As mentioned in prior articles, street names in Rochester have changed over time and the same is true of some sections in town. Today, the area referred to as Douglas Corner in East Rochester is a T-shaped section of land along High Street and Pierce Road. Several homes built in the 1800’s can still be found there. Before the area became known as Douglas Corner (named for W.H. Douglas, whose home first appeared on the 1879 map) it was called Pierceville, named in honor of a prominent local family. In the mid-1800’s, Pierceville boasted a cemetery, a school to the east on High Street and at least one store.
Prior to 1903, Pierce Street was known as Brattle Road. The name change, no doubt, was due to the many members of the Pierce family who built homes there in the mid-1800’s. At least, two of the houses built by Pierces are still on the street. 150 Pierce Street was built sometime before 1856 by D. Pierce. By 1879, Moses D. Pierce, a poulterer lived there. The R. Pierce house at 185 was also built in the same time period. While maps, including those for 1936 and 1941 contain houses owned by Pierces, they don’t bear names of specific people. However, records show that Joshua D., a nailer; Lemuel H., a photographer; and Samuel W., a carpenter, were some of the Pierces in residence on the street.
The Hillside Cemetery was originally called the Pierceville First Cemetery and many of the stones date from 1840’s-1880’s. There are at least 45 members (by birth or marriage) of the Pierce family buried here. The oldest stone is that of Jeremiah Pierce (1823-1824.) It’s interesting to note that even though there was a community cemetery (today’s Woodside Cemetery) adjacent to what was then the East Rochester Methodist Church, the Pierces and others living in Pierceville chose to be buried at the Hillside Cemetery.
One noteworthy grave is that of Reverend George Pierce who lived from 1804-1875. He was a carpenter and a part-time preacher. He was one of the founding fathers of the East Rochester congregation. He financed the building of the church after purchasing the land from Benjamin Morton and Mary Smith for $12.00. In 1856, he became “First Reader” and was often referred to as “King George.” There are Pierces who live in Rochester today, although most have moved away from the Pierceville/Douglas Corner area.
Anyone with questions for the Rochester Historical Society can contact Connie at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sue at email@example.com.
By Connie Eshbach