In the front rank of Orange county’s most eminent citizens was Noah Palmer, of Santa Ana, long a dominating power in financial circles and an extensive holder of valuable property, whose labors contributed in large measure to the development, upbuilding and prosperity of both his city and county. He was born in Lowville, Lewis County, New York, September 3, 1820, and had reached the age of ninety-five years when he passed away in Santa Ana, California, in January, 1916. His parents, Ephraim and Hannah (Phelps) Palmer, were lifelong residents of the Empire state. Ephraim Palmer came of sterling English stock and was of Quaker ancestry. He passed away at the age of eighty-eight years, having long survived his wife, who died when her son Noah was but seven years old.
Bereft of his mother, Noah Palmer went to live with an older sister in Jefferson County, New York, where he remained until he had attained the age of eighteen years. Following the completion of his education in the local schools, he devoted his attention to the teaching profession for ten years, being an instructor in New York until 1840 and afterward in Indiana. In 1849 he joined the Isaac Owen missionary train for the Pacific coast. After a journey of six months across the plains, Mr. Palmer engaged in mining at Hangtown, now Placerville, California, but this labor proving too arduous, he went to San Jose and engaged in farming. Later he removed to Santa Clara, where he was engaged in ranching for many years. In 1852 he returned east and brought his wife and little daughter back to California with him. They traveled westward via the Isthmus of Panama, which they crossed on mule-back. They established their home in Santa Clara County, and there Mr. Palmer became active in local public affairs as a supporter of the Republican Party. He served as tax collector for six years and was a member of the state legislature for one term. It was in August, 1873, that he came to Santa Ana, which at that time was but a small hamlet. With the far-sighted judgment which ever characterized him, he believed that there was a great future in store for this section of the state. Going back to Santa Clara, he closed a deal for seventeen hundred sixty-five acres of the old Santiago de Santa Ana Grant, and on his return to Santa Ana he was accompanied by a number of his Santa Clara friends, to whom he disposed of ten hundred sixty-five acres. He put under cultivation the seven hundred acres which he retained and produced some of the best crops ever grown in this section. This land, with the exception of a small acreage, is now all subdivided into town lots. In 1882 Mr. Palmer became interested in the banking business, and in association with W. S. Bartlett, Daniel Halladay and others he organized the Commercial Bank of Santa Ana, with Mr. Halladay as the first president. After a few years Mr. Palmer succeeded to that office, which he held until April 23, 1910, when he retired. He was one of the organizers of the Bank of Orange and served as its president until the institution was sold. He was also a director of the Bank of Tustin and of the Orange County Savings Bank, now the Orange County Trust & Savings Bank. He was active in the promotion of the Santa Ana, Orange & Tustin Railway and became the first president of the company. Mr. Palmer long enjoyed an enviable reputation as an able and successful businessman. “In all of these business connections,” said an earlier biographer, “he was a most influential factor and through them he was able to contribute in large measure to the advancement and prosperity of his community.”
In March, 1843, in Franklin County, Indiana, Mr. Palmer married Miss Susan Evans, who was born in that county January 28, 1824, and whose death occurred October 28, 1903, after a wedded life of sixty years. To Mr. and Mrs. Palmer was born three children, but the only surviving member of the family is Emma, the widow of George J. Mosbaugh and the mother of a son, H. Percy Thelan, by a former marriage. A review of the career of George J. Mosbaugh may be found in another part of this work. Lottie E. Palmer passed away September 18, 1927, and Mrs. Almira A. Hewitt, the eldest daughter of Noah and Susan (Evans) Palmer, died in March, 1912, leaving three children: Fred P. and William L., who are deceased; and Mrs. Susie Deuel.
Mr. Palmer left to the members of his family a heritage that is of more value than the wealth which he bequeathed to them—the memory of a noble and honorable life. He donated generously to all worthy causes and was a citizen whose aid and cooperation could be counted upon in the furtherance of all measures and movements looking toward community advancement. No history of Orange County and this section of the state would be complete without extended reference to him, for his record is inseparably interwoven with the annals of Southern California.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. IV, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 353-355, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.