It may have been in Cayuga County that Samuel met Clarissa Shumway, whom he married in November of 1809; or perhaps it was in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where her parents lived. History of Manchester Township tells us that Samuel and Clarissa came to Michigan from Steubenville, NY; but there was apparently no such place (2). However, Samuel's aunt-Gamaliel's sister Esther--lived in Canisteo, Steuben County, NY, with her husband, Jedediah Stephens. (3). Perhaps, like many young men in the nineteenth century who worked during the winters to earn money to buy their own property, Samuel went to Steuben County. Most of the early settlers there (1787-1793) had come from Pennsylvania. Canisteo is less than twenty miles from the Pennsylvania state line, and Tioga County is on the other side of that line. However and wherever they met, the Palmers' first son, William, was apparently born in Cayuga County The 1810 Census of Cayuga County shows Samuel as "head of a household consisting of himself and a young woman."
When next we find Samuel, he has moved west to a spot on Lake Ontario northeast of Buffalo. According to a history of Niagara Co., NY, he was one of the county's first settlers after the War of 1812 (4); and records of the Holland Land Company show that he purchased land there in 1817. A sketch on the deed recording its sale shows a strip of land 1-2/3 miles long but only 700 feet wide, one of a row of such lots stretching south from the lake, like the row of "ribbon farms" along the Detroit River, which gave each of the early French settlers of Detroit the benefits being on the river. In 1823, when the hamlet of Somerset Corners (now simply Somerset) was established, the southwestern corner of Samuel Palmer's land formed one of the four corners at its center. Samuel was elected the first clerk of Somerset Township in 1823 and served as supervisor from 1824 to 1826. The estate settlement of his father, Gamaliel Palmer, in August of 1829, identifies Samuel and his wife Clarissa as living in the "town," i.e., township, of Somerset; and he and his family are shown in Somerset in the 1830 Federal Census. He sold his land there in October of the following year
Samuel's next, and last, move to Washtenaw County in Michigan-came around, 1833, during a period of heavy westward migration. The Erie Canal had been completed in 1825, cutting travel time from New York to Detroit from two months to six days; and New Englanders and New Yorkers were streaming into Michigan. The population of the Territory of Michigan increased three-fold between 1820 and 1830; and the increase accelerated in the years before statehood was granted in 1837 (5). Settlers were attracted by reports of cheap, fertile land, mainly in Michigan's southern counties, where the weather, vegetation and soil allowed them to grow familiar crops and livestock with methods they already knew (6). They came mostly by way of the new Hudson River Railroad and the Erie Canal as far as Buffalo and from there to Detroit by way of the lakes. As Samuel Palmer moved from Niagara County to Washtenaw County, he was part of this stream. In 1850, over 66% of the immigrants in southern Michigan had Yankee origins. Like Samuel Palmer, almost all of them were from New York.
Samuel came to southern Michigan before the turnpike between Detroit and Chicago was surveyed, before the rails were laid. The roads in Michigan were rough, but by no means new. Indians had traced them out centuries before, using trails already made by buffalo and other animals. White explorers and traders had combined those trails to make a network, and the pioneers used the network, forming communities along the way. The first communities were of course tiny and far apart. Washtenaw County censuses show that, in 1837, there were only 805 people in Manchester Township. By 1850, they had increased to 1,274.
The story of the Palmers' arrival in Michigan told by Jane Palmer, Samuel's great granddaughter, is that in 1833 Samuel's oldest son, William, walked out of Detroit and located land on an oak opening on section five of Manchester Township, Washtenaw County. As he walked back, he met his family, who were traveling with an ox team, near the village of Saline. Jane terms the farm he established there a "settlement," since other homes were eventually established there. Samuel's will, dated 31 Aug 1844, directed that a one-acre plot on the corner of the southeast quarter of section five, with all of the buildings on it, be given to his wife, Clarissa, so this is probably the location of the first family home.
Although History of Washtenaw County says the Palmers, Samuel and his son William, "entered government land," the record at the Washtenaw County Register of Deeds shows that, in April of 1835, Samuel bought 240 acres of land on section five from Gilbert Row, who had bought it from the government in 1831. Row had bought a number of parcels of government land in Manchester and Sharon Townships. The government usually sold land to individuals; but speculators commonly bought up the best pieces and then sold them for inflated prices, often becoming wealthy in the process. Speculation was the word of the day, according to The Land Office Business; and nowhere in the Northwest Territory was it so rampant as in Michigan. Because there was a limited amount of land available and seemingly limitless numbers of potential buyers, parcels changed hands quickly and repeatedly. Samuel Palmer paid an average $3.12 an acre for the land he bought from Gilbert Row, but he sold 80 acres of it the next year to Joseph Gillett Jr for $8.75 an acre.
According to Jane, Samuel and Clarissa helped to start a hamlet called Elba when they settled on section 5. At its peak, Elba stretched along both sides of what became Austin Road from a spot four miles west of the village to the county line. It consisted of a school, a blacksmith shop, a stagecoach stop and a post office (7) Both the school and the post office were on Samuel's land. Samuel and Clarissa's daughter Jerusha was among the first pupils at the school, the first in Manchester Township, and their grandchildren, William's children, were also pupils there. Although the Elba post office was also the first in the township (8), the railroads were built through the village of Manchester and, perhaps for this reason, Elba faded into oblivion.
In 1837, Samuel did purchase eighty acres of Federal land in the southwest quarter of section seven. The two parcels on sections 5 and 7 were still in Samuel's possession when he died in 1844. Many other purchases and transfers of land by Samuel and his two sons, William and Shumway, have been recorded, including property in the village of Manchester, though apparently only Shumway ever lived there.
History of Washtenaw County provides a few additional details about Samuel: He was elected one of three justices at the first Manchester Township meeting, held in 1837 at the schoolhouse in Manchester; and he served in that office again in 1844. With Clarissa and William he attended the organizational meeting for the First Baptist Church of the North Bend of the Raisin [River] on 17 February 1836. (The name of this church was changed in 1838 to the First Baptist Church and Society of Manchester.) The meeting was in the home of James Stevens, in whose home the Baptist Church of Somerset in Niagara County was first recognized in 1820. (James Stevens seems to have come to Manchester at the same time Samuel did.)
Samuel Palmer died in Manchester Twp., Washtenaw Co., MI, in 1844, leaving his wife, Clarissa, and five children: William Hamlin, Esther Celesta, Shumway N., Dolly Ann and Jerusha. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Manchester.
Clarissa Celesta Shumway, Samuel's wife, was the daughter of Peter Shumway, a Revolutionary War soldier, a drummer for the Massachusetts Line (9). His powder horn and discharge papers, signed by George Washington, are still in the possession of family members (10). He married Dorothy (Dolly) Nichols, his second wife and Clarissa's mother, in 1787.
Clarissa was born in 1791 in Charlestown, Sullivan Co., NH. As near as can be determined, Peter moved his family around 1805 from New Hampshire to Tioga Co., PA. It was here that he died in January of 1832. Many members of the Shumway family still live in Tioga County. Clarissa was named in her father's will, which referred to her as "Clary"; and she and Samuel were listed in the settlement of the estate as husband and wife. The settlement also mentioned Clarissa's sister, Jerusha, the wife of William Palmer. Both couples had been mentioned in the settlement of the estate of Gamaliel Palmer, Samuel and William's father. Thus, this second settlement confirms that the two Palmer brothers, Samuel and William, were indeed married to the two Shumway sisters, Clarissa and Jerusha.
Our only story about Clarissa Shumway Palmer comes from Jane, her great granddaughter. Samuel, Jane's father, said that his grandmother, Clarissa, was full of laughter. On one occasion, he said, his grandmother told him and his brother Oscar that something was killing her chickens and she wanted the boys to find out what it was. The boys scouted around and found a hole with a tail sticking out. They pulled out the owner of the tail and carried it to grandmother in triumph. Their grandmother laughed, because it was a skunk.
Clarissa Shumway Palmer
Clarissa died in 1862, in Manchester Township, eighteen years after Samuel's death. Census records and the probate file of her estate indicate that, after living alone for several years, she lived with each of her three surviving children in turn. She was living with her daughter, Dolly Ann, when the 1860 Federal Census was taken. She apparently died at William's house. She is buried next to Samuel in Oak Grove Cemetery in Manchester.
Samuel Palmer, b-23 Jun 1785, Hillsdale, Columbia Co., NY
d-5 Sep 1844, Manchester, Washtenaw Co., MI
m-2 Nov 1809 (11), Unknown
Gamaliel Palmer, b-27 Aug 1762, Freetown, Bristol Co., MA
d-1828, Venice, Cayuga Co., NY
m-About 1788, Probably Columbia Co., NY
Sabra Brown, b-Unknown, Probably Columbia Co., NY
Daughter of Thomas Brown
Clarissa Shumway, b-13 Apr 1791, Charlestown, Sullivan Co., NH
d-14 May 1862, Manchester, Washtenaw Co., MI
Peter Shumway, b-14 Feb 1753, Oxford, Worcester Co., MA d-8 Jan 1832, Delmar, Tioga Co., PA
m-16 Feb 1787, Unknown
Dorothy Nichols, b-10 Aug 1767, Unknown
d-18 May 1827, Delmar, Tioga Co., PA
Children of Samuel Palmer and Clarissa Celesta Shumway:
William H., b-13 Dec 1810 (12), Cayuga Co, .NY
d-1 Jul 1884 (13), Manchester, Washtenaw Co., MI
m-25 Aug 1836, Probably in Niagara Co., NY, to Esther Bronson
Esther C., b-22 Jan 1813, Probably Cayuga Co., NY
d-1 Jul 1846 (14), Sumner Co., TN
m-22 May 1828 (15), Niagara Co., NY, to Dr. B. V. Peterson
Shumway N., b-10 Aug 1815, Possibly Cayuga Co., NY, or Tioga Co., PA
d-30 Aug 1850 (16), Manchester, Washtenaw Co., MI
m-21 Jun 1840, Washtenaw Co., MI, to Christiana, maiden name unknown
Dolly Ann, b-12 Jul 1821, Niagara Co., NY
d-20 Oct 1865, Manchester, Washtenaw Co., MI
m-22 Jun 1837, Washtenaw Co., MI, to Dr. Bennett F Root
Jerusha, b-18 Mar 1824, Niagara Co., NY
d-22 Jun 1893, Manchester, Washtenaw Co., MI
m-2 Jan 1848, Washtenaw Co., MI, to Stewart Fitzgerald
1. New York Military in the Revolution
2. Gazetteer of New York
3. History of Steuben County
4. Landmarks of Niagara County, New York
5.Compendium of History . . . of Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan
6. The Sources of Washtenaw County's Population
7. The Jane Palmer Papers
8. History of Washtenaw County
9. Revolutionary War Military Service Records
10. Shumway family member.
11. History of Manchester Township
12. History of Washtenaw County
13. State of Michigan Record of Death
14. Sumner County, Tennessee County Records
15. History of Marion and Clinton Counties, Illinois
16. Probate file of Shumway N. Palmer
Dates and places for Peter and Dolly Shumway are taken from Genealogy of the Shumway Family, those for Gamalial and Sabra Palmer from The Ancient Family of Palmer of Plymouth Colony. Unless otherwise noted, birth, marriage and death dates for Samuel and Clarissa's children appear in Old Bible and Other Pioneer Records.