Hughes' Views & News

1899 Horse-Detacher Patent of John Tichnor Peirce, of Breland, Louisiana

Posted in Breland, Genealogy, Peirce by tahughesnc on May 3, 2018

 

On May 23, 1899, the U.S. Patent Office issued Patent No. 625,695, for a horse-detacher device invented by my great-great grandfather, John Tichnor Peirce (1846-1912), who at that time lived in the community of Breland, in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. (He would later move from Breland to Warnerton, about 20 miles to the east.)

Also named in the patent was Adolphus E. Peirce, who was John’s son and my great grandfather. The first child of Adolphus and his wife, Etta Pearl Bailey, was Cora Peirce Breland, who was my maternal grandmother.

This patent is of interest to me for a couple of reasons.

First, his last name is spelled as “Peirce” throughout the document, and on the first page of the patent his name is written as “J.T. Peirce.” My mother has in her possession a handwritten letter that he wrote in 1891, and he signed that letter, “JT Peirce.” For me, these two documents present strong evidence that “Peirce” is the spelling that he preferred.

Some of his descendants have since chosen to spell the name as “Pierce,” while others have chosen to retain the “Peirce” spelling. For example, Adolphus spelled his last name as “Peirce,” and so did five of his six children. Adolphus had two sons. His first-born son, Richard Moore Peirce, retained the “Peirce” spelling all his life. Adolphus’ second-born son, Carl E. Pierce, chose to use “Pierce” instead, and Carl’s descendants use the “Pierce” spelling.

In my family, the “Peirce” spelling has been retained in the middle name of my late uncle, Robert Peirce Breland, and in the middle names given to some of my relatives who were born in the generations after Uncle Robert. Interestingly, my DNA matches include one match from this Peirce/Pierce line who was given the “Peirce” spelling at birth, and another who was given the “Pierce” spelling at birth.

Second, I love the fact that the patent document says John Tichnor Peirce “resided at Breland, in the parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana.” As best as I can tell, Breland, Louisiana, no longer exists. But in the 1890s, there was a U.S. Post Office for Breland, Louisiana, and according to the 1891 letter from JT Peirce, “that office is at my house.

His second wife, Salissa Peirce, was appointed as U.S. Postmaster for Breland about a month before that letter was written. Then Adolphus was appointed postmaster for Breland on August 5, 1904. My mother’s aunt, Florence Peirce Peck, wrote that “my mother (Etta Bailey Peirce) and my sister Cora took care of the mail” until the family moved from Breland to Sunny Hill, Louisiana, about 1908.

After the move to Sunny Hill, Cora was a student at Sunny Hill School at the same time as my maternal grandfather, Robert Milton Breland. They became high school sweethearts, and later got married in Baton Rouge, in 1910.

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