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Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887

GEORGE L. PALMER, residing on section 11, Big Grove Township, and a successful farmer, is a son of Rensselaer and Mary Palmer, and was born in Ontario, Wayne Co., N. Y., March 12, 1832. He there lived with his parents until November, 1855, when he came to Iowa, locating in this county. Prior to coming here he was united in marriage with Mary M. Smith, born in Walworth, Wayne Co., N. Y., Sept. 10, 1833, the date of their marriage being Jan. 7, 1855. Arriving here the same year, he purchased a farm on sections 14 and 15, Big Grove Township, consisting of 160 acres of prairie land and about three acres of timber. Since that time he has been a resident of the States of New York, Michigan and Kansas, but continued to add to his landed estate in this county until at present he is the proprietor of 480 acres of good farm land, the same being located on sections 10, 11, 14 and 15.

Mr. Palmer was one among the first settlers in Big Grove Township, and located there prior to the time it was organized as a township. There were no schoolhouses nor churches in the township at the time, and Mr. Palmer hauled his grain to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, a distance of from twenty-five to fifty miles. His wife taught one of the first schools in the township, at the residence of A. J. Carpenter, on section 14. It was a subscription school and was liberally supported by the neighbors. Prairie chickens were numerous in those days, and Mrs. Palmer often provided a hearty meal for the family by taking the gun and killing numerous ducks, geese and chickens, and at one time killed two wild geese at one shot.

In November, 1855, soon after settling here, our subject hauled logs to Vinton with an ox-team, he being unable at that time to own a span of horses, but he succeeded in procuring a place for himself and wife to live in during the winter, which was no more nor less than a cave in the ground. There they passed the long winter of 1855-56, and during the latter year he erected a small frame house on his place. That same year there was a great prairie fire in the county, and our subject narrowly escaped, saving his property only after fighting the fire with all possible means that could be brought to bear.

The good wife, who accompanied our subject through the trials incident to the settlement of a new country, and who labored with him hand in hand with but one interest in common, and that the establishment of a permanent home for themselves and children, joined the silent majority on the other shore Jan. 26, 1885, aged fifty-one years. They were the parents of five children, four born in Iowa and one in Michigan; three now survive. Their first-born died unnamed, May 10, 1857; Byron S. was born June 4, 1858; Willis W., March 11, 1860; Rensselaer, born Nov. 1, 1864, was killed by being run over by a loaded wagon, Oct. 18, 1871, in Michigan; Jesse was born April 1, 1869. Byron attended school at Lansing, Mich., where he received the degree of B. S. in August, 1881, and since then has completed a course of study at Ann Arbor Dental College, receiving the degree of D. D. S. He then entered upon the practice of his profession at Paw Paw, Mich., and is at present a resident of Chicago, where he is engaged in practice, at the corner of Lincoln and Webster avenues. Willis also attended the Agricultural College at Lansing, Mich., and kept up his studies for a term of four years. He also received the degree of B. S., in August, 1881, when he returned to this county, and since that time has been occupied in the management of his father's farm; he is also engaged in stock-raising. Jessie is sixteen years of age and is attending the academy at Vinton.

In politics Mr. Palmer is a Republican; he voted for the first person nominated for President on that ticket, John C. Fremont, and since that time has voted for every person who has been nominated by that party for President. He is firm in his political opinion and belief, but not radical. He came here comparatively a poor man, and by energy and perseverance, coupled with economy and the active co-operation of his good helpmeet, has succeeded in acquiring a sufficiency of this world's goods, and is enabled to pass the sunset of life retired from active labor. He is one of Benton County's respected and honored citizens.

Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies"  [database online]  Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 342 & 345.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on February 18th, 2009.  Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.

Return to: 1887 Biography Index

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