Remember the “sinkhole” discovered at Ronan Park back in early December that turned out to be a historic well? Well, City Archaeologist Joe Bagley, with the help of long-time Archaeology Program volunteer, Amy Ohman, has completed a report on the Mary L. Pierce Well, discovered in December in Dorchester’s Ronan Park. Needless to say (but we’re going to) it’s rich with history and even some family dram!
Here are some interesting facts from the report:
- The well was part of the property at 151 Adams Street, also known as the Pierce-Bliss House.
- In 1818, John Pierce, a bricklayer, purchased 10 acres of land on the west side of Adams Street, and soon after built a brick house for he and his wife, Mary, and their son, Charles Bates Pierce.
- Charles B. Pierce married Mary Emery of Springfield, MA, in 1846. They lived together in Dorchester near 300 Freeport Street, across from where Yale Appliance is located today. Mary and Charles B. Pierce had two children, Elizabeth Emery Pierce (1847) and Charles Bates Jr. (1851).
- Sadly, Charles Sr. died from Typhoid Fever in 1857. Hard times befall Mary. Without a will, Mary took on the administration of her husband’s real estate and personal possessions, selling over $43,000 worth of land and buildings in 1857, including their own home.
- The family ended up a boarding house in Fields Corner – even though plenty of wealthy relatives lived in the neighborhood.
- After the passing of John Pierce in 1871, part of his estate – including his home at 151 Adams St. was left to his grandkids. (But not to Mary – obviously Mary was not this family’s favorite) Later that year, Mary bought the house at auction from her own children.
- Mary’s Brother, Charles Emery, and her brother in-law- George F. Pierce, purchased the abutting portion of John Pierce’s estate just north of Mary’s house and land.
- According to the report, both Mary and Charles’ deeds state that Mary must be allowed access to a well on Charles’ land between the date of the sale (September 22, 1871) until May 1, 1872. “The location of the Ronan Park well is so close to the boundary between Charles and Mary’s land, that it could be the very same well!”
- Side note: was everyone back then named Mary or Charles? Also we need to know why the family didn’t care for Mary.
You can read the full details of the report here including artifacts and documents uncovered here. Enjoy!
Image: The Pierce-Bliss House as it appeared in the early 1900s, just before it was demolished to build Ronan Park – from the Dorchester Historical Society.