Otsego Town, Otsego, NY
Thayer & Pierce Biographies
By Holice and Debbie

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Caleb Thayer, father of the doctor, was born in the town of Hardwick, Worcester Co., Mass., Jan. 28, 1799. Moved to the State of New York with his family in 1829, and settled in the town of Otsego, in the same neighborhood in which he continued to reside until his death. In his early residence in Otsego he was engaged in the manufacture of lead pipe for conveying water, and for quite a number of years he traveled in Otsego and adjoining counties in the business; but after cheaper processes of manufacture had been invented, he discontinued the business and confined himself exclusively to farming. In the obituary notice in the Cooperstown Journal, the following is said of him:

He was descended from a long-lived ancestry, and inheriting a vigorous constitution, which his temperate and industrious habits tended well to preserve, he was enabled with very little physical suffering and mind impairment to reach a ripe old age, to which very few now attain. His was truly a busy life. Time to him was too precious too be squandered in idleness and ? . Ever ready to extend a helping hand to those who were ? , he had no charity for the idle and dissipated. He was very ? in his disposition, and enjoyed with much zest the society of his friends and neighbors, many of whom often came to him for advise and counsel. In his intercourse with his fellow-man, and in all his business relations, he was ever guided by the principal of right and justice.

Mr. Thayer was twice married. By his first wife, whose maiden name was Hannah Stevens, she had two children, viz., the subject of this sketch, and Henry Clinton. The latter was born in Otsego, March 1, 183?, and was drowned May 25, 1838. His wife died March 21, 1864, and he was again married Oct. 14, 1866, to H. Aurelia Pierce, daughter of John and Sally Pierce, a further notice of whom will be found in another column of this work.

After his second marriage, Mr. Thayer purchased the old homestead of the Pierce family, upon which he made most of the improvements, and where he died. His death occurred Dec. 4, 1877.

Dr. W. A. Thayer was descended from an old family, several members of which served during the War of the Revolution with distinction. A near relative, Hiram Thayer, was imprisoned on board a British man-of-war in 1803, and was detained until discharged at the close of the war. An aged uncle, William Thayer, still survives at the green old age of eighty-five, who served his country in the War of 1812, and was wounded at the battle of Lundy's Lane.

He was born in Hardwick, Worcester Co., Mass., March 6, 1824. His primary education was received in the district school of his neighborhood. When seventeen years of age he entered a preparatory course for college in the Cooperstown academy, where he remained three years. In 1842 he entered the sophomore class of Union college, and graduated from that institution in 18??. For one year thereafter he was principal of the Sunbury academy, Sunbury, Pa. At odd times during his college coarse, and while teaching, he prosecuted the study of medicine with Dr. King, of Cooperstown. In the fall of 1846, he attended the first course of lectures at the Berkshire medial college, Pittsfield, his second course at Woodstock, VA., from which he tool his medical diploma in 1847. In the fall of the same year he commenced the practice of medicine in Clayville, Oneida Co., N. Y. , where he remained two years. From thence he went to Cortland, ? Co., N. Y., where for seven years he carried on the drug trade in connection with the practice of his profession. In 1856 he moved to Monmouth, Warren Co., Ill., continuing his drug trade and practice of medicine. In 1861 he returned to Otsego, where he remained on the homestead farm till 1867, relieving his father from the burden of its management. Having purchased a farm in Oakland, Franklin Co., Iowa, he moved on to it, and remained until 1873. When his father moved onto the Pierce farm, he returned to the homestead, which he has since occupied.

The doctor married, Sept. 10, 1849, Nancy A. Crittenden, daughter of Ichabod and Lydia Crittenden, who were natives of Cincinnatus, Cortland Co., N. Y. She was born July 3, 1826, in Willet, Cortland Co. They have children as follows: Alfred Clinton, born May 19, 1851; died Dec. 22, 1852. Franklin A., born Dec. 20, 1853; married April 10, 1877, to Fanny Popejoy; living on the farm in Iowa. Henry Caleb, born Dec.17, 1856. George Crittenden, born June 21, 1865. Charles Ichabod, born Aug. 1, 1868, the latter three living at home.

In politics the doctor has been a life-long Democrat. He has retired from the practice of medicine, finding ample employment of his time in the management of his farm. A representative of his home, with portraits of his father and mother, self and wife, appear on other pages of this work.


was born March 15, 1791, in Alfred Rensselaer Co., N. Y. In 1797 his father, Levi Pierce, purchased of William Cooper, at $5 per acre, the farm now owned by Mrs. H. A. Thayer, of 150 acres, in town of Otsego, Otsego County. In 1799 he moved with his family, consisting of his wife, two sons, and two daughters, and settled upon it. His sons were Joseph, born May 22, 1789, who died (Nov. 1, 1861) in Tompkins county; John, subject of this sketch; Sybil, born June 27, 1792, wife of William Lawrence, of Genessee county; Watestill, born Sept. 29, 1789, widow of Gideon H. Russell, still living near her son, Gideon H. Russell, in Otsego. The four were born in Alfred, Rensselaer county. After the family moved to Otsego the following children were born: Rebecca, April 27, 1801, wife of Wilbur Turner, died Nov. 23, 1829; Thomas, born June 12, 1802, living in Pennsylvania; Lois, Sept. 29, 1804, wife of James Rankin, settled in Iowa; Sophia, Jan. 29, 1809, wife of John Austin, died June 5, 1836; Levi, born march 1, 1812, a soldier in the Mexican was, also a private in company H, 121st. Regiment New York Volunteers, in the war of the Rebellion, from both of which he received an honorable discharge.

The father, Levi Pierce, died at the age of eighty-eight, Sept. 2, 1852. His wife, Aug. 3, 1855. John was the "home boy" and to him was deeded the old homestead farm. He was married, March 20, 1816, to Sally Kinney, daughter of Jesse and Roxy Kinney, residents of Brookfield, N. Y. She was born Jan. 30, 1795. They had children as follows: Loroxsy, born July 17, 1819, unmarried, living with he sister, Mrs. Thayer; Hiram K., born March 15, 1820, married to Emaline Woodard, and a farmer, living in town of Otsego; Sally Betsey, born Dec. 25, 1821, unmarried, also living with her sister, Mrs. Thayer, Phoebe, born Jan. 17, 1824, died April 10, 1824;; Sophia, born Jan. 30, 1826, died April 10, 1829; Nancy C., born April 10, 1828, married Orville Beadle, Feb. 7, 1847, living in Otsego; Harriet Aurelia, born Aug. 22, 1830, married Oct. 14, 1866, to Caleb Thayer, a further notice of whom will be found below; Rebecca M., born July 8, 1834, married to Henry Caseby, march 20, 1862; after his death she married Daniel Roberts, of North Adams, Mass., where she resides; Elvira Sophronia, born Oct. 2, 1836, married to Menzo Bowen, Feb. 7, 1856, farmer, living in Otsego; Alfred K., born Sept 8, 1840, married, and since the recent death of Caleb Thayer, living upon and working Mrs. Thayer's farm.

Mr. Pierce was a good citizen, an accommodating neighbor, and a kind and affectionate father. In politics a Democrat. At the time o his death he was a member of the Baptist church. He died Aug. 24, 1862. His wife survived him nearly fifteen years. He death occurred June 6, 1877, at the advanced age of eighty-two years. Among the published notices of her death, we quote the following: "Her excellent qualities as a true neighbor and friend to all, won for her the highest estimation of the vicinity in which she has so long resided. A characteristic feature of her life, her patience, and fidelity to the right, will make her memory redolent for many years to come. As a faithful wife, and devoted mother, she served the highest interests of society, and now, with many others of the fathers and mothers of the past sleeping in the silent house of rest, she is held in sacred remembrance, and society rises up with her sons and daughters to call her blessed."

Their daughter, Harriet Aurelia, now the widow of the late Caleb Thayer, deserves further notice then the mere mention of her birth and marriage. From a child she was possessed of a strong desire for an education, but the limited means of her parents, with the necessity of providing for a large family, together with a personal affliction of stuttering, which almost prevented utterance, seemed to present insurmountable obstacles in the way of attaining her cherished purpose. By long-continued and persistent efforts, which rival Demosthenes in the accomplishment of the same object, she succeeded in almost entirely overcoming her difficulty of speech. At the age of twenty-one she had learned the milliner's trade, and at odd times had learned to read and write, but knew nothing of grammar, arithmetic, and geography, but had accumulated $150 at her trade, the whole of which she expended in a term at the Normal School at Albany; at the expiration of which she passed a successful examination for a teacher, and by that means, at the age of twenty-five, had earned $200, with $50 sufficient for another course at Albany. Upon the recommendation of a friend in Cooperstown, she applied to the late William H. Averill for a loan of the $50. "What security can you give?" he asked. "I will get my life insured and assign you the policy." She obtained the #50 and returned it in due time with interest. She followed teaching for the love of it, having taught in the different districts of her native town, Otsego, nineteen terms. Her example of perseverance under difficulties is one well worth recording. A representation of her home, the old home of her parents, which upon her marriage had been purchased and improved by her husband, together with the portraits of her father and mother, appear at her instance, on another page of this work as a grateful tribute to their memory. Her portrait appropriately appears on the same page with her husband and his former wife. (The History of Otsego, NY, Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)

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Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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December 23, 1999

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