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My 9th great grandfather was killed by my 11th great uncle. King Philip’s War was fought between the Wampanoag people and the colonists of Plymouth. This is the first, but not the last, war on American soil in which I had ancestors on both sides of the conflict. The memorial that commemorates this event is in preset day Providence, RI. It is the oldest Veterans memorial in the US. The vanquished native people were sent to the West Indies and sold into slavery. Nobody knows where the graves of my Wampanoag ancestors are.
Captain Michael Pierce was born in 1615 and died in1676. He and his descendants form the first American generation of Pierces in our family tree. Michael Pierce immigrated to the New World in the early 1640s from Higham, Kent, England to Scituate, in what later became Massachusetts. The ten year period from 1630 to 1640 is know as The Great Migration. During this period, 16,000 people, immigrated to the East Coast of North America.
Brother of famous Colonial Sea Captain, William Pierce. Captain Michael Pierce was the brother of the famous Colonial sea captain, William Pierce, who helped settle Plymouth Colony. Captain Michael Pierce played a significant role in the Great Migration. Historical records show that this one sea captain crossed the Atlantic, bringing settlers and provisions to the New World more frequently than any other. He had homes in London, the Bahamas and Rhode Island. He played a central role in the government of the early colonies. He was killed at Providence, one of the Bahama Islands, in 1641.
There were actually four Pierce brothers who made their mark on the New World: John Pierce (the Patentee), Robert Pierce, Captain William Pierce, and Captain Michael Pierce. All were grandsons of Anteress Pierce, and sons of Azrika Pierce and his wife Martha.
Marries Persis Eames. In 1643, Michael Pierce married Persis Eames of Charleston Massachusetts. His wife was born in Fordington, Dorsetshire England 28 October 1621. She was the daughter of Anthony Eames and Margery Pierce.
Pierce Family Moves to Scituate. Michael and Persis Pierce’s first child, a daughter, was born in 1645 and named Persis in honor of her mother. Unfortunately, their first child died in 1646 at one year of age. The new family settled first in Higham, but moved in 1676 to Scituate, where the Pierce family continued to reside for most of the next century. Scituate is located some 10 miles north of the original Plymouth colony. It was settled as early as 1628 by a group of men from Kent, England.
In 1646, Benjamin Pierce, their second child, a son and heir, was born. This son, Benjamin Pierce, fathered the second Pierce generation in this family tree. Twelve other children were born over the coming years: Ephraim, Elizabeth, Deborah, Sarah, Mary, Abigail, Anna, Abiah, John, Ruth and Peirsis.
Erected First Saw-Mill. Michael Pierce resided on a beautiful plain near the north river and not far form Herring brook. He assisted in erecting the first saw-mill. The mill was the first one erected in the colony. It is believed that Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842) wrote the song, “The Old Oaken Bucket,” concerning this river and mill in Scituate. Samuel Woodworth’s grandfather, Benjamine Woodworth, witnessed the signing of Captain Michael Pierce’s will, on January 1675. The lyrics to this classic American folk tune are given below:
How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood, When fond recollection presents them to view, The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood, And ev’ry lov’d spot which my infancy knew. The wide spreading stream, the mill that stood near it, The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell. The cot of my father, the dairy house by it, And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well. The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket, The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well. The moss-covered bucket I hail as a treasure, For often at noon when returned from the field, I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure, The purest and sweetest that nature can yield. How ardent I seized it with hands that were glowing, And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell. Then soon with the emblem of truth overflowing, And dripping with coolness it rose from the well. The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket, The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well. How soon from the green mossy rim to receive it, As poised on the curb it reclined to my lips, Not a full flowing goblet could tempt me to leave it, Tho’ filled with the nectar that Jupiter sips. And now far removed from the loved situation, The tear of regret will intrusively swell. As fancy reverts to my father’s plantation, And sighs for the bucket that hung in the well. The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket, The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
Captain in the Local Militia Fighting the Indians. Unlike his famous brother, Captain William Pierce, Michael Pierce was not a sea captain. He attained the title, Captain, from the Colony court in 1669. Historical records show that he was first given the rank of Ensign under Captain Miles Standish, then later, in 1669, he was made Captain. These titles reflects his role as a leader in the local militia formed to protect the colony from the Indians.
Honored for Heroism in King Phillip’s War. Captain Michael Pierce’s memory is well-documented in American history. He is honored for the brave manner in which he died in defense of his country. The exact manner in which he died is repeated in more than 20 books and letters detailing the military history of the King Phillip’s War. This war took place between 1675 and 1676, and remains one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. It was also a pivotal point in early American history. Although the English colonists were ultimately victorious over the Indians, it took the colonies over 100 years to recover from the economic and political catastrophy brought about by this conflict.
The battle in which Captain Michael Pierce lost his life is detailed in Drakes Indian Chronicles (pp. 220-222) as follows:
“Sunday the 26th of March, 1676, was sadly remarkable to us for the tidings of a very deplorable disaster brought into Boston about five o’clock that afternoon, by a post from Dedham, viz., that Captain Pierce of Scituate in Plymouth Colony, having intelligence in his garrison at Seaconicke, that a party of the enemy lay near Mr. Blackstorne’s, went forth with sixty-three English and twenty of the Cape Indians (who had all along continued faithful, and joyned with them), and upon their march discovered rambling in an obscure woody place, four or five Indians, who, in getting away from us halted as if they had been lame or wounded. But our men had pursued them but a little way into the woods before they found them to be only decoys to draw them into their ambuscade; for on a sudden, they discovered about five hundred Indians, who in very good order, furiously attacked them, being as readily received by ours; so that the fight began to be very fierce and dubious, and our men had made the enemy begin to retreat, but so slowly that it scarce deserved the name, when a fresh company of about four hundred Indians came in; so that the English and their few Indian friends were quite surrounded and beset on every side. Yet they made a brave resistance for about two hours; during which time they did great execution upon their enemy, who they kept at a distance and themselves in order. For Captain Pierce cast his sixty-three English and twenty Indians into a ring, and six fought back to back, and were double – double distance all in one ring, whilst the Indians were as thick as they could stand, thirty deep. Overpowered with whose numbers, the said Captain and fifty-five of his English and ten of their Indian friends were slain upon the place, which in such a cause and upon such disadvantages may certainly be titled “The Bed of Honor.” However, they sold their worthy lives at a gallant rate, it being affirmed by those few that not without wonderful difficulty and many wounds made their escape, that the Indians lost as many fighting men in this engagement as were killed in the battle in the swamp near Narragansett, mentioned in our last letter, which were generally computed to be above three hundred.”
Today, in Scituate, there is a Captain Pierce Road.
In Cumberland, Rhode Island, there is a monument called Nine Men’s Misery. A tablet near the monument reads:
NINE MEN’S MISERYON THIS SPOT WHERE
THEY WERE SLAIN
BY THE INDIANS
THE NINE SOLDIERS
MARCH 26, 1676
The monument is located in a dark, place in the woods, near a former monastery. The monastery is now a public library. The monument consists of little more than a pile of stones cemented together by a monk and marked with a plaque. However, this site is of major historical significance because it is concidered to be the oldest monument to veterans in the United States.
1. Captain Michael Pierce born 1615; died 3/26/1676.
married Persis Eames, 1643 (born. Oct. 28, 1621; died Dec. 31,1662). Micheal Pierce and Persis Eames had these 13 children:
2. Persis Pierce, born 1645. Persis died 1646 at 1 year of age. 3. >>>Benjamin Pierce, born 1646. 4. Ephraim Pierce, born 1647. Ephraim died 1719 at 72 years of age. 5. Elizabeth Pierce, born 1649. She married a Holbrook and gave birth to Captain Michael Pierce’s only two grandchildren at the time of his death who are mentioned in his will: Elizabeth Holbrook and Abigail Holbrook. 6. Deborah Pierce, born 1650. 7. Sarah Pierce, born 1652. 8. Mary Pierce, born 1654. She married Samuel Holbrook, 23 June 1675. Samuel was born in Weymouth, Mass 1650. Samuel was the son of William Holbrook and Elizabeth Pitts. Samuel died 29 October 1712 at 62 years of age. Mary Pierce and Samuel Holbrook had the following six children: Persis, Elizabeth, Bethiah, Samuel, Elizabeth, and Mary. 9.Abigail Pierce, born 1656. Abigail died 1723 at 67 years of age. 10. Anna Pierce, born 1657. 11. Abiah Pierce, born 1659. She married Andrew Ford. 12. John Pierce, born 1660. John died 28 June 1738 at 77 years of age. He married Patience Dodson 12 December 1683. 13. Ruth Pierce, born 1661. 14. Peirsis Pierce, born 1662. Persis 3 December 1695. She married Richard Garrett, 3rd, who was born in 1659. They lived in Scituate, Mass. and had three children: John (born 1706), Anna, and Deborah.
married Mrs. Annah James sometime soon after 1662. They had no children. Captain Michael Pierce remained married to Annah Pierce until his death. Annah Pierce is well provided for in his will.
Michael Pierce (1615 – 1676)
is my 9th great grandfather
Ann Pierce (1640 – 1655)
daughter of Michael Captain Pierce
Sarah Kinchen (1655 – 1724)
daughter of Ann Pierce
Philip Raiford (1689 – 1752)
son of Sarah Kinchen
Grace Raiford (1725 – 1778)
daughter of Philip Raiford
Sarah Hirons (1751 – 1817)
daughter of Grace Raiford
John Nimrod Taylor (1770 – 1816)
son of Sarah Hirons
John Samuel Taylor (1798 – 1873)
son of John Nimrod Taylor
William Ellison Taylor (1839 – 1918)
son of John Samuel Taylor
George Harvey Taylor (1884 – 1941)
son of William Ellison Taylor
Ruby Lee Taylor (1922 – 2008)
daughter of George Harvey Taylor
I am the daughter of Ruby Lee Taylor
When I read that he’d died during the Great Swamp Fight, it peaked my interest so I bought a book called King Philip’s War The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict, by Eric B. Schultz and Michael J. Tougias. The following is an excerpt from the book describing Michael Pierce’s involvement in the conflict.
KING PHILIP’S WAR
PIERCE’S FIGHT, CENTRAL FALLS, RHODE ISLAND
The ambush of Captain Michael Pierce and his Plymouth Colony soldiers
occurred on Sunday, March 26, 1676, in the present-day city of Central
Falls, Rhode Island. Sometimes attributed to the Narragansett sachem
Canonchet, this ambush was in many respects a textbook military operation.
Several friendly natives escaped the engagement, but only nine English
survived, and these nine men were later discovered dead several miles
north of Central Falls in present-day Cumbedand, Rhode Island, a site now
known as Nine Men’s Misery. Not only was the ambush deadly for Pierce
and his men, but it was devastating to the morale of the colonies which, on
the very same day, witnessed the murder of settlers in Longmeadow, Massachusetts,
the burning of Marlboro, Massachusetts, and the destruction of
Pierce, a resident of Scituate, Massachusetts, had gathered in Plymouth
a force of Englishmen from Scituate, Marshfield, Duxbury, Eastham, and
Yarmouth, supported by twenty friendly natives from Cape Cod. Together,
this band marched to Taunton, then along the Old Seacuncke Road
(Tremont Street) to Rehoboth (now East Providence, Rhode Island).
There, they were joined by several men from Rehoboth, expanding their total
number to sixty-three English and twenty friendly natives.
Reports indicated that a large group of the enemy had gathered in the
area of Pawtucket Falls, an ideal location from which to catch alewives,
salmon, and shad, and a natural fording spot in the river.149Pierce and his
men set out in pursuit. On Saturday, March 25, they skirmished with the
Narragansett, perhaps north of the falls, where, historian Leonard Bliss
concludes, Pierce “met with no loss, but judged he had occasioned considerable
to the enemy.”
It is not unreasonable to think that Pierce had skirmished with a small
patrol sent intentionally to meet and test the English-an exercise broken
off by the natives once they had gathered information on the size and”
strength of their opponent. In any event, Pierce met no other natives and returned
for the night to the garrison at Old Rehoboth. Meanwhile, armed
with information from the skirmish, native leaders undoubtedly set to work
devising a trap for the English troops.
On Sunday, March 26, Pierce and his troops returned to the field, probably
marching from present-day East Providence, north along the Seekonk
River (which becomes the Blackstone River), back toward Pawtucket Falls.
It is said that as they marched, they were watched by Narragansett from
Dexter’s Ledge, now the site of Cogswell Tower in Jenks Park, Central Falls
(rough distance and heavily wooded terrain made this questionable).
Somewhere close to the Blackstone, perhaps near a fording spot where
Roosevelt Avenue now crosses the river, in what Bliss describes as an
“obscure woody place,” they spotted four or five Narragansett fleeing as
if wounded or hurt. Had a more experienced commander witnessed this
show, he might have immediately fallen back. However, Pierce and his
troops charged after the bait, suddenly finding themselves surrounded by
“about 500 Indians, who, in very good order, furiously attacked them.”
Pierce apparently met the ambush on the eastern side of the Blackstone,
but crossed to the western side, where the natives were engaged in force. A
contemporary account of the battle by an anonymous Boston merchant,
paraphrased by Bliss, made the English out to be as heroic as possible, but
the devastation was complete:
Our men had made the enemy retreat, but so slowly, that it scarce deserved
the name; when a fresh company of about 400 Indians came in,
so that the English and their few Indian friends, were quite surrounded
and beset on every side. Yet they made a brave resistance for above two
hours, during all which time they did great execution upon the enemy,
whom they kept at a distance, and themselves in order. For Captain
Pierce cast his 63 English and 20 Indians into a ring and fought back to
back, and were double-double distance all in one ring, whilst the Indians
were as thick as they could stand thirty deep: overpowered with
whose numbers, the said captain, and 55 of his English, and 10 of their
Indian friends were slain upon the place; which, in such cause, and
upon such disadvantages, may certainly be styled the bed of honour.
It is unlikely, of course, that nine hundred natives participated in the ambush.
Nor does it seem logical that eighty-three men, disadvantaged by surprise,
terrain, and numbers, would have much chance of forcing even four
hundred warriors to retreat. (Contemporary writers reported that Pierce
and his men killed 140 of their enemy, a figure undoubtedly inflated.)
However, if Pierce and his troops crossed the Blackstone near present-day
Roosevelt Avenue, the battle may have moved northward along the river to
a spot near present-day Macomber Field on High Street, where a commemorative
marker was placed in 1907. The marker reads:
NEAR THIS SPOT
CAPTAIN MICHAEL PIERCE
AND HIS COMPANY OF
AMBUSHED AND OUTNUMBERED WERE
By THE INDIANS
MARCH 26 1676
ERECTED By THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
A visit to this site today places the traveler in a heavily industrialized area
surrounded by factories and baseball fields. It is worth remembering, however,
that Central Falls was once the “North Woods” of Providence and
remained only sparsely settled throughout the eighteenth century.
Marching along, Pierce would have seen a wooded land of oak, walnut,
chestnut, and birch trees with three falls (Pawtucket to the south, Valley to
the north, and Central near the crossing at Roosevelt Avenue) supplying the
Narragansett with rich fishing grounds. ’59Bycontrast, present-day Central
Falls is so densely built that the Blackstone River is all but invisible from
nearby Cogswell Tower.
Not all of Pierce’s troops died in the ambush. Several of the friendly natives
devised ingenious means of escape. One blackened his face with powder
like the enemy and passed through their lines without incident.16oAnother
pretended to chase his comrade with a tomahawk, the two running past
their enemies and on to safety.161It appears also that nine English soldiers
escaped death during the ambush, though the details of their story are conjecture
only. One tradition holds that they had gone ahead of the main body
of troops and were chased into present-day Cumberland, where they made
their stand against a large rock and all perished.161
A more plausible explanation is that these nine survived the ambush,
were taken prisoner, and were marched northward about three miles to a
piece of upland surrounded by swamp known as Camp Swamp. Here, upon
a large rock, they were executed. It was several weeks before their bodies
were found, scalped and uncovered, on this rock. The men were buried
some seventy yards northeast of the rock in a common grave. Above this
grave a heap of small stones was used to construct a fourteen-foot-Iong
stone wall, some three feet high and one foot wide at the base. To this
day, residents know this place as Nine Men’s Misery.
In the early twentieth century a cairn of stones (since damaged) was
placed over the spot, and in 1928 a granite marker was set by the Rhode Island
Historical Society. The marker reads:
NINE MEN’S MISERY
ON THIS SPOT
WHERE THEY WERE SLAIN BY
WERE BURIED THE NINE SOLDIERS
CAPTURED IN PIERCE’S FIGHT
MARCH 26, 1676
The cairn and marker can be found near the former Cistercian Monastery
on Diamond Hill Road, about six-tenths of a mile south of Route 295 in
Cumberland. (These grounds are now home to the Hayden Library, the
Northern Rhode Island Collaborative School, the Cumberland Senior Citizens
Department, and other city services.) A dirt road, heading northnortheast
from the northeast corner of the grounds, leads directly to the
site, which requires about a quarter-mile walk. (Many residents walk and
jog in this area and are able to point a visitor in the right direction.)
Around the time of the American Revolution a physician dug up remains
from the grave, identifying one skeleton as that of Benjamin Buckland
of Rehoboth by its large frame and double set of teeth.r65 When the
Catholic Order of Monks purchased the land, remains of the men killed at
Nine Men’s Misery were dug up and given to the Rhode Island Historical
Society. During the 1976 bicentennial celebration, after the land had been
turned over to the town of Cumberland for its use, the bones were reburied
at their original site.
This article carries on some of the inaccuracies found in a lot of the articles about Captain Michael Pierce. There is no proof as to his brothers were. There is certainly no documentation to relate him to Anteress Pierce. There have been a number of names put forth as to his father was. None have any documentation to back up the claims. There is no documentation to show that he came from Kent, England. Perhaps someday some lost document will surface to give us the information on his parents and siblings, but with the amount of research done with no real proof of parentage or siblings found it looks doubtful that we will ever know.
By the way DNA, has shown that Michael and Thomas Pierce of Charleston were related. What is doesn’t show is how they were related. As with Michael, Thomas’s parents have not been found. Also, other than the Thomas line no other Pierce line has been a DNA match.
Not only that, he is not my ancestor. I found errors at John Samuel Taylor, who is not the son of John Nimrod Taylor at all. I chopped this entire limb off last year, but have left the bios for those who want to know more about them….this one not verifiable…Thanks for your help Michael
Sorry to hear that he is not your ancestor. He is my 8th great-grandfather. The documentation back to him to pretty good, plus DNA testing shows that he is my ancestor.
F.C. Pierce’s 1889 book on Captain Michael Pierce, while a valuable resource, it also contains some errors that are perpetuated as others include the errors in their genealogical work. The claim as to who his brothers were is one that keeps going. Another on my line is that he shows the father of my 6th great-grandfather, Mial Pierce, as Ephraim Pierce Jr. Mial was born 5 years before Ephraim Jr. was married. The birth record only gives the father’s name–Ephraim. Isn’t amazing that the women did all the work and yet often times birth entries only gave the father’s name?
Thanks so much for this post on Captain Michael Pierce. He is also my 9th Great Grandfather. I am descended from his daughter Abigail and down through my father’s paternal line.
Thank you for sharing! He is my 10th great grandfather 😀
So this Michael pierce just happens to be like some where around my 20th grandpa.. My wife just started doing my family tree.. And very surprised at all the royalty in my family blood… Glad to see that I might have more relatives out there..
There is no proof that Michael Pierce and William Pierce were brothers. This appears to be a relationship made up by Frederick Clifton Pierce. He was not the brother of John or Robert either. He was not the son of Azrika and MarthaThere is no historical record to show that Michael Pierce served under Miles Standish. The dates of their respective services preclude it. There is no proof that Michael Pierce immigrated from Hingham, England.
If you would like to discuss the subject please let me know. A few months ago I did a paper to address some of these continuing inaccuracies concerning Captain Michael Pierce. I would be glad to send you a copy if you would like, and then we could dialog about our different prospectives on the matter.
Would love to see the paper as my grandmother was a Pierce which looks to be connect to this lineage. I have taken a DNA test & am new to studying family history.
Thank you for all the info
I believe I am a 9G grandson of Captain Michael Pierce by way of Benjamin, Ebenezer, Benjamin, Ezra, Lawrence, Adriel, Ezra, and Glenn Pierce (my Ggrandfather). I understand some of the familial relationships described in this posting are erroneous, but the information is interesting from an historical perspective. Thanks for posting.
I am a part of the Pierce family, newly found thanks to DNA testing. Is there anyone who could help me figure out exactly who Michael Pierce is to me? Franklin O. Pierce/Livera Pierce are my great great grandparents Very interesting story and compliments to the author!
Captain Michael Pierce: 1615-1676
Son of Micahel Pierce
Ephraim Pierce 1647-1719
Son of Ephraim Pierce
Ephraim Pierce Junior 1674-1772
Son of Ephraim Pierce Junior
David Pierce 1701-1767
Son of David Pierce
Jonathan Pierce 1725- 1820
Son of Jonathan Pierce
John Pierce 1768-1844
Son of John Pierce
David Pierce (1792-?)
Son of David Pierce
Wiliam Clarkson Pierce 1822-1899
Son of William Clarkson Pierce
Clarence Irving Pierce 1856-1924
Daughter of Irving Pierce
Marion Inez Joubert (Pierce) 1895-1991
Daughter of Marion Joubert
Elsie Costa 1935-2018
Daughter of Elsie Costa
Daughter of Dawn David
Son of Tammy David
ME Nathan David
Michael Pierce is my 14th Grandfather 🙂
Studied for an AP Us History Project: Went to plimouth plantation and studied Nines Men Massacre
This dude is also a relative of mine.. It’s crazy to think about.
He is also my 9th great grandfather and would love to learn more about him and I would love to see the paper you did on him.
There was no “J” in Captain Michael Pierce’s name. He had no middle name or initial.
Micheal Pierce is related through my paternal grandmother. I was saddened to see that the parentage was removed as it breaks the link to the Percys and De Percys who were British nobles and further back to Normandy and Norway.
I did find my way back to these people by way of a different ancestor, beginning with Capt. Pierces in-laws. Though this was not a direct line through the Pierces it did finally lead to the same group of ancestors.
Who knows how many people have Michael Pierce as a 9th great-grandfather, but I too am a member of that group.
Benjamin Pierce Jr.
Benjamin Pierce III
Nancy Maria Pierce Barber
Ellen Barber Allen