Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amos Pierce 1867 - 1940

1867 - 1940

Amos Edward Pierce was born November 23, 1867 in Pennsylvania, and died February 17, 1940 in Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania.

Amos grew up in Chester and spent a good deal of time on the Delaware River. He spent much of his childhood years gunning and fishing with his brothers and his father. He became a fisherman like his father James and his grandfather Edward Pierce, catching sturgeon and shad from the river and selling them at the local marketplace.

At the age of sixteen Amos became a member and trustee of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows , Upland Lodge. The following article appeared in the Chester Times announcing the lodge’s election results:

September 26, 1883 Chester Times
Officers of Upland Lodge

An election of officers was held at the meeting of Upland Lodge, No. 2?3 (253 or 233), I.O.O.F. last night, with the following result:

N.G. - Hugh Crooks
V.G. - Thomas B. Robinson
Treasurer - James Z. Taylor
Trustees - Amos PIERCE and John Smith.
Representatives to Grand Lodge - M.L. Taylor

When Amos was about 24 years old, approximately 1891, he married Elizabeth A. Greenhalgh. She was born May 1871 in England.

March 1892
Amos and Elizabeth had a daughter whom they named Sarah. January 28, 1897 Amos and Elizabeth had a son, Amos Edward Pierce Jr. According to information reported on the 1900 census in Delaware County, PA., they had another child but it evidently did not survive. The beginning of this year was not a good one for the Pierce family. Amos and his brother James were arrested January 24, 1900 for the murder of their friend George Eyre, a wealthy Chester resident.

After he was arrested, Amos, also known as “Pinny”, was given a chance “to tell his side” of the story regarding what police called damaging evidence. He denied having anything to do with the murder and stated he had not been gunning with George Eyre on Thursday, the day Eyre was killed. Amos was put in a cell on the second floor of the jail away from his brother James. He was given the only bed, along with a pillow and blankets to keep him warm as he had been on “the sick list”. Both brothers were reportedly ill with consumption.

January 26th a preliminary hearing took place at 10 o’clock in the Chester courthouse. Amos reportedly walked into the courtroom ahead of his brother, shrinking back from the gaze of spectators and lawyers. James on the other hand had a “nonchalant air which characterized him throughout all of the varied scenes of the now celebrated case.” Joseph H. Hinkson was counsel for the accused brothers. A shocking turn events came when a woman named Mary Cowan implicated Amos in disposing of George Eyre’s body. She testified that she was James’ sweetheart and that James confessed to her that Amos tied stones to the murdered man’s legs to sink the body.

Several days later in his confinement Amos became ill. He was visited by his wife, sisters and father, bringing him medicine and clothing. Upon seeing his wife Elizabeth and family standing at his cell door he exclaimed, “My, am I glad you came” and greeted them, clearly happy to have their support and devotion.

In this time period many extended family members shared the same household. The Pierce family was no exception to this and Elizabeth’s younger brothers lived with them at 23 Graham Street, just down the street from Amos’ parents. At such a stressful time in her life, with her husband incarcerated, it must have given her comfort to have her brothers in the household, taking care of things Amos normally handled.

Months of testimony passed. In June, just prior to the scheduled courtroom verdict, James Pierce committed suicide. This halted the trial as James had left a note claiming his innocence and exonerating Amos from the crime.

September 25, 1900 Amos was acquitted of the murder of George Eyre and released from jail. Evidence was not sufficient to warrant a conviction.

Elizabeth and Amos may have split up after his release from jail as she is enumerated as the head of the household on the 1910 census. Living with her at 402 Eighth Street is their daughter Sarah, son Amos Jr. and her brother William Greenhalgh. Amos does not appear in their household or on the 1910 Delaware county census. Elizabeth states she is married and her profession is sewing at a print mill. Her brother William also works at a print mill. Sarah is 18 years old and working as a comber in the cotton mill.

Amos was still absent from the Pierce household in the 1920 census. Elizabeth is 49, head of household and maintains she is a widow. Living with her is son Amos Jr., a 23 year old single man; her widowed son-in-law David MacAvany; and Leonard and Mary Leary. Interestingly enough David MacAvany and the Leonards are reported as boarders in her home rather than the true relationships. David had been married to Amos and Elizabeth’s only daughter Sarah who died in 1919. Mary and Leonard Leary are Elizabeth’s sister and brother-in-law.

Amos went back to his profession as fisherman and lived the rest of his days in Chester. His final address is 3rd and Penn Street. He went under the care of Dr. F.H. Murray for illness and died in the Delaware County Home Hospital in Middleton on February 17, 1940 from stomach cancer. E. F. White undertakers on W Third Street handled the funeral services. He is buried in Chester Rural Cemetery, Section U, Lot 371.

Children of Amos and Elizabeth Pierce:

Sarah Pierce born March 1892, Pennsylvania
Died 1919
Married David MacAvany

Amos E. Pierce Jr. born January 1897, Pennsylvania
Died November 1963
Married Sarah Mildred Smith
Married second wife Nina A. Eggleson

No comments: