John T Pierce (1860/61-Oct. 1929), Concord, Randolph County, North Carolina

Long story short, John T Pierce’s father was Simeon Pierce, not John H. “Tinsley” Pierce, as some family trees and Find a Grave shows.

I recently decided to more thoroughly research the family of two Parrish sisters who married into the Gray/Holmes family. I’m still hoping to break through the Gray family brick wall of Catherine Gatsy Wadsworth.

Ansel Parrish (1780-1860) and Winifred Cashett (1785-1870) lived in Davidson County, North Carolina. They were the parents of at least 10 children. Their daughter, Sarah Ann (1821-1900) married Robert Wadsworth Holmes, youngest son of Catherine Gatsy Wadsworth. Their daughter Judah Arena (1823-1864) married William Franklin Gray, middle son of Catherine Gatsy Wadsworth.

I started with Ansel and Winifred’s oldest child, Lucy. We know Lucy Parrish was born in about 1806, and lived her life in North Carolina. She married Redmon Pierce in 1822, and they had at least 7 children. She died sometime after 1870. I was researching her oldest son Simeon Pierce, specifically the children of Simeon and his wife Mary “Polly” Loflin/Laughlin, when I noticed a big problem. His Find A Grave memorial has his father incorrectly as John H. “Tinsley” Pierce.

I had an email conversation with John H. Pierce’s 2x great grandson, who manages his Find A Grave memorial, and found that he is satisfied that his information is correct. He has seen the death certificate for John T. Pierce, which lists his father incorrectly as J. Tinsely Pierce and his mother correctly as Polly Loflin. With that document, he decided that his 2x great grandfather’s middle name was Tinsley and that he was the father of John. He also decided that his 2x great grandmother Sally Loflin also went by Polly. (I suspect Mary “Polly” and Sally are sisters who both married Pierces but I haven’t researched in that direction.) There is nothing to connect a son named John to the family of John H. & Sally Loflin Pierce. No child named John appears on a census with them. Sally’s estate files listing heirs does not name John, though he was alive at the time. There’s also nothing indicating that John H. Pierce’s middle name was Tinsley, though the middle initial H is listed on his tombstone and on assorted documents through his life.

I don’t know why J. Tinsley Pierce is listed as father on John T. Pierce’s death certificate. The informant, Samuel Delk (husband of his daughter Mary), wouldn’t have known John’s father. I have a theory, and I’ll share it at the end.

So while there is nothing to tie John T. Pierce to John H. Pierce and his wife Sally Loflin, there’s plenty to connect him to Simeon Pierce and his wife Mary “Polly” Loflin.

Simeon Parrish and Mary “Polly” Loflin appeared together on the 1860 census in Caldwell County, North Carolina with children James, who died shortly after, and Mary, who was actually Clarissa Miranda. I don’t know why their oldest daughter Rebecca Jane was left off the census. Simeon died sometime between the 1860 census and 1867.

John’s grandfather Redmon Pierce’s 1867 estate records indicate that Redmon was guardian of John and his sister Clarissa Miranda. Again Rebecca Jane isn’t listed, and I don’t know why. She would have been about 12. Redmon’s estate records list the living heirs, and his son Simeon isn’t listed but John and Clarissa Miranda are.

On the 1870 & 1880 census the family was in Concord, Randolph County, North Carolina, where they remain until their deaths. Mary was listed with her three living children, Rebecca Jane, Clarissa Miranda, and John, on both.

We have that big gap in census records due to a fire destroying most of the 1890 census. When the family appears again in 1900, Mary “Polly” Loflin Pierce isn’t found. She likely died but could have remarried. The two sisters, neither of which ever married, lived together in Concord. The next listing on the census form was brother John, with his wife Elizabeth (Skeen) and their children. Also living with John was widowed and childless great aunt Polly Cashett.

In 1910, the sisters were still living in Concord, and two households later was brother John, wife Elizabeth, and their children.

In 1920, the sisters were still living in Concord, and three households later was brother John, wife Elizabeth, and their children.

John died in 1929, which resulted in the confusing death certificate. His Find A Grave memorial is here. While the memorial lists his middle name as Thomas, I can’t find any records to back that up. I only find the letter T. His tombstone reads John T. Pierce, and he’s buried in the Walter’s Grove Baptist Church cemetery.

In 1930, the sisters were still living in Concord, and listed on the next page was John’s widow Elizabeth and a son.

In December of 1932, John’s sister Clarissa Miranda died. Her death certificate, with informant R.H. Small (husband to John’s daughter Eunice), listed her parents as Simeon Pierce and Mary Loflin. Her Find a Grave memorial is here. She too was buried in the Walter’s Grove Baptist Church cemetery.

In October of 1933, John’s sister Rebecca Jane died. Her death certificate, with same informant as her sister. lists her parents as Simeon Pierce and Mary Laughlin. Her Find a Grave memorial is here. She too is buried in the Walter’s Grove Baptist Church cemetery. That wraps up story of John T. Pierce and his family.

Back to Ansel & Winifred Cashett Parrish, their next child, daughter Winifred Parrish, married James Pierce. I’m ready to put the Pierce family tree behind me but I can’t just yet.

I’ve searched for people named Tinsley in North Carolina. There’s not much to be found. But John’s uncle, his father Simeon’s next oldest sibling, was named Redmon Tinsley Pierce. His name appears as Tinsley in his marriage record, and also in his father’s estate files. Since I can’t find record of John with a middle name, just the middle initial T, I suspect his middle name is Tinsley after his uncle. I suspect that the informant put J. Tinsley Pierce as his father thinking that John was a Jr. But it’s just a theory.

Moral of the story … you can’t trust a death certificate to correctly list the parents. And you can’t trust Find a Grave memorials to be accurate.

Hopefully I come across some tidbit of info giving me a clue to the Catherine Gatsy Wadsworth mystery while I’m researching the intermarried Parrish family.