History of Palmyra & Hannibal, Mo.
The general pressure that prevailed for several years during and succeeding the disasters that marked the unfortunate epoch of the college and its attachees, as we have before shown, was sensibly felt by the whole community, as all had partaken of the excitement consequent on the hopes inspired by its advent, so all shared in the loss which caused and attended its exit. The whole country had participated in the wild schemes of adventurous speculation to which it gave rise. The pressure, therefore, found almost every man involved in debt, beyond his means of immediate liquidation. The necessities of the times would admit of no parley or delay hence the court was the arbiter before whom that liquidation had to be made. Forced sales of property, at a mere nominal price, had the double effect of bringing ruin to its former owner, and of inducing a general fall in the price of property of like description. In fact a rapid decline in the price of property of every kind speedily succeeded, and families supposed to be wealthy, became bankrupt, and adversity drove its black chariot over the land: despondency, pecuniary distress, and general desolation marching in its train. On no place or part of the community did these calamities fall more heavily than on the hitherto flourishing town of Palmyra. All improvements ceased in the town, –mechanics thrown out of employment, sought it elsewhere, and left the place town property became almost worthless, houses became vacant, nor could they be sold for a fifth of their former value.
Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. Those persons who desired a town life, either for business or by inclination, turned their attention to Hannibal, a town situated on the Mississippi River, in the southeast part of Marion county, twelve miles distant from Palmyra. Here, it was thought that, although its improvement might be retarded during the continuance of the present adverse state of things, that had crippled everything, yet, from the advantages of its river location, its future prospective improvement would justify the outlay of funds in the purchase of property. Hence that town, which had never improved much previously, began to advance in population and in buildings, and has continued steadily to grow from that time to the present, with one temporary cessation. An unfortunate rivalry between the two places had sprung up, at a very early period, dating from the time of the first location of Palmyra, which for some years far outstripped its rival in the race for consideration and distinction. Situated more immediately in the center of a fine body of rich land, then just beginning to settle, the attention
Of emigrants was naturally drawn thither, and as the rapid influx of emigration afforded to the farmer an excellent market at home for all the surplus they could raise on their newly opened and of course limited farms. The advantage of a river location was at that time not fully appreciated, and Hannibal was overlooked and forgotten. But as the country became filled up, and the flood of immigration ceased to flow with such rapid current, and as the farms became enlarged, their owners naturally began to look for a mart for the profitable disposal of their surplus products.
These considerations, together with those to which we have adverted above, gave an impetus to Hannibal, and she shot ahead of Palmyra with great speed, in her turn indemnifying herself by way of retaliation, and canceling the old score. Each place, however, still cherishing the old rancorous enmity, which to the disgrace of both places was suffered to foster and annoy each itself as well as its rival.
Palmyra, it may be said, for about the period of ten years did not improve at all. The few buildings erected not more than balancing the general dilapidation of others the business of the country gradually and partially left it, and sought new channels of trade at Hannibal, LaGrange, in Lewis county, and at Quincy, Illinois—while Hannibal, during the same period of ten years, continued to advance with giant strides in all the elements of prosperity, trade, population, and improvement, and from a small village of a few houses, has grown so as to become an incorporated city, with about four thousand inhabitants. About four since, the scale again turned in favor of Palmyra. Some lawyers raked up from the rubbish of old musty books and papers a claim to a part of the Hannibal property, and instituted suit for its recovery, and although the claim was believed not to be founded in equity, yet, favored by the forms of law, it had the effect of completely paralyzing the efforts of the place in the way of improvement, during the several years of the pendency of the suit—emigrants and others being afraid to risk either purchases or the erections of buildings.
During this time of stagnation and suspension, Palmyra, in her turn, again took advantage of the defenceless attitude of her antagonist, and made another bold start to overtake her, and for the last three or four years has rapidly improved, having had erected within her limits many splendid buildings, together with a magnificent new Courthouse, which is now nearly completed, erected on the site of the old one, at the cost of about eighteen thousand dollars. Hannibal, in the meantime, has succeeded in shaking off the incubus which for years has weighed down her energies, and held the young giant in bondage. Her citizens, although they believed the claim to the property sued for was unjust, yet, wisely deemed it the best policy to buy up the claims, which they accordingly did at the price of many thousand dollars, taking deeds, and relieving the city from that obstacle to its improvement. The title to the property there is now complete and undisputed, and she stands, so far as that is concerned, “redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled,” and is rejoicing as a strong man to run a race for eminence and renown amongst here sister cities of the west, rapid strides, in which race she is again making in improvements of various kinds, particularly in those precautionary, preliminary and preparatory measures of arrangement, which must ever be the precursors of future prosperity. With a keen foresight and indominable energy her citizens have wisely entered upon that system of preparation necessary to prepare the way, and make her path straight for the race of emulation and laudable rivalry, which lies before here, in the erection of plank roads and other improvements, looking to, as they will inevitably produce the future development of her resources and importance. Already they have two plank roads leading into the city: one from New London, the county seat of the adjoining county of Ralls, the other from Paris, the county seat of the large, fertile, populous and flourishing county of Monroe, Paris being distant from Hannibal about fifty miles, thus they have timely, well adapted the means to secure the end had in view.
The situation of the two rival places is quite dissimilar, and yet, each has its advantages adapted to its peculiar location. The situation of Palmyra is generally admired as very beautiful, being mostly level, and gently undulating with a beautiful rivulet running through it, dividing it into two nearly equal parts, and being well watered by seven never failing springs of pure cold water with its limits. The natural beauty of its situation is set off to the best advantage, and greatly increased and heightened by the large number of shade and ornamental trees, mostly black locusts, that are set out around and before most of the buildings throughout the entire town, giving it the aspect of a city in the woods.
The situation of Hannibal is broken or rolling, and agreeably diversified by hills and dales, by lofty eminences, graceful slopes, and pleasant valleys. The eminences, of which there are many, consist of hills of considerable height, yet, of convenient ascent, with regular and handsome, though some of them steep, sides, and fine situations for building on top, from whence they command beautiful and extensive views and prospects of the surrounding country and of the river, both above, and below, for a great distance. Their romantic and picturesque situation and scenery must make them for building of private residences very desirable and valuable. There is a creek, called Bear creek, running through the city, and emptying in to the Mississippi, dividing Hannibal proper from what is called “south Hannibal.”
The business statistics of the city show that a large business is annually transacted in the reception and shipment of tobacco, hemp and all other staple commodities of commerce raised in the country. There is also a very large business done in the slaughtering of beef and pork several large establishments for the purpose being crowded during the whole of the packing season. Indeed, from the commercial situation of the place, and the extensive, fertile back country, this must necessarily be the case. Perhaps no place in America enjoys a more extensive, extremely fertile country in its rear, without any navigable stream to divert its trade in other directions, than does the city of Hannibal. The whole country back from the Mississippi to the Missouri river, a distance of two hundred miles, may be said to be a rich country what poor land may be found not being in greater proportion than may be found in any other country whatever. If we were to make Hannibal or Palmyra the center, and describe a circle two hundred miles in extent, every way from the center, or four hundred miles in diameter, the circumference would perhaps include as much good land as can be found within the same boundary on the face of the globe. It would extend to the Missouri river, and take in a part of the best portions of Illinois and Iowa. Again, were we to extend the circumference, and describe a circle four hundred miles from the center, every way, we have no doubt it would include a greater proportion of good land, than can be found in the same greater proportion of good land, than can be found in the same extent of country in the world. It would, in addition, to much the best part of Missouri, take in also the best portions of Kansas and Nebraska, as well as of Iowa and Illinois. All this extent of country is now being settled, and when densely populated, there is not calculation to be made of the immense amount of commercial intercourse that must flow through its different channels of trade, and it is not too much to anticipate that, unless some unforeseen causes interpose as barriers, both Palmyra and Hannibal will participate in their just proportion in the benefits of the whole.
The business of Palmyra has always been good, for an interior town, though for a few years temporarily and comparatively lessened particularly has it been always found for the amount of goods sold by its merchants, which is further demonstrated by the fact of their general solvency—few ever having failed in business here. There is likewise a considerable amount of packing done, particularly of pork, together with a due proportion in all the departments of mechanical labor and other industrial pursuits, as well as in the artistical lines of business, besides several blacksmith shops, several cabinet shops, tailors, bakers with many merchants and grocers we have three jewelry stores, and in the list of fine arts, several excellent painters stand conspicuous to vindicate their character. There are two good taverns the Virginia Hotel, kept by the gentlemanly landlords, McLeod & Kimsley, opposite the Courthouse, may be emphatically denominated the “Epicure’s Elysium” of the place for genius and taste.
The unfortunate rivalry between the two places, however, is not yet entirely extinct, but is gradually, we think, wearing itself out in it unnatural and unwarrantable course for there is in truth no reason why it should exist at all the interests of both are inseparably connected by their natural and relative positions, and ought not be severed by jealousies or fancied interests of ambitious individuals—they ought rather to be assistants to each other, blessing and being blessed.
Why Palmyra Is The Haunted Island Of The Pacific
With its blissful white beaches and placid waters, the Pacific does not likely come to mind as a place that’s likely to be ‘haunted’ or ‘plagued’. Yet there is a small, uninhabited island in a seldom-visited corner of the world that has, over the years, experienced a number of disturbing, paranormal occurrences that has led many to believe that it is in fact, cursed.
To the eye, Palmyra is the archetypal image of a tropical island paradise. It is in fact, an atoll – a ring-shaped scattering of small islets made up of coral, much of which is overgrown with dense rainforest vegetation. The reef is abundant in colorful marine life, the jungle interior lush and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Yet a strange air blankets Palmyra. Over the years, a number of unfortunate incidents – a few too many to seem coincidental – have occurred upon the island’s shores, leaving an eerie and unnerving atmosphere.
The first recorded sighting of Palmyra was in 1798. American sailor Edmund Fanning was on route to Asia, aboard the Betsy ship, of which he was captain. Legend has it, that Captain Fanning one night struggled to sleep and thus ordered his crew to find someplace the ship could moor in order that he might rest. The next morning, having steered a little off-course, the Betsy sailed onto the shores of Palmyra. The captain failed to officially record his discovery though and thus, when a few years later in 1802, Captain Swale’s ship, the Palmyra (from which the island takes its name), failed to sight the atoll’s rocky reef, it was wrecked upon its coral.
Swale’s vessel was only the first of several that would come to an unfortunate fate upon Palmyra’s shores. In 1870, the crew of the Angel were shipwrecked on the edge of the lagoon. Those that survived the crash are said to have made it to shore – though their brutally murdered bodies were found callously strewn about the island a few months later, when another passing vessel briefly anchored to investigate. To this day, the ruthless killing of the Angel sailors remains a mystery. In 1816, a Spanish pirate ship named Esperanza, reportedly loaded with plundered Inca treasure from Peru, became similarly marooned. They supposedly spent a year strenuously eking out survival on the island, before deciding to bury their loot and attempt an escape. Of the two makeshift rafts they fashioned, one was picked up by a passing whaling ship – though the raft’s sole survivor died shortly after his rescue, having contracted a severe case of pneumonia. The second raft was never seen again.
Over the course of the 19th century, a series of somewhat bitter legal battles ensued over ownership of the island. The atoll passed through several hands before the United States was granted proprietorship (Palmyra remains today in fact, an ‘incorporated territory’ of the American federal government). During the Second World War, the US navy occupied the island – though their presence did little to ward off whatever malevolent spirits seemed to reside there.
A number of strange and quite inexplicable happenings continued to befall Palmyra. In one instance, a patrol plane quite literally dropped out of the sky as it was passing over the island. Rescue teams were not able to recover anything in the surrounding ocean – no trace of an aircraft, nor a single crew member. In another instance a plane flew off course after having just taken off and simply disappeared off the radar. It was never seen again. There was prolific unrest amongst sailors. Depression and stress were rife, fights frequent – there were even murders and a number of suspicious suicides.
But of all of these bizarre incidents, the most famous and certainly the most disturbing is that of Malcolm and Eleanor Graham. A spirited couple in their early 40s, Mr and Mrs Graham dreamed of travelling the world aboard their boat, the Sea Wind. Setting sail in 1974, they planned to stay on Palmyra for a few years before continuing on their voyage – though they tragically would never leave the island. Just a few months after having left America, friends of the Grahams became concerned after having lost all contact with the couple and reported them missing to authorities. Investigators found the island all but deserted – there was no trace of the couple, nor any of their personal possessions.
Later that year, Sea Wind sailed into Honolulu, Hawaii. Aboard the yacht were Duane Walker and his girlfriend Stephanie Sterns who were immediately arrested and charged with theft. Though it wasn’t until six years later, when another couple who were visiting the atoll – Sharon and Robert Jordan from South Africa – would begin to unravel what had transpired. Whilst exploring the Palmyra jungle, the Jordans came across a derelict old building, hidden within the thick rainforest shrubbery, inside which they found an extensive collection of newspaper clippings on the Graham’s disappearance – which had, a number of years prior, made international headlines. Just a few days later, they were to make an even more disturbing discovery. Whilst walking along the beach, Ms Jordan found a large metal container that had been tightly bound in thick wire. Inside the container was a skull, several bones and a woman’s watch. Inquiries concluded that the skeleton was indeed that of Eleanor Graham, who had been ruthlessly beaten to death, her body burnt, dismembered and discarded of. Malcolm’s remains have to this day, never been found.
Duane Walker was trialled and found guilty of murder, though his girlfriend acquitted due to insufficient evidence with which to condemn her. Walker would later claim to have killed the Grahams in self-defence, after an affair with Eleanor had left her husband enraged and vengeful – an unconvincing though unproven claim. It is a secret that Walker, who died in April 2010, would take to his grave.
Palmyra Island – the one and only other witness to the horrific crime (and indeed, all those that had previously befallen her shores) will lie forever silent and forever still in the Pacific Ocean.
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Historic Palmyra has been saving history in Palmyra, NY since 1843.
The five museums of Historic Palmyra began during the Urban Renewal that covered our Nation from 1964 through 1976. Our incorporation with the NYS Department of State is dated 1967 and in 2005 we received an absolute charter from the New York State Board of Regents. However, Historic Palmyra has been around much longer, saving history in Palmyra, NY since 1843.
Historic Palmyra's mission is to save the history of Palmyra and vicinity through the preservation of architecture, artifacts, and archives. Historic Palmyra teaches and educates through the five unique museums and their collections, welcoming thousands of visitors each year. Our museums include the Palmyra Historical Museum, Erie Canal Depot, Print Shop Museum, Phelps General Store & Residence, and Alling Coverlet Museum.
As a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 educational institution, Historic Palmyra teaches local, county, state, and national history through its five museums. A complete research facility is located in the Palmyra Historical Museum and encompasses such subjects as the Civil War, the military, the Erie Canal, photography, tools, toys and dolls, medical history, many local religions, and more. The artifacts and archives span from 1781 through the present. Learn about the Sir Winston Churchill connection, the first weather man, the Abolition Movement, the Underground Railroad, and industry and business along the Erie Canal and in the old frontier. Don't forget to check out our ghost hunts. All groups and school groups are welcome.
History of Palmyra
The land on which Palmyra now stands was originally inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians to whom the white man gave the name Delawares, who were members of the Algonquin family. This Indian tribe once enjoyed great dignity and power. Other Algonquin tribes settling in Pennsylvania were the Shawnees, the Nanticokes and Conoys. Tribes of the Iroquoian family of Indians living in Pennsylvania were the Susquehannocks, the Conestogas, and the Tuscaroras.
The first white men came into this area about 1650, or before, and were explorers or traders. The explorers were mainly concerned with scouting the new territory and gathering first-hand information for the future purchase of tracts of land. The traders were concerned mainly with trade with the Indians. They carried with them the usual stock of trading goods such as blankets, beads, kettles, iron axes, guns, etc. to trade for the pelts of fur bearing animals.
It has been said that a trading post with a stockade built by Indian traders was located several hundred yards north of the 300 block of West Main Street. Early citizens tell of a pond, and the outlines of a stockade could be seen years ago. A study of the cultural remains of the Indian campsites with their arrow points, axes and tools gives proof of the various tribes who used this valley as a hunting ground.
The only remaining thing to remind us of the Indian inhabitation of the area is the names they gave to the streams and mountains - Swatara Creek, the Indian name Swahadowry, corrupted from Schada-dawa, means in Susquehanna Indian "where we feed on eels" - Quitapahilla Creek, corrupted from Cuitpehelle, meaning "a spring that flows from the ground among pines" - Kittatiny hills, corrupted from Kittochtiny, a Delaware word meaning "the endless hills." There were several reasons why the early settlers were drawn to this area to build their homes and raise their families. The first was the traders who went back to the established settlements with glowing accounts of the good rich land and pure streams with fish and game in abundance. Another reason was the desire of William Penn to found a colony of small independent farmers. In his advertisements of his promise in the Eastern European countries, he stressed the opportunity for a poor man to own land. In addition, Penn's charter of civil rights and freedom of religion appealed to those people who desired these rights and were living in virtual serfdom.
OLD DERRY CHURCH
BUILT A.D. 1720
The Scotch-Irish were Scotchmen who had migrated to Ireland under Elizabeth and James 1, but as time passed they became dissatisfied with the rule of the English authorities and the native Irish. They came to America in large numbers because of political, religious, and economic reasons, although the economic reason was the most compelling. They were a hardy, self-reliant and courageous people who adapted to the wilderness and the frontier, and they preferred that way of life. They led the westward advance of settlements and therefore were the first line of defense against the Indians. Being of a restless nature, and not mixing well with the German element, they moved westward into Cumberland County. They were political minded and took an active interest in government once they were established. They were Presbyterians, and you can trace their movements from Philadelphia westward by the churches they built on the way, Donegal in Lancaster County, Paxtang near Harrisburg, Derry at Hershey, and Silver Spring near Carlisle.
Over the passing years most all of the Scotch-Irish have died away or moved to another part of the state. There are few indeed today in the Palmyra area who can trace their ancestry to the Scotch-Irish who settled here. Many of these early settlers are buried at Old Derry Church and on the "Old English" cemetery near Grantville.
The following were early settlers - David Mitchell, John Campbell, Henry Walker, George Aspey, James Caruthers, Thomas Ewing, Widow McCallen, William Sawyer, James Wilson, James Galbraith, John McCord, Robert McClure, and many others.
The Pennsylvania Germans, or German Palatinates, came from Germany, and have been commonly called the Pennsylvania Dutch. These Germans came to Pennsylvania for religious, Political, and economic reasons. Politically they were oppressed, they were economically poor, and they were severely persecuted for their religious beliefs. Like the ScotchIrish the Germans were clannish, and from the beginning tried to keep to themselves. Throughout Pennsylvania land the prevailing language was German, that, and the differences of religion kept the Germans from mixing either with the English or Scotch-Irish. Most of the German immigrants were farmers, and as a class they flourished best in rural sections. They were not politically minded and let the Quakers run the government. To them farming was a way of life, not merely a means of livelihood. The contributions of the Germans was the promotion of agriculture, in which they excelled all other groups. They were conservative, religious, frugal, and hard working people who lived close to the soil and added an element of strength to the state and nation.
Unlike the Scotch-Irish, the Pennsylvania Germans stayed on the land they loved, and it is not uncommon even today to find farms that have been handed down from father to son for several generations. It is also true that many of the present citizens of this area can claim these original German immigrants as their ancestors.
The following were early settlers - John Deininger, John Ober, John Bindnagle, John Early, Joseph Carmany, Michael Killinger, Johannes Bowman, Jacob Naftzger, Jacob Ricker, Joseph Forney, Anthony Hemperly, John Nye, Hans Kettering, John Gingerich, John Zimmerman, and many others.
From the time of Braddock's defeat at the hands of the French and Indians in 1755 - up until 1783, one of the hazards of the early pioneer farmer was fear o an Indian attack. Every rod of ground had to be cleared with an ax and held with the rifle. Fear of a Indian attack tried the stoutest hearts. Although the settlers in the foothills of the Blue Mountains marked the limit of actual settlement on the part of the white man, the early settlers of Palmyra were close to the mountains and had reason to fear an Indian attack.
These Indian raiding parties, of from 5 to 20 indians usually in the dead of night fell upon a homestead, scalped the older members of the family, took the children captive, and burned the buildings, retreating back into the mountains. Even men working in the fields in the daytime had armed guards to protect them while at work.
Rupp and Egle in their histories of Lebanon Count list many outrages in the area between Manada and Indiantown Gap along the mountain. It was necessary to build defenses for these Indian raids, and in 1756 the Provincial government built a chain of forts along the Blue Mountains from the Susquehanna at Harrisburg to the Delaware at Easton at distances of from 10-15 miles apart, especially at the gaps in the mountain. These forts usually consisted of a stockade of heavy planks enclosing several block houses which served as quarters for the troops and refuge for the settlers.
It was the duty of the garrison of these forts to patrol the distances between the forts always on the alert for Indians. There was one such fort erected in what is now Lebanon County. The site is near Inwood named Fort Swatara. Captain Frederick Smith was given orders on January 16, 1756 to build a fort at this place, and any additional works as he might think necessary to make it strong and easy to defend.
The French and Indian War came to an end, and with it came an end to the Indian raids and the soldiers and settlers could return to the more peaceful pursuits of clearing more land and building larger houses and barns.
|DR. JOHN PALM|
A brief story of the life of Dr. John Palm is worthy of our attention. He was the eldest son of Matthias and Sybylla Palm, born in Heilbronn, in the Electorate of Brandenburg, in the Kingdom of Bavaria, July 15, 1713 (according to Bindnagle Church Record) not in 1718 according to his pass in 1742. About the year 1739 he took up residence at Backnag, near Stuttgard, in Wurtemberg, where he married Christiana Dorothea Kern, August 2, 1740. His parents being poor, he worked in a stocking factory for several years.
He left his native country for America and arrived at the port of Philadelphia August 11, 1750, as a passenger of the "Ship Patience" under Captain Hugh Steel, from Rotterdam, late from Cowes in England. Bindnagle Church record has his arrival in 1749.
He first settled in the upper part of New Jersey, in the vicinity of Elizabeth and Springfield. His first wife having died, he married Catharine Salome Fenger about the year 1754. She died in 1764.
On June 17, 1766 he secured his 100 acre tract of land from Conrad Raisch, it being the third transfer of title since the time it was surveyed to Johannes Deininger in 1751. This tract can be located today roughly by the boundaries of North Railroad Street on the east, West Maple Street on the south, and the Dauphin County line on the west. The house stood about the center of the 100 block on West Main Street.
When the Revolutionary War broke out he was too old to take an active part in the battle, although he was at the Battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777. He was probably attached to General Green's Division, which was posted as a reserve, between Sullivan and Wayne, to reinforce either division as circumstances might require. He used to relate how Washington, on a white horse, came riding up, encouraging his men. On the 27th of September, 1777 he took the Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity, under the Act of Legislature of 1777 before Justice of-the-Peace John Thome.
About the year 1785 or 1790, Dr. Palm was married a third time, to Elizabeth Williams, a widow. She was born in Germany, probably about the year 1733. Her life was quite an eventful one, as will appear from the following, taken from the History of Berks and Lebanon Counties, page 72. "Hanover, Lancaster Co., Pa., August 11th, 1757 . Monday, 8th. On Wednesday we intended to rest, but at about 12 o'clock had another alarm. Near Benhamin Clarke house, four miles from the mill, two indians surprised Isaac Williams's wife and the WIDOW WILLIAMS. They killed and scalped the former, in sight of the house. She having run a little way, after three balls had been shot through her body. The latter they carried away as a captive."
In the Colonial Records for 1762, at page 750, Vol. VIII, the following account is given of her restoration. "At a conference with the Northern Indians, held at Lancaster, on Thursday, the 19th of, August, 1762. the Conference then broke up, and the Governor, his Council, and the Commissioners, went with some Indian Chiefs, to the Court House, to receive the prisoners. Whence having come, the Governor, acquainted Thomas King, that he was ready to receive the prisoners from him, and that they need not be under apprehensions of being used ill, for that he should be kind to them, and treat them like children and restore them to their parents and relatives. Then they delivered to Lt. Governor Hamilton, Esq., (under Hon. Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Proprietors of the Province of Pennsylvania) at the hands of King Beaver, ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, a young woman, delivered up by Mussause, a Muncy Indian also Henry Williams about 18 years, a half brother (?) to Elizabeth Williams, delivered by Canyhocheratoquin, a Munch." She had, therefore, been a captive amongst the Delaware or Lenni Lenape tribe, for five years. An account of her restoration to her friends, is also given in the History of Berks and Lebanon Counties, on page 345. After her marriage to Dr. Palm, he, often in a playful way, called her his "Indian Squaw." She died at the house of William Early, near Palmyra, November 25 or 26, 1815.
Dr. John Palm's three marriages resulted in these children: John George Palm, Jr., a son of the first marriage William, Peter, Jacob, Nicholas, Andrew, and Mary, children of his second marriage and Tobias, only child of the third marriage. Several other children born to the family died in infancy.
He had an extensive practice, and owing to the country being thinly settled, it was very laborious. Patients frequently came from long distances to consult Dr. Palm. The medicines he used were mostly of vegetable extraction. Having an extensive laboratory he prepared most of his medicines. He distilled his own essential oils, waters, etc. from herbs and flowers. He was a contemporary of Linnaeus, Cullen, DeHaen, Sauwages, and Vn Sweiten. His medical works were mostly by German authors. One of his books, in possession of Dr. 0. R. Palm, (in 1870), a work on Materia Medica, is probably 300 years old. On the inside of the cover is a record of his birth, death, and place of nativity. In his Pass of February 24, @1771 he is described as being "24 years of age, medium size, light hair, and wearing a brown coat, etc." He was baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran Church. He died at Palmyra on April 25, 1799, at the age of 85 years, 9 months, after having practiced medicine in this country for almost 50 years.
In order that the location of the grave of Dr. John Palm would not be lost to posterity, the first plain headstone having long ago crumbled and weathered away, another marker was unveiled at the gravesite at Bindnagle Cemetery on Sunday, July 24, 1932. The program was under the auspices of American Legion Post No. 72 with appropriate ceremonies. Mrs. S. M. Aument of Montoursville, PA, a great-great-great-great granddaughter of Dr. Palm unveiled the new marker, and the Hon. G. H. Moyer delivered the address.
To further assure that the name of Dr. John Palm would be remembered by the citizens of the town he founded, a massive memorial boulder was erected on a triangle on South Railroad Street on Sunday, November 20, 1932, under the combined efforts of the Washington Bi-Centennial Committee, and the Lebanon County Historical Society. Prominent persons from Harrisburg, Washington, D.C. and New Jersey were present, and stirring speeches were made to a crowd of over 1,000 persons. Dr. Cyrus H. Leslie, the town's last surviving Civil War veteran, at the age of 91, unveiled the boulder. Dr. Howard Palm, Camden, New Jersey, a direct descendant of Dr. John Palm, and Mrs. E. S. Nissley of Harrisburg, PA, a descendant of the Palm family on both her father and mother's side, were present at the ceremony.
Most of the early settlers built along the Hill Road north of Palmyra, leading from Millerstown (now Annville) to Derry and on to Harris Ferry. The road from the Bindnagle area to the settlement at Campbelltown crossed this east to west road and then passed through Palmyra. Another of the main routes to and from Palmyra was the Downingtown, Ephrata, and Harrisburg Pike, now commonly known as the "Horseshoe Pike." Over this road the farmers took their grain and produce to Philadelphia and brought back merchandise for the shopkeepers.
A direct route through the valley from Reading to Harrisburg, known as the Berks and Dauphin Turnpike, was opened to traffic in 1817. The turnpike went over the only street of the village, now West Main Street. With the opening of this road came more traffic, the stagecoach carrying passengers and U.S. Mail. With the traffic came increased activity, livery stables and blacksmith shops to care for the horses, and taverns to provide food, drink and lodging for the travelers.
During this period Palmyra had five taverns Casper Dasher Hostelry, Washington House, Lineweaver House, Rodearmel Inn, and the Philip Matter House' All these taverns were located on West Main Street between the 100 and 700 blocks. They were built b y or before the year 1800. Later, several other hotels were opened: the Railroad House on North Railroad Street near the Reading Railroad, the Eagle Hotel where Lee's 5 & 104 Store stood, and the Washington House and the American House, both on West Main Street.
With the passage of time came the demand for more speed and greater tonnage which resulted in the building of the Union Canal several miles north of the community. The Union Canal connected the Schuylkill River at Reading with the Susquehanna River at Middletown. It was completed in 1827 and store houses were built along its banks. An extensive traffic in lumber, grain, coal, iron ore, gypsum, and merchandise were carried, and in a peak year 267,307 tons were transported. The farmers and merchants in the Palmyra area benefited by the cheaper and faster service.
With the coming of the steam age came another change in travel and transportation. On November 30, 1857 a crowd of curious townspeople lined the railroad tracks as the great "Iron Horse" . . "with whistle tooting, bell ringing, and belch-clouds of black smoke" . . . thundered through Palmyra on the newly built Lebanon Valley Railroad. Two years later it merged with the Philadelphia and Reading Company and was later renamed the Reading Railroad.
The coming of the railroad sounded the death knell for the Union Canal and the Berks and Dauphin Turnpike as a toll road. The railroad brought cheaper and faster methods of transporting people and goods.
As the town grew, stores and small business establishments were opened. Joseph Horstick, son of Conrad, kept a store on what was known as the Witmer property on West Main Street. The building has since been torn down and dismantled. The account books of the store from 1813-1825 show the price and type of goods sold at a typical country store. The books are now in the Library of the Lebanon County Historical Society, through the courtesy of the Horstick family.
Other stores and business establishments were opened: Brunner Carriage Shop, John Henry Plow Factory, Stahle Wooden Farm Implements, Snoddy Wheelwright Shop, Forney-Troxell Furniture and Cabinet Shop (later known as Wm. A. Henry, Furnutre and Undertaking), saddle and harness shops, tailor shops, and the Hemperly Organ Factory.
It is quite evident that most of these small business establishments were necessary to the life of a small rural farming community. However, after the Civil War period, a change is noted in the types of business being established. A large grain warehouse was built on North Railroad Street (now Curry's Mill). The first newspaper was printed in 1878 by John M. Hoffa called "The Londonderry Gazette." A lumber and planing mill was opened to satisfy the need for new buildings. To take care of the financial affairs of the community, the Palmyra Bank opened its doors for business in 1887. A large abbatoir was built and it furnished meats to Palmyra and the surrounding area. In 1888 the first shoe factory, the Palmyra Boot & Shoe Co., was formed. Several years later the W. L. Kreider Sons, the J. Landis Shoe Co. and the A. S. Kreider Shoe Co., were also making shoes. There was a knitting mill, a paper box factory, the Annville & Palmyra Gas & Fuel Co., the Eagle Bakery, a bottling works, a dray line, flour and feed mill, and a Market House.
The first chore of the early settler, after the primary tasks of building a home, clearing the land, and insuring a food supply, was the building of a church. After the church was built, a school house followed. The Pennsylvania Germans,'Iike the Scotch-Irish, respected and encouraged education, although they believed that education was related to the church, not the state.
OLD SESSIONS HOUSE
At Derry the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians established a church and school as early as 1732. The Old Sessions House in which the school is said to have been held is still standing and is now enclosed in glass.
In 1805 the Honorable John Kean erected a stone school building, about 34 by 36 feet, which stood 200 feet south of West Main Street and 100 feet west of South Locust Street. This building remained in use for about 40 years. The names of two teachers have been preserved for us: Abraham Philip, Esq., and Alexander Dasher.
During the same period a log school house was used which was located on the Derry Road about 400 feet beyond the point where it branches off the highway. Adam Grittinger was a teacher in this school.
About the year 1840 two buildings were erected: one a stone structure, the other brick, on the rear of a lot on the north side of West Main Street in the 400 block. These schools were a part of the State system of free public schools. In 1874 a larger brick four room school house was built on West Main Street.
In addition to the public schools the Palmyra Academy, or Witmer Academy was opened in 1857, and continued until the year 1890. The building stood at the corner of Main and College Streets where the First United Brethren, now the Evangelical Congregational Church stands. This was a private school, founded and supervised by Professor Peter B. Witmer. When the school was at the height of its prosperity, there were usually 100 or more pupils during the spring term, and 60 or more during the fall term. The school had an excellent rating as a preparatory school for those pupils who desired to enter college. Many young men and women of this area received their early training and education at Witmers Academy
There is agreement among the early writers that the town was first named Palmstown, in honor of Dr. John Palm. Martin Early, in his "History of Palmyra", states that when the Post Office was established April 1, 1804, the name of the village was Palmstown. In the autobiography of Honorable John Kean, we find that he called it Palmyra in 1805. just when and why the name was changed has been obscured with the passage of time. Perhaps in the future some evidence will be found that will answer these questions.
For more than 100 years Palmyra depended on springs, wells, and ponds for its supply of water. There were five pumps that might have been called public wells or pumps. All of these had wooden pump stocks and were suction or lift pumps with two boxes or buckets. All of these pumps were located west of the square from Locust Street to Lingle Avenue. As the town began to grow, a serious water problem arose as seen by an act of the legislature to raise money by a lottery, to bring water to Palmyra.
RAILROAD HOUSE AND STREET
Section 1. Be it enacted, etc., That John Elder, Matthew Irwin, Daniel Wonderlich, John Ernst, John Downy and Levi G. Hollingsworth be and they are hereby appointed Commissioners to raise, by way of lottery, a sum not exceeding three thousand dollars, for the purpose of procuring and bringing into the said village a sufficient supply of water for the use of the inhabitants thereof, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid
Section 2. That before the said commissioners proceed to sell any tickets in said lottery, they shall lay such scheme therefore before the Governor as shall meet his approbation, and shall enter into bonds to him for the faithful performance of their duty in selling the tickets, drawing the lottery, and paying the prizes, and paying over the net proceeds of the lottery.
And each of them, before entering on the duties of their appointment, shall take and subscribe an oath or affirmation diligently and faithfully to perform the duties hereby instructed to him ' and at least three of the said Commissioners shall attend the drawing of each day. And when the whole is completed shall cause an accurate list of the fortunate numbers to be published in one newspaper at Harrisburg and one at Lebanon, etc.
Section 3. And be it further . That Levi G. Hollingsworth, Daniel Wonderlich, Henry Longenecker, John Kean and Joseph Carmany be and they are hereby appointed Trustees to receive from the Commissioners aforesaid the net amount of the monies raised by the lottery, and it shall be their duty also to devise and plan and cause to be dug, made and executed such works, machinery and engines as will lead and procure from Derry Meeting House spring, or elsewhere, such supply of water as many be sufficient for the use of said village." THOMAS McKEAN, Governor
The citizens of Palmyra have always responded to the call of their country in time of war. On Bindnagles Cemetery are the marked graves of eleven men who took part in the Revolutionary War. Dr. John Palm, George Frantz, Jacob Lentz, Gottfried Zimmerman, Johannes Zimmerman, Johannes Schnoke (Snoke), Michael Maulvier (Maulfair), John Michael Malvier (Maulfair). Jacob Leyman (Lehman), Benoi Pew, and Frederick Horstick.
Less than 100 years later the citizens of Palmyra were again called upon to serve their country. With the fall of Fort Sumter in 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to preserve the Union. About 78 of Palmyra's citizens laid down their tools and donned the uniform of the Boys in Blue.
The impressive remains of the ancient caravan city of Palmyra stand in the middle of the desolate Tadmorean Desert in Syria. All around are natural barriers: mountains to the north, west and southwest, while to the east and south are dry flatlands, with the volcanic basalt desert of the Hauran merging into Jordan. To the east, beyond the desert with its wadi and passes, runs the Euphrates River, permitting traffic by river to come in through the Persian Gulf from northwest India and beyond. The Tadmorean mountain range meant that roads either went north or south – and the southern routes came through Palmyra. As such, the city was well-served to become an important centre of trade for those merchants who chose to cross this desert rather than take the longer route around it, and as such, a hub of cultures and languages too.
The history of Palmyra is closely linked to the development of the Silk Road in this region and to the city’s strategic placement between the major powers of the early Middle Ages. A settlement called Tadmor is mentioned as early as the eighteenth century BC, and by the first century AD, Palmyra had become a base for traders crossing the desert. Conquered by the Greeks in 332 BC and then by the Romans in 64 BC, the region remained extremely multi-cultural, combining the Hellenizing influence of the West with the cultures of Central Asia, including those of the major powers of the east and rivals of the Roman Empire – namely, the Parthians and subsequently the Sassanids.
As such, Palmyra came to occupy a no-man's land criss-crossed with caravan routes. The city profited from its location, for there was a demand from Rome for the luxuries of the East — silks and spices — and Parthia, with its growing interest in Hellenistic culture, wanted the goods of the West. There was some sort of tacit understanding between the two powers, which enabled Palmyra, a neutral, semi-independent town, to become the middleman in this trade with its enormous profits.
One of the main languages of the area was Aramaic, a language related to Hebrew, and written with the same alphabet, although Greek was also spoken. The inscriptions found in the city are bilingual, in Aramaic and Greek a few with Latin also survive but only from the later years of the city, providing first-hand information about the types of exchange and interaction that took place along this stretch of the Silk Road.
Sculptures from Palmyra also give an indication of the culture of this city, especially the clothing, which represented the two cultures, Greek and Central Asian. For the men, the Greek garments consisted of a chiton, a long, sleeveless tunic with the cloth, generally of linen, covering to the elbows, worn with a large cloak of linen or wool. Fragments of patterned cloth of linen, wool and silk have been found, as well as fragments of Chinese silk.
The other style was what generally is called Parthian. It consisted of a long-sleeved tunic, short, belted and split at the sides, and trousers that were tight at the ankles, with supple boots. Unlike the usual Greek fashion, this style is highly decorative with bands of ornamentation on the tunic and along the limbs. A cloak was worn over the tunic. The women also wore a long, belted tunic with either tight or full long sleeves with a decorative cuff, or without sleeves, like that of the men.
The flow of trade through the city supported building on a grand scale. With its temples and their grounds and civic buildings such as the public meeting place (the Agora), the Monumental Arch, Grand Colonnade and Theatre, Palmyra became the most luxurious and elegant city in Syria. Even today, enough remains to indicate the magnificent city of that time with its splendid architecture built of a local pale gold limestone. At the city's centre, the Agora (probably built in the middle of the first century) was the same as that found in all Graeco-Roman cities. The colonnade, some 1100-meters long, originally contained around 375 columns, most of which are 9.5 meters high and 0.95 meters thick, of which about half remain. There would have been shops and trading stations under the porticos on both sides.
The main burial grounds were to the southwest of the city, and these provide another glimpse at the busy, commercial life of Palmyra through the funerary inscriptions that remain. The inscriptions, usually bilingual, are on the pedestals of statues of the dead. None of these statues survive, but of the 181 honorific inscriptions that have been found some 36 relate to the caravan trade, honouring the ‘chiefs of the caravan’: synodiarch in Greek and rb shurt in Aramaic. Unfortunately there is no solid information on what goods were carried, who carried them, how the caravan was organized, and so on. Yet, some of those to whom statues were dedicated clearly were major players in the Palmyrean commercial scene and quite likely supplied the capital necessary to carry on the trade.
The inscriptions provide very incomplete evidence of Palmyra's trade routes. Amongst the surviving inscriptions, there is mention of only one caravan route, from Spasinou Charax, in the Persian Gulf up the Euphrates through Vologesias and then overland to Palmyra. There are two cases of ships owned by a Palmyrene that arrived from Scythia, referring to the Indus estuary area in northwest India. They thus appear to have channelled the trade from India and China through the ports in India and up the Persian Gulf. There is some question about the role of the desert nomads in this trade - they may well have profited from this, supplying camels and receiving payments. But there is also mention in several inscriptions of attacks on merchants being averted by armed forces sent from Palmyra.
A breakdown of the delicate balance between the Roman Empire and its eastern neighbours, the Parthians and then the Sassanids, came to threaten Palmyra's role and affluence. The rise of the Sassanids created particular difficulties for the Romans, who were beset on all sides and weakened internally by pretenders to the throne. By the 3 rd century AD, Palmyra was suffering from the effects of this political instability, epitomised in 260 when the Sassanian emperor, Shapur I, captured the Roman emperor Valerian in 260, and the city declined into a provincial market town for the nearby nomads. The caravan routes moved to the north, through Asia Minor and on to Constantinople, and Palmyra came to be deserted, until its striking ruins were rediscovered in the seventeenth century.
The Sacred Grove will reopen for guided tours on May 28, 2021.
COVID-19 visitor information updates.
843 Stafford Road
Palmyra, New York 14522
10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Palmyra and Manchester, New York
The Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York, is the site where Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, visited young Joseph Smith in 1820. That visit, often called the First Vision, was the founding event of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Sacred Grove was part of the farmland originally owned by the Smith family, and today it is a healthy and peaceful forest that is open to the public year-round. Winding paths provide many places for visitors to contemplate the event that occurred here. For information about visiting the Sacred Grove and Joseph Smith&rsquos boyhood home, click or tap here.
On a spring day in 1820, 14-year-old Joseph Smith went alone to this grove of trees and prayed. He was confused about the claims of different religions in the area, and he wanted to know which church he should join. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came in answer to his prayer. Their answer changed his life, and it continues to change the lives of millions of people throughout the world. To learn more about the events that brought Joseph Smith to pray in the Sacred Grove, click or tap here.
Walk with the boy Joseph Smith into the Sacred Grove—after learning about the experiences that led him there.
Explore places where the Restoration of the gospel began: the Sacred Grove and a reconstruction of the log home where Moroni first visited Joseph Smith. Learn about other historic and modern buildings that now exist at the Smith family farm.
Consider the history of the Sacred Grove, including recent efforts to preserve it for future generations.
Read, watch, or listen to this sermon in which Elder Marlin K. Jensen, an emeritus member of the Seventy, shares lessons we can learn from the Sacred Grove.
Study this time line to see relationships between the Church’s historic sites in New York and Pennsylvania.
Find information that can help you plan a visit to the Smith Family Farm and Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site, the Peter Whitmer Farm, and the Priesthood Restoration Site.
Early Struggles of the Smith Family
Listen to &ldquoAsk in Faith&rdquo from Saints (volume 1, chapter 1)
Listen to &ldquoHear Him&rdquo from Saints (volume 1, chapter 2)
Palmyra - History
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Palmyra, New Jersey
Palmyra is a Borough in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the borough population was 7,091.
Palmyra was originally incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 19, 1894, from portions of Cinnaminson Township and Riverton. On February 20, 1923, Palmyra was reincorporated as a borough.
Palmyra is located at 40°00′10″N 75°01′35″W/ 40.002780°N 75.026263°W / 40.002780 -75.026263 (40.002780, -75.026263).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.4 square miles (6.3 km2), of which, 2.0 square miles (5.1 km2) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km2) of it (18.18%) is water.
Palmyra borders Riverton, Cinnaminson Township, Camden County, and the Delaware River. Across the Delaware, it borders the Tacony section of Philadelphia to which it is connected via Route 73 by the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, which is named for the two communities connected by the bridge.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,091 people, 3,004 households, and 1,853 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,586.9 people per square mile (1,382.8/km2). There were 3,219 housing units at an average density of 1,628.3/sq mi (627.7/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 80.99% White, 14.34% African American, 0.30% Native American, 1.40% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.41% from other races, and 1.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.23% of the population.
There were 3,004 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the borough the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 33.5% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $51,150, and the median income for a family was $57,192. Males had a median income of $42,910 versus $31,445 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,454. About 2.2% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.2% of those under age 18 and 2.4% of those age 65 or over.
The area that is now Palmyra was settled in the late 17th century by Swedes, marking the northernmost border of New Sweden. A farmhouse built in 1761 by the third generation settlers still remains as the oldest house in Palmyra. This remained a farming area until after the building of the Camden and Amboy Railroad in 1834, after which railroad workers bought lots along the railroad and built their homes there. The community was originally known as Texas, but a local landowner, Isaiah Toy, a descendant of the original Swedish settlers, wanted to have a post office established, and felt the name Texas undignified. Toy, a stockholder in the Camden and Amboy Railroad, convinced the railroad to change the name of the station in 1849 to Palmyra, which came from his love of ancient history. Palmyra was the name of an important city in ancient times located in central Syria. The post office was established in 1851. Palmyra, along with Bordentown, Burlington, Moorestown, and Mount Holly, established its high school in the late 1890s, making it one of the oldest high schools in Burlington County and in New Jersey.
The town was laid out in 1850, when Joseph Souder’s land was broken up into building lots to pay his debts. The street names match those of Center City Philadelphia – Market, Arch, Race, and Vine (from south to north), and Front Street and numbered streets from the Delaware River. What is now Palmyra was part of Chester Township, one of the original townships in Burlington County. Palmyra became a part of Cinnaminson Township when that township was set off from Chester in 1860. Palmyra Township was set off from Cinnaminson in 1894, and Palmyra was incorporated as a borough in 1923.
Palmyra is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at large. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year.
As of 2020, the Mayor of Palmyra is Gina Ragomo Tait. Council President is Tim Howard and the other members of Borough Council are Bernadette Russell, Brandon Allmond, Michelle McCann, Farrah Jenkins and Dr. Laura Craig Cloud.
Federal, state and county representation
Palmyra is in the First Congressional District and is part of New Jersey’s 7th Legislative District.
New Jersey’s First Congressional District, covering portions of Burlington County, Camden County and Gloucester County, is represented by Donald Norcross (D, Camden). New Jersey is represented in the Senate by Corey Booker (D, Newark) and Bob Menendez (D, Hoboken).
For the 2018-2019 Legislative Session, the 7th district of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Troy Singleton and in the Assembly by Herb Conaway and Carol Murphy. The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy.
Burlington County is governed by a five-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, elected at-large to three-year terms on a staggered basis.
The Palmyra Public Schools serves residents of Palmyra, and those from Beverly and Riverton who attend the district’s high school as part of sending/receiving relationships. Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are a preschool handicapped program at Delaware Avenue Elementary School (33 students), Charles Street Elementary School for grades K-6 (456 students), and Palmyra High School for grades 7-12 (600 students).
The Palmyra station on the River Line light rail system is located on East Broad Street. The station opened on March 15, 2004. Southbound service from the station is available to Camden, New Jersey. Northbound service is available to the Trenton Rail Station with connections to New Jersey Transit trains to New York City, SEPTA trains to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Amtrak trains. Transfer to the PATCO Speedline is available at the Walter Rand Transportation Center.
New Jersey Transit provides bus service to Philadelphia on the 317 line.
20 West Broad Street, Palmyra NJ 08065
Mayor Gina Ragomo Tait
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The Borough of Palmyra web site may contain hypertext or links to other web sites, which are not owned, operated, controlled or regularly reviewed by Borough officials, and the Borough is not responsible for their content. These links are provided solely as a courtesy and convenience to you, the visitor. When you link to one of these sites, you are no longer on the Borough of Palmyra web site and caution should be observed.
Palmyra Atoll Digital Archive
Welcome to the archive! PADA is dedicated to the preservation and sharing of Palmyra’s history, and houses the largest collection of online and physical material from the atoll’s past. We hope you’ll spend time exploring and discover more about Palmyra!
To explore material available from online sources outside the archive, visit our Bibliography section.
Common questions about Palmyra
Palmyra sits approximately 1,000 miles South of Hawaii. Traveling by plane from Honolulu (the most common method) takes about 2.5 hours in good weather. If you’re more adventurous, you could sail from Honolulu harbor in about 8 days if the wind holds, or 3 days if you run the motor.
On November 10th, 1802, Captain Cornelius Sowle of Rhode Island, became the first westerner to set foot on Palmyra. During a return trip from China, he made landfall on what was then an uncharted atoll, and named it for his ship, the Palmyra (read his original announcement here ).
Portrait of Captain Sowle circa 1805, painted in China
British explorer Edmund Fanning, in his 1833 memoirs “Voyages in the South Pacific,” claims to have discovered Palmyra in 1798, after a night of perilous visions. However, beyond this likely exaggerated story, no evidence exists to support his claim.
In 1999, the Nature Conservancy purchased Palmyra from its private owners, the Fullard-Leo Family, who had owned Palmyra since 1920. The family had other buyers interested, who were offering substantially more money (including billionaire Bill Gates), but they turned these down, choosing to ensure Palmyra’s natural legacy would be given first priority.
Today, the 25 islets and their lagoons are jointly owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The one exception is Cooper Island, which still belongs to descendants of Henry Cooper, who owned Palmyra prior to the Fullard-Leo’s.
A small team of rotating staff and researchers occupy Palmyra year round, each working in shifts lasting no longer than 3 months. They live in a small village near the runway on Cooper Island. The atoll will occasionally hosts additional visitors of 5-10 people.
The other 24 islets are uninhabited, and devoted to preserving Palmyra’s native flora and fauna.
Not even a little bit! Despite several poorly researched and largely fictional works describing a “curse” of Palmyra, the reality is, it’s one of the safest places to wash up in the Pacific. Of the recorded shipwrecks and downed craft who have reached the atoll since its discovery in 1798, the survival rate is 100%.
Nearly all the accounts I’ve read describing the atoll, dating all the way back to its discovery in 1804, speak about its beauty, rich wildlife, and welcoming atmosphere. After the tragic events of 1974, several parties (including a certain lawyer at the center of those events), painted a picture of Palmyra that simply doesn’t exist.
The only “curse” Palmyra may have, is for anyone who tries to profit from its resources. To date, despite dozens of attempts over the last 200 years, none of the entrepreneurial enterprises attempted, have ever netted a profit.
To protect Palmyra and its future, visitors must contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the Nature Conservancy, to arrange a visit.