Pension File extracted by John C. Carter
Contributed 19 Dec 2013



Phillip Smith Pierce

U.S. Navy
(U.S.S. Princeton, U.S.S. Crusader, U.S.S. North Carolina)

Pension #21773
(Also #1153954)


Enrolled: 19 Oct 1863 [prob. New York]
Admitted: Naval Hospital, Norfolk, VA: 05 Dec 1863 (suffering from Phthisis pulmonalis) [aka Tuberculosis]
Discharged: (Naval Hospital, Norfolk, VA): 05 Mar (May?) 1864, U.S. Naval Station, Norfolk, VA.
Discharged [from service?]: 03 Dec 1864
Birth Date: [ca. 1838-40]
Birth Place: [prob. Hopewell Township], Cumberland County, NJ
Death Date: 18 Jul 1902
Death Place: Randolph, Norfolk County, MA
Married #1: Susannah “Anna” Pierce [b. 07 Apr 1844; d. 20 Oct 1930]
Marriage #1 Date: 28 Jul 1864
Marriage #1 Place: Cumberland Co, NJ
Separated: 1866 (Susannah states that she & Philip lived together for two years of their marriage before “he treated me so cruelly that I had to leave him.” “He threatened my life many times”).
Divorced: June or July 1885 (Susannah served him for divorce on account of desertion).
Children: Per affidavit by Susannah: “I had one child by my said husband but it died six weeks after its birth” and “said child’s name was Virginia Pierce.” In an affidavit Susannah gives the child’s birth date as 14 Jul 1865.
Married #2: Margaret Carey [b. ca. 1849; d. aft. Jun 1906, date unknown]
Marriage #2 Date: 02 Jul 1873
Marriage #2 Place: Boston, Suffolk Co, MA

Among the affiants/witnesses for Philip and/or Susannah:

William Steward  
Stephen S. Steward  
Gideon H. Pierce (“second cousin” of Susannah Pierce) [his mother Jane Murray and Susannah’s maternal grandmother Hannah Murray were sisters]
Charles M. Pierce brother of Philip
Ann [Gould] Pierce mother of Susannah
Joseph P. Pierce age 24 (as of May 1894), of Boston, Suffolk Co, MA (said he knew Philip for 14 years, and that he had lived nearby for 22 years)
Mark W. Pierce age 33 (as of May 1894) , of Boston, Suffolk Co, MA (said he knew Philip for 14 years, and that he had lived nearby for 22 years)

1st marriage, Cumberland County, N.J., Phillip Smith Pierce and Anna Pierce, 1864

2nd marriage, Phillip Smith Pierce and Margaret Carey, 1873, Massachusetts (underlined):

Extract from document above:


2nd document, 2nd marriage of Phillip Smith Pierce and Margaret Carey, 1873


Mass. 1902 death cert. of Phillip Smith Pierce:

Mass. 1902 death register entry, Phillip Smith Pierce:


In one document dated 20 Dec 1904, the Special Examiner notes the following:

“In examining the public record of the administration of the sailor’s estate I found that the claimant [Margaret] was the administratrix and that Walter Coulson and Anna Coulson were on her bond as sureties. James Pierce, New Brunswick, N.J., Charles Pierce, Brighton [sic], N.J. (brothers) and Louisa and Elizabeth Pierce (sisters), ----------, N.J. were named as the only known relatives of sailor. Mrs. Anna Coulson I found to be a niece of the claimant and her husband Walter Coulson was claimant’s attorney. On personally interviewing Mr. Coulson at Lawrence, Mass. he informed me that owing to the unsatisfactory data furnished by the claimant as to the whereabouts of sailor’s relatives notices of administration of the estate was made by publication in the Randolph, Mass. newspapers. […] I fail to find a Brighton, N.J. post-office in the 1902 U. S. Postal Guide, the nearest to that name being Bridgeton, Cumberland Co., the latter being noted on the Navy Dep’t records as sailor’s birth place.”

Upon Philip’s death, his 2nd wife Margaret attempted to obtain a widow’s pension. However, a Special Examination could find no record on his having been officially divorced from Susannah (misnamed in the following record as “Hannah”) prior to his & Margaret’s marriage in 1873, and therefore Margaret was deemed ineligible for a pension.

It appears Margaret had no idea Philip had been previously married. They had been married for 29 years at the time of his passing. His death left her with a mortgage that she could not pay, and she had no means of supporting herself. A December 1904 letter mentions, “She is almost a mental and physical wreck and on account of poor condition mentally she seemed unable to be at all exact as to time or circumstances. Owing to her marriage to sailor who was a colored man she has been practically ostracized by her relatives and people generally.” At one point she was receiving assistance from the town of Randolph.

In June 1906 Margaret was evicted from her home and delivered to the Randolph Alms House, complete with all of her belongings and furnishings and 100 chickens (!!). The belongings were determined to be of no value and designated to be burned. The chickens were designated as being worth $20.

Susannah had secured a divorce from Philip in June 1885, and if Philip & Margaret had taken the steps to re-marry after that date, then Margaret would have been his legal widow. But since he & Margaret’s only marriage was the one in 1873, and since he was not yet divorced from Susannah at that time, the 1873 marriage was declared void.

Interestingly, Susannah later (1920) attempted to claim a widow’s pension herself, but was rejected on the grounds of her having obtained the divorce from Philip in June 1885:



Philip Smith Pierce was a son of Richard Pierce, III and Amelia (Murray) Pierce.

1st wife Susannah “Anna” Pierce was a daughter of Jonathan Freeman Pierce and Anna (Gould) Pierce.

2nd wife Margaret Carey was an Englishwoman, per their marriage record. (Note: Philip’s mother is listed in the wedding record as “Permelia” instead of “Amelia”)

As stated above, in an affidavit Susannah states “I had one child [Virginia] by my said husband but it died six weeks after its birth” and gives the date of Virginia’s birth as 14 Jul 1865. Note: at least one other source (, with reference to “New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980”) shows the birth date as: 15 Jul 1865.

There is record of the child being buried at Gouldtown Cemetery with a death date as shown here:

Click here to view Gouldtown Cemetery listings, page M-P, and scroll down to see the lines pictured above.

In the pension records of fellow Civil War veteran Ephraim Pierce (Philip’s nephew), there is an affidavit from Ephraim’s uncle (Philip’s brother) Charles Morgan Pierce, which states the following:

“I know that in the early fall of 1863, the date I don’t now recall, Ephraim and my brother, Smith Pierce, and I went to New York to go into the service. When we got there Ephraim enlisted in the 48th NY Inf. and my brother and I enlisted in the Navy, where I served until 1864, when I was discharged for disability.” The reference to his brother as “Smith Pierce” indicates that Philip once was known by his middle name rather than his first name. This does not seem to be the case after he moved to Massachusetts, however. His 2nd wife Margaret, to whom he was married for 29 years, stated in an affidavit that she didn’t now Philip even had a middle name.

Philip and his future 2nd wife Margaret Carey were both enumerated as domestic servants at a hotel in Boston in the 1870 census.

Philip’s death record states he was buried in “Boston” but does not name the cemetery.

1st wife Susannah is buried in Gouldtown Memorial Park, Gouldtown, Cumberland Co, NJ - (for some reason she has two headstones—one shared with her mother, both somewhat difficult to read):

It is unknown when 2nd wife Margaret died, or where she is buried.


1). Among Philip’s pension records are affidavits from a Joseph P. Pierce and a Mark W. Pierce (see above). Does anyone know who they were? If they were living in Boston and stated they had lived near Philip for 22 years (being themselves only 24 and 33 years old), it would appear they’d grown up there as well. Are they connected to the NJ Pierces?

2). Does anyone know what cemetery Philip is buried in?

3). Does anyone know when 2nd wife Margaret died? Or where she is buried?


For those who may be new to the list, I have posted a few of these Civil War pension extractions previously, as has Paul Johnson and Joseph Romeo. To view some of the other Civil War pension extractions, as well as an explanatory note, please see the following page of the Mitsawokett site:

(Once on the page, scroll down below the Index to see the Overview).

Please let me know if anyone has any questions or corrections.










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