October 24, 2017
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The truth about my Bangor cousins

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You know how I love to give my program on “Let’s Figure Out Those Cousins,” often beginning with a poster that documents in a simple way how I am a fourth cousin, twice removed from prominent artist Waldo Peirce.

Leave it to my pal and former BDN colleague Wayne Reilly to give me some info to spice up my tale of the Bangor Peirce family. But first, let’s recall the paper trail that shows my link to the Peirces.

Waldo Peirce, who I never met, became one of my favorite Maine artists the day I walked into the home of Daughters of the American Revolution State Regent Shirley Cole Atwood in Brewer and saw that she had several Peirce paintings — including one Waldo had done of her.

She was fascinated that I was related to her good friend Waldo Peirce, and even more pleased when I was able to establish her own “cousinship” to Waldo.

Waldo and my common ancestors were Betty (Bonney) and William Hayford Sr.of Pembroke, Mass. William Hayford Sr. was the Revolutionary War soldier I used to join the DAR on. William Jr. also served in the Revolutionary War.

Betty and William Sr. moved to the Hartford-Turner area in Maine after the war, and their many children included son Arvida Hayford Sr., great-great-grandfather of Waldo Peirce; and Matilda Hayford Briggs, wife of Abiathar Briggs Sr. and my great-great-great-great-grandmother of Parkman.

Arvida Sr.’s son Arvida Jr. was a first cousin to Abiathar Briggs Jr. of Parkman.

Arvida’s son William B. Hayford was a second cousin to my great-great-grandmother, Roxana S. Briggs Bennett of Abbot. I do wonder who Wiliam B. Hayford was named for — possibly grandfather William Hayford Sr. or Uncle William Hayford Jr. (I do know that the Arvida name from the Hayford family was used in the Briggs family of Parkman.)

William B. Hayford’s daughter was Anna Hayford Peirce, a third cousin to Walter S. Bennett of Abbot, my great-grandfather.

Anna Hayford Peirce’s son, artist Waldo Peirce, was a fourth cousin to Ione Bennett Moore.

My dad was one generation down from that cousinship, and I am two generations down, making me Waldo Peirce’s fourth cousin, twice removed.

Waldo’s dad was Mellen Peirce, and his grandfather Luther Peirce, who funded a Civil War Memorial at Mount Hope Cemetery and the Riverdrivers statue next to Bangor Public Library.

The Peirces also owned what the Bangor Daily said had been “one of the fine residences of the city” near the corner of Hammond and Franklin Street. But by 1914, Reilly found in old newspapers, the buildings owned there by heirs to the Hayford estate had landed “at the top of the list of fire traps and eyesores,” he wrote in his historical column in the Dec. 22 issue of the BDN.

A fire in the stable on the property left the county sheriff concerned that another fire in one of the buildings might force him to turn loose those residing in the jail in a less-than-organized manner.

In 1914, the property was no longer home to businesses, but was owned by Anna Peirce, daughter of rich lumberman and businessman William B. Hayford, who had himself been Bangor’s mayor in 1876.

A few years before the controversy of 1914, city officials showed up at her Cedar Street home with bags of money totaling $45,000 in an effort to part Anna from her building on Hammond Street so that it might become the public library. She wouldn’t even discuss it with them.

But the remains of the stable gave the city a path to try to condemn that portion of the property, which led Anna’s husband Mellen Peirce to promise that the stable would be torn down.

I, of course, wondered who had been living in the 75 Hammond St. property (where the post office is located now), and so checked the 1910 Census, to find that the Head of Household was at that time Waldo Peirce, 26. Living with him were his brother, Hayford Peirce, 28, and a housekeeper.

Waldo and Hayford were both listed as being born in Maine, as were their parents. As for occupation, Waldo was not described as an artist at this point. Rather, both he and Hayford were listed as “own income.”

I certainly have learned a bit more about my Hayford cousins. Thanks, Wayne — I think.

Last week, while writing about joining the Maine Genealogical Society or giving a membership or renewal as a gift, I neglected to tell you where to send your check for $25. Through Dec. 31, the address is MGS, Box 221, Farmington, ME 04938. Beginning Jan. 1, the address will be MGS, PO Box 2602, Waterville, ME 04903. Don’t worry if you send it to the wrong one, because both addresses will be “live” for awhile longer.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.