© Photographed December 2, 2017
Erected 1998 by Wisconsin Historical Society
Maribel, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
44° 17.971′ N, 87° 46.516′ W44.299517, -87.775267
In 1847 New York millwright and speculator Pliney Pierce built this mill adjacent to the rapidly falling waters of Devils River. First constructed as a sawmill, Rock Mill was quickly converted to a gristmill after the area's available timber was depleted. Serving mostly local German, Czech and Irish immigrant farmers, Rock Mill ground as many as 118 bags of grain a day and produced wheat, rye and graham flour and animal feed. The mill functioned as the social center of rural life here for almost 90 years, ceasing operation in 1934.
The marker is located on the grounds of Devils River Campers Park, and is accessible from southbound North Packer Drive / County Highway R, between Zander Road (to the north) and Schley Road (to the South), at or near 16612 County Highway R, Maribel, Wisconsin 54227.
There is lots to see here in addition to the marker. Rock Mill is just down the road from Maribel Caves Motel, the most popular link on this website.
See below (scroll to the bottom of this page) for the very interesting story of the Pliney Pierce family.
Devil's River Campground
Devil's River Campground
This plaque is affixed to the facade of the Mill.
The "Buggy Barn".
Inside the Buggy Barn.
The marker is located at Devil's River Campers Park
in Maribel, Wisconsin.
THE PLINY PIERCE FAMILY
THE PLINY PIERCE FAMILY
From Der Nord Westen, 19 Apr. 1894:SUSAN PIERCE (d. 1900)
Death in Manitowoc Rapids on Mon. of Mr. Pliny Pierce, one of the first white settlers of Manitowoc Co., at the age of 86. He came from his home in New York State in 1836 and has lived here ever since. In the early pioneer days he served in several public capacities, including County Clerk and Postmaster. His funeral was yesterday.
[bur. 04-16-1894/cause: nephritis and age]
LIFE'S MISSION ENDED - PIERCED.B. PIERCE
After a pilgrimage of nearly ninety years through the rose embowered and thorn strewn paths of earthly joys and sorrows Mrs. Pliny Pierce entered into the mysteries of the life eternal Sunday morning. The summons to the higher life came at her home in Rapids, where for more than sixty years she had resided continuously, loved and respected by friends and neighbors. With the passing of Mrs. Pierce, a notable event in local history finds a finis to the chapter.
One of the very first white settlers in the community she has been privileged to live to witness the consummation of many changes. Coming here in 1838 and locating in Rapids through all the hardships of pioneer life in the duties and responsibilities of the home life she has ever been a true woman, whose generous nature reached out in helpfulness to the less favored. At home where the interest of her nearest and dearest were never sacrificed for those outside was her fidelity apparent. Many unique memories and distinctive incidents make her history an intensely interesting one.
Born in New York, Feb. 28, 1808 she was united in marriage to Pliny Pierce in 1829. In 1837 her husband was engaged to come to Manitowoc county to build a mill at Rapids and in 1838 he returned to bring his family here. Arriving in the fall of '38 they at once took up their residence at Rapids where in 1894, Mr. Pierce finished life's labor and was laid to rest. His widow has continued to reside on the old homestead since, cared for by her children and contented and happy were made the closing days. Death was due to general debility and for several months the aged mother has been confined to her bed. Although not entirely unexpected the demise was a shock to the family and
friends. Mrs. Pierce was the mother of six children, five of whom survive to mourn her loss, one son, Barley Pierce having been killed a few years ago. The surviving children are Mrs. Mary Barley, Little Rapids, Monroe Pierce, Clark Mills, Jerome and Alonzo of this city and Miss Muranda who resided with the deceased. The funeral will be held at the late home tomorrow afternoon, Rev. Gray officiating.
Manitowoc Daily Herald, Monday, July 30, 1900, Page 1
Amidst the odor of sweet flowers and surrounded by many old acquaintances and friends, all that was mortal of Mrs. Pliny Pierce was laid in the last resting place Tuesday afternoon. Rev. Gray conducted the services at the late home and said a few words of comfort to the relatives and friends at the grave. A few fitting selections were rendered by the choir. The pall bearers were Sam Hall, H.F. Hubbard, P.S. Tillson, Emil Baensch, George Gibson and T. Windiate.
Manitowoc Daily Herald, Wednesday, August 01, 1900, Page 1
From Der Nord Westen, 02 Aug. 1900:
Death Sun. in Town Manitowoc Rapids of Mrs. Pliny Pierce, mother of our Chief of Police P. Jerome Pierce. The deceased was one of the very first to settle in our county, having come here with her husband (who died 6 yrs. ago) in the year 1838 when it was inhabited solely by Indians.
She was born 28 Feb. 1808 in New York, thus reaching the age of 92. She leaves 5 children. Her funeral was held Tues. afternoon.
[bur. 08-01-1900/cause: old age]
From Der Nord Westen, 07 Mar. 1889:ALONZO PIERCE
Death of Bailey Pierce of Manitowoc Rapids last week as a result of an accident in which he was severely injured by his span of horses. He died last Thurs. morning (a complete description of the accident can be found in the issue of 28 Feb.) The Grand Army of the Republic carried him to his final rest.
From Der Nord Westen, 07 Jan. 1904:JEROME PIERCE
Death in Town Manitowoc Rapids on Sun. morning of Alonzo C. Pierce, one of the first white residents of our county, coming here with his parents in 1837, a time when there were only a dozen white families here and the red men roamed the wilderness freely. He was born 03 June 1830 in the state of New York. In his youth he floated timber for a living and even made several trips to New Orleans. In 1854 he made a trip around Cape Horn to San Francisco to seek his fortune in the newly discovered gold fields, but 3 yrs. later came back to the old farmstead in Manitowoc. During the war he served with the 27th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. At the war's end he reestablished his residency in Manitowoc Rapids. His death on Sun. was a result of a serious case of pneumonia.
In addition to his widow, he is survived by several sons and a daughter, as well as two brothers (including Chief of Police P. Jerome Pierce of Manitowoc), and 2 sisters. The funeral was held Tues. in the local cemetery under the direction of the H.M. Walker Post of the G.A.R., of which the deceased was a member.
[Alonzo Pierce/bur. 01-03-1904/cause: pneumonia]
From Der Nord Westen, 16 Nov. 1905:MONROE PIERCE
Former police chief P. Jerome Pierce died today after a long illness, and in his memory the flags on the city buildings will fly at half-mast.
From Der Nord Westen, 23 Nov. 1905:
P.J. Pierce, whose death we reported last week, was one of the first white residents of our county, coming here as a boy in 1838 and lived here ever since. He was born in the state of N.Y. in 1831. His father, Pliny Pierce, settled in Town Manitowoc Rapids in 1837 when it was a total wilderness and sent for his family to join him the following year.
As Mr. Pierce grew up he undertook several retail businesses in this vicinity. He also interested himself in politics and was the 3rd postmaster of Manitowoc Rapids, which at that time was the county seat, and later filled the office of sheriff. In 1897 he was named police chief for Manitowoc and occupied that office until Sep. of this year when illness forced his retirement. Mr. Pierce leaves a widow and a son,
Stanley. The funeral was held Sun. afternoon.
Monroe Pierce, Oldest Native Born, Is DeadMARY PIERCE
Manitowoc Rapids Man, Civil War Vet, To Be Buried Friday Monroe Pierce, oldest native born of Manitowoc county, died at Holy Family hospital Tuesday evening at 8 o'clock at the age of 93.
Had he lived until July 23 he would have been 94 years old. Mr. Pierce was removed to the hospital from the family homestead at Manitowoc Rapids last week after having been in failing health for some time.
The body will lie in state at the Pfeffer Funeral Home from this evening until 10:30 o'clock Friday morning when it will be taken to St.; James Episcopal church for services to be conducted by the Rev. W.F. Hood at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Evergreen cemetery.
Anson Monroe Pierce was born at Manitowoc Rapids, July 28, 1840. He was a son of Pliny and Susan Pierce, pioneer of Manitowoc county, the youngest of four sons.
As a young man he went to St. Clair, Mich., and there learned the trade of wagon-maker. He returned and obtained employment at the Tillson carriage shop in this city. He also worked at Clarks Mills for some time. He served with the Union forces in the Civil War. Mr. Pierce never married. For the last five years he has made his home with Mr. and Mrs. George Klingeisen, the latter his sister, Miranda, on the old Pierce homestead, west of Rapids.
Mrs. Klingeisen and two nephews, Pliny Bailey of Little Rapids, and Stanley Pierce of this city, are the only immediate survivors. Three brothers, Alonzo, Jerome and Bailey, and a sister, Mrs. Erskine Bailey, preceded him in death.
Manitowoc Herald Times Wednesday, July 12, 1933 pg. 2
[cause: general debility/bur. on P.J. Pierce lot]
PIERCE - In Manitowoc Rapids, Oct. 29th, of diptheria, Mary Amanda, daughter of Alonzo C. and Lena A. Pierce, aged 9 yrs., 5 mos. and 5 dys. The sympathies of the many friends of the bereaved parents in this city are extended to them.PEARL PIERCE
Manitowoc Tribune, November 2, 1876 page 3 column 1
From Der Nord Westen, 02 May 1889:SUSIE PIERCE
Death of 20 yr. old Pearl Pierce, daughter of Jerome Pierce, on Thurs. of last week of diphtheria after an illness of only a week.
[bur. 04-26-1889/age 19 yrs./cause: diptheria]
From Der Nord Westen, 08 Apr. 1909:Evergreen Cemetery Obituaties
Miss Susan Pierce of Manitowoc Rapids has died in Trinity Hospital in Milwaukee from pneumonia. The deceased formerly worked at Schuette’s store here. The casket was brought here and buried Monday afternoon.
[bur. 04-08-1909/cause: septic tonsillitis]
Susan Pierce/d. 2 Apr. 1909 at Trinity Hosp., Milwaukee/age 43 yrs./from record of St. James Episc. ch., Manitowoc