Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of papers of the interrelated Pierce and Thayer families of Weymouth, Mass.

Biographical Sketches

The Pierce family descended from Lancelot Pierce (1724-1792) of Milton, Mass. His son was Charles Pierce (1748-1824). Charles's son was Elijah Pierce (1795-1870) of Weymouth, Mass., a harness maker who married Hannah Reed. Their children included Jazaniah, Hannah Frances (d. 1862), and Elliot Clark Pierce (1831-1915) of Weymouth. Elliot Clark Pierce served in the Civil War as sergeant, captain, and major of the 13th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1861-1864. He married in 1862 Mary Ellen Baker (1843-1917), the daughter of Ashford Baker.

Their daughter Kate Pierce (b. 1870) married William Eldredge Thayer, the son of William Wilde Thayer (1829-1896), a Boston abolitionist, publisher, and news reporter at St. Louis and Indianapolis. He married (1st) Harriet Sanderson and (2nd) Maria Conwell. His children included William Eldredge, Wendell (d. 1893), and Laurel Conwell Thayer.

Collection Description

This collection contains papers of the interrelated Pierce and Thayer families of Weymouth, Mass. The earliest Pierce family papers include receipts and deeds of Charles Pierce for property at Milton, Mass., 1783-1822, as well as deeds, receipts, and accounts of Elijah Pierce pertaining to his work as a harness maker at Weymouth, 1818-1836.

The collection consists mainly of papers of Elliot Clark Pierce, 1857-1915, including correspondence, commissions, journals, and military papers related to his service with the 13th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1861-1864. Journals and letters to his family and fiancée detail military activities, including the battles of the Rappahannock, Thoroughfare Gap, Second Bull Run, both battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, White Oak Swamp, Cold Harbor, Chickahominy, and Petersburg. Included are vivid descriptions of Ambrose Burnside's famous Mud March reaching Falmouth, Virginia, 22 Jan. 1863, and the retreats from Fredericksburg, Dec. 1862, and at Mine Run, 26 Nov. 1863. Of particular interest are Pierce's accounts of the occupation of Winchester, Va. by Union troops, 13-20 Mar. 1862. Pierce also describes a review of his regiment by Lincoln and Secretary Stanton on 23 May 1862 and troop movements by barge past Alexandria and Washington in May 1862.

A journal of Pierce's wife Mary Baker Pierce, Feb.-Apr. 1864, and letters to her parents contain a full account of her lengthy visit to the headquarters of the 1st Army Ambulance Corps at Culpepper, Va. Included are descriptions of army personalities, social events, and her surroundings in the midst of the troops. Papers for this time period also include reports, orders, and accounts of the work Pierce managed, as well as official papers pertaining to the 13th Regiment, such as muster rolls, special orders, ordinance and equipment returns, officers' reports, vouchers, passes, and disability and discharge papers.

Subsequent Pierce correspondence relates to his membership in the G.A.R., 1870-1914, and includes accounts and reminiscences of the war, maps, photographs of battle sites, and memorabilia from celebrations of important Civil War anniversaries and encampments. Among the correspondents are Charles E. Davis, Jr., Charles H. Hovey, and John Davis Long.

Papers of Baker family members include correspondence, deeds, receipts, and accounts of Ashford Baker, 1841-1873. The collection also contains a journal and papers of his son William Henry Baker related to his education at Weymouth and at Harvard College, his early enlistment in the army, and his death at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Thayer family papers include an account book of J. Thayer of carriage and harness work at Weymouth, 1804-1823, and correspondence of William Wilde Thayer, mainly with family members on personal matters, 1871-1893. Among the correspondents are Charles Sumner and General Francis Asbury Shoup. Also included is his autobiography and certificate of membership in the Masonic order, 1869, as well as later tributes to him and reminiscences written by his daughter Laurel Conwell Thayer.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Elliot Pierce Thayer, Weymouth, Mass., December 1974.

Box List to the Collection

Box 1
Papers, 1783-June 1863
Box 2
Papers, July 1863-1937
Box 3
Printed miscellaneous material and genealogy, 1938-1953, undated
Box 3Vol. 1
Eliza Pierce memoranda, 1815
Box 3Vol. 2
Mary E. Baker diary, 1861
Box 3Vol. 3
William H. Baker diary, 1861
Box 3Vol. 4
Hannah F. Pierce diary, 1861
Box 3Vol. 5
Mary E. B. Pierce diary, 1862
Box 3Vol. 6
Mary E. B. Pierce diary, 1863
Box 3Vol. 7
Elliot C. Pierce diary, 1863
Box 4Vol. 8
Elliot C. Pierce diary, 1864
Box 4Vol. 9
Mary E. B. Pierce diary, 1864
Box 4Vol. 10
Mary E. B. Pierce diary, Culpepper, Va., 1864
Box 4Vol. 11
Mary E. B. Pierce diary, 1865
Box 4Vol. 12
William W. Thayer masonic certification, 1867
Box 4Vol. 13
Account book/scrapbook, 1880-1907
Box 4Vol. 14
Scrapbook of portraits, etc., undated
Vol. 15
Scrapbook in old account book, 1861-1865

Old accounts date [1804-1805].

Vol. 16
Scrapbook in old account book, 1861-1865

Old accounts date 1818-1823.

Box OS
Oversize material

Preferred Citation

Thayer family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Baker, Ashford.
Baker, William Henry, 1842-1862.
Pierce, Charles, 1748-1824.
Pierce, Elijah, 1795-1870.
Pierce, Eliza.
Pierce, Elliot Clark, 1831-1915.
Pierce family.
Pierce, Hannah Frances, 1827-
Pierce, Mary Ellen Baker, 1843-1917.
Thayer family--Genealogy.
Thayer, Maria Conwell.
Thayer, William Wilde, 1829-1896.


Harvard University--Students.
United States. Army. Ambulance Corps, 1st (1861-1865).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 13th (1861-1865).


Account books--1821-1823.
Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862.
Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
Harness making and trade.
House construction--Massachusetts--Weymouth.
Real property--Massachusetts--Milton.
Real property--Massachusetts--Quincy.
Real property--Massachusetts--Weymouth.
Spotsylvania Court House, Battle of, Va., 1864.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Muster rolls.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Ambulance Corps, 1st.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 13th Volunteers.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Thayer family photographs (Photo. Coll. 352). An ambrotype of an unidentified soldier from the 10th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment has been removed to the MHS Ambrotype Collection (Photo. 2.110). A ribbon of Banks' Division, Army of the Potomac, Mass. Vols. 13th Regt., has been removed to the MHS Artifacts Collection (Textiles 01.093 East Stacks, row 6).