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Moy on Joseph Pierce 5

Written by Irving Moy

Joseph Pierce Dedication Ceremony and Related News

On August 5, 2006 ninety years after his death, a re-dedication ceremony was held at Joseph Pierce's gravesite at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Meriden, Connecticut with the placement of a G.A.R. bronze flag holder and flag. In a July 30, 2006 Record-Journal newspaper article, Michael Kroll, superintendent of the cemetery, said there was unanimous agreement when the idea was brought to the Walnut Grove board of directors. "He's a big part of the history of Meriden and should be recognized," Kroll said. "There aren't many other dedications......  Pierce is singled out for the uniqueness of his whole story."
Remarks were made by Irving Moy, who portrays Pierce with the 14th, the singing of the "Battle Cry of Freedom," a closing prayer by President Paul Martinello and concluded with a three volley salute by an honor guard consisting of Paul Martinello, Mike Kalweit, Kevin Doyle, Gary Horton and Irving Moy. Regimental Colors and national colors were carried by Peter Hershonik and Tad Sattler. Susan Kirsch, Lauren Martinello and David Sattler attended in period dress. Besides the general public, attendees included Gordon and Julie Kwok, from Massachusetts. Gordon is the webmaster for the much honored site, "Association to Commemorate the Chinese Serving in the American Civil War."
Prior to the ceremony Mr. Kroll mentioned to the group that Pierce's wife, Martha Morgan Pierce was buried next to him in an unmarked grave. Peter and Susan then took it upon themselves as a project to raise funds for a marker. Through donations totaling $300.00 from family and members a marker is being made and will be dedicated in a ceremony in the Spring of 2007 according to Susan.
Related to the recognition of Pierce, Irving was invited by the Friends of the Meriden Library to speak on his "Reflections of Joseph Pierce and the Civil War" on November 8, 2006 as part of the library's programs to celebrate the bicentennial celebration of the City of Meriden. A $100.00 honorarium was given to the 14th Connecticut for preservation work in Pierce's honor by the library.


Corporal Joseph Pierce

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Marker

Dedication Ceremony

Walnut Grove Cemetery

Meriden, Connecticut

August 5, 2006


Remarks by

Irving D. Moy


The War of the Rebellion or the Civil War was the most defining event in this Nation’s history. Over 620,000 casualties resulted more than all the wars combined this Nation has fought in. There was not a person who did not know of a family member or friend who did not suffer a lost during this conflict. Even before the end of the war families decorated the gravesites of their loved ones with flowers in memory of the ultimate sacrifice they made to preserve the Union.

On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order No. 11 that a day would be officially set aside to honor the memories of those who died during the war and the passing of each veteran. The first official celebration of Decoration Day took place on May 30, 1868. This day has since come to be known as Memorial Day. With the passing of each Civil War veteran a marker was placed on his gravesite. 

Today we are here to dedicate this GAR marker at the gravesite of Corporal Joseph Pierce, a member of the original 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.

When he died on January 3, 1916 at the age of 73, his obituary in the Meriden Daily Journal did not mention his service during the Civil War but only said that he “was well known and liked.” If our government had not provided a grave stone, his gravesite would have been unmarked as the gravesite of Martha Morgan Pierce, his wife who lies next to him. (For more information pertaining to Martha Morgan Pierce visit our Civilian Guidelines page.)

But his military records indicate that Joseph Pierce enlisted in New Britain on July 26, 1862 as a member of the 14th Connecticut. Less than a month later on August 23, 1862, this regiment was mustered into the Second Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, first under the command of General McClellan and then under Generals Meade and Grant.

Its first battle on September 17, 1862 was the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day battle with 26,134 casualties. At the time there were only 35 cities with this number of people. Then it was onward to Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863 and then on July 1-3, 1863, the three day battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle on American soil with over 53,000 casualties. Pierce and the 14th Connecticut fought through other major engagements of the eastern theater until General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

On May 23, 1865, he and the regiment marched in the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, D.C. The regiment was mustered out of the United States Army on May 31, and then upon arriving back to the state capital of Hartford, the 14th Connecticut was mustered out of state service on June 10, 1865.

Of the 1,040 members who left the state in August 1862 only 215 or 21% of the regiment returned. Joseph Pierce was one of these veterans returning as the most famous and highest ranking Chinese soldier to have fought in the Civil War. It is therefore fitting that this marker be dedicated in his honor and memory.

But in doing so, we, in a larger sense are honoring the memory of all the Union soldiers who died on the battlefields and the veterans, who contributed to the Northern victory that set this Nation on its course of a “new birth of freedom” to what it has come to symbolize today to the rest of the world as being, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “the last best hope of man.”

In the Year 2009 this Nation will be celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The eloquence of his words still inspires us to this day. In another cemetery, 143 years ago, he spoke these words and with these words, we dedicate this marker to Joseph Pierce.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate- we can not consecrate- we cannot hallow- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus so far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion- to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”



Martha Morgan Pierce

Gravesite Marker Dedication Ceremony

Walnut Grove Cemetery

Meriden, Connecticut

June 10, 2007

Closing Prayer

Lauren Martinello



Lord God, Loving Father, holy is Thy name, and renowned Thy compassion, cherished by every generation. May everything we do begin with Thine inspiration and continue with Thy saving help. Let our work always find its origin in Thee and through Thee reach completion. We praise ye with our lips, and with our lives and hearts. Our very existence is a gift from Thee. To Thee we offer all that we have and are. Thine is the beauty of creation and the good things Thou hast given us. Help us to live each day joyfully in Thy name and to spend it in loving service, that as Joseph and Martha Pierce, we may sing Thy praises forever in Heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God for ever and ever. Amen.



Martha Morgan Pierce

Gravesite Marker Dedication Ceremony

Walnut Grove Cemetery

Meriden, Connecticut

June 10, 2007

Dedicatory Prayer

Paul Martinello


As we gather here today, to dedicate this headstone for Martha Morgan Pierce, beloved wife of our very own Joseph Pierce of the 14th CVI, I remember the day we dedicated his stone, just about one ago, and how I felt privileged to participate in the first dedication of that memorial to his life and service during the Civil War. Now we have the honor of recognizing Martha’s place, beside her husband. Together in life, and together forever in heaven, their faith in God and in His prophet, saw them through difficult times, brought Martha to Joseph and created for them, a happy life together.

Let us pray now…

Heavenly Father, thou Great spirit who rules in glory and majesty over worlds without number, beloved Father to us all, Thou to whom all Thy children are alike, we approach Thee in prayer, in humble gratitude for the privilege of honoring a beloved wife and mother to her family. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we dedicate this completed monument, which stands over the final resting place of a strong and loving woman, Martha Morgan Pierce. We memorialize also the children grandchildren and great grandchildren of Martha and Joseph, some whom are buried near this monument.

May this be a sacred place—a place of peace and contentment, a place where generations of not only family members, and lovers of history, but of Chinese descendants can come and see where love and history over came

prejudice and opened eyes, to see two people accomplishing great things in their life time together. We here can only contemplate the goodness of a

humble, faithful, compassionate soul, as Martha’s I’m sure was. May this resting place and monument continue to be protected against the ravages of time and of the elements. May we here contemplate the eternal nature of the family, and of sacred bonds, which bind parents and children together through all generations of time. All this we do, in abiding gratitude for Thy goodness and mercy, in fond remembrance of Martha Morgan Pierce, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen


Martha Morgan Pierce

Gravesite Marker Dedication Ceremony


Walnut Grove Cemetery

Meriden, Connecticut

June 10, 2007


Dedication Remarks

Susan E. Kirsch

There is so much we would like to know about Martha Morgan Pierce—at least I, for one, would have liked to meet her. To our knowledge no pictures of her have been identified, so we cannot see whether or not she was a great beauty. But what she looked like is a mere fraction of my interest. Students of history are well known for drawing parallels between past and present, and so

please indulge me in some of those comparisons now.

In starting to learn something about Martha, the first thing that came to mind was the strength of character that she must have had to live her life the way she did. And in this regard, Martha’s courage can be seen in her marriage to a man originally from half the world away. We can only speculate whether this generated gossip, jealousy, or admiration

. These people lived in a time when non-conformity could provoke scandal, and then, as well as now, the world loves scandal! Do we have the strength to follow our hearts, informed by our intelligence and our values, even when others disapprove?

Martha was not Clara Barton or Mary Chestnut; she was only a child during the War of the Rebellion. She married Joseph Pierce when she was 18 and he was 34. Although Martha did not face the heavy responsibilities of maintaining a family and a household during the war, doing double duty, she probably had a different task in being the wife of a veteran, in binding up whatever wounds of spirit, mind and heart that may have remained for Joseph.

Since Joseph was in some way formed and changed by The Civil War, not to mention the other events of his remarkable life, I believe it is safe to say that the marriage of Martha and Joseph took some shape from his war experience as well. Martha was probably like many women, then and now, in her domestic life with a man who had survived and returned home from a war. Many of us are wives, sweethearts, daughters, mothers, and otherwise connected; and now, husbands, lovers, sons, fathers, and more, of those who have gone to war. I hope we are more conscious of how to help those who have returned, how to love them just that extra yard, to ease them, and to help them return to a life at home with different duties and demands.

Irving Moy’s words follow:

"This country is now engaged in a battle on several levels comparable

still to those of Union and slavery that were fought over doing the

War Between the States in the 1860’s. The relationship between

National and state governments, how powerful the National government

ought to be and its role in our lives and race relations are continuing

Relevant issues to this day.

Part of the fascination the Civil War holds for many is the promise of

What this country would be. These issues must not be allowed to tear

The "mystic chords of memory" and the bonds we have amongst us.

We must not allow them to shake our faith in this promise, no matter

our ethnic background, respective politics and religious faiths."

It must have been Martha’s strength, and her faith, that helped her to survive perhaps the greatest loss that parents can know; the passing of children before her; and we too can draw on that source during the trials of our lives.

And so rather than focus on the times, circumstances, and details that may separate us from Martha, for at least these few moments let us gaze steadily at how we may be similar. It is one of my fondest hopes that human beings have much more in common, and far fewer gulfs of separation. I think that Martha did not see a stranger or an alien in Joseph; I think she saw what they had in common: love, faith, humanity, and persistence.


Martha Morgan Pierce

Gravesite Marker Dedication Ceremony

Walnut Grove Cemetery

Meriden, Connecticut

June 10, 2007

Introductory Remarks

Irving D. Moy


Martha A. Morgan was born on August 12, 1858 to Charles and Phebie Goff Morgan in Portland, Connecticut. At the age of 18 she married Joseph A. Pierce, age 34, during a ceremony on November 12, 1876 officiated by the Reverend R. J. Elderidge of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Branford, Connecticut.

The earliest picture of Joseph Pierce was the one in the Regimental History of the Fourteenth Connecticut where he is shown in formal evening clothes, something quite fashionable, marking perhaps his success as a silver engraver, with his Chinese queue clearly visible. I like to believe that this picture was taken for his wedding with Martha. His posture is that of a man standing erect with an air of confidence and a determined look of pride and self-esteem, who survived a great Civil War and is sure of himself and the future he faces in a new country that the North’s victory help create .

If this picture was taken for his marriage to Martha, just think of the courage both must have had to marry each other of different races outside the social conventions of that day. With the Chinese custom of arranged marriages, what a wonderful story in itself that the two apparently married out of love.

In 1879 the couple lived on 31 Columbia where a daughter, Lula Edna, was born on April 24th of that year. The family moved to 198 Cook Avenue in 1880 and then in 1881 to Grant and Olive where another daughter, Edna Bertha, was born on January 22nd. Unfortunately, the infant was stillborn. The following year a son, Franklin Norris, was born on May 13, 1882. Another son, Howard Benjamin, was born two years later on January 2, 1884. We know how Joseph received his surname Pierce after President Franklin Pierce, but apparently he felt a close affinity with the former President because he named Howard after a son of Franklin Pierce whose name was Howard Benjamin.

Six years after they married the United States Congress passed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. This act made it difficult for the Chinese to become citizens and made it difficult for those already in this country to bring their families over from China. This act, the only such one against a particular race, was passed to alleviate fears that the Chinese would take jobs away from Americans. This Act was finally repealed in 1943 when the Chinese showed that they were just as willing to die in combat to uphold the ideals of this country during World War II as other Americans were.

Because of Joseph’s connection with the prominent Peck Family of Berlin and his overall acceptance by his community this act did not affect the family at the beginning of its passage. But as time went by the family must have felt the prejudice that was directed at them because of their Chinese race. After their father’s death in 1916 the sons would forget the birthplace of their father as they did not talk of this family secret to their granddaughters and grand nieces. It must have been a disappointment for the Joseph to see that the war that helped to bring an end to slavery only brought about a different oppression now directed towards his own race and also to Martha, who married a Chinese man.

But the family became more a part of the Meriden community. Joseph worked as a silver engraver with the Meriden Britannia Company while Martha established a home for the family at 17 Meridian Street where they moved in 1886. A Pierce would live at this location for the next 52 years until their son, Howard Benjamin moved in 1938. Here three members of the family would die.

The family joined Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church that was located on the corner of Cook and West Main Street. Joseph and Martha were received as probationary members on March 27th and 30th, 1890 by Reverend D. Griffin. The church records also document that Martha" had previously been received elsewhere by the Salvation Army. On November 6, 1892 a special occasion in their church life occurred when Joseph was baptized and received as a full member and Lula, a probationary member by Reverend E. Warriner.

Lula was received as a full member on June 4, 1893. In November of that year Joseph was listed as attending Bible School in Class 2 taught by Horace R. Clark. Martha was in Class 7 taught by L. W. McElroy, both classes meeting on Tuesday evening. Lula was in Class 3 taught by Leslie Clapp, which met on Sunday afternoons.

Tragedy struck the family when Lula died at the age of fifteen on February 17, 1895 of pleurisy and bronchitis. Her obituary in the February 20, 1895 edition of the Meriden Daily Republican stated that there were many floral emblems among them being a Holy Bible, with the name "Lula" thereon on from the parents, Easter lilies from her church youth group and a crescent with the name "Lula" from the engravers of the Meriden Britannia Company. Lula Edna is buried in an unmarked gravesite in Section D, Lot 10, Tier C in Walnut Grove Cemetery.

Sometime in either 1905 or 1906 the oldest son Franklin Norris moved out and married Bessie May Wadsworth, for on August 24, 1906, Joseph and Martha’s only grandchild, Franklin Wadsworth Pierce was born.

The Pierces socialized with family and friends in the Portland/ Middletown area where Martha’s brother and his wife, Charles and Alice lived. Also, Edwin Stroud, who served with Joseph in the Fourteenth Connecticut and to whom he gave a carte-de-viste of Lula, lived in Middletown. It a sense Joseph and Martha lived a life of what later would be known as the "American Dream."

Joseph retired in 1914 after working as a silver engraver for forty-six years. But the last ten years of his life was marked by poor health as his death certificate states with the grippe, hardening of his arteries and chronic bronchitis. Martha undoubtedly provided whatever comfort and care she was able. Joseph died in his home on January 3, 1916 at the age of seventy-three. His obituary in the Meriden Daily Journal of this date reads, "He had resided in this city for many years and was well known and liked."

Martha continued to live with her son, Howard Benjamin, who remained a bachelor all his life, in her home on 17 Meridian Street. She was able to collect Joseph’s Civil War pension of thirty dollars a month starting in June of 1916. In the ten years that would remain in her life, Martha would see her grandson, Franklin Wadsworth, received on April 6, 1922 as a probationary member of the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, as she and Joseph were almost thirty-two years earlier.

Martha Morgan Pierce died on March 10, 1926 after a short illness of heart disease. She was buried next to her husband in an unmarked grave. However, eighty years later before our August 5, 2006 ceremony to dedicate the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) marker at the Joseph Pierce gravesite, Michael Kroll, the Superintendent of Walnut Grove Cemetery, mentioned this omission to us. In the intervening time, the great granddaughters and members of the Fourteenth Connecticut contributed funds to pay for this marker and its installation, which we are here today to dedicate.

I want to introduce Susan Kirsch, a member of the Fourteenth Connecticut, who planned this dedication ceremony and will now present a few appropriate remarks as President Lincoln was invited to do when he went to Gettysburg to dedicate the National Cemetery.

I would like to share a poem – it’s also on the back of your programme:



"If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me, ye women, if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,

or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense.

Thy love is such I can no way repay,

The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.

Then while we love, in love let’s so persevere

that when we live no more, we may live ever."

------------Anne Bradstreet, 1612-1672


With these words we dedicate this grave marker to the memory of

Martha Morgan Pierce.



The webmaster's notes:

The  webmaster had the good fortune to attend the dedication of both gravesite marker ceremonies, Joseph Pierce and Martha Morgan Pierce. It was on the second ceremony that I met three of the Pierce's great grand daughters: Patricia and Joyce; Pierce's great grand step-daughter Mary Ann (Mini). It was a joyous first meeting, and we were just like long lost friends. We talked non-stop. What a very happy occasion! It indicated Joseph Pierce was a real historical person, for he had left his descendants to prove it.


Joseph Pierce's blood line

The purpose of compiling this genealogy list is to preserve the record of Joseph Pierce's blood line for the benefit of future researchers. Knowing Joseph Pierce's descendents will provide physical evidence that he was real and not a figment of someone's

imagination, who contributed to this Nation's history, as so many immigrants have done and will continued to do so.

Of all the documented Chinese who fought in the Civil War, Joseph Pierce was the most famous and whose life is the most documented. His life's story is almost the "stuff of dreams." He was sold at the age of ten to a sea captain for six silver dollars and could have spent the rest of his life at sea as a servant. But this sea captain was from a prominent New England family, who were abolitionists, brought him home to be raised with his siblings and parents in Connecticut. At the age of twenty he enlisted to fight with the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry that became part of the Army of the Potomac that fought from Antietam to General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Little did he realize that he would participate in what turned out to be many pivotal military events in the Civil War that many believe was the most defining event in this Nation's history.

The majority of his regiment did not survive the War. He was one of the lucky ones who survived this most bloody war and afterwards, settled in Meriden, Connecticut where he worked as a silver engraver. He married an American woman out of love and raised a family. The family were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. When he died at the age of 73 in 1916, his obituary stated that "he was well known and well-liked." He was able to live a life that later came to known as the "American Dream."


First generation

Joseph A. Pierce (1842-1916)
Spouse: Martha A. Morgan (1858-1926): 4 children


Second generation

Lula Edna Pierce (1879-1895) died at age 15, single, no children
Edna Bertha Pierce (1881-1881): stillborn

Franklin Norris Pierce (1882-1952}

Spouse: Bessie May Wadsworth (1883-1949): one son

Howard Benjamin Pierce (1884-1959): no children


Third generation

Franklin Wadsworth Pierce (1906-1963): 2 step-daughters and 3 daughters
Spouse: Stella Parauka Mastroni (1918-1985):


Fourth generation

(exclude spouse's name)


(no blood relationship to Franklin Wadsworth Pierce)

Jean Mastroni Cuzzi
Mary Ann (Mimi) Mastroni Vargas



(blood line)

Patricia W. Pierce Haight, no children

Joyce B. Pierce O'Neill,: 2 sons

Delores L. Pierce Bernard,  no children


Fifth generation

Daniel P. O'Neill : 5 children

Bryan J. O'Neill : no children yet


Sixth generation

(as of the year 2007)

Patrick O'Neill

Michael O'Neill

John O’Neill

Antonina Daniella O'Neill

Nicholas O'Neill


Compiled by researchers Gordon Kwok and Irving Moy
March 19, 2007




All rights reserved.


Webmaster Gordon Kwok (gordoncwrt@gmail.com)

August 9, 2001

Revised and uploaded on January 27, 2009