Guide to the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Papers

Forrer-Peirce-Wood Papers
Dayton Metro Library
Phone: 937-496-8654
Forrer family
Bulk dates:
20 linear feet
The Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection consists of materials created and collected by the Samuel Forrer and Jeremiah H. Peirce families of Dayton, Ohio, as well as several other related families, including the Parrott, Bruen, Howard, Little, Affleck, Elliot, Crane, Steele, Davies, Cooper, Greene, and Zeigler families.
The records are in English

Biography of the Forrer and Peirce families

The Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection includes the papers of at least six generations of Dayton families, primarily the Samuel Forrer family and the Jeremiah H. Peirce family, and their ancestors and descendants.

The following brief biographical sketch describes the members of immediate families of Samuel Forrer and Jeremiah H. Peirce. More detailed biographical sketches of individual family members, as well as other related families, can be found at the beginning of each subseries.

Samuel Forrer was born in 1793 in Pennsylvania. He moved to Ohio in 1817, and he became a surveyor. In 1820, Samuel became involved in preliminary studies for an Ohio canal system. He became one of the canal engineers on the Miami Canal (later Miami-Erie Canal), and he served several terms on the state Board of Canal Commissioners and the Board of Public Works. Samuel Forrer was involved with the canal system for more than 50 years, longer than any other individual in the history of Ohio's canals. Samuel died in 1874 in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1826, Samuel Forrer married Sarah H. Howard, daughter of Horton Howard. Sarah was born in 1807 and died in 1887. The couple had six children: Elizabeth H. Forrer (1827-1874) married Jeremiah H. Peirce (1818-1889); Edward (1830-1838); Augusta Forrer (1833-1907) married Luther B. Bruen (1822-1864), who was fatally wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness; Ann Forrer (1835-1837); Mary Forrer (1838-1929), who also married Jeremiah H. Peirce; and Howard Forrer (1841-1864), who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta.

Elizabeth H. Forrer was born in 1827. In 1846, she married Jeremiah H. Peirce, son of Joseph Peirce and Henrietta Elliot. Jeremiah was born in 1818. He was a Dayton businessman: a lard oil manufacturer and later lumber dealer. In 1854, Jeremiah built a house in Harrison Township for his growing family and called it "Five Oaks." Elizabeth H. (Forrer) Peirce died in 1874, and in 1882, Jeremiah married her younger sister Mary Forrer. Mary was born in 1838. She was a talented artist, specifically in the areas of drawing and painting, and she had studied in Europe and New York City. Jeremiah H. Peirce died in 1889, and Mary (Forrer) Peirce died in 1929.

Jeremiah H. Peirce and Elizabeth H. (Forrer) had eight children: Samuel Forrer Peirce (1847-1855); Henrietta Elliot Peirce (1848-1919), who married H. Eugene Parrott (1839-1933) and had nine children; Edward Davies Peirce (1850-1868); Sarah Howard Peirce (1853-1930) was a teacher and opened the first kindergarten in Dayton; Mary "Mellie" Forrer Peirce (1855-1892); Elizabeth Forrer Peirce (1857-1930) was a nurse; J. Elliot Peirce (1861-1940) was a successful Dayton businessman who married and had five children; and Howard Forrer Peirce (1865-1899) was a talented and well-known pianist who died of tuberculosis at age 33.

While the Samuel Forrer and Jeremiah H. Peirce families are the primary creators of this collection, there are many documents pertaining to these and many other relatives: Horton Howard (1770-1833), a leading Ohio Quaker and federal land agent; John H. Howard (1813-1878), a Dayton lawyer and mayor; Joseph Peirce (1786-1821), an early Dayton settler, merchant, and banker; Dr. John Elliot (d. 1809), the first doctor to take permanent residence in Dayton; James Steele (1778-1841), an early Dayton settler, merchant, banker, and judge; Daniel C. Cooper (1773-1818), one of Dayton's most important early settlers; and David Zeigler (1748-1811), the first mayor of Cincinnati.

For more detailed biographies of specific individuals and families, refer to the beginning of the relevant series/subseries in the original expanded paper finding aid, available at the Dayton Metro Library Local History Room. Also refer to the finding aid's index for all page numbers where specific individuals are mentioned.

Scope and Content

The Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection consists of the papers of canal engineer Samuel Forrer, his son-in-law Jeremiah H. Peirce, and their families, as well as many other relatives, most of whom were also prominent Daytonians. The majority of the papers consist of personal correspondence among family members. However, many other kinds of documents are also included (described in the series/subseries details below).

This collection would be of particular interest to researchers in the following areas: history of Dayton, Ohio, including daily life of residents, from its early settlement through the early 20th century; history of military activities and early settlement on the Ohio frontier; American Civil War, particularly its effects on Dayton, as well as the experiences of individual soldiers; history of the Miami-Erie Canal; history and biography of the following families: Forrer, Peirce, Parrott, Bruen, Howard, Little, Affleck, Elliot, Crane, Steele, Davies, Cooper, Greene, Loury, Zeigler, and Sheffield; and family relationships in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as illustrated through correspondence.

Statement of Arrangement

The Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection is arranged into the following series and subseries:
Series I: Samuel Forrer Family
Subseries 1: Samuel Forrer
Subseries 2: Sarah Hastings (Howard) Forrer
Subseries 3: Howard Forrer
Subseries 4: Other Forrer Family Members
Series II: Jeremiah H. Peirce Family
Subseries 1: Jeremiah Hunt Peirce
Subseries 2: Elizabeth Hannah (Forrer) Peirce
Subseries 3: Mary (Forrer) Peirce
Subseries 4: Edward Davies Peirce
Subseries 5: Sarah Howard Peirce
Subseries 6: Mary Forrer Peirce
Subseries 7: Elizabeth Forrer Peirce
Subseries 8: Howard Forrer Peirce
Subseries 9: John Elliot Peirce, Sr., & Family
Subseries 10: Henrietta Elliot (Peirce) Parrott & Family
Series III: Related Families
Subseries 1: Bruen Family
Subseries 2: Howard Family
Subseries 3: Joseph Peirce Family
Subseries 4: Elliot/Crane Family
Subseries 5: Steele Family
Subseries 6: Cooper/Greene Family
Subseries 7: Zeigler Family
Subseries 8: Miscellaneous/Unknown

Restrictions on Use

There are no known restrictions on use of this collection.

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Canals -- Ohio
Dayton (Ohio) -- History
Dayton (Ohio) -- History -- 19th century
Dayton (Ohio) -- Social life and customs
Land settlement -- Ohio
Miami and Erie Canal (Ohio)
Ohio -- History -- 19th century
Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Quakers -- Ohio
Society of Friends -- Ohio


Bruen, Augusta (Forrer), 1833-1907
Bruen, Luther B. (Luther Barnett), 1822-1864
Cooper, Daniel C., 1773-1818
Elliot, John (d. 1809)
Forrer, Howard, 1841-1864
Forrer, Samuel, 1793-1874
Forrer, Sarah Hastings (Howard), 1807-1887
Howard, Horton, 1770-1833
Howard, John H., 1813-1878
Parrott, Henrietta Elliot (Peirce), 1848-1919
Parrott, Henry Eugene, 1839-1933
Peirce, Edward Davies, 1850-1868
Peirce, Elizabeth Forrer, 1857-1930
Peirce, Elizabeth Hannah (Forrer), 1827-1874
Peirce, Howard Forrer, 1865-1899
Peirce, Jeremiah Hunt, 1818-1889
Peirce, John Elliot, 1861-1940
Peirce, Joseph, 1786-1821
Peirce, Mary (Forrer), 1838-1929
Peirce, Mary Forrer, 1855-1892
Peirce, Sarah Howard, 1853-1930
Steele, James, 1778-1841
Ziegler, David, 1748-1811

Family Names:

Affleck family
Bruen family
Cooper family
Crane family
Davies family
Davis family
Elliot family
Elliott family
Forrer family
Green family
Greene family
Howard family
Little family
Parrott family
Peirce family
Pierce family
Steele family
Ziegler family

Preferred Citation

The Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), a special collection of historical materials at the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Acquisition Information

According to a donation placard found within the collection, it was donated to the Dayton Metro Library by Mrs. George H. Wood, nee Virginia Peirce, a granddaughter of Jeremiah H. Peirce. The exact date and circumstances of the donation are not known. However, it is estimated that the collection was probably donated sometime between 1936 (the date of the latest item) and 1946 (when the Peirce family estate, Five Oaks, was sold to the city for a park and the mansion was razed).

Other Finding Aid

A more detailed paper finding aid, including an index, is available at the Local History Room reference desk.

Box and Folder Listing

Series I: Samuel Forrer Family, 1819-1922

Subseries 1: Samuel Forrer, 1819-1887

Subseries 2: Sarah Hastings (Howard) Forrer, 1825-1887

Subseries 3: Howard Forrer, 1860-1874

Other Forrer Family Members, 1823-1922

Series II: Jeremiah H. Peirce Family, 1835-1936

Subseries 1: Jeremiah Hunt Peirce, 1837-1936

Subseries 2: Elizabeth Hannah (Forrer) Peirce, 1835-1874

Subseries 3: Mary (Forrer) Peirce, 1848-1930

Subseries 4: Edward Davies Peirce, 1865-1868

Subseries 5: Sarah Howard Peirce, 1874-1931

Subseries 6: Mary Forrer Peirce, 1868-1891

Subseries 7: Elizabeth Forrer Peirce, 1874-1930

Subseries 8: Howard Forrer Peirce, 1871-1899

Subseries 9: John Elliot Peirce, Sr., & Family, 1845, 1873-1928

Subseries 10: Henrietta Elliot (Peirce) Parrott & Family, 1861-1931

Series III: Related Families, 1789-1929

Subseries 1: Bruen Family, 1850-1929

Subseries 2: Howard Family, 1795-1928

Subseries 3: Joseph Peirce Family, 1790-1904

Subseries 4: Elliot/Crane Family, 1805-1869

Subseries 5: Steele Family, 1806-1922

Subseries 6: Cooper/Greene Family, 1801-1880

Subseries 7: Zeigler Family, 1791-1822

Subseries 8: Miscellaneous/Unknown, 1789-1908