Santa Cruz County History - People



Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

PIERCE, JOHN F (1850-1925)

Santa Cruz Sentinel (September 24, 1925)

Headstone of John F Pierce
John F. Pierce
IOOF Cemetery in Santa Cruz

Pierce Funeral To Be Today

The funeral of John Franklin Pierce, a Civil war veteran will be held this morning at 10 o'clock with services at Wessendorf and Son's undertaking parlors. Friends and acquaintances are invited to attend.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (September 25, 1925)

Funeral Services Over G.F. Pierce

Impressive and simple funeral services were held yesterday morning over George Franklin Pierce at Wessendorf & Son's undertaking parlors.

The services were conducted by Dr. B.M. Palmer of the Congregational church. The burial was at the Odd Fellows cemetery.

Notes from Phil Reader

His name is John Franklin Pierce and atop his grave site in Block M, each morning, fate plays out an ironic little melodrama. As the sun ascends slowly into the sky each morning, it throws out long shadows from two tall neighboring marble stone monuments which criss-cross John Pierce's humble little tombstone at least twice a day. The two monuments are embossed with the distinctive shield which signifies that a member of the Grand Army of the Republic is buried beneath. What makes the scene ironic is that Pierce fought with a company of Confederate Partisans during the great civil war.

Born on September 22, 1850 on a small farm near Greensboro, Georgia, John Pierce was but 14 years of age when Union troops under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman swept across central Georgia on their destructive "march to the sea" following the burning of Atlanta in the autumn of 1864. While his family fled into the hills and their farm was completely destroyed by foraging troops, young John joined with other men from Green County and formed a company of Rangers who harassed Sherman's Army in a series of daring but futile hit and run raids. All resistance was in vain for on April 1865, General Robert E. Lee and his rag Tag army surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse and the Civil War drew to a close.

Among the members of the advancing army which had all but completely disseminated Greene County were Pfc. Charles Bailey of Company C, 36th Illinois Infantry and William Getty, a Lieutenant with the 12th Indiana Light Artillery. It is the gravestones of these two Union soldiers which tower over the final resting place of Confederate Partisan John Franklyn Pierce.

Pierce's obituary, printed upon his death on September 20, 1925, reads like a history of the old west. Following the Civil War, he, like so many of his southern brothers, drifted west and wound up in Texas. In 1867, Pierce, was working at a small ranch on the Pecos in Reeves County, when he hired on as a drover with Charlie Goodnight and Oliver Lovings’ Legendary first cattle drive north to Colorado. Along the way, they pioneered a trail crossing the infamous Llano Estacado desert and spending much of their time fighting off marauding Comanche Indians and Kansas outlaws. But the success of this drive led to countless others in the company of wild young Texas, including the ill fated journey which ended in the death of Loving at the hands of Indians and the much-stored odyssey, when the faithful Charlie Goodnight carried his partner's body on a two thousand mile trek from Colorado Territory, home to their beloved west Texas and buried him along the Pecos.

Following the coming of the railroads and the decline of cattle drives, Pierce remained in Colorado where he became a Deputy Sheriff operating of Kiowa, Elbert County. In the company of U.S. Marshals and Pinkerton detectives, he fought to establish law and order on the plains during the great "Range Wars" of the 1880s. During this time, he married Rosetta Freeman and sired three children by her.

With the coming of statehood to the territories, life began to stabilize and Pierce moved across the Rocky Mountains to Ogden, Utah where he took part in a land rush and building boom with the settlement of Brigham Young's land of Zion.

When the century turned, the Pierce Family moved further west, buying a farm in Crook County, Oregon where his children grew to adulthood. At the end of the First World War, word reached Oregon that the central coast region of California was witnessing record profits in the production of eggs and poultry. It is to this area that John Franklyn Pierce was to make his last move. In 1919, he bought a five acre poultry ranch on Washburn Street in Santa Cruz. There he remained until September 20, 1925, when he passed away and was buried in Block M. at the old Odd Fellows Cemetery, where each day fate plays out its ironic scenario.


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