Monday, October 4, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: 1918 Letter to Dr. Byron Palmer

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is another transcription of a document from the papers of Maria Lee Palmer Smith (1844-1931), my husband's great-grandmother. It is apparently a copy of a letter she sent to Byron S. Palmer in response to inquiry from him about the Palmer Family. Punctuation, format and spelling are retained from the original, though line breaks have been altered.

[page 1]
                        College Park,
                                                                                                Frederick, Md
                                                                                                   May 24 – 1918

Dr. Byron S. Palmer,
Palmyra, N.Y.

Dear Doctor;
                        I did received a communication  from you dated Feb. 1917, but, at that time I was in the deepest sorrow caused by the death of a beloved son.
I am very sorry I can give you only such little information.
My father died when I was only three years old. My mother brother and myself moved to Maryland
[page 2]
which has been my home almost all my life. The few letters and records we possessed were lost during “the war between the States” when the vessel on which we had permission to go to our old home in Va. was confiscated by the Union government. As you will see I had no Aunts or Uncles on my father’s side – only two great Aunts who died long years ago.
In 1899 I wrote to Senator John M. Palmer of Springfield Illinois who wrote me his father and grandfather were born in Northumberland Co. Va. That they went to Kentucky in 1794. His grandfather Isaac Palmer was born Nov. 1. 1747. His grandfather was a soldier in the Rev. war & received a pension for serving six months as a Minute man.
[page 3]
He said he took much interest in my endeavor to trace the Palmers and he had no doubt we were akin.
His great grandfather was Thomas Palmer. I have the following from John McCauley Palmer of West Point New York in 1904. “Thomas Palmer went to Va. from England early in the 18th century. One of his sons Isaac was born in Northumberland Co. Va in 1747 Nov. 1st. resembles somewhat Senator (Palmer’s) records. Isaac Palmer m. Ann McAuley of Northumberland Co. in June 1747.
Louis D. Palmer 3d son of Isaac & Ann Palmer was born in Northumberland Co. June 23. 1781.
I have heard the other two sons of Isaac Palmer were John & William & one of them went north from Va. Louis D. Palmer, m. Ann Hansford Gott (sp?) who was born in Culpepper Co in 1886. John McAuley Palmer was a
 [page 4]
son of Louis D. Palmer & was born in Kentucky in 1817.
My grandfather Col. J. Armstead Palmer was a very progressive man – owned almost one thousand acres of land & many slaves. With some other gentlemen he was instrumental in securing a line of steamers between Baltimore & the Northern Neck & as wood was the only fuel procurable he & these other gentlemen had the contract to furnish the steamers with wood. My brother John T. A. Palmer of Kilmarnock Lancaster Co. was also most active & progressive until his health was greatly impaired by a sun stroke. I am afraid you will find all this unsatisfactory, but, it is the best I can do.
Our old home place where my brother resides lies both in Lancaster & Northumberland Co. Va Wishing you much success I am
Maria Lee Smith

Byron Palmer spent decades collecting information about the Palmer families. His research was the basis for the Horace Wilbur Palmer's massive Palmers in America.  Maria Lee may have included information with the letter outlining her specific Palmer descent, but nothing else was found with this copy. Nor were any of the letter's from Palmer to Maria Lee found during the first examination of the papers.

The references to Col. Palmer's association with the steamships, to the loss of records during the Civil War and to her brother's illness as sun stroke are all new to me.  

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