Pioneer James Palmer (1795-1863), who was a military officer in the War of 1812, trekked from his home in Pennsylvania to South Bend, Ind., in 1831. With him came his wife, Almira (1807-1869), daughter of Lake County pioneer Obadiah Taylor, and their eight children, including a small son, Adelbert Palmer, born in 1829.
The family settled in South Bend until 1846, when they migrated to West Creek Twp. in Lake County. James Palmer farmed for the first years, then went into the mercantile business.
His son, Adelbert, received a fair education while he worked on the farm and in his father's business until he was 21 years of age; then he bought 80 acres of good farm land. In 1849 he married Marietta Burch of New York, who became the mother of nine children: Celesta Palmer Thompson, Benjamin Franklin Palmer, James Calvin Palmer (1855-1942), John Dennis Palmer (1857-1949), Marcus Adelbert Palmer, Charles Fremont Palmer (1861-1957), Edward Grant Palmer, Henrietta Palmer Ragon (Mrs. E.E. Ragon), and Jasper Packard Palmer.
Adelbert continued farming until 1852, when he traveled by team on the overland route to California to seek his fortune in the gold fields. Three other pioneers were in the group going west: John Wilkinson, John Donch and James Ferguson. The foursome spent five months traveling west over the mountains to California, where they engaged in mining, real estate and the lumber business.
Adelbert remained in the west for two years, then returned to Lake County by way of Panama and New York City, a very long trip by sailing vessel.
April's "Pioneer History" column related: "Adelbert D. Palmer, who later lived in the village of Creston, contracted with Obadiah Taylor, who was a shipbuilder by trade, to build a two-masted, schooner-style sailboat with a cabin, upper decks and capable of carrying 100 passengers."
Adelbert christened the craft "The Young America," built and launched during the summer of 1859. There was a special celebration, compared by many to the old time Fourth of July festivities, including speeches, a fine dinner, and a band concert by the Crown Point Brass Band attended by people from all over the area.
Being one of the early settlers in this area, Palmer was one among many who hauled their farm products to Chicago by ox team, a trip taking about a week.
Seeing the value of a proper education, when two of his children were old enough to attend school, Adelbert decided to go back to school himself. He began to study law, graduated and was admitted to the bar. He was also a well-known politician, having been elected township assessor and justice of the peace.
In 1865, during the last few months of the Civil War, Adelbert, then 36, enlisted in Company E. of the 151st Indiana Volunteer Infantry and was discharged in September of that year. His name is on the Veteran's Monument in Senior Citizens Park in downtown Lowell.
Early in January 1869 he purchased a general store from pioneer Amos Edgerton, who had a business in the old village of Tinkerville, at the corner of the present Morse St. and the Creston Rd.
Adelbert was the proprietor until 1875, when his store and goods, including all the mail, were destroyed by fire, with a loss of thousands of dollars.
At about the same time, when the grade for the railroad was being prepared, he saw the value of the new way of shipping and built a store at the new station called "Creston." Tinkerville's other business interests also moved to the newer village one-half mile west. Palmer stayed there for forty years as a farmer, merchant, postmaster and hay and grain dealer.
Besides the fire at Tinkerville, Adelbert suffered from three other fires, with a total loss of $10,000, but he pushed ahead and by industry and economy made up his losses to amass a fortune, so that he and his wife could enjoy a life of retirement, making up for the many hardships they suffered in the early settlement of the county.
An old clipping from Jan. 21, 1909, tells the story of the celebration of their sixty years of wedded life at their home in Lowell, when all nine of the children were present, along with 22 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and many other relatives and friends.
A few long-time residents of the Town of Lowell will remember one of Adelbert's sons, Charles Fremont Palmer, who lived for many years on Halsted St. in Lowell in one of the houses built by the Palmer family.
"Charlie" spent 60 years as a contractor and carpenter, during which time he built many homes in the Lowell area. In his retirement years, he was also well-known for his fancy birdhouses and lawn ornaments he built as a hobby.
He was born during the first year of the Civil War in 1861 and passed away in 1957 at the age of 95. His wife, Bessie Wilder Palmer, died in 1923. Their daughter, Calla, married Harry Hayden, who was manager of the National Tea Co. grocery store in downtown Lowell for many years.
Adelbert moved to Lowell in 1901, when he sold his business interests in the village of Creston. He passed away in 1911, and although the land for the Creston Cemetery was once owned by him, he and his wife were first entombed in the old mausoleum built years ago at the Lowell Cemetery. The building, which resembled a country church, became deteriorated, was demolished and the caskets buried in the cemetery nearby, or in other area burial places. According to the survey made by the D.A.R. in 1957, the first body was placed in the building in 1903, the last one in 1952.
Information for this Palmer story came from clippings and photos evidently collected through the years by Henrietta Palmer Hathaway, daughter of Adelbert's son, James Calvin Palmer, and Jane Nichols Palmer, and recently found by the "Pioneer History" author.
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