Kim Van Vorst
Campbell County, Virginia, 1801, was the birthplace of Ezekiel Pierce. His parentage is not yet known. The next place I find him is in Hamilton County, Illinois, in the 1830 marriage records. Hamilton County was very young, having been formed in 1821. Ezekiel married Margaret Denny on February 5, 1830. Margaret Denny was born on August 13, 1812 in Indiana, the daughter of William Denny and Elizabeth Bates. By 1841 Ezekiel and Margaret had 6 children, Sarah, Ezekiel Jr, Elizabeth, William James, Katherine, and Joseph Henderson Pierce. Ezekiel and Margaret are found in the 1830 and 1840 census in Hamilton County. The surprise is that in the 1850 census, Ezekiel Pierce is listed in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky with a different wife and four different children, the oldest being born about 1838. Going back to look in Hamilton County, we found a divorce between Ezekiel and Margaret in 1857. Apparently, Margaret was tired of waiting on her husband, and in 1849 married Jeremiah Smallwood. She is found in the 1850 census of Hamilton County with her second husband, Jeremiah Smallwood.
By 1860, Ezekiel had moved his second family to McLeansboro, the county seat of Hamilton County, Illinois. He was 60 years old and worked as a house carpenter. His wife Sarah was 40 years old, and they now had six children, namely, Jackson, Mary R., James K., Elias Franklin, George Washington, and Martha Ann Pierce. Margaret Denny Pierce Smallwood also is in Hamilton County, in the community of Logansport. Her second husband, Jeremiah Smallwood, had passed away, and she was living with two of her sons, who were farming.
On February 27, 1862, with the Civil War raging, Ezekiel Pierce enlisted in the military, in Shawneetown, Illinois. He was 61 years old, and served in Company I, 46th Illinois Infantry. His physical description was recorded as: gray hair, dark eyes, dark complexion, and height of 5 feet and 7 inches.
Ezekiel’s time in the military was cut short when he died on April 25, 1862 in Paducah, Kentucky at the age of 61.
It is said that after Ezekiel, Margaret and Sarah passed away, the children from both of his families got along well and all behaved as siblings.
There is a question as to where Ezekiel Pierce was buried. Some think he was buried in Paducah, Kentucky, since he died there during the Civil War. Others believe he is buried in Hamilton County, Illinois, in the community of Thurber in Old Brush Harbor Cemetery. This cemetery was shown to me by my first cousin twice removed, Homer Pierce. It’s kind of like a secret garden. To reach it, you go down a gravel road, over a little bridge and into a clearing. Many of the Pierce family members are buried there.
Ezekiel Pierce is my third great grandfather.