Descendants of Mr. Pierce and His Wife Sabina of Tennessee
PIERCE FAMILY –
We have learned a great deal about the families of Mr. Pierce and his wife Sabina. It is easier to tell you what we don’t know rather then what we do know. We don’t know Mr. Pierce’s given name or Sabina’s maiden name. We don’t know if there were more than four children nor do we know of other children that may have stayed in Tennessee when Sabina and her four children went to Texas. We don’t know why Sabina at age 43 decided to head for Texas or why there is no mention at all regarding Mr. Pierce and his fate.
We can speculate that Mr. Pierce died and that Sabina had heard of the good land in Texas that was much like the landscape in Tennessee, and that it could be free. In those days many would hang a sign over their door that read Gone to Texas. In fact so many people were leaving for Texas that historians have dubbed Tennessee the Mother of All Texans and many present-day citizens of east Texas who have never lived in Tennessee have inherited that drawling Tennessee accent.
There are two distinct Pierce family groups that descend from Sabina and settled in two different parts of Texas. The first group comes from Franklin Galvanian and Sarah M. (Pierce) Miller who were in Hopkins county by 1847. There are 58 people in the first four generations of this Hopkins County group. The second group comes from Bird and Young Pierce, who settled in Coryell County which is 200 miles southwest of Hopkins County. This second group has 119 persons in the first four generations.
By 1847 Hopkins Co. had many settled communities and welcomed new settlers. Coryell wasn’t organized until 1854 and even then it was on the leading edge of the frontier. Rampaging Indians and outlaws of all sorts were still a threat. Fort Gates was established in 1849 to offer some protection to the settlers who came in increasing numbers. Unfortunately the Fort was evacuated in 1852 and moved farther west and in 1854 the town of Gatesville became the County Seat.
SABINA PIERCE –
Sabina and her two younger sons, Bird and Young, seem to have taken a different path to Texas. It is not known whether Sabina, Bird, and Young were ever in Hopkins County. Large groups were formed for support and among those were the Scoggins, and O’Neals who were friends of Sabina. The Scoggins were in Hardeman County Tennessee and it is possible that Sabina may have been born there. Sabina and her grandson, Young Pierce Jr., who was born at Sugar Loaf and their descendants make up the largest group of Pierce’s in that area. The descendants of Bird Pierce are included also.
Sabina was at Sugar Loaf as early as 1853 and was with Bird when he married Sarah Scoggin in 1855. We have a picture of Sabina taken on the occasion of that wedding. She was at Young’s wedding when he married Armelia Gray in 1858 and Sabina moved in with Sarah after she was notified of Bird’s death in the civil war. Armelia had moved back in with David Gray. Sabina died at age 84 and was living with her granddaughter Mary Eldora in Johnson County at the time of her death in 1888.
She was buried in the Sugar Loaf cemetery beside her son Young Pierce Sr. and next to the Riggs couple. The Army moved the Sugar Loaf Cemetery in 1942 to Killeen. Sabina and Young are buried there side by side.
FRANKLIN GALVANIAN PIERCE AND SARAH M PIERCE – Franklin and Sarah came to Texas also about the same time Sabina was settling down in Sugar Loaf. Franklin married his second wife, Lourainer South in 1848. Sarah, 3 years younger than Franklin, was married to Henry Miller and the two families were farmers living very close to each other in Sulphur Bluff, Hopkins County in northeast Texas. Unlike Coryell, Hopkins county had settled communities with churches, schools, roads, post offices, and other amenities.
Sarah and Henry had two children. Alice Sabina was born in 1850 and Julia Ann born in 1854. Sarah died from childbirth complications when Julia was born.
Henry later married Lawressa and by 1860 their children Hiram age 4 and Ellen age 1, and Sarah’s children Alice age 10 and Julia age 6 were all living on the farm at Sulphur Bluff.
JULIA ANN MILLER –
Daughter of Sarah M. Pierce and granddaughter of Sabina, told her children an oral story that she was born 27 Feb 1850 and died in 1941. She is buried in the Gatesville Cemetery. She said that Grandma (Sabina) Pierce, now about age 45, brought her to Coryell County by horseback when she was just a small baby. She was told that she weighed only three pounds and that she was carried in a shoebox. She also was accompanied by two uncles, presumably Bird and Young. She said that when she was age eight (about 1859) she remembered that Young Pierce was killed by Comanche Indians. Beyond this there is no record placing Julia Ann in Coryell County until the 1870 census where she is recorded living with husband George A. Williams in Gatesville.
The Hopkins County census tells a different story. Sarah (Pierce Miller) died in 1854 when Julia Ann was born. Julia Ann lived with Henry Miller and his second wife Lawressa at least until she was age 6 in 1860. Beyond this there is no record placing Julia Ann in Coryell County until the 1870 census where she is recorded living with husband George A. Williams in Gatesville.
BIRD PIERCE – Bird Pierce was born in Tennessee in 1836 and is listed in the first Coryell County Tax Roll of 1854. In September 1855 Bird Pierce married Sarah Scoggin, daughter of the well known methodist minister Jesse Scoggin. Three girls, Mary Eldora, Sabina and Frances were born to Bird and Sarah during the 1856-60 period. The Scoggins had moved from Arkansas to Sugar Loaf in 1852. In May 1862 Bird Pierce enlisted in Company D 17th Texas Volunteer Infantry. He died at Pine Bluff, Arkansas 3 March 1863 while in the service of the Confederate Army
YOUNG PIERCE Sr. –
Young Pierce was born 19 July 1839 in Tennessee. He married Armelia Gray 4 February 1858 in Sugar Loaf. Armelia was 15 years old at the time, having been born in 1842 in Missisippi to David Gray and his first wife before David moved to Izard County Arkansas. In Izard County David Gray’s second marriage in 1846 to Nancy Elms, was performed by Justice of Peace Harvey O’Neal. David and Nancy were among the first settlers at Sugar Loaf when they moved there in 1851. David was active in county politics and was elected to the County Commission in 1856, 1862 and again in 1865. Sadly Young Pierce died in a viscious Comanche Indian raid in the early morning hours of 16 March 1859, five months before his son Young Pierce Jr. was born. Young Pierce had driven a wagon to a nearby cedar brake to cut fence posts when he was attacked by 16 Comanche Indians and brutally beaten to death and stripped of his clothing.
A neighbor, John Riggs had a small herd of cattle and he too along with young David Elms took two wagons to gather cedar posts following Young. David Elms was driving the first wagon and he was whipped with ox tails and stripped of his clothes but managed to escape. The Indians then turned to John Riggs and murdered him and his wife Jane. They were the parents of four young children. The Comanches abducted the two Riggs daughters who later managed to escape their captors and returned home.
YOUNG PIERCE JR. – Young Pierce Jr. never saw his father who was murdered by Comanches five months before his son was born. His mother Armelia moved back in with her father David Gray who after the death of Nancy Elms married her sister Terrissa Elms. This household still had the four children by David and Nancy plus six children Terrissa was raising after the death of her husband Harvey O’Neal. When Armelia moved back home with her new baby, Young Pierce Jr., there were now 12 children in this household of which Armelia at age 16 was the oldest.
ARMELIA MARRIES STEPHEN O’NEAL – In early 1861 Armelia married Stephen O’Neal, who was Harvey O’Neal’s younger brother. Armelia later said she married Stephen to get out of David Gray’s house of 12 children of which she was a primary caretaker. Stephen and Armelia raised Young Pierce Jr. to manhood as well as three children of their own. Stephen left for the Civil War just after their first child, David O’Neal was born. Armelia was again left alone until his return from the war in 1864. He served in Company F 6th Texas Volunteer Infantry as a teamster and saw action in Tennessee, Georgia and in the battle of Arkansas Post January 11, 1863 where most of Company F was killed or captured. Stephen O’Neal was one of the captured but was later returned in a rare prisoner of war exchange. At the end of the war he was paroled and returned home to Sugar Loaf. He and Armelia had two more children after the war.
Young Pierce Jr. Grew up in the Sugar Loaf community working the farms. In the fall he joined the threshing crews that moved through the farmlands doing contract work. It was on one of these jobs in Brown County that he met Roxie Brown whom he courted and then married in Brownwood 4 March 1883. They had four children born in Sugar Loaf before 1891. In the fall of 1892 Young and Roxie followed their dream to have an irrigated farm and loaded their four children, Amelia, Abia, Ethel, Lewis (see picture) and all their belongings in a wagon and headed for San Saba county. It was there that they began farming irrigated land on the banks of the San Saba River. Roxie was pregnant with their fifth child when they began their wagon journey and Ernest was born 31 January 1893 in San Saba. Five more children — Nettie, Eugene, Earl, Dea, and Gladys were born in San Saba County.
Click here for a list of the 31 Pierce Grandchildren, in order by Date of Birth.