Historically speaking

Village of Palmer once known as Cascade

PALMER — The village of Palmer was built almost in the middle of an old Indian trail that followed the Escanaba River and led to Lake Michigan, and without a doubt went off to the east end of Teal Lake in Negaunee which was a favorite camping ground for the Indians.

As the crow flies, Palmer is 17 miles from Marquette and five miles from Negaunee. The village of Palmer, was once known as Cascade. It derived its name from the nearby stream with beautiful cascades running through a gorge.

In 1873, when the post office was established, a name change was necessary to avoid confusion with another Cascade in Kent County, Michigan. The name was changed to Palmer after a Pennsylvania merchant, Waterman Palmer.

One reference, points out that Palmer, after hearing of the minerals to be found in the Upper Peninsula, purchased 160 acres of land in 1848 from the government as soon as it was placed on the market as a mining venture. A later account states that he had holdings of close to 3,000 acres.

Waterman Palmer never resided in Palmer, and to anyone’s knowledge he never visited the area that bore his name. Other names that were familiar in Palmer were the Kirkpatricks.

Joseph Kirkpatrick came to Palmer in 1873 to manage the affairs of Pittsburgh and Lake Superior Mining.The iron mines became prosperous as did a logging operation on company land that was organized by Kirkpatrick.

He was the owner of the Volunteer Mine. He also ran a general store in Palmer. The Kirkpatrick house, known as the “brick house,” was built by the Pittsburgh and Lake Superior Co for a cost of $25,000.

The Kirkpatricks were known to have elegant parties. After it was vacated, actually abandoned, the local youngsters called it the haunted house. It was demolished in 1929. Joseph Kirkpatrick’s legacy included the Kirkpatrick name on a public school and an avenue named after him.

A member of the Kirkpatrick family had a home in Negaunee, which is still used as a residence on Main Street. T.J.Nicolas, another name remembered. Nicolas was the superintendent of the Isabella Mine, Richmond Township Supervisor, and Marquette County Board of Supervisors.

He was the author of a poetry book, “Cornwall and the Cousin Jack.” Harry Davidson, came to Palmer from Champion Michigan. He operated Davidson’s Department Store and the Palmer Post Office.

Upper Palmer was created on land owned by Davidson. In 1957, Dr. George Knutson from Negaunee purchased the Davidson home on M-35 and with some additions it was converted into the Palmer Nursing Home. (now vacant) Bernard Davidson, son of Harry, received a law degree in 1936 from the University of Michigan.

Bernard practiced law in Negaunee from 1938- 1947. He was in partnership with F.A Bell of Ishpeming from 1947- 1963. He was named circuit judge in 1963. The Honorable Judge DAvidson lived in Marquette.

Dr. Richard Burke, was Richmond Township’s last resident physician. His offices were in the residence now known as Marigold. Dr. Burke served as a mine physician, a staff physician at Bell Hospital and at Dr. Robbins Hospital on Main Street in Negaunee.

In 1928, he opened the Twin City Hospital on Cyr Street in Negaunee, which was demolished due to mining.

Unlike Waterman Palmer, Kirkpatrick, Nicholas, Davidson, and Burke all resided in Palmer.


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