Peirce Mansion Raffle Ticket
Description: This small, rather unassuming paper ticket is an homage to one of the most dramatic scandals in Sioux City history. John Peirce was one of Sioux City’s greats: he funded major developments all over the city, helped build transit lines all around the city and amassed a huge fortune in the real estate business. He lost much of this fortune in the Panic of 1893, and finally decided to give up on the city he had invested so much time and capital into building.
Desperately needing funds to leave, Peirce organized a raffle to sell the huge, stone mansion at 29th and Jackson Street. Raffle tickets sold for one dollar each. Unfortunately Peirce didn’t make near what he wanted to with this enterprise, and started using tickets as cash values to repay some of his debts to associates and creditors. Peirce sent nearly $2,500 worth of tickets to repay a cash loan he borrowed from William Barbour, one of his creditors. When the raffle was conducted on December 24, 1900 supposedly, as this event is largely undocumented, a jeweler named Bert M. Bills held the winning ticket. However it was William Barbour who was announced the winner and he became the new owner of the Peirce Mansion. Some people even claimed that the title to the mansion was transferred to Barbour even before the drawing took place, though this has never been sufficiently proven.
Peirce and his family moved to Seattle in February 1901, where he made back most of his lost fortune and eventually died at his daughter’s house in Oakland, California in 1910. On the back of the outgoing train he gave his famous Farewell to Sioux City, part of which can be heard in Sioux City Public Museum gallery. The mansion has had several different owners since his departure, and in the 1960s the Junior League of Sioux City gave it to the city to be used as a cultural institution. It was converted into the original Sioux City Public Museum and served as the site for the Museum for over 50 years.
Donor: Stanley P. Munger