GOODMAN - OLIPHANT
Family History & Genealogy in Niagara County, NY

Gad PIERCE Jr. / II

(Surname also spelled: Peirce & Pearce)

12 JAN 1768 - 9 AUG 1847

U.S. 1812 Flag

Originally from Royalston, Massachusetts, Gad Pierce was one of the early pioneers of Niagara County in 1807, as a farmer and inn keeper, establishing a public house, Gad Pierce's Tavern about 1808, in what is now the city of Niagara Falls, NY. The tavern was located at was then the junction of the Niagara (or Lewiston) Road and the Portage Road. This is now the intersection of Main Street, Portage Road, and Pierce Avenue (named in honor of Gad Pierce). The site of the present Niagara Falls Public Library has been identified as the location of Gad's Public House.
Gad Pierce became prominent during the War of 1812, in raising a show of force to discourage an invasion by the British on the other side of the Niagara River. In December, 1813, he attempted to defend his tavern and home from a British attack, but was forced to flee out the back door as the British charged through the front. After the war, Gad returned with his family, to rebuild his public house.
In September, 1834, at the age of 66, Gad was arrested and jailed for assault and battery. He managed to escape from the Niagara jail on September 8th (see: Reward Notice).
He apparently resolved this matter, living the remainder of his life in Niagara Falls.
The exact location of his burial is not documented, but was most likely the Town Burying Ground, which was located near what was then Ontario and Second Streets (now Main & Second). That cemetery was later used for railroad right-of-way, with the burials being relocated to a new Town Burying Ground adjacent to Oakwood Cemetery or to Oakwood, on the Portage Road. That Town Burying Ground was eventually absorbed by Oakwood Cemetery. There is a badly worn monument, inscribed with Gad Pierce's name and one of his wives, Anna (Piper) Pierce, in a Pierce family plot in Oakwood Cemetery.

Gad Pierce was the grandfather of Anna Augusta Pierce, the third wife of Peter S. Oliphant (see: Gad PIERCE's Family Tree )

Aron Oliphant, older brother of Peter S. Oliphant, was a member of the 2nd Regiment, York (Toronto) Militia. This militia fought on the British side at Niagara. although it appears Aron Oliphant was on furlough (25 SEP 1813 - 24 OCT 1813) at the time of some of these battles. If he resumed duty on 25 OCT 1813, he may have been present during the British invasion of Niagara County in December 1813, fighting against his future sister-in-law's (Anna Augusta PIERCE) grandfather (Gad PIERCE).
(see: Aron OLIPHANT)

 


John Pierce, a British weaver, arrived at Watertown, Massachusetts in the year 1637 with wife Elizabeth (Stoker) and children Elizabeth, Judeth, Barbare and John. A year later his eldest son, Anthony, joined them in the new world and the forces of happenstance and history leading to the present day were placed in motion. Descended from the Percy line in England the name Pierce was often spelled Pers or Peirce and, in some branches of the family, pronounced “purse.” Gad Pierce was born January 19th of 1768 in Royalston, Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Gad Pierce senior (Captain Gad Pierce) and Mary Foster and the Great, Great, Great Grandson of Anthony (John, Anthony, Joseph, Joseph, William, Gad). Gad junior, for one reason or another captivated by the lure of westward expansion, left Massachusetts to become one of the first settlers in the picturesque region of western New York now known as Niagara County.
Acknowledged by some as perhaps the first permanent settler in the area, Pierce arrived in 1807 and was, according to Edward T. Williams’ book, Niagara County New York: One of the Most Wonderful Regions of the World (1921), present at the creation of the Town of Niagara in 1812 where he was elected one of its first officers. Opening a tavern some time around 1808 along Portage Road, the primary means of transportation between the upper Niagara River and Lewiston to provide refreshment to workers hauling goods around the famous but absolutely impassable falls, Pierce’s watering hole lay at the junction of Portage Road and Main Street (now called Pierce Avenue), the southern boundary of what would become the village of Suspension Bridge. The village, named for John A. Roebling's engineering marvel constructed between 1851 and 1853, provided an international road and rail link across the river into Canada. Construction of the bridge brought many skilled workmen to the area and the subsequent rail traffic made Suspension Bridge a busy center for shipping. When first placed into operation, the bridge maintained (because track gauge had not yet been standardized) three sets of railroad tracks. Imagine the on-and-off loading that had to be done to transfer goods from one rail car to another!
Gad, whose holdings stretched from the tavern to the east bank of the lower Niagara River, was joined during May of 1816 by his brother-in-law, Robert Nichols. Later that fall they were joined by Robert’s son, Gad Pierce Nichols, and his daughter Ester’s husband, Asher Williams. Robert’s wife, also named Ester (Gad’s sister), arrived a month later in a covered wagon with their two daughters, Asher’s wife Ester and three-year-old Priscilla.

From: John Peirce/Pers Geneology by Frederick C. Peirce, 1880


The Pierce Avenue Presbyterian Church site was in the Mile Reserve. Lot No. 37, consisting of 153 acres, it was sold at auction by the State of New York February 26, 1805, for $3.37½ per acre to Peter B. Porter for Leonard Stevens. Apparently the east line of the Mile REserve is what was originally called Steadman Street, now Nineteenth Street, and as the Pierce Avenue Presbyterian Church is on the south side of Pierce Avenue, between Eighteenth and Nineteenth streets, the building is in the Mile Reserve, while the manse which is located one block to the eastward is in the Holland Purchase. Remember that the Holland Purchase never got nearer than one mile to the Niagara River. The State of New York retained the Mile Reserve when it settled with the State of Massachusetts. General Peter B. Porter and Judge Augustus Porter bought several of these lots for themselves and others at this sale.
And so we come to the revelations which the examination of these deeds revealed. They bear the names of men of State and National reputation. The church site deed showed the names of Augustus Porter and Gad Pierce, after whom Pierce Avenue is named. It therefore appears that Augustus Porter deeded lot thirty-seven to Gad Pierce after he came here in 1807 as one of the earliest settlers of Niagara Falls to become a farmer and innkeeper, as well as later to be a military leader in the War of 1812, and supervisor of the Town of Niagara in 1819.

From: The History of Northwestern New York; Erie, Niagara, Wyoming, Genesee and Orleans Counties; by John Theodore Horton, Edward T. Williams & Harry S. Douglas; 1947


 GAD PIERCE, ESQ.
 
At the junction of the Portage with Niagara Falls road, was, some years since, kept the public house of Gad Pierce, now kept by his son Asa G. Pierce. He was, in the time of the war with Great Britain, an active frontier partisan. When hostilities commenced between the two countries, there was a very small number of troops on the American side of the river, and a single company only to garrison Fort Niagara. It was expected, every night, that the fort would be attacked by the British, who had a large body of men at Fort George. Mr. Pierce, aware of this state of things, one day raised all the inhabitants of the country, far and near — young and old. The country was then thinly populated, and they assembled at Lewiston from several miles distant. Horses of every kind were brought into requisition, and when the citizens were mounted, they appeared at a distance like a formidable troop of cavalry. Among them too, were several of the Tuscarora Indians, who entered with spirit into the manoeuvre. In the place of swords, they used walking canes, sticks, and ramrods. Several of the ramrods were of polished steel or iron, which made a very bright and flashy appearance. The cavalcade moved from Lewiston, along the river road, in sight of the enemy, and entered Fort Niagara; the blankets of the Indians fluttering in the wind, and the many-colored and various habiliments of the farmers, the limping and over-strained plough horse, the nibbling gait and twitching head of the wild pony, with now and then a noble horse of the Pennsylvania breed, formed, to those who were near, a most ludicrous spectacle. In the fort, they dismounted, and performed some slight evolutions in the most laughable style. At the command to mount, some of the Indians executed the order in such a masterly manner, as to throw themselves entirely over their ponies. To the British, the imposing appearance of the troops, with their steel ramrods, which glittered in the sun like broadswords, had the desired effect; the contemplated attack was not made.
At the time of the general invasion of the frontier, Mr. Pierce had his family conveyed to a place of security, but would not himself quit his premises. He and three or four others, formed the little garrison, with which he determined to defend his house. They waited for the approach of the enemy. At length, a company of British regulars appeared in sight, and a fire was opened upon them. They continued the defence for some time; but, as their opponents were numerous, it was impossible to keep them at a distance. A part advanced upon the front of the house, succeeded in breaking down the door, and fired their pieces as they entered. The defenders effected their escape in the opposite direction, without an individual of their number being wounded. Whether the attacking party suffered any loss, was not known.
 
From The Traveller’s Own Book To Saratoga Springs, Niagara Falls and Canada, Containing Routes, Distances, Conveyances, Expenses, Use of Mineral Waters, Baths, Description of Scenery, Etc. A Complete Guide. by S. De Veaux; 1841


 

September 10, 1834  Wanted Notice

5 Dollars Reward, Will be pain to any person who will apprehend and lodge a certain Gad Peirce, 2d, in the Jail of Niagara County, who made his escape on the night of September 8th, being under an arrest for assault and battery. Said Peirce is of a sandy complexion with his face considerably marked by the circle of the small pox - had on when he left, a fustian frock coat, pantaloons of the same piece, and a black hat.  P.S. Smith, Constable  Niagara Falls, Sept. 10, 1834

 

Resources

Gad PIERCE Tavern

Gad PIERCE's Family Tree

Gad PEIRCE 1834 Reward Notice

Gad PIERCE & Anna (PIPER) PIERCE Monument

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Marker in front of Public Library

 

Gad PIERCE's Tavern was located near the intersection of the Niagara (Lewiston) Road (now Main Street) and Portage Road (near the intersection of Pierce Avenue).

Gad PIERCE is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, on Portage Road, Niagara Falls, NY.

 

Niagara Falls, New York: A History

Manchester (Schlosser)
Niagara Falls, New York was originally known as Schlosser (named after Fort Schlosser). It later became known as Manchester after the industrial City of Manchester in England.
Prior to 1788, with few exceptions the Western New York area was owned and occupied by Indians of the Neutral Nation. Those exceptions included the military outposts of the French and British at Fort Niagara and Fort Schlosser.
Fort Schlosser was situated approximately one mile above the Falls, opposite Chippawa. Fort Schlosser was originally called "Little Niagara" by the French. The fort was destroyed in 1759 after the French surrender of Fort Niagara to the British.
In the place of Fort Little Niagara, the British built a small stockade. It was rebuilt by American soldiers and named Fort Schlosser.
Augustus Porter, a surveyor, was the first person to purchase and settle upon the land along the American side of the Falls once the British occupation ended. Porter had first visited the Falls in 1795 and 1796. He understood the value and the beauty of the Falls of Niagara.
In 1805, the State of New York offered lands along the American shoreline of the Niagara River for sale. Prior to 1805, no buildings had been built or improvements of any kind had been made in the vicinity of the Falls.
In the summer of 1805, Augustus Porter built a saw mill and a blacksmith shop.
In 1806, Augustus Porter moved his family to Niagara Falls. In 1808, Porter built a new house. This house was destroyed during the War of 1812 but was rebuilt on the same site in 1818.
By 1824, Grand Niagara (soon to become the Village of Manchester) had become known as a mill town.
In 1832, the Village of Manchester had 550 citizens.
Village of Niagara Falls
In July 1848, the Village of Niagara Falls, New York (formerly known as Schlosser, Manchester and Grand Niagara) was incorporated. General Parkhurst Whitney was named the first president. Whitney was the owner of the Cataract House Hotel.

Village of Bellevue (Suspension Bridge)
In June of 1854, the Village of Suspension Bridge (Bellevue) was incorporated. The first village president was Colonel John Fisk. He was an official of the Bellevue Land Company. This village grew from a development around the first suspension bridge. This village was originally known as Bellevue. The Canadian village that developed at the opposite end of this bridge was known as the Village of Elgin.
The Village of Bellevue was commonly known as “Suspension Bridge” or simply “Bridge”.
As early as 1891, studies were commissioned to the idea of merging the villages of Bellevue and Niagara Falls.

City of Niagara Falls, New York
On March 17th 1892 (St. Patrick’s Day) New York State Governor, Roswell P. Flower signed the charter merging both villages to form the City of Niagara Falls, New York. Interestingly, Governor Flower was ready to sign this proclamation several days early however was convinced to delay the official signing to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day.
At the time of this consolidation, the Village of Niagara Falls had a population of 6,505 people. The Village of Suspension Bridge (Bellevue) had a population of 5,206 people.
With the combined villages, the new City of Niagara Falls had a land area of 6,970 acres the 412 acres of the Niagara Reservation State Park.

 

Located at the intersection of Main and Portage Roads, Gad Pierce stayed on and tried to defend his tavern against the British invaders when they came to Manchester.

Manchester (Schlosser)

Niagara Falls, New York was originally known as Schlosser (named after Fort Schlosser). It later became known as Manchester after the industrial City of Manchester in England.

Prior to 1788, with few exceptions the Western New York area was owned and occupied by Native Americans of the Neutral Nation. Those exceptions included the military outposts of the French and British at Fort Niagara and Fort Schlosser.

Fort Schlosser was situated approximately one mile above the Falls, opposite Chippawa.
Fort Schlosser was originally called "Little Niagara" by the French. The fort was destroyed in 1759 after the French surrender of Fort Niagara to the British.

In the place of Fort Little Niagara, the British built a small stockade. It was rebuilt by American soldiers and named Fort Schlosser. 

Augustus Porter, a surveyor, was the first person to purchase and settle upon the land along the American side of the Falls once the British occupation ended. Porter had first visited the Falls in 1795 and 1796. He understood the value and the beauty of the Niagara Falls.

In 1805, the State of New York offered lands along the American shoreline of the Niagara River for sale. Prior to 1805, no buildings had been built or improvements of any kind had been made in the vicinity of the Falls.

In the summer of 1805, Augustus Porter built a saw mill and a blacksmith shop.

In 1806, Augustus Porter moved his family to Niagara Falls. In 1808, Porter built a new house. This house was destroyed during the War of 1812 but was rebuilt on the same site in 1818.

By 1824, Grand Niagara (soon to become the Village of Manchester) had become known as a mill town.

In 1832, the Village of Manchester had 550 citizens.

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