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Capt. William E. Pierce. (1851-?)
Born in AuSable, Mich., raised in West Bay City.

1892 biography. - Added Oct., 2009.

Historical of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan, 1892


Capt. William E. Pierce, who has spent almost his entire life upon the water, is at present Captain of the propeller “Benton,” in which he also has a pecuniary interest. He is an old resident of West Bay City, having lived here since 1851, being brought hither soon after his birth, which took place at AuSable, November 28, of the same year. His father, Charles M. Pierce, was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., near Cherry Valley. For the sketch of the grandfather, Nathan Pierce, see that of Capt. B. F. Pierce in this volume.

The father of our subject was reared and educated in New York and came to the Saginaw Valley about 1843, where he taught one of the first schools in Lower Saginaw. He afterward engaged in fishing and sailing, building crafts and owning large fishing interests at AuSable and Beaver Island where he employed seven boats in that business. He was a fine mechanic and was in building and dealing in real estate. In 1884 he began trading along the Huron Post and at Sault Ste. Marie, making his headquarters at Sailer's Encampment. From 1857 and 1870 he resided in Collingwood and Burce Mines, Canada, returning to Bay City in 1870. He was a Democrat in politics and an industrious hardworking man.

The mother of our subject, whose maiden name was Hannah Perrot, was a native of Cork, Ireland. Her father removed to the United States and bought a farm in Lower Saginaw, about 1844, being among the first Irish families in Bay City. He was a cooper by trade and ran a shop on Water Street until he retired from business in 1860. His death took place in Canada. Of the children of this couple three sons and two daughters are living, of whom our subject is the eldest.

William E. Pierce was a babe when brought to West Bay City by his parents and here gained his education in the common and graded schools. Since the age of thirteen he has followed the life of a sailor, starting out at that time as a slack boy on the schooner “N. B. Lyon.” The next season he shipped before that mast on the schooner “Comet,” one hundred and fifty tons, before the season was over being made first mate, and when only sixteen years old was made master of the vessel. The schooner was engaged in trading up the Georgian Bay and carrying supplies to Duck Island for the firm of Marks Bros.

Capt. Pierce remained with the “Comet” two seasons, then came to Bay City and worked on the river tugs, etc., for some two years. Next he went on the steam barge “Alvin A. Turner,” which had just been completed, and acted as wheelman for two years. He was then for six seasons engaged as watchman and second mate on the “B. W. Jenness” which was engaged in the lumber, grain and coal trade. The first season he was made second mate and for four seasons acted as first mate. He was for four years with Mitchell & Boutell as master on the “Emerald,” and for the succeeding three years acted as mate on the steam barge “Michigan.” Afterward he bought an interest in a bard with E. J. Vance on the “Racious” and sailed her for two years, carrying lumber to Buffalo and returning to Michigan with coal.

After selling that vessel the Captain in 1887 bought an interest in the steam barge “Benton” with E. J. Vance & Co., and has sailed her for four seasons in the lumber and coal trade to Buffalo. The “Benton” is a good sized vessel, with a capacity of 300,000 feet of lumber and tows for four barges. In all his twenty-seven years of steady sailing over Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie, Capt. Pierce has been remarkably fortunate, never having met with an accident nor having a single man drowned or injured while in his employ. He has also been successful financially and owns some good real estate in West Bay City. He owns and rents a drug-store on Washington Street, two stories in height, and 20x42 feet. His pleasant residence is situated on the corner of King and Clara Streets.

Capt. Pierce was married in the fall of 1878 in Tonawanda, N. Y. to Miss C. L. Homeyer, a native of that city. To them have been born a family of five children, of whom two, Minnie and Freddie, died at the age of one year. Those living are William, Ebert and Bessi. Capt. Pierce is a member of social societies, among them being the Masonic order, Masonic Temple Association, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Marine Mutual Benevolent Association No. 5, of Bay City; the Bay County Masonic Mutual Association. He is a Democrat in politics, and he and his wife are members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church. He has a pleasant home and a charming family and is held in high esteem in the community where he has so long resided.

Additional Notes.

    1897 – Michigan Marriages, Saginaw:

  • William E. Pierce, age 43, of West Bay City, to Gertrude Belcher, age 25, of Saginaw, on Oct. 21, 1897, Saginaw, Mich.
  • Groom's parents: Charles M. & Hannah (Perrot) Pierce.
  • Bride's parents: Micah E. & Margaret Belcher.
  • Pastor: Ralph H. Baldwin.
  • Witnesses: Jennie Nash (Saginaw) & Emaline Pierce (West Bay City).

    1915 – Michigan Marriages, Bay City.:

  • William E. Pierce, age 59, to Ida A. (Birdsall) Pusey, age 57, on Sept 18, 1915.
  • Groom's parents: Charles M. & Hannah (Perrot) Pierce.
  • Bride's parent: James & Sarah (Horton) Birdsey.
  • Pastor: Charles E. Morrin.
  • Witnesses: Emily C. Pierce & Elizabeth Garrett.
Related Pages/Notes

Capt. Wm. E. Pierce

Related Pages:
Pierce, Capt. Benj. F.
People Referenced
Baldwin, Ralph H.
Belcher, Gertrude (2-wife)
Belcher, Margaret
Belcher, Micah E.
Birdsey, Ida A. (3-wife)
Birdsey, James
Garrett, Elizabeth
Horton, Sarah
Homeyer, C.L. (1-wife)
Morrin, Charles E.
Nash, Jennie
Perrot, Hannah (mother)
Pierce, Bessi (dau.)
Pierce, Charles M. (father)
Pierce, Ebert (son)
Pierce, Emaline
Pierce, Freddie (son)
Pierce, Minnie (dau.)
Pierce, Nathan (g-father)
Pierce, Wm. E. Capt (subject)
Pierce, Wm. (son)
Vance, E.J.
Subjects Referenced
AuSable, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Beaver Island, MI
Burce Mines, Canada
Cherry Valley, NY
Collingwood, Canada
Cork, Ireland
Duck Island, MI
E.J. Vance & Co.
Jefferson Co., NY
Lower Saginaw, MI
Marks Bros.
Mitchell & Boutell
Saginaw, MI
Sault Ste Marie, MI
Tonawanda, NY
Wenona, MI
West Bay City, MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.