It's relatively rare in the Chariton Cemetery to find a lot where more than one of the occupants were born during the 18th century, but here --- on the Thomas E. and Ann (Wilson) Palmer lot --- you'll find three at rest in a companionable row at the back.
Phineas Palmer, 1785-1883, was Thomas Palmer's father; John (1795-1866) and Ann (1790-1866) Wilson, the parents of Ann. As was not uncommon in the 19th century, the younger Palmers moved west, then brought their aging parents to Chariton so that they could be taken care of in old age.
The Palmers once were a leading Chariton mercantile family but their monuments are surprisingly modest --- low white marble markers, single and double. There's certainly room here for a grand family tombstone of some sort, but perhaps their aspirations did not include conspicuous consumption of marble or granite.
Thomas and Ann Palmer moved west from Brooklyn, New York, during 1855 to open a general merchandise store on the north side of the Chariton square; his widowed father, Phineas, and sister, Julia, joined them prior to 1860.
But the family trail west apparently was blazed by another of Phineas Palmer's sons, Oliver L., who joined the gold rush to California ca. 1849-50, while enroute home to New York a couple of years later stopped in Burlington to open a store instead, then moved soon thereafter to Chariton. He built the brick building just north of the alley on the east side of the Chariton square that still stands, although with a newer facade --- the oldest in Chariton. Oliver eventually moved west to Atwood, Kansas, where he died during 1908.
If you go looking in Chariton newspapers for obituaries for John and Ann Wilson or Phineas Palmer, you won't find them. Back editions of Lucas County newspapers prior to 1867 did not survive and the edition of The Chariton Patriot in which Phineas Palmer's obituary appeared has vanished (there is, however, a brief death notice for Phineas in The Democrat of Feb. 21, 1883).
"WILSON --- At Chariton, Iowa, on Monday, March 26th, at the residence of his son-in-law, T.E. Palmer, John Wilson, in the 71st year of his age. Mr. Wilson was a native of Yorkshire, England, but for many years a resident of Brooklyn."
It's possible to learn a little more about John and Ann Wilson in a report of the 60th wedding anniversary of their daughter and son-in-law, the Thomas E. Palmers, Published in The Patriot on Oct. 3, 1912.
"Anna Wilson, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Wilson," the report reads, "was born in York, Yorkshire, England, on January 4th 1825 and is now nearly 88 years of age. Her birth place in England, which was owned by her father, was within a stone's throw of York Cathedral. When but seven years old she came with her parents to America. Later, she went back to England on a visit. Thus, she has crossed the ocean three times. Her mother's maiden name was Anne Joice, and she was born in Warwick, England."
John and Ann Wilson still were living in Brooklyn during 1860, but apparently moved west to join their daughter and son-in-law in Chariton not long thereafter. As their tombstone indicates, both died in 1866, but there doesn't appear to be a published account of Ann's demise.
"Phineas Palmer died at Chariton on Monday, aged ninety-seven years, having been born in Stonington Connecticut, in 1785. In announcing his death, the Patriot says: 'He was a man of sterling worth and marked force of character. Seldom indeed is it given to any man to have lived such a long and useful life. He was contemporary with the nation. When Mr. Palmer was born the war of the revolution had only just closed, and the nation bleeding from the wounds of the fearful struggle was facing the future with the untried problem of self-government. Rarely has a single lifetime witnessed such vast changes as have taken place during the life of this venerable man. Coming from that earnest old Puritan stock who gave practical lessons to the world of the doctrine of liberty regulated by law, he was always an ardent lover of his country, a quiet, unobtrusive citizen, and Christian man."
So next time you're headed west on the Chariton Cemetery entrance drive, look to your right about 30 rows in and pay your respects to John, Ann and Phineas --- all three among our 18th century forbears.