A man of service
He was just a young man when he left everything behind and came to a wilderness with his friends Joseph and Henry. James Pierce was hired by Joseph Goodrich as an assistant and he worked in this position as farm hand, store clerk and surveyor for four years after coming to Wisconsin.
James met Olive Hall after she and her family moved to Milton in 1839. Olive was the first school teacher in Milton. She was employed by Henry Crandall to teach in the schoolhouse he had in his home. James and Olive were married on September 24th of 1840. They began their life together on 80 acres of land that James had purchased in Harmony. Then later they purchased 130 acres of land in section seven that stretched across the Rock River into what would become Newville. Together they had three children. Clark who was born in 1841, Alonzo who was born in 1846 but sadly died in 1847, and a daughter Susan who was born in 1849 and in 1863 became ill and died.
James Pierce was not one to settle down to be a farmer only. He was passionate about the development of Milton as a community and the growth of the county. To this end he served in many positions over the years. In addition to service in his church he served in the following roles:
- Deputy County Surveyor from 1841 to 1844
- Assessor from 1847-1848
- Commissioner of Highways 1848-1849
- Justice of the Peace 1851-55, 1857-63, 1869-70
- Chairman of the board of supervisors 1856-1864 and 1869-70
- County Supervisor of the second district 1866-68
In time James and his wife retired, and moved in with their son Clark. After a lifetime of service to the community, James died in 1905 at the age of 88. James died of a kidney related issue and was buried next to his wife, who died of a stroke in 1901. They were laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery in Milton Junction.
This picture of James Pierce is from
the 1858 Rock County Atlas
courtesy of the Rock County Historical Society,
to whom many thanks are given for their assistance.