Clarysa Blanch Baldridge

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ChartsAncestors of William Jerome Pierce
Samuel Pierce to William Jerome Pierce
Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Jerome Pierce
Diana, Princess of Wales, and William Jerome Pierce
William the Lion, King of Scotland, to William Jerome Pierce
James Madison - William Jerome Pierce
Rutherford Birchard Hayes - William Jerome Pierce
James Abram Garfield - William Jerome Pierce
(Stephen) Grover Cleveland - William Jerome Pierce
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - William Jerome Pierce
George H. W. & George W. Bush - William Jerome Pierce
Barack Obama - William Jerome Pierce
Clarysa Blanch Baldridge, daughter of William W. Baldridge and Percy Leach, was born at New York, about 1823.1,2,3,4,5 She died at Nashville, Davidson Co., Tennessee, 1 January 1897,6,7,8 and was buried at McMinnville, Warren Co., Tennessee, 16 January 1897.9

Clarysa married Lewis Pierce, son of Amasa Pierce and Polly Winslow, at Niagara Co., New York, 1 January 1845.10,11,6

An article from the Nashville Daily Sun, 11 Jan 1897, reports the following which appears to be provided by Mrs. Seats, the widow of H. F. Piece, second son of Lewis and Clara Pierce:
Ten days ago the death of Mrs. L. B. Pierce was noted in the Sun. The death occurred on the morning of New Year’s day and the remains were sent to Hogan & Co.’s Undertaking establishment to be prepared for burial.

At the time of her death little was known of her. She had two weeks previous to her death been employed at the Centennial Hotel on North Cherry St. as a waitress, at which place she was seized with pneumonia. From there she was sent to the City Hospital, where she died.

To the physicians and nurses in attendance upon her she said that she was from New York State. Beyond that nothing was known of her.

On her person was found letters signed W. C. Womack, McMinnville, Tenn., L. D. Pierce, Cleveland, Ohio, Joe Dickerman, Carbondale, Ill, W. A. Johnson, McMinnville, Tenn., and an unsigned letter, in a woman’s handwriting from Omaha, Nebraska, evidently, as the contents show, a niece of the deceased woman. All these letters bear the address “Corner Underwood and Salem Sts., Nashville, Tenn.

It has since developed that the old lady whose body now lies at the undertakers, who was apparently friendless and who dies in a strange city, without even the means for burial purposes, was highly connected and her relatives were wealthy and prominent people. Mr. Hogan has telegraphed to her sons, but has received but little or no satisfaction.

A Sun reporter visited Mrs. Seats, who resides on the corner of Salem and Underwood streets, yesterday and gleaned the following information:

Mrs. Clara Blanche Pierce was born in 1823 in Medina, N. Y. On New Years’ Day, 1845, she married Louis Pierce, who was a wealthy cheese manufacturer and dairyman. Financial reverses soon came upon Mr. Pierce and he failed for $5,000. After a few years they removed to McMinnville, Tenn., near which place his wife owned a good farm.

The couple had resided there about two years when the husband died. The farm was mortgaged and finally sold. Mrs. Pierce resided there until about a year ago, when she came to Nashville, and went to the residence of Mrs. Seats, corner of Underwood and Salem streets, who was the widow of their son, Mr. H. F. Pierce. The latter was chief engineer of the Electric Lighting Co., here at the time of his death, six years ago. After an eleven months’ stay with Mrs. Seats, she left stating that she intended visiting a friend in the country.

This was the last heard of her by Mrs. Seats until notified of her death by Mr. Hogan.

Mrs. Pierce was a highly educated woman, possessing many accomplishments.

Her father, William Baldridge, was born in the northern part of Ireland and came to this country more than a century ago and settled at Medina, N. Y. Her mother was born in Scotland and was of a fine Scotch family. There was an abundance of wealth on both sides.

Mrs. Pierce was a second cousin to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. Her husband, Louis Pierce was a cousin of President Franklyn Pierce.

Mrs. Pierce had eight sons, all of whom are dead except William C. Pierce who at present is chief engineer of an electric light and power company at St. Paul, Minn., and Louis J. Pierce who is a bridge builder at Cleveland, Ohio.

The remains have been embalmed and are in a good state of preservation. They will be held a few days longer and if her relatives do not claim her body or provide some means for a decent funeral it will be interred in the potters field.

At one time in her life Mrs. Pierce was a newspaper writer. She had contributed several valuable articles to magazines.

The following is an article written by her for a newspaper in Medina N. Y., in the year 1860, relating to the visit of the Prince of Wales to Niagara Falls and the feats performed in honor of that event.

MEDINA, N. Y. Oct. 8, 1860.---Messers Editors: Perhaps a short account of my visit at the suspension bridge which connects the Canadas with the United States may be interesting to some of your readers.

The bridge has been beautified of late by a thorough painting and at the time of my last visit there (which was Sept. 15) it was neatly adorned with arches of evergreens over the entrances on both shores in honor of the Prince of Wales, who was then visiting the King of Cataracts.

The Prince was not to be seen on the American shore on the first day of our visit, and as seeing him was one of the chief objects in view, we were obliged to cross over into Canada, then learn where he would make his appearance, then obtain as conspicuous a seat as possible for the purpose of viewing His Highness. He did not make his appearance immediately, so we contented ourselves with chatting and viewing the scenery. If any of your readers have ever visited this place, they will perhaps recollect that on the Canada side, a few rods below the bridge, the bank of the river is nearly perpendicular, 2580 feet above the water, while on the American side it inclines outwardly, leaving a space between the banks of 800 feet.

There was rope of about 6 inches in circumference suspended from one bank to the other on which a certain French gentleman thinks no more of crossing than the ladies do of crossing a muddy street.

While sitting there our attention is directed to Monsieur Blondin, coming from the other side on a brisk trot: he is not a large man, but rather small, and of light complexion; his costume that of an Indian, and as he came nearer the shore we saw that his lips were tightly compressed. While scrutinizing his features closely our attention is directed another way by a splendid carriage driving into the enclosure. First appeared some eight or ten boys about 14 years of age, dressed in uniform; then a body of burley-looking soldiers formed in line, in front of the waiting spectators. Soon there appeared several distinguished persons, we recognized the future King of England (if nothing occurs to prevent).

He was a lad of 19 years, about five feet five inches in height, rather slender in form, with light brown hair, blue eyes and fair complexion. He was quite plainly dressed, drab beaver hat, black dress, frock coat with plain linen collar turned down over his coat collar, buff kid gloves, drab cloth pants and calf boots and appeared very modest and unassuming. He met Prof. Blondin when he stepped off the shore, received an introduction, cordially shook hands and after a few moments conversation, seated himself in the rustic summer house in order view Blondin perform his almost supernatural feats on the rope, which he commenced by immediately starting off on a run until he was two hundred feet from the shore, where he stopped and laid down his balance pole, which was nearly fifteen feet long, then laid himself down on his back, spread his limbs widely apart, then fetching them violently together, turned and jumped upon his feet; started off again—when about the center of the rope, turned a summerset, when within a few rods of the opposite shore, again laid down and again standing upon his head.

In a few moments he was coming back; when about half way over he made a swing reaching half way down to the water, went down and suspended himself by his feet over the seething abyss, soon gathered himself up and commenced turning himself around in his swing with such rapidity that resembled very much a small windmill making its revolutions in the air. After performing sundry antics he ascended again the rope and was soon on shore chatting gaily with the Prince and others of his party.

Now what do you think he will do next time? He took a man across on his back, nearly as heavy as himself, but this time he neither ran or trotted but he stepped slow and very cautiously, and set him down twice to rest. Methinks I hear you ask how reloaded his burden? Really that is a mystery to me, although I saw him do it. He carried him across amid the shouts and cheers of the vast multitude.

The sun was sinking below the Western horizon, rending the landscape soft and lovely as a fairy land and where rested the smiles of heaven. While viewing this great panorama our eager-straining eyes beheld Blondin on the rope, returning on stilts. The stilts were slenderly made, about two feet in height, the bottoms were three iron prongs resembling a hen’s foot, the wooden portions are covered with silver leaf. When a short distance from the American shore he gave a leap, but one of the prongs caught in the rope, tripped him so that he lost his balance. All held their breath in horror for an instant, expecting to see the daring man dashed to death on the rocks beneath him, but he alighted astride the rope in safety. The task of regaining the rope on stilts seemed to us an impossibility, but after two or three attempts he gained his standing position and proceeded cautiously, step by step, until he gained the Canada shore, amid great applause. He was greeted again by the Prince, Duke of New Castle, and others of the party, all expressing their delight at the unparalleled feat. The whole exhibition lasted about two hours, when the Prince and his party took their departure. We took the next train for our home, in high glee, feeling highly gratified with our afternoon excursion.

Mrs. L. Pierce

City death records show she died of pneumonia at the City Hospital and was buried at McMinnville.6,8


Lewis Pierce b. bt 1812 - 1814, d. bef. 12 Mar 1889
  • Jerome William Pierce12,13 b. 31 Oct 1846, d. 9 Jan 1853
  • Harry Frank Pierce14,15,6 b. 1853, d. 9 Mar 1891
  • William Clarence Pierce+14,15,6 b. 2 Jul 1856, d. 27 Oct 1927
  • Louis J. Pierce15,6 b. 1 Jan 1866, d. 28 Apr 1921
This person was last edited on26 Sep 2020


  1. [S457], 1850 United States Census [on-line database and images] (, Somerset, Niagara Co., New York, population schedule, sheet #351, dwelling #91, family #93, Lewis Pierce household, age 28, born in New York; original data: NARA micropublication M432, Seventh Census of the United States, 1009 rolls, roll #561.
  2. [S458], 1860 United States Census [on-line database and images] (, Town of Shelby, Orleans Co., New York, population schedule, sheet #80, dwelling #672, family #661, Lewis Pierce household, age 37, born in New York; original data: NARA micropublication M653, Eighth Census of the United States, 1438 rolls, roll #561.
  3. [S459], 1870 United States Census [on-line database and images] (, Paris Township, Grand Rapids Post Office, Kent Co., Michigan, population schedule, sheet #518, dwelling #170, family #172, Lewis Pierce household, age 46, born in New York; original data: NARA micropublication M593, Ninth Census of the United States, 1748 rolls, roll #682.
  4. [S460], 1880 United States Census [on-line database and images] (, Paris Township, Kent Co., Michigan, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 128, sheet #14B, dwelling #132, family #135, Lewis Pierce household, age 57, born in Pennsylvania; original data: NARA micropublication T9, Tenth Census of the United States, 1454 rolls, roll #587.
  5. [S235] Kent Co., Michigan, Kent County, Michigan census, 1884, 1894, Lewis Pierce Household, Dwelling/Family 50, Paris Township (1884), FHL microfilm 984656, further cited as State Census. age 61, born in New York.
  6. [S232] "A Remarkable Woman," Nashville Daily Sun, Nashville, Tennessee, 11 Jan 1897.
  7. [S233] Pierce Cemetery Plot in McMinnville, Copy of Deed from the Town Clerk, McMinnville, Tennessee, 19 Mar 1889, Book 4, Page 4, Gregory Cooke Clarkdale, Arizona.
  8. [S1691] Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee, Nashville Death Records, 1874-1923, 19, FHL microfilm 1303219, further cited as Nashville Deaths.
  9. [S233] Pierce Cemetery Plot in McMinnville, A deed to their cemetery plot was found among the papers of grandson, John T. Pierce. It records the lot #38, registered in Book 4, page 4 in McMinnville. On the back are the burial dates for Lewis and Clara.
  10. [S222] Seneca County Courthouse, Seneca Falls, New York, Probate records, 1804-1923, further cited as Seneca Probate.
  11. [S226] Frank M. McMath, Memorials of the McMath Family: Including a Genealogical Account of the Descendants of Archibald McMath Who Was Born in Scotland About the Year 1700 (Detroit, Michigan: Speaker Printing, 1898), 178-179, further cited as McMath, McMath Family.
  12. [S457] 1850 United States Census, Somerset, Niagara, New York, pop. sch., sheet 351, dwelling 91, family 93, Lewis Pierce hshld.
  13. [S1397] Orleans County, online,, accessed 14 Nov 2009. Hereinafter cited as Orlean County.
  14. [S458] 1860 United States Census, Town of Shelby, Orleans Co., New York, pop. sched., sheet #80, dwelling #672, family #661, Lewis Pierce household.
  15. [S459] 1870 United States Census, Paris Township, Grand Rapids Post Office, Kent Co., Michigan, pop. sched., sheet #518, dwelling #170, family #172, Lewis Pierce household.