Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Remove Images

Palmer farm part of family legacy

by Chris Schultz

August 15, 2013

According to Mike Palmer, his family originally came to the Geneva Lake area in 1847.

While not among the very first families to arrive here, the Palmers were still among the earliest settlers.

Being here since the mid-1800s is long enough that a county road is named after them near where the Palmers first settled. And there are still relatives who live along Palmer Road, Mike Palmer said.

But the centennial Palmer Family Farm, now owned by Mike and Libby Palmer, isn't on Palmer Road.

Palmer Road is north of Lake Geneva, between Como and the town of Delavan.

The Palmer Family Farm is south of Lake Geneva at W3861 Highway B, town of Linn.

According to Mike, Avery Palmer, his great-great-great-grand uncle, bought the land in 1880. By then, the Palmer family had been living in Walworth County for a generation.

A year later, the land was sold to Mike's great-great grandfather, Byron Palmer, said Mike, 66.

Mike said he believes Avery bought the land with the intention of selling it to his nephew.

When Byron was no longer able to farm, Avery's two sons, one of them Bertram Palmer, Mike's great-grandfather, took over.

In the 1950s, the brothers sold the farm to Allyn Palmer, Mike's father.

Mike was raised on the farm, and he and Libby bought it in 1991.

Along the way, they also raised three children on the farm, and now, the Palmer's son and their three granddaughters, ages 4 to 11, also live on the farm that Avery bought.

The Palmers still run the farm, now at 176 acres, growing wheat and hay and raising Holstein heifers. Mike said the family actually farms about 66 acres, and they rent out 110 acres.

Sometime around the late 1800s, when railroads began crossing the county from all directions, a Palmer sold an acre of the family farm for $1 because he believed the train traffic would benefit the entire area, Mike said. The creamery is gone, replaced by the Burlington Feed Store.

The railroad, once the Milwaukee Road, now the Wisconsin & Southern, is still there.

The rail line, originally owned by the Milwaukee Road, still bisects the Palmer property. Originally, it went to a creamery, he said. Now, the line goes to a feed store.

While this Palmer farm isn't all that close to the other Palmers, Mike said that his past relatives had little difficulty or reluctance to spend a day travelling by horse and buggy to visit each other.

He said it seems ironic that once the family farmers switched from horses to speedier tractors, they actually had less time to visit one another.

Mike has done more than farm. He's participated in local government, serving on the Linn Town Board. And that is a family tradition.

Mike said his father, Allyn, grandfather Bert, and great-grandfathers Byron Palmer and James Reek served on the Linn Town Board, as well.