April 8, 2014

Pearce Family of Franklin County, NC

Martha Hawkins Pearce
1872 - 1953
 According to family lore and scanty documentation, the Pearce family migrated into Franklin County sometime prior to 1780 via Northhampton County, NC, Isle of Wight, Virginia, and Bristol, England. Although the family and descendants spent many years in Franklin County (about 1780 – about 1840), family members after 1840 migrated back and forth among Franklin, Wake, and Granville Counties. This was likely due to the shifting county lines and that the family lived very near the “3 corners” where the three counties share a common boundary line.

Jeffrey Pearce was born about 1780 in Franklin Co., NC, and died after 1860 in Franklin Co., NC. He married his first wife, Anna Dent, 13 Sep 1808 in Franklin County, NC. Anna, born about 1790, was the daughter of John Dent and Sarah Hutchinson. Upon Anna’s death, he married Adaline Falkner 23 Dec 1840 in Franklin Co., NC. Jeffrey and Anna raised a large and prosperous family in Franklin County. Their 11 children included John, Martha (Patsy) Kearney, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Enoch, Henry, James Thomas, Benjamin, Joseph, Willis, and Samuel.

Jeffrey’s marriage to Anna is mentioned in her mother’s will. Probated in Franklin County on 16 December 1824, Sarah Dent leaves all of her property – including cattle, hogs, household, and kitchen furniture - to “Jeffrey Pearce and his wife Anne for the purpose of maintaining my daughter Mary and after the death of Mary my will is that the above property shall go to above said Jeffrey and his wife Anna and their Heirs”.

Jeffrey’s will dated 27 January 1838 recorded in Franklin County is very generous to his family and clearly delineates his place in society as a plantation owner. He leaves all his real and personal property to his “beloved wife” Annie Pearce to support herself and their daughter Elizabeth. On the death of her mother, Elizabeth will inherit all his land and plantation. He leaves money as well to Elizabeth, Enoch, James, and Mary. He asks that his slaves be divided among Elizabeth, Enoch, James, Willis, and Joseph. Children Patsy, Mary Ann, William, Henry, and Benjamin each inherit a sum equivalent to the slaves’ cash value. He names Henry, Enoch and James as executors. On 13 November 1859, Jeffrey signs a codicil leaving 1/8 of his estate to his daughter Patsy and her children, presumably because she was widowed.

According to the Extracts of Franklin Co., NC Court Minutes, 1838-1839, Jeffrey served on a jury in an apparent criminal trial of Thomas E. Yarborough et al, who was charged with Affray (modern day assault). The jury found the defendants not guilty and ordered that the prosecutor in the case pay all costs.

The family appears on the 1840 and 1860 US Federal Census in Franklin, NC. The 1860 Slave Schedule shows five slaves as belonging to the family ranging in age 9 to 53.

John Pearce, son of Jeffrey Pearce and Anna Dent, was born 1812 in Franklinton, Franklin County, NC, and died 08 Mar 1882 in Wake County, NC. He married Martha Williams 19 Jul 1831 in Franklin County, she was born 1810 in Wake County, NC, and died 1858. John and Martha appear on the 1850 and 1860 federal census in New Light District of Wake County, NC, which is just across the Franklin County line. He is listed as a farmer and carpenter. Their children, all born in Wake County, include James, Marcellus, John, Angeline, George, Sarah, and Vandelia. Son Marcellus served in the Civil War with Co I, 1st NC State Troops, was taken prisoner at Spotsylvania Court House in May 1864 and was released from the infamous Elmira Prison a year later.

George Wesley Pearce, son of John Pearce and Martha Williams, was born Jan 1843 in Wake County, NC, and died 1916 in Wake County, NC. He married Elizabeth Caroline Perry 14 Feb 1866 in Wake County, NC, daughter of William Perry and Delia Harrison. She was born 27 Mar 1831 in Wake County, NC, and died 16 Aug 1903 in Wake County, NC. George served in the Civil War with Co. D, 23rd Reg. NC Troops. George and Elizabeth had 6 children: Martha Hawkins, Dillithea, John, George, Annie, and Joseph.

Martha Hawkins Pearce, daughter of George Wesley Pearce and Elizabeth Caroline Perry, was born Sep 1870 in Wake County, NC. She married Allan H. Ray 03 Dec 1885 in Wake County, NC. Their children included Elizabeth, Loretta, Mary, and James.

Elizabeth Ray, daughter of Martha Hawkins Pearce and Allan Ray, was born 24 Dec 1886 in Wake County, NC. She married Eugene Narron Allen 02 Jul 1904 in Wake County, NC. Eugene (Bud) served in World War I. Elizabeth (Sissy) and Eugene had seven children: Vada Atlas, Mamie, Lois, Henrietta, Lucie, John, and Eugene. Sissy died in childbirth with Eugene on 18 Apr 1928 in Wake County.

Ethel Davis Allen and
Vada Atlas Allen
Vada Atlas Allen, son of Elizabeth Ray and Eugene Allen, was born 27 Jun 1905 in Wake Co., NC, and died 21 Oct 1964 in Raleigh, NC. He married Ethel Davis 14 Oct 1926 in New Light Township, Wake County, NC, daughter of Sidney Davis and Cordelia Davis. She was born 27 Dec 1906 in Granville Co, NC, and died 30 Jun 1965 in Raleigh, NC. At various points in their life together, they lived in Granville, Franklin and Wake Counties. Their oldest daughter, Ann Gladys, was born in Franklin County. Additionally, they had two other daughters, Elizabeth (Lib) Grace and Mary Joyce.

Ann Gladys Allen, daughter of Vada Atlas Allen and Ethel Davis, was born 01 Jul 1929 in Franklin County, NC, and died 13 Apr 1997 in Wake County, NC. She married Carl Donald Stancil, son of Jesse Stancil and Lou Ada Johnson, 03 May 1952 in North Street Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC. He was born 29 Jun 1930 in Wake Co., NC, and died 02 Feb 1997 in Wake Co., NC. 

Sources: Census Records, Court Records, Wills, Clerk of Courts,

Marriage Records, Military Records, NC Archives Records,

Family Information. 

This article was originally composed by Carla Stancil for inclusion in the Franklin County Heritage Book.


  1. Good info, My great grandfather was George W Pearce as mentioned in the above post. Bp

  2. George W Pearce was actually in Co D 30th North Carolina Infantry. I see you have him listed in the 23rd. I saw this info also listed in the Franklin County Heritage Book at The Library in Louisburg. I have a copy of some of his Civil War papers as well as a picture of his head stone that says Co D 30th Infantry North Carolina. Thanks Bp

  3. Martha Hawkins Pearce was my great-grandmother on my mother's side. I actually have the framed portrait of her that is pictured. What a surprise to be scrolling through and actually seeing it!

  4. Looking for father of Malcom Henry Pearce born around 1922 in Wayne county nc. Mother Annie Myers.

  5. My name is Michael Perry son of Cecil Daniel Arnold Perry looking for info on Paul and Mary Edwards Pearce Parents of great grandmother Beddie Susan Pearce u may email me at mperry09252016@gmail.com. I hope someone will be able to help