Palmer Township: Our Western Frontier

In colonial times this area was commonly known as the “dry lands” and served as hunting grounds for the Penn family. It’s also where I grew up.

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Palmer Township was part of the land deeded to the Penn family by Charles II of England in recognition of their exceptional service to the crown. In colonial times this area was commonly known as the “dry lands” and served as hunting grounds for the Penn family. The descendants of William Penn sold portions of their land but retained possession of two large tracts between Bethlehem and Easton. However, they were unsuccessful in keeping settlers from occupying their tracts, and by 1752 the tract that included the area now known as Palmer Township became entirely occupied. The settlers cleared the land, built cabins, and tilled the soil.

In 1759 the squatters petitioned Richard Peters, Secretary of the Province, for permission to continue to live on the “dry lands about six miles from Easton” and indicated a willingness to pay any price for the land Peters thought to be “fit and reasonable.” Peters found no price reasonable and denied their request. Not only did the petitioners remain on the land, but other settlers continued to come in. In fact, settlers still keep coming; today, Palmer Township is home to approximately 18,500 residents.

Action was finally started to eject the settlers, but on June 5, 1795, an agreement was reached whereby the Penns agreed to give the settlers the deed for their land within the period of 12 months for the sum of 65 pounds, 10 shillings for each one hundred acres of land. Originally part of Forks Township, Palmer became an independent community by court order issued in May, 1857.

Who is this Palmer person? The province of Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn by Charles II in 1680. It was not until 1774 that the northern boundary was finally determined by George Palmer, for whom Palmer Township was named. He was appointed deputy surveyor of Northampton County in 1773, a position he held for about 51 years. His land office was in Bath.

In addition to being a surveyor for the state, Palmer served for a number of years as coroner of the County and was also employed by the Penn family as their surveyor. The Penn family considered Mr. Palmer a “man of conscience” and noted his knowledge of their manors in Northampton County. George Palmer died in March, 1831, at the age of 83 years. He is buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery near Weaversville.

Because of their accuracy, the records of Mr. Palmer are still consulted in settling disputed boundary lines and to trace titles of properties.

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I am retracing Warrant Tract surveys by George Palmer in Carbon County and am very interested in learning all I can about this man and his survey methodology.

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