John Eli Pierce

John Eli Pierce

John Eli Pierce, or more accurately his second wife Daisy Driscoll Sanderson Pierce, is the pivot point of most of our stories. John Eli or JEP as we call him was born 22 November 1846 in Hazelcot, son of William Young Birch Pierce and his first wife Mary Ann Sanderson. He was educated by private tutor at the mansion, took courses at a business school, and grew up to be a successful businessman. There are a lot of family stories surrounding JEP and Daisy. Hopefully as we research we can get to the bottom of some of them and prove fact from fiction. I will be listing some of the stories here and adding the actual findings as time goes on. Anyone who wants to share any additional information, please feel free to make comments. There is always room for improvement and additions.

Young John Eli

In 1863-65 we find John as a bookkeeper for the E.P. Allis company. The E. P. Allis Company was also known as Edward P. Allis & Co. The company manufactured steam engines, pumps, machine tools, and sawmills. They began in 1847, when Edward Phelps Allis acquired the Reliance Works to make millstones, water wheels, shafting, etc. They began making steam engines around 1869.

By 1877 JEP became a partner with Mr. Franklin C. Rice in the Troy Steam Laundry business at 118 Michigan in Milwaukee which spun off into other partnership deals with Mr. Rice throughout the years. (more about his business dealings later.) By 1879 they had expanded their operations and moved a few blocks west and occupied 146 and 148 Michigan at the corner of Jefferson. For a number of years this was the oldest steam laundry in Milwaukee. They claimed to do first class work on short notice. They even picked up and delivered. Shirts were cleaned at 10 cents each and they had special rates for family laundry.

Troy Steam Laundry Milwaukee owned by John E. Pierce and F.C. Rice

Troy Steam Laundry Milwaukee owned by John E. Pierce and F.C. Rice

Augusta, his first wife

JEP married twice. First he married Augusta Aldrich (Ulerich) on 21 March 1885 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The couple were married by Reverend Doctor Sylvanus Landrum. Witnesses to the marriage were George Pfister, Sr. and Jr. (we need to explore if these men are related to Guido Pfister of Milwaukee fame) and E. J. Landrum. (E.J. Landrum was Eliza Jane Warren Landrum, second wife of Rev. Sylvanus). Rev. Sylvanus was a famous Southern Baptist minister in New Orleans, Georgia and Tennessee.

We don’t know much about Augusta. She was born 22 March 1849 daughter of Anton and Tracy Auldrich and died 18 August 1893 in Louisiana. Augusta was first interred in the Forest Home Chapel Storage Vault on 21 August 1893, then later interred on 14 Sept 1893 on Lot 19 Section 33. We don’t know why she was not buried in Lot 19 immediately. It will be of interest when I visit the cemetery next to see who may be buried near her.

There are stories that JEP bought an abandoned plantation near New Orleans after the Civil War. Also that the Aldrich family owned a home down there as well. There were several family members living down in New Orleans about that time.

New Orleans

In a September 1890 issue of the The Milwaukee Sentinel there was a short article that the Troy Laundry, owned by Rice & Pierce, also considered the oldest in the city, was sold to W.N. Edwards. The article goes on to say that Rice and Pierce removed their laundry business to New Orleans.

In 1890-91 John is listed as the manager of the Troy Laundry Co. at two locations in New Orleans, 88 N. Rampart and 415 Bayou road. It is our understand that JEP was manager as well as president and principle stockholder.

Horse Trotting

John Eli Pierce was into horse racing with William Sanderson. We know of at least one horse that John and William owned together in the 1870s. See more about horse trotting here.

Daisy Driscoll Sanderson Pierce

After the death of Augusta (August 1893) and William Sanderson (February 1893), JEP married Margaret E. Driscoll, daughter of Capt. Daniel J. O’Driscoll and Sarah Maria Hardy. She was known as Daisy. Margaret was the widow of William Sanderson Jr., JEP’s cousin.

They were married 26 July 1894 at Daisy’s home (the former Wm. Sanderson estate) in Wauwatosa. The wedding was very elegant and was attended by many close friends. Those in attendance were as follows: Messrs. and Mmes. Frederick Wilkins, Hugh Ryan, Isaac Van Schaick, Maher, Rice, Ten Eyck White, Robert Nunnemacher, Howard Sanderson, S.H. Seamans, Dr. and Mrs. William Fox, Dr. and Mrs. E.P. Wright, Mmes. H.O. Wood, F.M. Keats, Farnham, the Misses Farnham, Driscoll, Sandrson and Messrs. Driscoll,, Howard Sanderson, C.H. Swan and John Le Saulnier.

The residence was extensively decorated with palms and flowers, pink and white sweet peas predominating. In the dining room, pink and white prevailed with a profusion of foilage, asparagus vine and other greens. In the hall and along the staircase were palms and ferns, and in the library palms and ferns and pink American Beauty roses and carnations. After the wedding they traveled west on their honeymoon. They resided in New Orleans in the winter and at Daisy’s Wauwatosa home in the summers. More about Daisy Driscoll.

The Children

JEP helped raise Daisy’s children by William, William the third and France.

They also had one child together, John William Eric Pierce (known as Jack). Jack was born 22 June 1895 in Wauwatosa.

Death Becomes Him

John Eli died at his home in Wauwatosa on 20 April 1902 at the age of 55. He was buried at Forest Home Cemetery alongside Daisy’s first husband William Jr., her son William the third, and her first in-laws, William Sr. and Mary Ann (Watson) Sanderson.

His Holdings

JEP had large real estate interests in Milwaukee, New Orleans and Texas.

At the time of his death JEP owned various properties and notes as follows: (this list is not all inclusive)
60 Shares Capital stock of Troy Steam Laundry
10 notes of $100 each of Troy Steam Laundry
Note of J.C. Bayland
Note of R.O. Helser
27 Notes of J.W. Devers
Note of W.B. Careern
6 notes of W.B. Carson
Half interest in lots 1-11 Layton Park Greenfield Wisconsin
Half interest in east 3/4 Lot 6 Block 18 3rd Ward Milwaukee
Capital Stock of Lone Star and Cresent Oil Company
Half interest in notes of W. Turnbull.
Sundry tax certificates
State of Louisiana Coupons
McCartney Loan and mortgage (loan made by executors)
Lot 706 Desire
various other notes.

Daisy went through a large battle trying to gain what was rightfully hers from the estate. Jack was very young at the time of his father’s death. A guardian was appointed to watch over his portion of the estate. There will be more on the years of court proceedings later.

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