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Biography - WALTER B. PALMER

"The proper study of mankind is man," said Pope; and aside from this, in its broader sense, what base of study and information have we? Genealogical research, then, has its value, - be it in the tracing of an obscure and broken line, or the following back of a noble and illustrious lineage whose men have been valorous, whose women of gentle refinement. We of this end-of-the-century, democratic type cannot afford to scoff at or hold in light esteem the bearing up of a "'scutcheon upon whose fair face appears no sign or blot"; and he should thus be the more honored who honors a noble name and the memory of noble deeds. The lineage of the subject of this review is one of most distinguished and interesting order, and no apology need be made in reverting to this in connection with the individual accomplishments of the subject himself.

Justus Palmer, the great-great-grandfather of him whose name introduces this review, was a resident of Norwich, Connecticut, where his son Ephraim was born December 17, 1760. On the 27th of August, 1786, the latter married Margaret Force, and on the 30th of June, 1852, he was called to his final rest. During the war of the Revolution he valiantly served in the Continental army, and thus aided in establishing American independence. His eldest son, Thomas Force Palmer, was born June 13, 1787, and on the 30th of May, 1815, married Rebecca Snow. They became the parents of six children, the third child and second son being Ephraim M. Palmer, who was born December 13, 1828, in Cattaraugus county, New York. In 1831 the family removed to Medina county, Ohio, and the succeeding eighteen years of Ephraim Palmer's life were passed on a farm in the Buckeye state. In 1847 he removed to Sugar Grove, Kendall county, Illinois, and in the spring of 1849 came to Freedom township, LaSalle county, having previously purchased a land warrant for one hundred acres. On locating thus in the southwestern corner of Freedom township, securing thereby eighty acres of land, this was the first property he had ever owned. The deed came to him direct from the government, and the land is still a part of his estate. In the fall of 1849 he made a trip across the plains to California, where he remained for nearly eight years, meeting with fair success in his business ventures on the Pacific coast. He then returned to Freedom township, and soon afterward purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Ophir township.

On the 13th of June, 1861, Ephraim Palmer was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Butler, of Ophir township, LaSalle county, the eldest child of Ebenezer and Nancy (Butterfield) Butler. On the father's side of the family they are descendants of Nicholas Butler, who was born at Martha's Vineyard in 1662. His son, Benjamin Butler, was married in 1769 to Amy Daggett, and in 1790 they became the parents of a son, Benjamin, Jr., who was born at Martha's Vineyard, and he married Huldah Bradford, a relative of Governor Bradford, of Massachusetts. They removed to Avon, Maine, where Benjamin, their second son, was born May 18, 1808. There Benjamin Butler married Nancy Butterfield, on the 24th of December, 1833, and on the 1 6th of November, 1834, they became the parents of a daughter, Sarah, whose birth occurred in Anson, Maine, and who, in 1861, became the wife of Mr. Palmer. On the maternal side Mrs. Palmer traces her ancestry back to Jonas Butterfield, who was born in Dunstable, Massachusetts, September 12, 1742. He was a member of the home guards or minute men, and marched from Dunstable to Cambridge on the alarm of April 19, 1775. Four of his brothers were soldiers in the Revolutionary war, and the military history of the family is one of which the descendants may well be proud. His son, John Butterfield, was born April 16, 1780, and on the 25th of June, 1800, married Sybil Willerd, who was born August 17, 1782. Their daughter, Nancy Butterfield, was born September 25, 1808. and became the wife of Ebenezer Butler and the mother of Mrs. Palmer. To Mr. and Mrs. Ephraim Palmer were born two children, - Carrie, born September i, 1865. who died on the 30th of September, of the same year, and Walter, the surviving son, who was born June 22, 1868. In the spring of the latter year the father removed to his farm in Freedom township, a tract containing two hundred acres of very valuable land. In 1881 a niece of Mrs. Palmer, then an infant, became an inmate of their home, and has since been a daughter in the household. Her name is Agnes Butler, but she has always been called Agnes Palmer.

In his political views Mr. Palmer was a stanch Republican, unswerving in his advocacy of the principles of the party. He filled a number of positions of public trust, including those of assessor, commissioner and a member of the school board. The cause of education found in him a warm friend, and for nearly thirty years he was regarded as a leader in every movement that tended to advance the educational interests of his community. He was at all times an honest, upright man, whose word was as good as his bond, and over his life record there falls no shadow or wrong or suspicion of evil. In January, 1892, he was attacked by la grippe, which was followed by pneumonia, and on the 30th of that month his life's labors were ended in death. Throughout the community his loss was deeply mourned and his memory is cherished in the hearts of all who knew him.

Walter B. Palmer, his only surviving child, was married in September, 1889, to Miss Ina Lardin, a daughter of John and Elizabeth Lardin and a sister of Judge A. T. Lardin, of Ottawa. She was a lady of culture, who had many warm friends, but in May, 1891, she died of consumption. In November, 1893, Walter B. Palmer and his mother came to Ottawa and took up their abode in the beautiful modern residence which they had erected. In December, 1894, he was again married, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary Frances White, a daughter of William and Nellie (Barger) White, formerly of Davenport, Iowa, where her father was a prominent lawyer. Mr. Palmer has always loved a fine horse, and has owned some of the best in the country. He has been very successful in those which have been put upon the race track, and each year he has a number of fine trotters and pacers that are displayed at fairs and upon other race courses. His life has been spent in LaSalle county, where he has a wide acquaintance, and he and his estimable wife enjoy the hospitality of the best homes of Ottawa.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 80-82.

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