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It was settled after the arrival of the Houston and Texas Central Railway in 1872 and was named for D. S. Palmer, a Houston physician, and stockholder of the railroad company. The community quickly became a shipping point for area cotton and grain farmers. In 1874 a post office branch opened at the community. By 1885 the town had 250 residents and Twenty-eight businesses, including a hotel, a bank, a school, and two steam gristmills and cotton gins. Before the construction of separate churches, the town’s four major religious denominations, the Methodists, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and Cumberland Presbyterians, all worshiped in the Cumberland Presbyterian church. In 1890 Palmer was incorporated. By 1896 it had a weekly paper, the Palmer Times. In 1902 the Palmer Press Brick Company (later the Barron Brick Company) built a plant in the town. On the eve of World War I Palmer had 750 residents, four churches, two banks, a weekly newspaper (the Palmer Rustler), and more than forty other businesses. Its population was 758 in the early 1930s and 601 in the mid-1970s. By 1988 Palmer had 1,505 residents and fourteen businesses. In the 2000 census, its population was 1,731.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Edna Davis Hawkins, et al., History of Ellis County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1972). Memorial and Biographical History of Ellis County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., as Ellis County History, Fort Worth: Historical Publishers, 1972). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
– David Minor