John Peirce came to Sioux City in 1869, where he entered real estate business and devoted his time and money to the development of the “north side” — the area between 23rd Street and 40th Street on Jackson and Nebraska Streets.
Peirce financed a cable railway line on Jackson St. and provided its power with the electric plant he built at 29th and Jones Streets. This plant also provided the power needed for a 500 watt electric light placed every two blocks on Jackson Street and steam heat for several nearby mansions.
In the late 1880s and early 1890s, Sioux City was experiencing a business and development boom. It was an era of boosters and promotion of the city, with crowning achievements such as construction of five corn palaces and the Peavey Grand Opera House. Sioux City was being looked upon as the next great metropolis of the west, until the international recession of 1893 hit the city and several prominent businessmen declared bankruptcy.
John Peirce was one of those promoters whose fortunes were lost during this time. Although he retained his enthusiasm and hopefulness for Sioux City’s recovery for several years, by about 1900 he gave up and made plans to move to Seattle. For more information about John Peirce, visit http://www.siouxcityhistory.org/notable-people/30-john-peirce.
Peirce developed a scheme to sell his home at 2901 Jackson by instituting a nationwide lottery. Raffle tickets were sold for a dollar a chance, with approximately 40,000 tickets distributed.
The drawing took place December 24, 1900 at the Union passenger depot. It was first announced that Bert M. Bills, a jeweler from Vinton, Iowa, held winning ticket number 35,365. Several days later it was revealed that William Barbour, a millionaire New York threadmaker, held the winning ticket.
The abstract for Peirce’s mansion actually reveals that a warranty deed transferring title to William Barbour was drawn up on December 17, 1900, nineteen days before Barbour was known to hold the “winning” ticket. The lottery had been fixed.