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 William Andrew Peirce

William Andrew Peirce

Dubuque, Dubuque County, Iowa, USA
Death 1 Dec 1918 (aged 71)
Manti, Sanpete County, Utah, USA
Burial Springville, Utah County, Utah, USA
Plot Blk. 60 Lot 3 Pos. 7
Memorial ID 85713 · View Source
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Son of James Madison Peirce and Mary Ann Bowman

Married Julia Winn, 19 Dec 1878, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, later divorced

History - William Andrew Peirce was born January 1, 1847 in Dubuque, Iowa, as his father and mother and two older children, Annette Louisa and Joseph Smith Peirce, were enroute to the valley of the mountains as Mormon pioneers.

His parents, James Madison Peirce and Mary Ann Bowman, were good folks, having joined the Church in Boston, Massachusetts after hearing the preaching of early church missionaries shortly after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. James Madison was the only member of his father's family to accept the Gospel. The reason for this was probably because James Madison had moved from his birthplace in Rochester, N. H. to Boston, Massachusetts, where he was converted to the Church. He was a barber by trade, and heard the Gospel from one of his customers who was an investigator of the new doctrine.

He and his wife attended missionary meetings, and it was not long before they were both baptized — having been convinced they had found the truth. This was in the winter of 1845. As soon as they were able to settle their affairs in Boston, they moved to Nauvoo, only to be driven out with the saints shortly after their arrival.

They were poor and ill prepared for the journey; also they were forced to stop in the temporary settlements along the way and work to raise funds and equipment to continue their journey westward. Eight years passed away before the family finally reached the valley in 1854. Enroute four children were born to this couple — one of them being my father, William Andrew Peirce. They had also buried their first child, Annette Louisa, enroute.

Their first home was in Sugar House district, where they resided about six years. During this time my father was called on to make two trips back to St. Joseph, Missouri, in company with older men, to bring English immigrants to Zion. The family moved to Cedar Valley for a short time, and later to Springville, Utah, where they settled on a piece of land near the mouth of Hobble Creek Canyon. James Madison plied his trade as a barber as he worked and homesteaded on this government land, where he did a little farming. He also worked as a tinsmith, dentist, and doctor.

Father spent the remainder of his childhood and youth in Springville, where he attended school and received his elementary education. It was here that he was apprenticed out to William H. Carter to learn the blacksmith trade. During this period he was afflicted with what in those days was called a white swelling on the inside of his left wrist, which resulted in the stiffening of the joint of the wrist, so that his left hand became quite helpless. This happened when he was about eighteen years of age.

About this time the great Tintic mining region was discovered, and father, in company with two other men (one of then, L. J. Whitney) went to the new region and located the famous Sunbeam mine. They sold the mine later for a good price, and father received his share of the money. With this money he purchased four acres of city land in Springville. This property was later sold, and the money used to further his education at Morgan College in Salt Lake City.

He received sufficient training at this school to qualify him to teach grade school. This occupation he followed in Springville, Fountain Green, and later in Moab. Father's ambition, however, was not to be a teacher, as through his rugged life as a miner he had acquired a desire for further adventure.

He answered the call of the Church to go on a mission among the Navajo Indians down in San Juan, Arizona and New Mexico. While engaged in this missionary work, he became conversant with both the Navajo and Ute languages.

After his mission father obtained work in Arizona on the San Juan water project, which was being opened and operated in that area. While laboring on this job he met Lizzie Winn and her two daughters, who had moved from Lehi, Utah to San Juan. Lizzie was the first wife of Thomas Grifin Winn. They had resided in Lehi, but Thomas had decided to move his family north to Smithfield in Cache County. Lizzie refused to move to Smithfield with her husband and his second wife, Elisabeth Hanson, but remained in Lehi with her two daughters, and the three of them later removed to Arizona, where they became acquainted with my father.

After living in Arizona for some time, Lizzie desired to rejoin her husband, Thomas Winn, in Smithfield, but she was at a loss to know how she was going to obtain transportation from Arizona to Smithfield, Utah — almost the entire distance across two states. At last she devised a scheme which resulted in my father gaining his future wife.

How Lizzie knew that her husband's second wife had a fine young daughter nearing marriageable age, so she bargained with father that if he would take her and her two daughters to Smithfield, she would see to it that Julia (this daughter) would be his wife. This arrangement pleased father very much, for he certainly was in need of a wife. It was thus agreed, and they started on the long wearisome journey. It was wintertime, which added to the dangers of the journey, but finally the party arrived at the old stone house which was the home of Thomas Grifin Winn in Smithfield.

The house was filled with children of two wives, for Thomas had taken a third wife after the death of his second wife, who had passed away during Lizzie's absence.

And what of Julia? What was her reaction when told of the plan which was to yoke her to a strange young man whom she had never seen? Now Julia's life had not been easy, as she was the eldest of her mother's family, and now a new young family was coming along by the third wife. She was forced to make her own way in life at the early age of twelve years. She started to do housework, living with and working for many families in the community.

At the age of fifteen Julia obtained employment with the Brigham City Cheese Factory. Here she worked very hard, rising early to milk cows; then during the daytime laboring in the factory making cheese until time to milk cows again in the evening. She had little time for anything but hard work all her young life, and now she was in her eighteenth year and a mature woman. She rather welcomed the chance to marry and make a home of her own; so Julia gave her consent to the marriage.

It was arranged that she should ride to Salt Lake City on the train in company with Wilford Woodruff, who was then an apostle. He had been visiting his family who lived in Smithfield. He was happy to be of service to Julia, who had never traveled farther from home than Brigham City. My father drove his wagon and team of oxen to Salt Lake, where he met Julia, and they were married in the Endowment House December 19, 1878. After the marriage they drove to Springville, Utah, the home of my father's parents, and resided with them until the first of March.

At this time Brigham Young had called for colonists to settle the southern regions of the state, so William and Julia decided to migrate southward. It was still early spring and snow was in the canyons. The road was rough and rocky and only extended through the canyon to Soldier Summit. From there on they practically made their own road. Over rocks, mountains, sage brush — on and on they traveled until they came to the Valley of the Green River. They crossed the river and then traveled on another forty miles to the Grand River, where they pitched camp and waited for the arrival of William's brother, James, who had agreed to meet them there with his ox team.

As there was no bridge over the Grand River, it was necessary to ford the river. This was a hazardous task at this season of the year when streams were swollen with flood waters. They thanked God for their safe crossing. Now they traveled on for several miles through green meadows sprinkled with the yellow mustard flower. What a haven of rest! What a contrast to the snow and cold of the north. At length they found a little abandoned log cabin, probably the home of a discouraged miner. They were glad to move in to make their first home in the south land.

There were already several families in the valley. This was in the spring of 1879 when William and Julia arrived. Day after day other families arrived until the little community was quite large. The settlers engaged mostly in agriculture and sheep raising. Ditches were dug, and water was brought from the surrounding streams of Mill and Rock Creeks. Many hard, long trips had to be made back to Salina to procure flour, sugar, and other food stuffs.

Father, besides farming, acted as the village school teacher, dentist, and doctor. The time came when a name had to be chosen for this thriving community, so that a post office could be established. Father was selected to submit a name to be sent to Washington D.C. After trying several times to find a name not already used in the estate, he (being a student of the Bible) submitted the name of Moab, which was accepted. Moab was put on the map, with a regular mail route and post office established on March 23, 1880. My father was voted first postmaster.

Along with the other members of this frontier town, my mother and father suffered many hardships. Indians ware plentiful; and the cowboys were rough and boisterous, especially when they had too much liquor to drink. I have heard mother say many times that she was often more afraid of them than she was of the Indians.

My mother gave birth to her first child, a son named Hugh, on December 4, 1879. Four other sons were born in Moab; Junius Madison, born November 5, 1881; Parley William, born December 23, 1883; Walace Griffin, born August 17, 1886; and Heze Eugene, born December 31, 1888.

Mother was a capable seamstress and an expert laundress, and helped with these skills to increase the family income.

Sadness fell upon the little household, for Julia had befriended a woman who had come from the East with her sick child. It turned out that the child had the dread disease of diphtheria. There were no doctors or any means to combat this disease, so the child soon died; but not before all of the young Peirce boys had contracted the disease. The two smaller boys, Wallace and Heze, were very sick and in a few days they passed away. Wallace died December 26, 1890, and Heze died just six days later on December 31.

My mother was never the same after this sad incident. She dreaded being so far from help with her young growing family. She gave father no rest until he promised her that they would return to Springville to make their home. In the spring of 1891 they said goodbye to their many dear friends in Moab and started on the long trip back. Again they were welcomed into the home of Grandma and Grandpa Peirce until father's brother, Andrew (who was a carpenter) built them a one-room lumber house on the northwest corner of his lot. He afterward used this house as a shop. Their first daughter, Martha, was born in this house on December 12, 1891.

The next summer the family rented the Anderson home in the southeast part of town, on the banks of old Hobble Creek. Here I was born on the first day of June, 1894. Now fears were gone as the family took up their lives in this beautiful little city. Father worked at odd jobs — helping his father and brother, farming, and doing some mining. He was quite handicapped with his crippled left hand. As he grew older he traveled through the small towns to the south of Springville wiring chairs and repairing other household furniture.

On one of these trips (he was working in Manti and staying at the Cottage Hotel) he became extremely ill. He had eaten his evening meal and had retired to his room for the night when he was seized with violent pains in his stomach. The doctor was summoned, but to no avail.

In a few hours father had passed away. This was on December l, 1918. The family was summoned, and his body was brought to Springville for burial. This was during the time when the first epidemic of the flu was claiming so many lives and no public meetings were allowed, so only a short graveside service was held. He was buried in the family plot in Springville December 4, 1918.

Written by a daughter, Myrtle P. Price

Family Members





  • Maintained by: SMSmith
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 85713
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Andrew Peirce (1 Jan 1847–1 Dec 1918), Find A Grave Memorial no. 85713, citing Historic Springville Cemetery, Springville, Utah County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .