Peter R. L. Peirce

Peter R. L. Peirce, a brother of John W. Peirce, also ranks among the prominent citizens of Grand Rapids’ history. He was distinctly a man of broad affairs, and his life was one of influence and usefulness. He was not only a prominent business man of the city, but he was also politically active and a leading layman in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was born May 29, 1821, in Geneseo, New York, and came to Grand Rapids when it was but a frontier hamlet. In 1842 he was appointed deputy clerk of Kent county and ex-officio deputy clerk of the circuit court, under and by Hon. Charles H. Taylor. He held this position until he moved to Cincinnati sometime in 1843, an interval of seven years elapsing before he returned to Grand Rapids to establish his permanent residence. In 1850 he again made his influence felt in this city, interested himself in politics, and in 1854 was elected city clerk. Subsequently he was elected clerk of Kent county and ex-officio clerk of the circuit court, offices which he held for six or seven consecutive terms, and during this time he endeared himself to the court and to the members of the legal profession as few could have done. The circuit judges at that time acknowledged Mr. Peirce to be the best clerk in the state. He was then elected mayor of Grand Rapids three consecutive terms, and in 1868 was elected state senator, and in this office his preceding experience was of great value in the revision of the school and poor house laws of the state. At the time of his death, November 12, 1878, he was postmaster of Grand Rapids. The following quotation is taken from a newspaper at the time of Mr. Peirce’s death: "His gentlemanly bearing, integrity of purpose, cheerful words and ever liberal hands through many years of private and public live in the Valley City have made him widely known and universally esteemed; hence the pulse of the people beat quick on the announcement of his dissolution and the masses responded with throbbing hearts to his death knell. His funeral was more imposing and attended by a larger number of people, probably, that that of any other person ever buried in this city. A band of thirty-four instruments, two civic societies, two military companies, the fire department, the mail agents, city carriers and post office attaches, all in uniform, and sixty-three carriages were in the street procession and the walks on either side for many blocks were lined with people, men and women, as thickly as they could crowdedly walk."

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 14 March 2005