Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? The Pierce/Pearce Family


Pierce COA
This is the fifth and last post of this series regarding connections and relationships I have found with my neighbors. It has been a joy and a continued amazement for me to put on paper the relationships and connections that I have been noticing regarding my neighbors’ families and my own for the last few years during which I’ve been doing genealogical research. There are more connections I might explore at a later date that have involved the many cousins I’ve met since doing this research, and connections to other genealogical bloggers, but today, I want to talk about this very special family– the Pierce family, and how it connects me to a neighbor and much more.
As I have said before, about ten years ago, we moved into a new subdivision, where everyone was new. Because the neighborhood was new perhaps, many neighbors set about fixing up their yards and gardens, which simply had the bare basic landscaping of any new subdivision. We often walked, well, I rolled in my electric wheelchair due to a heart condition, around the neighborhood, looking at what folks were doing, and getting to know the neighbors. In this way I met neighbors from other streets as well as my own. One such person was Lynn Pierce. Lynn was a great gardener, and had a special joy for daylilies, one of my passions as well! It was such a joy to learn that she was not only a devoted gardener, but a craftsperson extraordinaire and a retired English teacher with a flair for drama and costuming. My husband was very happy to meet her husband Bill and learn that he was a retired woodworking teacher, as my husband had taught woodworking also, along with drafting and engineering. We became good friends and remain so today through joys and sorrows.

I hate to admit this, but I’d known Lynn several years before I even knew her maiden name! I had not been doing genealogical research, so until about a year ago, gardening and traveling together to the beach and to the mountains, were the basis of our friendship, not family background! Lynn met another friend who did genealogical research and was a Pearce. She began to talk with me about it, wondering if she might be kin to him, and so we began to work on her family tree to find out! Sure enough, as I worked on Lynn’s Pierce ancestral line, I began to see surnames I was related to, in her family tree! It finally dawned on me, like a light bulb going off, that I had never checked my dna to see if I was kin to the Pierces myself, and I was! That didn’t mean I was kin to Lynn’s Pierces, but it was a place to start. I began to build Pierces into my own family tree as well as Lynn’s, to see if I could discover if we were related! Lo and behold, I discovered that this close friend of mine was also my cousin! We were both descended from Richard Pearce, born between 1540-1563, and his wife Marguerite Coney born in 1568. Lynn descends from his son Richard Pearce b.1590, and I descend from his son the sea Captain, William Pierce/Pearce, b. 1595. Lynn and I are eleventh cousins! You can find a relationship tree at the end of this article.

As I mentioned, Lynn had met and become friends with Tony Pearce  since moving here, and he lived only a couple miles from us. She wondered if she was kin to him, and so we added more to her family tree to try to ascertain whether or not they were related. At the same time, I realized that a friend of mine for over 45 years, Thomas Clayton, was the son of a Pearce mother!  I was more than surprised when I realized he and Tony shared the same ancestral line!

 Within weeks of our moving here, our neighbors introduced us to a retired mechanic named Jack Strickland who had started his own business. They recommended him highly, and we became friends as well as he helped us keep our cars in shape. When I found Stricklands in my friend Thomas’s tree, I felt compelled to ask Jack about his ancestry, and so I started working on his tree as well, with his help. Of course, he, Tony, and Thomas shared the SAME Pearce line!

Although Lynn is from Pennsylvania, and I am from Virginia, we now live near the small town of Bunn, North Carolina. I was surprised to see that several Bunns were married to Pearces in these guy’s family trees!  So I looked into the history of the town and the Bunn family, and found that they were indeed very involved with the Pierce/Pearce family! The town was named Bunn, and nearby was Pearce’s Church Road! Of course, with serendipity reining supreme, I got a note on ancestry from one Donnie Bunn, who ended up being from this founding family of Bunn, and a Pierce through his mother’s family! In fact, he shares the very same line as Thomas, Jack, and Tony!  It appears that they would all be part of the Southern Pearce/Pierce branch by dna.

 At first I thought all six of us were related, but after consulting someone with the Pierce dna project, he said that more than likely Sharon and I were not related to the other four guys by dna, but that all four of our friends were closely related! We are all contemplating getting male relatives with direct line Pearces/Pierces to join the DNA project for their family, perhaps then we will know for sure!

The Pierce/Pearce family is rich with history and notable ancestors and descendants.  In this very group of cousins, our Thomas Albert Clayton is a published author and screenwriter! In 2011 he published the screenplay, Rebel with a Cause, The Radical Reformer, an amazing story of Servetus, the first Protestant martyr burned at the stake not by a Catholic Pope but the Protestant reformer himself, John Calvin. He is currently rewriting this film as a novel which will soon be available.

They can also be proud of being kin to Capt Michael Pierce, 1615-1676, who fought and died in a battle with the Indians. This Michael is Lynn’s 8th great grandfather. Another ancestor of note was Sea Capt. William Pierce, 1560-1641. This William Pierce captained the Mayflower on her second voyage to Massachusetts and was the master of the Lyon, a ship he owned.! Capt William Pierce was my 11th great grandfather.

Not to be confused with the Capt. William Pierce above who lived in Boston and arrived there about 1835 to settle for a bit, he was mostly a mariner, there was also one Capt. William Pierce who settled in Jamestown Colony, Virginia about 1609. He became a well respected land owner and planter in Virginia, and became the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for awhile. He was married to one Joan Phippen and had a son Thomas, and a daughter Jane who married John Rolfe after Pocahontas died. There was also a son William who died young of disease, a stepdaughter Cecily Reynolds by Joan Phippen’s first marrieage, and possibly a daughter named Edith, who married Jerimiah Clements and became my 8th great grandmother in a different Pierce ancestral line!

On Feb. 13, 2015, I will have the opportunity to hear Connie Lapallo speak to the Chesterfield County Historical Society about her books about the women and children of Jamestown. She is specifically discussing Joan Phippen Pierce and her daughter Cecily! I am so excited to meet her, and possibly be hearing the stories of my grandmother! My sister Anne told me about Connie and her exciting books two of which are titled: Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky, and the second in the trilogy: When the Moon Has No More Silver.  Connie is currently working on the third book.

The Pierce/Pearce family also has an illustrious ancient history. Richard Pierce of 1540- 63 traces right back through Her Royal Highness Mary Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320-1362, King Henry III, and King Henry II. These Royals are our grandparents! John Lockland Plantagenet, King of England, 1166–1216 who signed the Magna Carta is Lynn’s and my 21st Great- Grandfather!

Look at what this means! Lynn and I were strangers who moved from different states and ended up in the same subdivision, where we met over daylilies, and became good friends! Back in the mid 1500’s, close to 500 years ago, we shared a common 12th great grandfather! Even more amazing, we can trace the Pierce lineage back to 1004 ad! It takes us through the Plantagenet’s, through King Henry II and King Henry III! Her Royal Highness, Mary Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320-1382, is our joint 17th great grandmother! How is this possible! Have we been traveling through time together for sure? Our ancestors were the same over 1000 years ago!

I do want to say for all my genealogical researching friends out there, and for all of my family, old and new, research is always a process. This Pierce/Pearce ancestral line is controversial. There are currently DNA studies going on, and if we are lucky, they might finally unlock the true answers to this line. The first scholarly genealogical work on this line, written in 1888 by one Frederick C. Pierce, titled The Pearce Genealogy Being the Posterity of Thomas Pearce has proven to have many errors so that it is more a guideline than proof. However, there has been a multitude of research on this family.  If you are interested in more specific  information regarding  articles helping to distinquish between the two different Capt. William Pierces, leave your contact information in the comments section and I will send you some infomation.

That said; look at how this family connects all of these people, these neighbors! Thomas,Donnie, Jack  and Tony are  cousins  and friends of friends of mine!  By the way, even though they don’t live in our subdivision, Tony, Donnie, and Jack live within a couple of miles of Lynn and me. Thomas is not far. We are planning a get together for these newfound Pierce/Pearce cousins very soon, won’t that be interesting?!

I really want to know what you think of this series. Are you as amazed as I am? Have you found this with your own neighbors by any chance? Maybe you should start checking out their genealogy! My favorite explanation, above reincarnation and traveling through time with my tribe, above six degrees of separation, is the definition given me by Linda Voorhees McLaughlin that coincidence can mean: “a miracle where God’s presence is invisible” –how about you?

Relationship Trees:

Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser(1949 – )
is your 11th cousin 2x removed
Margaret Steptoe Kerse (1918 – 1980)
mother of Helen Spear Youngblood
Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)
mother of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Walter Houchins (1854 – 1937)
father of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
Nancy J Houchins (1833 – )
mother of Walter Houchins
William Houchins (1807 – 1860)
father of Nancy J Houchins
BENNETT HOUCHINS (1780 – 1815)
father of William Houchins
Edward Houchins (1760 – 1846)
Joyce Clements (1739 – 1821)
mother of Edward Houchins
Stephen Clements (1692 – 1746)
father of Joyce Clements
John Clements (1669 – 1704)
father of Stephen Clements
John Clements (1631 – 1710)
father of John Clements
Edith Pierce (1607 – 1644)
mother of John Clements
Capt. William Pierce (1560 – 1641)
father of Edith Pierce
Richard Pearce (1540)
father of Capt. William Pierce
Richard Pearce (1590 – 1666)
son of Richard Pearce
Capt. Michael J Pierce (1615 – 1676)
son of Richard Pearce
Ephraim Pierce (1647 – 1719)
son of Capt. Michael J Pierce
Ephraim Pierce Pearce Jr. (1674 – 1772)
son of Ephraim Pierce
Mial PIERCE (1693 – 1786)
son of Ephraim Pierce Pearce Jr.
Caleb Pierce (1726 – 1776)
son of Mial PIERCE
Caleb Pierce (1758 – 1836)
son of Caleb Pierce
Caleb Pierce (1808 – )
son of Caleb Pierce
John W Pierce (1840 – 1918)
son of Caleb Pierce
Luther C. Pierce (1881 – 1960)
son of John W Pierce
Betty Lou Pierce (1933 – 1984)
daughter of Luther C. Pierce
Lynn M. Pierce
You are the daughter of Betty Lou Pierce
 Thomas Albert Clayton (1950 – )
is your 2nd cousin 1x removed
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
mother of Thomas Albert Clayton
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
mother of Zelda Grace Holleman
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
father of Mary Patricia Pearce
John Omega (Miggie) Pearce (1884 – 1980)
son of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Alvin Oren (Ben) Pearce (1915 – 2001)
son of John Omega (Miggie) Pearce
Hattie Frances Pearce (1939 – )
daughter of Alvin Oren (Ben) Pearce
Donnie Rudolph Bunn
You are the son of Hattie Frances Pearce

=====================================================Jackson Wendell Jr. Strickland (1943 – )

is your 2nd cousin
Jackson Wendell Strickland (1910 – 1965)
father of Jackson Wendell Jr. Strickland
Martha Ellen Pearce (1890 – )
mother of Jackson Wendell Strickland
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
father of Martha Ellen Pearce
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
daughter of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
daughter of Mary Patricia Pearce
Thomas Albert Clayton
You are the son of Zelda Grace Holleman 


Tony Pearce
is your 5th cousin
Elbert Lawrence Pearce (1915 – 1988)
father of Tony Pearce
Jonah Robert Lee Pearce (1874 – 1954)
father of Elbert Lawrence Pearce
CSA John Calvin Pearce (1838 – 1924)
father of Jonah Robert Lee Pearce
Acrel N. Pearce (1814 – 1878)
father of CSA John Calvin Pearce
Nathan Pearce (1783 – 1867)
father of Acrel N. Pearce
Phillip Pearce (1754 – 1812)
father of Nathan Pearce
Hardy Pearce (1789 – 1860)
son of Phillip Pearce
Strickland Pierce (1822 – 1862)
son of Hardy Pearce
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
son of Strickland Pierce
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
daughter of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
daughter of Mary Patricia Pearce
Thomas Albert Clayton
 You are the son of Zelda Grace Holleman 



Author: Helen Holshouser

Old enough to enjoy life, I am a Red Hatter, grandmother, gardener, and amateur genealogist. I am a retired clinical psychologist, master's level, who is disabled with heart disease, but having fun with family and friends. Married over 40 years, I have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. I have learned that grandchildren provide a joy one never knew existed---writing feeds my soul, gardening is therapy, and genealogy research makes me feel like a detective!

6 thoughts on “Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? The Pierce/Pearce Family

  1. I am cousin of Tony Pearce son of Elbert grandson of Jonah Robert lee . My paternal grandfather is Brother to Tonys dad Elbert. His name Was Robert Pressley Pearce Sr.


  2. How wonderful to hear from you! I live right down 98 in Spencer’s Gate. Maybe we can meet one day. Thanks for writing.


  3. Hi my name is monica … My dad was adopted while still in mommys tummy by the man i know as my grandpa Don johnson .. Rip.. Years years went by and I asked one day. So my real last name isnt realy johnson since you were adopted right. My dad didnt want to talk about it … I felt robed of my own familys history.. I asked him again in a way were he told me Peirce then nothing eles was ever said after.. Could you help me in anyway to know about my family?


  4. Hi Monica, I’d be glad to try to help, but we need to talk about some things and see what we can do together. I tried emailing you, but it failed at the email you left. Would you please email me at helenholshouser@gmail.com ? Thank you so much, looking forward to it . Helen


  5. I’m stuck in my Pierce ancestry. I’m sure of my Great Grandfather Thomas Guthrie Pierce and maybe his father Robert Pierce but that’s where it gets sketchy. Any help would be appreciated!


  6. Hi Ronald, I’d love to help if I can. Please email me at helenholshouser@gmail.com
    Look forward to working together, Helen


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