Exactly Who Is Abraham Palmer?

Abraham Palmer gave written permission for his daughter,  Vianna Palmer,  to marry Amos Hamby on 1 January 1822 in Christian County, Kentucky. Other than that one piece of paper, not a shred a evidence has been found to document him.

Amos Hamby was born about 1802, probably in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Vianna or Vina, as she later called herself,  Palmer was born about 1805, probably in Kentucky. They were married on 1 January 1822 in Christian County, Kentucky after permission was given by both the bride and groom’s fathers since they were both underage. Both documents are filed with the Christian County, Kentucky county clerk’s office.

Permission to Marry from John Hamby

To the Clark of Christian County

Sir, Please to issue from your office marriage
License to my Son Amos Hamby to be joined
in matrimony to miss Viana Palmer
Sir, I am Yr (VC?)
John Hamby
December 31, 1821

Amos was the son of John and Bradbrook Hamby who migrated from South Carolina to Kentucky. Much has been found about the Hamby family.

Permission to Marry from Abraham Palmer

To the Clark of Christian County

Sir, Please to issue from Yr Office marriage
License for my Daughter Vianna Palmer to be
Joined in matrimony to mr. Amos Hamby
Sir I am Yr VC
Abraham Palmer
Jan. 1st 1822

The first thing I noticed is that while each letter of permission was written one day apart, they are in the same handwriting, including the signature. Amos Hamby wasn’t literate – he signed his marriage bond with an X – and I doubt that John Hamby was literate either.

I wonder whether John Hamby and Abraham Palmer were at their children’s weddings? Why aren’t the notes signed with an X?

Apart from that odd situation, NO OTHER RECORD has been found to document the existence of Abraham Palmer.

First, I checked the 1820 census for Abraham Palmer. There are only eight Abraham Palmers in the whole country. They all live in the Northeast and there are no heads of household named Palmer in Christian County.

Okay, maybe he moved to Kentucky between the 1820 census and his daughter’s marriage. In 1830, there are thirteen Abraham Palmers in the whole country and none in Kentucky.

There were six Palmer households in the county – Lewis D., Isaac, Alpheus, Drury, Mary and Charles C. Through the years, I have looked closely at these six households.

Isaac Palmer was a Revolutionary War pensioner who died in his 90’s on 24 April 1843 in Christian County. The only Alpheus Palmer I could find outside of Kentucky was in Connecticut. He could be the man in Christian County, but he was born in the mid 1790’s. I had originally thought that someone misread or incorrectly wrote “Abraham” for “Alpheus” but he is too young to be Vianna’s father. Lewis is reportedly the son of Isaac Palmer. Drury was born 1810-1820 so could be Vianna’s brother. Charles was also born 1810-1820. Mary is 50-59 years old and is old enough to be Vianna’s mother. I can find no mention of Abraham or Vianna and no clues that might link Vianna and her father to these other families.

Okay, maybe he moved to Kentucky just before his daughter’s marriage and moved on by 1830 to who knows where?

Next stop: land deeds. There is no Abraham Palmer buying or selling land in Christian County, Kentucky at all.

I moved on to the tax rolls, which are quite good for Kentucky. No Abraham Palmer ever appears on them, even in 1821 and 1822 when he was supposedly living in Christian County.

Maybe he didn’t own land and didn’t pay taxes, but died in Christian County. Nope, no will, probate or estate inventory filed for an Abraham Palmer.

By 1830, Amos and Vianna Hamby had moved on to Livingston County, Kentucky, which is just a short distance to the west of Christian County. No, there aren’t any Palmer families in that whole county in 1830 so none of her male relatives (if she had any) moved on with them.

In short, the only proof that Abraham Palmer ever existed is the permission letter, clearly written by someone else, allowing Vianna to marry Amos Hamby.

Lastly, I compared all the Abraham Palmers in the 1820 U.S. census with those in the 1830 census. That didn’t help much. The 1820 census includes Abrahams in the following counties: Mifflin, PA, Berkshire, MA, two in Columbia, NY, Somerset, ME, Baltimore, MD, Bradford, PA and Litchfield, CT.

In 1830, there were a few more in the following counties: 2 in Dutchess, NY, 2 in Columbia, NY, St. Lawrence, NY, 2 in Richland, OH, Hamilton, OH, Dutchess, NY, Greene, NY, Jefferson, TN, Litchfield, CT and West Feliciana, LA.

The only two Abrahams in the south, in Tennessee and Louisiana, were both too young to be Vianna’s father.

In my “reasonably exhaustive search” recommended in the best practices standards, which I refer to as “leave no stone unturned,” I have done just that in Christian County.

I welcome suggestions on where next to look. I am beginning to think that Abraham Palmer dropped in from outer space.

One thought on “Exactly Who Is Abraham Palmer?”

  1. Sounds like you have turned any stone I could think of and then some. Do you have other records for the daughter? It sure looks like Palmer, but maybe whoever wrote it didn’t hear him correctly and it was spelled differently or an entirely different name? I assume there are no birth or marriage records that far back?

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