Earlier this summer, we went and took a tour of our friends’ “Big Red Sawmill.” I will be writing more on the details of all we learned on that adventure in an upcoming blog. My older boys especially loved that field trip because our friend, Brian, took us all about the farm on his gator. (Thankfully only the kids had to ride in the back, and I got the front seat. Was a bit of a crazy ride – good for my “city” boys).
I expected the tour of the sawmill, but I did not anticipate learning some more about the area. He and lovely wife, Rita, are raising four sons just south of Palmyra. He owns quite a few acres that he drove us around. On the eastern edge of his land lies something I never knew existed.
The original town of Palmyra. Supposedly this is where the town used to be. Before illness came and devastated those settling here. Not knowing the source of the sickness the whole town decided to move a few miles away and start again. This could just be the source of folklore, as nothing of the town being relocated is mentioned in the Virtual Nebraska History: Palmyra. Yet that site only contains the history as presented by just a few local residents. You can definitely see where an original dwelling used to be located, so this could have been history that was missed.
Based on the number of towns that started and stopped in Nebraska I could see this having happened more than once. A setting just not being as suitable any more. Especially if illness literally caused most of the town to die out. Another factor could have been the arrival of the railroad to the area. The online history does note that the town really begin to flourish when the railroad arrived in 1871. Soon after the area’s first mill began along with an elevator.
So, whether this story is the stuff of legend or historical fact, I did find it interesting to ponder a town just up and moving. Would have been easier feat back then when dwellings were initially more “temporary.” If only we knew the oral history that is lost due to accurate documentation.
P.S. I enjoyed the two weeks that we just spent in Omaha. Although we will not camp out there like we just did, we will definitely be visiting that town again in the weeks and months to come.