Portrait from the 1916 Rollamo Yearbook.
A distinguished figure in the American mining industry during the first half of the twentieth century, Colwell Arba Pierce was a transplant to the American southwest from Rhode Island. Holding a degree in mining engineering, Pierce put his knowledge to use in both Colorado and Arizona, where he was a mine superintendent and engineer. Earning a fortune in these endeavors, Pierce became active in politics in Arizona, and was later elected to a term in the Arizona State Senate in the early 1920s.
The son of Arba Francis and Eunice Colwell Pierce, Colwell Arba Pierce was born on August 21, 1886 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He would later relocate to Missouri and in 1909 married in Kansas City to Mary Louise Rood, with whom he would have two children, Sarah Louse (1911-1994) and John Colwell. Pierce would later enroll at the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy at Rolla, Missouri and graduated in the class of 1916.
Prior to his graduation Pierce resided in Victor, Colorado, where he worked at mining and surveying. He served as superintendent of the Rexall Mining Company for a time and by 1915 had removed to Patagonia, Arizona, where he was a consulting engineer. Pierce was affiliated with a number of mining concerns in Arizona and in 1918 he and a partner, Tom Gardner, lucked into the good fortune of having a large strike of silver discovered on their property in Patagonia. Remarked as being a "ledge five feet in length of high grade silver ore", the mine in which it was discovered soon received many bids, but Pierce and his partner "refused to sell."
By the early 1920s Colwell Pierce was the operator of "two producing leases" in Arizona and was a consulting mining engineer with the Sonora Development Co. of Sonara, Mexico and the Consolidated Southern Arizona Mining Company. Active in other areas of business in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Pierce served as the vice-president of the Evans Mercantile Company and was the President of the Patagonia Chamber of Commerce.
In 1922 Pierce was elected to represent Santa Cruz County in the Arizona State Senate. His term extended from 1923-25 and during his service served on the committees on Appropriations, Labor, Livestock, Roads, Militia and Public Defense. He also chaired the committee on Mines and Mining. In addition to his senate service Pierce was a member of the Santa Cruz County Highway Commission and the Southern Arizona Good Roads Association.
Colwell A. Pierce during his senate service, 1923.
Following his time in Arizona state government Pierce removed to Carlsbad, New Mexico, where he took on the position of general superintendent of the U.S. Potash Company. He was later a resident of El Paso, Texas, where he died on October 5, 1954 at age 68. Pierce was later interred at the Sunset Gardens Cemetery in Carlsbad, New Mexico.