Woman of the Century/Elizabeth Cumings Pierce
PIERCE, Mrs. Elizabeth Cumings, poet and author, born in Fulton, N. Y., in 1850. She comes of good American ancestry. Her grandfather, Levi Cumings, served with some distinction in the War of 1812, and three of her great-grandfathers served their country in the Revolution. Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, was an ancestor upon her father's side, and her mother, whose maiden name was Harriet Hartwell Perkins, had in her veins the blood of Samuel Gorton, even more than the ardent Roger the champion of religious liberty; the inventor, Joseph Jenckes; John Crandall, who was sent to jail for holding Baptist meetings, and Edward Wanton, who, from being an assistant in Quaker persecutions, turned Quaker preacher himself, and, in his descendants, furnished Newport colony with four governors, one of whom was the great-grandfather of Elizabeth. ELIZABETH CUMINGS PIERCE. As a child, Mrs. Pierce loved books and, as she phrases it, "all out-doors." She says she was remarkable for nothing, save fleetness of foot. There were plenty of books in her home, but she counted that day lost which was spent entirely indoors. The grass, the flowers, the birds, the insects, even the snow and the rain were her intimates. At about the age of eight she began her literary work by writing a dialogue, which she taught her little schoolmates during recess. The teacher, overhearing the performance, asked Elizabeth where she found it "I made it up," was the reply. Whereupon the teacher accused the small author of falsifying and proceeded to exorcise the evil demon by means of a rose branch well furnished with thorns. The dots of blood upon her frock, where the thorns had impressed their exhortation to truthfulness, made no impression upon Elizabeth's spirit. After due apology to the parents, the teacher made the dialogue the chief feature of the "last day of school." Curiously enough, in spite of that early suggestion of future possibilities, the bugbear of Elizabeth's boarding-school days was composition-writing. In 1869 she became the wife of Rev. George Ross Pierce, a man of much culture and refinement. About 1876, over her maiden name, she began to write stories for children, which appeared in "Wide-Awake," the "Independent" and "St. Nicholas." Later, she began to write essays, under the pseudonym "Rev. Uriah Xerxes Buttles, D.D.," for the "Christian Union," and in those have appeared many shrewd and, at times, somewhat biting comments upon matters and things. A curious incident of that part of her work has been that what was pure fiction has been taken by people, of whose existence she never heard, for pure fact, or, more correctly, a description of performances in which they have taken part Mrs. Pierce's stories, verses and essays have appeared not only in the publications noted, but also in "Harper's Weekly," "Lippincott's Magazine" and on one occasion the "Scientific Monthly." Her only long stories are "The Tribulations of Ebenezer Meeker," published in " Belford's Magazine" for May, 1889, and "The Story of an Artist," in "Music." In 1891 she published a juvenile serial, "Matilda Archambeau Van Dorn," in " Wide Awake," and she had a serial in "Little Men and Women" for 1892.