Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Genealogical Information Regarding Benjamin Palmer, an 18th Century Owner of City Island in the Town of Pelham

Benjamin Palmer was a son-in-law of Thomas Pell (referenced by members of the Pell Family as Third Lord of the Manor of Pelham).  In 1761, Palmer purchased from his brother, Joseph, the island then known as Minneford's Island (today's City Island).  Benjamin Palmer had grand plans to build a large port City on the Island (hence, "City Island") to rival the port of New York City as an international shipping hub.  In 1763, Palmer announced that City Island lots had been laid out and were being offered for sale.  On May 10, 1763, the first ferry was established between City Island and Rodman’s Neck.  Throughout the 1760's many of those lots were bought and resold by land speculators. 

Shortly before the onset of the Revolutionary War, Samuel Rodman Sr. and Benjamin Palmer successfully lobbied the New York Lieutenant Governor, the Council and the General Assembly to enact a statute authorizing them to build a free draw bridge between Rodman's Neck on the mainland and Minneford's Island (known today as City Island).  The plans were part of Palmer's grand scheme to develop Minneford's Island into a major city seaport. 

The onset of the Revolutionary War dashed these plans.  The statute required that the bridge be built within seven years of its date of passage on April 3, 1775.  The War raged for the next eight years.  Thus, the bridge was never built and Palmer's grand plans for City Island were relegated to the trash bin of history.

I have written about Benjamin Palmer of City Island and the early history of City Island on many occasions. At the end of this posting are links to numerous such postings.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of a brief genealogy of the Palmer family with information about the ancestry and descendants of Benjamin Palmer of City Island.



Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Palmer Re-Union:

Westchester County is a small part of the great territory of the Palmer family.  It was so closely allied to the State of Connecticut that for many years it was impossible to determine a boundary line of separation; but now Westchester County contents herself, lying between the Hudson River and Long Island Sound,, and having for its southern boundary the great city of New York.

In population Westchester ranks as the ninth county in the State of New York.  It contains the city of Yonkers and numerous villages, among them White Plains, Peekskill, Tarrytown and New Rochelle.  From its proximity to New England and New York, and its beauty of situation, it is not surprising that the Palmers were among its first settlers.

The first settlement was made at the present village of Westchester in 1642, by John Throckmorton with thirty-five English families from New England, with the consent of the Dutch who had acquired title from the Indians.  These, and others immediately following them, were refugees from New England persecution, and among them was William Palmer, who died in Westchester about 1670.

The Palmers were not only among the early settlers, but they were among the most active participants in the affairs both of Church and of State.  As early as 1673 Joseph Palmer and Edward Waters were appointed the first magistrates of Westchester; and in 1692 John, Joseph and Samuel Palmer were appointed as commissioners for the repurchase of the land from the Indians.  John Palmer was a vestryman of St. Peter's Church, Westchester; other Palmers were Baptists, Methodists, Independents and Quakers.  Some shared the independent spirit of Ann Hutchinson, and deeply lamented her untimely [Page 105 / Page 106] and cruel death, which occurred near the creek which bears her name.  

As the population increased and the settlements extended, we find the Palmers in the adjoining towns -- Pelham, New Rochelle and Mamaroneck, and in other parts of the county, and finally in other counties and other States.

City Island, originally called New City Island, in the town of Pelham, takes its name from an organized effort to make it a great trading port -- a great commercial city.  The waters are deep and the tides from both extremities of the sound meet there.  

Benjamin Palmer owned the island, consisting of 230 acres, and with his consent and co-operation it was granted to a company or corporation consisting of thirty persons, and laid out and mapped into city lots.  The plans of the company were interrupted by the Revolutionary War.  Benjamin Palmer, in the beginning of the war, at once took an active part in favor of independence.  He was driven from the island, where he had retained an interest, and was a great sufferer during the entire war, losing almost everything for his attachment to the American cause.

In 1789 he set forth his grievances in a petition to Gen. Washington for redress, Aaron Burr being his advisor.  The petition, among other things, stated 'That himself and his family were taken prisoners by the British who used us very ill, and then ordered us off my plantation, which I then had on said island, to New York, where I have continued with my family ever since.'

In order to give the original lines of the Palmers of Westchester, we must go still farther back, and begin with:  

William Palmer, accompanied by his son William, a lad of nine years, came from Nottinghamshire, England, in the ship Fortune, in 1621 -- the second ship after the Mayflower -- landed at Plymouth, Mass., and settled at Duxbury, Mass., and thence to Scituate.  It is supposed he died in 1637.  His will was probated March 5, 1638.  His wife, Frances, followed her husband to America in the vessel Anne, in 1623.*  [Footnote * reads:  '*  See Palmer Records, Vol. I, p. 114.']  His son William it [Page 106 / Page 107] is supposed migrated into Westchester Country [sic], and died there in 1670.  Children,, William, Joseph, Benjamin, Samuel, Obadiah and Thomas.  Samuel settled in Mamaroneck, and became the propritor [sic] of Mangopson Neck.  Children, Obadiah, Nehemiah, Sylvanus and Solomon.  Obadiah died in 1747.  Children, William, Samuel, Benjamin, David, Obadiah, Caleb and Mary Anne.  Nehemiah died in 1760, leaving a son and a daughter.  The son died, leaving Harrison, Drake, Aaron, Nathan, Benjamin, Nehemiah and Elihue.  Sylvanus died in 1741.  Children, Robert, Sylvanus, John, Marmaduke, Edward, Anne, Susannah, Charity and Mary.

John, son of Sylvanus, grandson of Samuel and great grandson of William, of Westchester, married Rebecca.  Children, Joseph, Philip, Marcus, Lewis, Benjamin.  The brothers Joseph and Benjamin became proprietors of City Island.  

John Palmer of Rockland Coounty, N. Y., was probably a son of Josepoh and nephew of Benjamin, of City Island.  He lived in Rockland County as early as 1750, and called his little settlement New City, from New City Island where his father had lived.  The Palmer homestead is about one mile north of New City, which has long been the county-seat of Rockland County.  I have been unable to trace with certainty the relation between Benjamin Palmer, of City Island, and John Palmer, of New City, but there are old deeds and other papers in possession of John Palmer's descendants which establish a connection between him and the City Island property; and the dates indicate that he was the son of Joseph.  He married Martha Brown.  Children, John, Joseph and Jonathan.  Joseph never married.  The descendants of John and Jonathan, with dates, are more fully given in 'Family Sketches,' by Rev. David Cole, D. D., Yonkers, N. Yl  In these remarks I can only trace the Westchester branch from Rockland County back to Westchester.

Jonathan Palmer, born at New City, date unknown; married Elizabeth Wood, daughter of Sheriff Ebenezer Wood, born at Tappan, July 4, 1762, and died at Camillus, Onondaga County, N. Y., December 10, 1832.  Children, Elizabeth, Jonathan [Page 107 / Page 108] Mary, John, Sarah, Benjamin, Jacob, Hannah, Ebenezer, Joseph and Daniel.

Benjamin Palmer, born at New City, April 1, 1793; married, December 8, 1814.  Clarinda Frink, daughter of Isaac Frink and Phebe Pendleton; born at Cherry Valley, Otsego county, N. Y., July 28, 1795.  The husband died July 20, 1857, and his wife, December 12, 1872.  There were seven children, all born at Camillus, Onondaga County, N. Y., Phebe, Hannah Etta, Jane, Joseph H., George W., Warren W., and A. Judson.

Joseph Howard Palmer (myself), born at Camillus, Onondaga County, N. Y.,, September 16, 1824; married first, December 25, 1851, Hannah maria Van Cott, daughter of John G. Van Cott and Sarah Wyckoff; born at Bushwick, L. I., April 18, 1830, died at Yonkers,, N. Y., March 17, 1859.  Married second, July 19, 1866, Frances A. Bingham, daughter of Horace B. Bingham and Emeline Jones; born at Coventay, Conn., March 31, 1835.  Children of the first marriage:

Sarah Clarinda Palmer has the professorship of mathematics since September, 1876, in Wells' College, Aurora, Cayuga Lake, N. Y.

John Garrison Palmer is a partner in the Pure Gold Manufacturing Company, Fairport, Monroe County, N. Y.

Anna Maria Palmer has charge of a kindergarten in Allegheny, Pa.

Phebe Etta Palmer is a teacher in the Park Heights Seminary, Ocean Grove, N. J.

Children of the second marriage, Horace Bingham Palmer, Frank Howard Palmer, and Maria Whitney Palmer.  

But few of this numerous race remained in Westchester.  The enterprises of New York City and the surrounding country became inviting; and as westward the star of empire takes her course, thitherward from every eastern county and State went many of the Palmers to act their part among the first in peaceable possession, among the first in places of honor and trust, among the first in war, in peace, and in the hearts of their countrymen.  In the wide stretch across the continent their dwell- [Page 108 / Page 109] ings ere found in almost every county, from Plymouth Rock to the Golden Gate.  From every point of the compass on land and sea the Palmers rejoice over this Palmer Re-Union -- this reuniting of heart and home.  The home in all ages has been the center of love and affection.  Its surroundings and associations engage our earliest attention, and the words father and mother are the last of all things forgotten.  The pictures of our old homes awaken commingled emotions of joy and sorrow, reminding us of the sunshine and shadows of the past.

The remembrances of kindred and friends are precious endearments.  Art has been taxed to its uttermost to present in photography, in painting and in sculpture the forms so dear to us.  These remembrances are sacred -- our penates, our household gods.  And when these, like all earthly things, shall perish from the earth, the memory they faintly embodied, the story of virtue or valor and of useful lives, will be told to children's children.  Yes, when all who now live, and their children's children, have been carried to their last resting-place, their successors throughout all time will read the story of Plymouth Rock and Stonington, Bunker Hill and Saratoga, Valley Forge and Yorktown.  

If memory is so enduring, and the story of one's life so indestructible, then let our lives be lives of virtue and honor; let us be exemplary parents and citizens, known and blessed by doing good amoung our fellow-men."

Source:  Palmer, Joseph H., Address to the Palmers of Westchester Co., N. Y., by Professor Joseph H. Palmer, of Yonkers, N. Y. in Supplement to Volume No. 1 of Palmer Records.  Addresses + Poems + Proceedings of the Second Palmer Family Re-Union, Held at Stonington, Conn., August 10, 11 & 12, 1882, The Ancestral Home of Walter Palmer, the Pilgrim of 1629, Under the Auspices of the Palmer Re-Union Association, pp. 105-09 (Edited by Noyes F. Palmer, Recording Secretary, Jamaica, Long Island, NY:  Privately Printed, 1882).

Map of Town of Pelham with Inset of City Island, 1868.
Source: Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity,
p. 35 (NY, NY: Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868).

*          *           *           *          *

Below are examples of many prior postings that touch on Benjamin Palmer, Members of the Palmer Family and the early history of City Island.

Tue., Oct. 07, 2014:  Legislative History of the 1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Fri., Oct. 03, 2014:  1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Tue., Dec. 01, 2009:  Brief History of City Island Published in 1901.

Tue., Dec. 26, 2006:  1775 Statute Authorizing Samuel Rodman and Benjamin Palmer to Build City Island Drawbridge.  

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home