Dr. Eli Pierce

Dr. Eli Pierce

Dr. Eli Pierce was born on 6 Jul 1794 in Hartwick, Otsego, New York. He was the fourth child of Abner Peirce and Hulda Wilcox. Eli was educated in New York schools and was one of the first graduates of Jefferson College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jefferson Medical College was founded in 1824 and has awarded more than 27,000 medical degrees throughout its history.

On 28 Apr 1823, Eli married, Sarah B. Burgess, daughter of William Burgess and Sarah Wright in Gilbertsville, Ostego County, New York. Sarah Burgess was born on 9 Nov 1796 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The family moved to Athens, N.Y. Dr. Pierce was of the old Puritan stock. He was a very successful physician in Athens. He had a partnership in a pottery manufacturing business and a horse-powered ferry on the Hudson. He was for a time president of the New York State Medical Association.

Right around 1835, Sarah’s spinster aunt passed away and Sarah inherited a small fortune. The family decided to build a home “out west” in rural Indiana. Some say that she no longer wanted to raise her children around the seaman on the river. We wonder if she just wasn’t tired of the hustle and bustle of city life. Dr. Pierce hired a land agent to find land for them. Before long they owned over five hundred acres in northeastern Indiana about fourteen miles west of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Eli sold his physician practice and Sarah’s Aunt’s home but retained his interests in his other Athens businesses. They moved west with all the necessities to erect a sawmill, a carpenter to run the sawmill and build the house. The house was built of black walnut among a dense hazel tree grove at the foot of rolling hills. It became known as Hazelcot, hazel for the trees surrounding it and cot which is the Old English word for shelter. The home was very elegant built in the English manor house style. It had wide porches, huge columns and a grand interior consisting of twenty-six rooms, fourteen fireplaces, a spacious dining hall and doublewide staircases at each end of the home. There was a huge library with leather-bound books that her family had brought from England.

Eli and Sarah had nine children, five boys and four girls. The children studied the languages under a private tutor. The children were:

  • *William Young Birch Pierce, born 28 Jun 1824 in Athens, Greene, New York. Married Mary Ann Sanderson. (our ancestor)
  • Mary Jane Pierce, born in 1826 in Athens, Greene, New York.
  • William Burgess Pierce, born in 1827 in Athens, Greene, New York.
  • Howard Pierce, born on 28 Sep 1828 in Athens, Greene, New York.
  • Ogden Pierce Sr, born on 19 May 1830 in Athens
  • Samuel H. Pierce, born on 23 February 1932 in Athens. He married Mary Ann Nickey.
  • Hannah Burgess Pierce was born on 23 Feb 1834 in Athens. She married John N. Schoonmaker
  • Margaret Pierce, born in Athens

Sarah loved the elegance of her new home. She had impressive dinners for those she felt were the “right people”. Their their family land holdings continued to increase to a value of over $23,000 in 1850, which at the time was very wealthy. Their home once just a house was now considered a castle among the locals.

On 11 April 1853, Sarah died in Hazelcot at the age of 56 years. Eli remained in the home. Most of the children married and left the “castle” to live their own lives. William Young Birch Pierce, the eldest son, remained in the home with his wife, Mary Ann nee Sanderson, and assisted Dr. Pierce in running the estate.

Dr. Eli Pierce died on Easter Sunday, 28 February 1874 in Arcola, Allen County Indiana. On that day, as the story goes, Eli was intent on attending Easter Services in at Fort Wayne’s Trinity church. He left Hazelcot toward Arcola on foot. Once there he would board a train and ride the ten miles to fort Wayne. He was found lying alongside the trail. He had suffered a heart attack before he reached the train station.

Eli and Sarah were buried in Lake Chapel Cemetery in Lake Township, Allen County Indiana. They were later re-interred in Eel River Cemetery.

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2008 - Sanderson Pierce O'Driscoll Families - is proudly powered by WordPress
Site maintained by Ellen M. Rohr, Linking Your Past Research Service