Thomas Wentworth Peirce was born in New Hampshire in 1818. He went into business with his father, before starting his own mercantile firm, Peirce and Bacon. Peirce and Bacon became extremely successful, earning Peirce a considerable fortune. Much of his southern trade was centered in Texas, where his company dealt mainly in sugar, cotton, and hides. When he opened a branch in Galveston he became very interested in the railroad. After making several key investments in the continuation of the railroad in Texas, Peirce’s wealth swelled to staggering proportions. He was not limited to monetary wealth, but also owned a large amount of land thanks to his railroad investments. When he died he owned more than 700,000 acres of land.
He purchased a farm in Topsfield and used it as a “country retreat” while he lived in Boston. Eventually, he converted it into an estate, employing Jacob Foster, a reputable carpenter, to build an addition on his house. Peirce worked hard not only to make the land fruitful, but also to turn it into a state of the art farm. There were at least three barns on the property, along with an ice house, a blacksmith shop, and a boarding house for farm hands. After his death his estate was valued at over $8 million.