Learning from the past, living in the moment, and leaving footprints for the future. Stories of lov

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rainbows and Flowers, vs. Black Clouds and Weeds

Rainbows and flowers are what we all expect to find in our family trees. What happens when we find black clouds and weeds?  A friend reminded me that they are the ones who lend a bit of color to our trees.

My great grandfather, Carl Zachariah Pierce was born into a family of social and financial status on the 7th of January 1872 in Middleboro, Massachusetts. He worked as a clerk in the Pierce Hardware store owned and operated by his father, Thomas Warren Pierce. Out of six children, Carl was the only son.  I can only surmise that the business would have be left to him one day.  His sisters all became well-known multi-talented musicians, singers and actors.  (See story: A Star Is Born )

Carl is in the top row, 2nd from left
In 1893 Carl played second baseman on the Middleboro baseball town league. You can see the big M on the players shirts. Carl, at least to me, was indeed a handsome, strong, eligible bachelor in his era.  It is the only picture I have of him for all other pictures were lost in the house fire of his daughter.  (See story: Heartbreaking Misfortunes

On December 29, 1897, at the age of 27, he married Mary Catherine Wilber, age 16.   Six weeks later, their first child, a daughter was born.

Carl went out drinking socially with his best friend, his wife's uncle.  But it went terribly wrong. About a year and a half into his marriage he had become a full-fledged alcoholic.  Carl's life spiraled out of control as the disease consumed him.

Twelve years and four children later, his marriage ended in divorce and he was disowned by his parents.  He was in and out of trouble with the law due to assaulting his wife's step-father and uncle.  The legal system forced his hospitilzation numerous times in state institutions without any permanent success. 

Carl Z. Pierce, died on July 29, 1927 at the age of 55 of a root canal pharysurgical abscess, at the Bridgewater State Hospital. Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the heart muscle, (myocardium) caused by an infection, namely his abcessed tooth.

His two daughters gave him a proper burial and laid him to rest at Hillside Cemetery in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  They had no money to give him marker.

I have located the spot where he rests, next to his daughters and beside his twin grandchildren.  Alcoholism is such a tragic disease, not only for the inflicted, but also for the family members who love them.   And even  though I never knew him, I can forgive him.  I hope to give him a gravestone one day to say yes, he did exist, and contributed to life.  After all, I wouldn't be here today if not for him.  So this black cloud and weeds gave me rainbows and flowers.


  1. Very true, he indeed contributed to life and I hope you can give him that gravestone marker one day. Great message with this post.

  2. It's hard to find the bad when we're researching our family. But it does, indeed, make us who we are today. I hope you can give him a grave marker - I'm working on that with my 3rd great grandfather who was a Civil War veteran lying in an unmarked grave :-(


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