WALTER PALMER

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF 
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE  CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  389

WALTER PALMER, a retired farmer and cattle drover of Plainfield, Windham County, who has accumulated a very fair portion of this world’s goods by honest effort and energetic striving, comes from an old Colonial family and well sustains the good name that has come down to him from a God-fearing ancestry.

The first American representative of this excellent Plainfield family was Walter Palmer, born in Nottingham, England, in 1598, who came in 1629 to Charlestown, Mass., where he died in 1662.  Our subject traces his descent back through Samuel, Walter, Walter, Gersham and Walter to this English-born progenitor.

Walter Palmer, the great-grandfather of our subject, was the first of the name in Plainfield, Conn., and was a native of Stonington, Conn.  When quite a young man he came to Plainfield, purchasing a farm on Stone Hill.  His son, Walter Palmer, grandfather of our subject, for a time kept hotel at the foot of Palmer Hill, where George H. Palmer now lives.  He took an active part in town affairs, and was a stockholder in the Union factory, the first cotton mill built in the town.  In religious affairs he was also prominent, and assisted in building the Presbyterian Church.

Samuel Palmer was born in Stone Hill, where he was reared, and where he remained until about the time of his marriage, when he located on the farm that was first purchased by his grandfather, in the Stone Hill District.  He was a lifelong tiller of the soil.  He married Lydia R. Ormsbee, a daughter of Capt. Abraham and Isabella (Perry) Ormsbee; the latter was a daughter of Capt. John Perry, and was born in Seekonk, Mass., in 1801; she died in Plainfield in 1885.  Capt. Ormsbee was a native of England.  He had two sons, William and Abram, who were in the War of 1812.  Capt. Ormsbee was a colonel in the Revolutionary War.

Samuel Palmer was the father of the following family: (1) Walter, whose name appears at the opening of this article, was born March 25, 1824.  (2) Samuel, born in Plainfield, has always lived in his native town until recently, when he moved to Griswold, Conn.  (3) Nancy J. married Benjamin Cutler, and, after his death, Philip H. Manchester, of Swansea, Mass.  (4) Benjamin died young.  (5) William H. died young.  (6) Lydia C. married George Dorrance, of Plainfield.

Walter Palmer was born and reared in the Stone Hill District of Plainfield, where he received his education in the common school.  Starting out at the age of twenty-one, with hardly a dollar in his pocket, he has not only acquired a competence by his business thrift and industry, but has gained in the school of experience those practical qualities that go to make up the typical New Englander, and have long ago won for him the respect and confidence of all with whom he has come into contact.  As a farmer few have matched his successful achievements.  In March, 1852, he bought the Isaac Gallup farm, lying about a mile south of Plainfield, comprising at that time some 221 acres.  A mortgage of $4,200 was placed on the place, and acquaintances said that he would never be able to lift it.  However, he succeeded in paying the debt in five years, at the cost of almost superhuman efforts.  Since that time he has laid out in improvements considerably more than the original sum which the place cost him.  He has dug ditches and put up stone walls that represent years of such toil as only men of great physical strength and powerful constitution could endure.  Although Mr. Palmer is a man of seventy-nine, he is strong and hearty, having only recently given up the working of the large farm to his son-in-law.

It was in 1852 that Mr. Palmer made his first trip into northern New York and Canada to buy cattle.  The business proved remunerative, and though several men have dealt in cattle in Plainfield, without doubt Mr. Palmer carried on the most extensive business in that line for many years.  In a single year he brought in 1,400 head of cattle, and on a single day has sold 218 head.  For many years he made a business of handling from 400 to 600 head, his customers coming from all parts of New England to deal with him.  Mr. Palmer began buying wool from the farmers in 1861, acting as agent for others, and since that time, with the exception of the factories, has probably bought more wool than any other man in the county.  He has a fine reputation as an upright and thoroughly honest dealer.  Mr. Palmer now owns more than a thousand acres of land, and has fourteen tenement houses in Central Village, which yield him a very good income.  He also owns three houses and the postoffice building in Plainfield.

Mr. Palmer was married, in 1848, to Hannah, daughter of Capt. William Shepherd, and not a little of his success in life he attributes to her counsel, help, and heart co-operation.  She died in April, 1902.  They had the following family: (1) Walter L. is now a resident of Medway, Mass.  He was married Feb. 3, 1881, to Ella F. Witter, and for his second wife married Harriet L. Carey.  (2) Margaret H. was married Nov. 15, 1883, to Jason P. Lathrop, at present in charge of the family farm; five children have been born to them: Susan H., Nov. 8, 1884; Elsie F., July 24, 1889; Mildred E., March 12, 1893; Walter P., Aug. 14, 1895; and Raymond J., July 14, 1897.  (3) Martha E. is the wife of Herbert A. Gallup, of Oneco, Conn., and has two children, John A., born Oct. 5, 1896, and Helen P., Jan. 19, 1900.

In politics Mr. Palmer is a Democrat, and he has held nearly all the offices in the gift of his fellow townsmen.  In 1854 he served as first selectman, and he has been on the board many times since.  For years he was a member of the board of relief, and for two years was judge of probate.  In 1879, he was sent to the General Assembly from Plainfield, and served on the Fish and Cattle committees.  His son, Walter L., has also been a representative in the General Assembly.

Reproduced by:  Ellen Bisson

 

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