Biography - Garner Pearce

GARNER PEARCE, of Johnson County, was born in township 12 March 6, 1829, and is now pleasantly located in Elvira Township, of the same county. His father, Arthur Pearce, was born in North Carolina, and his father, McKinney Pearce, was, from the best information obtainable, born in England. On coming to America he settled in North Carolina, but afterward removed to Maury County, Tenn., and was one of the pioneer settlers in that county, where he followed the vocation of a school teacher, in the meantime engaging some in farm pursuits. He followed both occupations for a livelihood the remainder of his life, working his farm with slave labor, and he spent his last days in Maury County. Arthur Pearce, the father of the subject of this sketch, was reared and married in Tennessee, and resided there until about 1823, when, accompanied by his wife and four children, he came to Illinois, by way of steamer, and located in what is now Union County, on land which his father-in-law had previously bought. He resided there until 1832, and then settled on a tract of Government land near Moscow, where he built a house and improved a portion of the land, upon which he lived for three years. He then sold his interest and removed to another tract of Government land, in Johnson County, upon which he made some improvements, and lived there until about 1842. At this time he located on another tract in the same township, which he improved but did not enter, and soon afterward sold his interest in it and returned to Union County, where he lived one year. At this period he returned to Elvira Township, and settled on another tract of Government land, which he soon disposed of, and, his wife having died in the meantime, he made his home with his children until 1852. He then bought a tract of land on section 16, and resided there a few years, and finally made his home with his children until his death, which occurred in 1872.
The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Elizabeth Bissell, who was born in Tennessee. Her father, Isaac Bissell, was a native of North Carolina, but removed from that State to Tennessee and settled in Williamson County, removing from there to Illinois about the year 1821. He located in Union County, and entered two tracts of Government land near the present site of Anna, and there spent his last days. His wife died in 1846, having reared eight children, viz.: William, Stokely, Isaac N., Rayford, Emily, Garner, Mary and Elizabeth.
Garner Pearce received his education in the pioneer schools of Illinois, each family pacing tuition fees according to the number of children sent. The house was built of logs, and the floors, seats and desks were all constructed of split timber in its rough state. There were no backs to the seats, no desks in front, and a section of the log was cut out to form windows, which were covered with oiled paper instead of the glass of modern times. There were no railroads for years after his father settled in this county, and the towns on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers were the markets for everything the people had to sell, hence were the principal depots for supplies. The people lived principally off the products of the land and wild game, which was then very plentiful. Farm work was done on a different plan from what it is at the present time, for all grain was cut with the reaping hook, there were no threshing-machines, and it was customary for the farmers to clear a place on the ground, spread their grain out, and have it tramped out by their horses. There being no fanning mills, the farmers built platforms and turned the wheat from a measure, while two men standing below fanned the grain with a sheet as it fell. Gristmills in those days were not very numerous, and the few that did exist were usually run by horse power, making it very inconvenient for those living six or seven miles away, who had to wait two days for their grist to be ground.
Garner Pearce resided with his parents until he reached manhood, and then started for himself "even with the world." He received $8 per month and his board during the summer season, and in the winter worked for his board and attended school. He continued working out until 1852, when he made his first purchase of land, comprising forty acres on section 16, Elvira Township. About two years later he entered a tract of Government land adjoining his first purchase, and soon after bought another forty of his father, to which he added another adjoining tract of forty acres, making one hundred and sixty acres in one body. In 1872, he increased his landed possessions by adding a tract of ninety acres, and about twelve years later an improved farm of two hundred acres. While Mr. Pearce has been for the most part a farmer, he has not confined himself exclusively to that pursuit, for in 1853 he rented his farm and engaged in the mercantile business in Cache Precinct. This, however, continued only a short time, when he sold out and clerked a few months, after which he resumed his former occupation of farming, and continued to follow it until 1877, when he again engaged in mercantile business in Bloomfield. Mr. Pearce continued in this line for a few months, when he erected a store building on the corner of his farm, which he devoted to the carrying on of the mercantile business until 1890.
In 1855, our subject was married to Eliza J. Canady, who was born in Hickman County, Ky., and was the daughter of Jefferson and Mary Canady. By this marriage Mr. Pearce became the father of three children: Bundy, Mary and Eliza. Bundy married Amanda Ragsdale, and has two children, Blaine and Albert. Eliza married Frank Noble, and has three children: Bessie, Harry and May. Mr. Pearce is a Republican in politics, and with his wife works energetically in the Baptist Church. He and his son are members of the Odd Fellows' lodge at Moscow. Our subject is now residing on his first purchase of Government land, which he has excellently improved with all the modern conveniences and appliances essential to a successful farm pursuit.

Extracted 21 Sep 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 286-287

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