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Pierce County was established March 14, 1853 having previously been part of St. Croix County and, after much debate, the county seat was settled in Ellsworth. It encompasses approximately 591 square miles and was named for Franklin Pierce, U.S. Representative and 11th President of the United States.
Its early history begins with land speculation in 1827 by a group of army officers stationed in Fort Snelling. Philander Prescott served as their agent. Due in part to the speculations, Pierce County was slow growing at the start. Later, when legislation made it illegal for this kind of land speculation, Prescott purchased his own property and became one of the first settlers in the county. He was later killed near Mankato, Minnesota in the 1862 Sioux uprising during negotiations with the tribe. From there Pierce County's growth was fairly steady, although today it remains largely agricultural and rural, even with its proximity to the St. Paul/Minneapolis metropolitan area.
The county's first settlers were New Englanders from New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and elsewhere. Later there was a large influx of German, Norwegian and Swedish immigrants, as well as eastern Europeans who left their mark in the names, faces and traditions of Pierce County today. Some of these signs are visible in the wooden churches with their bell steeples that dot the landscape.
Through collaboration with the University of WI-River Falls Area Research Center (a HUGE thank you to Susan Watson and her volunteer staff), the Pierce County Historical Association and the St. Croix Valley Genealogical Society, great things are happening here.
Although this site has grown steadily since its inception, there is so much more to be done. If you have materials specific to Pierce County, its people, history and genealogy, or have time to donate transcribing records, please contact the State Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check back often as new material is being added on a regular basis and enjoy your visit. I hope that you will find something to help you in your search for your roots in Pierce County.
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If you would be interested in adopting Pierce County or another Wisconsin County Web site, please contact Tina Vickery for further information.
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Thanks to the past County Coordinator, Debbie Barrett, for the design of this website.