There are several families who have made Claypit their final resting place. Among those families are ones whose names have long been associated with Dracut’s history. Families such as the Coburns and Lews are interred at Claypit. However, there is another family found in Claypit about whom little has been written-the family of Phillip Pierce.
According to P. Hildreth Parker, who in 1904 wrote down the epitaphs of the headstones at Claypit, there were several headstones for members of the Pierce family. From the epitaphs it appears as though Phillip and his wife Marcy had several children who all died as children or as young adults. The epitaphs provided a starting point for our research.
Phillip Pierce was born in Chelmsford to Robert and Mary Pierce in 1784. It is believed, according to Dracut Vital records, that Phillip had two older brothers John and Silas. On April 1, 1809 Phillip married Marcy Bradstreet Coburn, the daughter of Moses B. Coburn and Leah Coburn. We are not sure how Phillip came to Dracut. Chelmsford is the neighboring town to Dracut (Dracut was originally part of Chelmsford) so it is not surprising that he moved to Dracut. The Pierces and Coburns most likely knew each other. However, he and his family are buried in Claypit because at the time it was the neighborhood cemetery of Pawtwcketville residents including the Pierces and Coburns.
After having been married for just over a year, Phillip and Marcy had their first child, a son named Elexis4. Together they had a total of five children, two boys and three girls. Their children were:
- Elexis born Aug. 24, 1810
- Mercy H. born Aug. 30, 1812
- Coburn born Oct. 28, 1816
- Eloisa born Oct. 16, 1821
- Laverta born Dec. 1828
Most of their children died young. Only two made it to adulthood, Eloisa who died at the age of 25 of consumption and Elexis who died at the age of 36 of scarlet fever. All the rest of the children died before they reached the age of five.
According to the 1850 census, Phillip was a farmer, living with his daughter-in-law Emeline Butterfield, wife of his son Elexis and his two granddaughters, Annetta M. (age 4) and Emeline L. (age 9), and a laborer, Ruben Ditson (age 20). He was living with these people because his daughter-in-law and granddaughters because they were his only living relatives. His wife had died 29 years earlier of consumption (tuberculosis) and his son Elexis died February 18, 1847 of scarlet fever. It is not clear how Ruben Ditson was connected with the Pierce family. He is listed as a laborer and since Phillip was fairly old Ditson probably helped on the farm. One column on the census record read “Value of Real Estate Owned” and for Phillip that column was blank, his neighbors though had real estate valued between 1,000 and 5,000.
On Dec. 29, 1863, after a relatively long life, Phillip died of heart disease. He was 79 years old. Upon death, Joseph B. V Coburn issued his probate. It stated that Mr. Pierce left no widow and his next kin were his two granddaughters, Emiline L. and Annetta M., (a minor under the age of twenty-one), they were to receive his belongings. They included furniture, such as beds and chairs, hay, knives, chests and shoes to name a few. The price range for his belongings were between $0.25 and over $12. He had also left money to them, over $1,135 and stocks. Since Annetta was a minor her sister, Emiline L. was granted guardianship of her.
The Pierce family is just one of many families we have discovered in Dracut’s oldest burial ground. Little has been researched about this family, but we will continue to uncover the story of this forgotten family of Pawtucketville.