One mystery solved, another about memorial stone found in Wareham
WAREHAM – The mystery of who had a commemorative tablet made in 1929 honoring 17th century descendants Captain Michael Pierce of Hingham, Captain Thomas Williams of Stow and John Brown of Taunton has apparently been solved thanks to the help from people who had read the original article.
How he ended up in a Wareham backyard remains in question, however.
The tablet was recently discovered by Wareham resident Jenny Gropman while doing some gardening work at her two-family home built in the 1860s in the residential High Street area. She didn’t move until last June.
She was raking and cleaning an overgrown portion of her backyard near the end of the property line when she saw something “white”. It was a kind of stone.
“I love stones. I made my front walkway with stones, so I saw the white and thought it was a big stone, literally here. He was covered in leaves and I took the leaves off and dragged him.
But it was not an ordinary, natural or decorative stone. It was a commemorative plaque.
In honour of
Captain Michael Pierce of Hingham
Captain Thomas Williams of Stow, Mafs,
and Plainfield, Conn. Soldier
Mr. John Brown of Taunton
this tablet erected by their descendant
Marion pierce carter
Gropman had no idea how it had ended up in his backyard.
And while there are many records about her ancestors in WikiTree, it was difficult to determine who Marion Pierce Carter was as no date of birth or death was included on the tablet. He only indicated that it was created in 1929.
Skip Colcord, resident of Taunton, introduced himself and provided the following information: “Marion was born on May 24, 1867 in Attleboro, daughter of Alfred Pierce (1822-1919) and Martha Richardson (Williams) Pierce (1837- 1910). On June 30, 1892, she married Niles (Miles in other records) Leach Carter (1865-1931) in Attleboro and the young couple had resided there for many years. Marion died on September 9, 1946 at age 81 and is buried next to her husband at Woodlawn Cemetery, Attleboro. She was a passionate and very active genealogist in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Marion and Niles had only one child, a daughter, Bernadetta (Bernadette or Berndadella in some documents) Richardson Carter (1904-2003), who never married and had no known children. In 1929, Marion published a typed text, “The Ancestry of Bernadetta Richardson Carter,” which contains good background information about this family. It is probably no coincidence that 1929 was the same year that the tablet went into service.
As to how the stone got to Wareham, Colcord surmises: “It was in Bernadetta’s possession until her death, and then possibly passed to one of her survivors.”
Otis Dyer, a resident of Rehoboth, also provided information on Marion that matches that provided by Colcord.
He also noted: “She was a descendant of many Rehoboth families, including the Pierce and Wheeler families, and she was a direct descendant of Captain Michael Pierce and John Brown. The latter, whose name also appears on the monument, was one of the founders of Rehoboth in 1643. Through the intermediary of Shubael Wheeler, corporal during the Revolution and his great-grandfather, Marion became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Being very proud of her ancestry, Marion has written articles about her family history and the lives of her ancestors in Rehoboth where they lived before moving to Attleboro. She wrote the articles in the 1920s and 1930s but never published them. Some of them reside in the records of the Attleboro Public Library and others are in my possession. I have found them useful when writing articles on the history of Rehoboth. “
How did the stone find its way to Wareham?
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Day said, “It would be interesting to know how a Rhode Island battle monument that was placed either at the site of the skirmish between Blackstone River and Roosevelt Avenue in Central Falls, RI or at the site of the execution of the nine surviving captives at a place known as ‘Nine Men’s Misery’, a few miles away in Cumberland, IR, found themselves half-buried in a backyard 120 kilometers outside Wareham. Perhaps the Rhode Island Historical Society would like to know if the monument has ever been missing or stolen, and could arrange for its return to its rightful place.
Norton resident, historian and member of Aaron’s Guild Chapter of American Revolutionary Daughters Ellen McGrath also provided extensive information and documents confirming Marion’s identity, including Marion’s obituary.
But how the stone came to reside in Gropman’s backyard remains unknown.
What is known, through WikiTree, are the stories of Marion’s ancestors, commemorated on the tablet, including the battle referenced by Day:
Captain Pierce was born in England “around” 1615.
He married Persis (Eames) Pierce around 1644 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They had 12 children. Persis died five days after giving birth to their 12th child in 1661. Michael remarried but had no more children.
Pierce was killed in action during King Philip’s War of 1676, a bloody war between settlers and native inhabitants considered by some to be the deadliest war, given the high percentage of casualties per capita, in colonial history, if not American. Pierce was in command of a company of 63 settlers and 20 native allies when they encountered 500 Narragansetts on March 26, 1676, and he and most of his commands were killed.
From Narratives of the Indian Wars, 1675-1699, edited by Charles H. Lincoln:
“For Captain Pierce threw his 63 Englishmen and 20 Indians into a Ring, and fought back to back, and was double-double Distance, all in a Ring, while the Indians were as thick as they could. bear, thirty deep. Overwhelmed by these figures, the said captain, 55 of his English and ten of their Indian friends were killed on the Square… ”
Captain Thomas Williams was born in Boston, according to WikiTree, although it puts the year at 1664, not 1665. He married Sarah Foster in 1686.
They moved from Stow to Plainfield, Connecticut sometime after 1690. Williams was chosen to survey the land. According to WikiTree,
“Thomas also served on a committee to deal with Rev. Mr. Coit to be their minister. In 1702 he was elected to run a house of public entertainment on the east side of Quinnebaug. In 1703, the settlers living on the western banks of the river parted ways to settle what is today the city of Canterbury. The construction of roads during the 1700s from Providence to Norwich that passed through Plainfield made the town a major surplus crop trading post. In 1704, Thomas Williams was chosen to be the ensign of the Plainfield Train Band, formed in response to the Indian Wars. In 1708 he was promoted to lieutenant and in 1711 he was promoted to captain.
He was 58 when he died in 1723.
WikiTree notes that “there were many John Brown / Brownes around Plymouth and New England soon after the pilgrims arrived in 1620.”
However, Mr. John Brown of Taunton, Gentleman, appears to be John Browne Sr. It’s also a bit complicated. His son, John Browne Jr., died the same year, 1662.
Senior Browne, however, has been called “Gentleman,” and his gravestone in Rhode Island bears that designation as well.
According to WikiTree, “In 1635 he was elected one of the governor’s assistants and remained an active and influential member of that council for many years. He probably could read, for his domain included a bunch of books. He lived in Plymouth, Taunton and Rehoboth, and held numerous offices in the Plymouth Colony. He was also captain of the Swansea militia. During his life he bought and sold many properties.
“Around 1655-56 John went to England at the behest of Sir Henry Vane, who was being persecuted by Oliver Cromwell. Sir Henry had recently inherited from his father, whose estates were deeply in debt. He requested that John take care of the estates. After about two years, John returned to New England and his family, ”according to WikiTree.
Information continues to arrive on the stone, so perhaps the mystery of his trip to Wareham can still be solved.
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