listed in the 1820 census in White County, Illinois.7 The household included one white male over 21 and 8 other people. Later they lived in Gallatin County, just south of White County, in the New Haven area, where they supposedly had a farm. They are listed in Gallatin County, Township of Cane Creek, in the 1830 Census.8

Jarvis Pierce Sr. died 28 October 1831. Rhoda remarried on 5 June 1834, about two years before she died on 10 March 1836. She married Thomas Johnson of Gallatin County. In the license, 2 June 1834, she is Rodia Pierce and she is also a resident of Gallatin County. In the certificate of marriage she is Rhoda Pierce.9

Searches for wills, probate records, gravestones and burials have turned up nothing to supplement the few facts known about them. Their death dates came from Lucy Rearden Bender whose sources were Eliza Harvey Pierce, widow of Oliver Pierce, son of Joseph Crawford Pierce and grandson of Jarvis Sr., and Dora Pierce Burgner, daughter of Jarvis Jr. These two women had old family bibles, photographs, letters, land grants and reminiscences which they shared with Lucy Bender. Eliza Pierce was living in Norris City in the 1930s, not far from where her husband, Oliver, was born, when Lucy Bender wrote her history of the Peirce family. No mention was made in this family history of Rhoda's second marriage.10

Related Links:
Will of Josiah Peirce, 1723-1806, Worcester, Massachusetts
Children of Jarvis Peirce and Rhoda Darby
William Munroe, great great grandfather of Rhoda Darby
David Comee, great great grandfather of Rhoda Darby
John Darby, great great grandfather of Rhoda Darby

  1. Franklin P. Rice, compiler, Worcester Births, Marriages and Deaths, Worcester, Mass., Worcester Society of Antiquity, 1894, p. 210.

  2. Vital Records of Westminster, Mass., to the End of the Year 1849, Worcester, Mass., Franklin P. Rice, 1908.

  3. Vital Records of Westminster, Mass., to the End of the Year 1849, Worcester, Mass., Franklin P. Rice, 1908, p.73, Date of birth given as 9 Dec 1794.

  4. Craftsbury, Vermont, Vital Records, 1797-1868. Craftsbury, Orleans County, Vermont: Town Clerk, 1903. Family History Center Microfilm #0028021.

    The town records list all of the first seven children together but the parents names are not given. More research needs to be done to clarify why Myra is in both the Westminster and Craftsbury birth records and whether the children were actually born in Craftsbury since there was no record of Jarvis or his family in the 1800 Orleans County, Vermont census.

  5. In the 1860, 1870 and 1880 U.S. censuses, Jarvis Jr.' place of birth is always Massachusetts.

  6. 1810 U.S. Census. Craftsbury, Orleans County, Vermont, p.795.

    The 1810 census in Craftsbury lists Jervis Pierce as head; 3 males ages 0-10 [Jarvis Jr, Merrick Porter, Joseph Crawford]; 1 male 26-45 [Jarvis Sr]; 2 females 0-10 [Elmira, Julia Ann]; 1 female 10-16 [Eliza or Myra]; and 1 female 26-45 [Rhoda]. Lucy Towles and three other children were born after 1810. Since there is only 1 female age 10-16 this must be Eliza or Myra (Maritta). Since we know that Eliza lived long enough to marry, Myra may have died young. The other possibility is that by 1810 she was 16 and possibly married. Eliza married at 17.

  7. 1820 U.S. Census, White County, Illinois, p.382

    In 1820 in the North of West Township, White Co., Illinois, Jarvis Pierce is head of household and there are 6 males: 1, age 0-10 [Henry Ranger]; 1, age 10-16 [Joseph Crawford]; 1, age 16-18 [Merrick Porter]; 2, age 16-26 [one would be Merrick Porter and one would be Jarvis Jr.]; and 1 age 45 & up [Jarvis Sr]. In the 1820 census they counted, for males only, those aged 16-26, possibly for military purposes. Females: 3, age 0-10 [Lucy Towls, Mary Clark, Celinda]; 1, age 10-16 [Julia Ann]; 1, age 45 & up [Rhoda]. Elmira married in 1820.

  8. 1830 U.S. Census, Gallatin County, Illinois, p.282.

  9. Gallatin County, Illinois, Marriage Certificates, 1813-1896. Microfilm of original record in the Gallatin County courthouse. Marriages 1829-1836, FHL MF 969485. "I do hereby certify that I solemnized the rite of matrimony between the within named Thos. Johnson and Rhoda Pierce on Thursday, the 5th day of June A.D. 1834. William Henson."

  10. Genealogy and History of Peirce and Darby Families with Collateral Lineages of Warren, Fiske, Conant, Bemis and Others from Rognwald 931 A.A. to the Thirty-sixth Generation in America, compiled by Lucy Rearden Bender, Langley Field, Virginia, 1936. 78p.

Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created October 2002
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28 November 2002
updated 6 July 2020