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Wayne Post
  • Historically Speaking — A peek at Palmyra’s past

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  • Another week just flew by and we are almost at the end of our cemetery walk and will be heading into a segment about local houses and history of houses.
    However, for now, it is back to the Cemetery. We ended with the second part of the tour but forgot our very amazing Pliny T. Sexton owner of the Palmyra First National Bank that National Bank was owned by his father and George Cuyler in the early days. The bank served until the 1900’s when it moved to the south side of the street. We know this bank today as many names, but now we’ll just call it empty. Pliny T. was an amazing man played by Steve Hays and a very generous man. In his business dealings he was astute and well versed, in his personal life he was a dedicated husband and benefactor to many.
    We are now heading to the Phelps family plot which is disguised by the name Smith front and center on the stone. Mrs. Catherine “Smith” Phelps’ family is also buried there. It is a bit confusing when you are looking for Sibyl and the gang. Mayme Phelps (Kathi Wooklock) and Julius Phelps (Rob Henning), were excited to see Sibyl’s as she came down the hill from the Garlock mausoleum with droves of folks following close behind. Sunday dinner was the topic and a welcome reunion was far too short.
    We followed up to our newest characters, Phyllis Bean half sister to Palmyra Bean and daughter of Willard Bean. Phyllis (Sister Poulson) had rheumatic fever and at the young age of 23 died at home on her bed. A sudden death like that is very hard to understand but Willard and Rebecca were very strong. Willard Bean (Elder Poulson) was the first missionary to move into the Joseph Smith house. Willard was an incredible man and as a middle weight boxing champion which helped him make many friends in this area. Pliny T. was one of his good friends and offered Willard a platform to preach at the bandstand in the Park. This was before it became the Village Main Street Park. Many years later Willard and his family moved to Utah. The memories of Willard and family reside here as Phyllis is the only Bean buried in the Village Cemetery.
    We are moving onto one of our saddest areas the Potter’s Field. Approximately 1,000 are buried in the two Potter’s Fields that are in the Village Cemetery. Those folks that were poor, unknown, and just passing through ended up in this area. They are all buried without stones or recognition. A sad place to be sure. Our lost souls were Irene Unterborn, Lindsey, Benjamin, Jack, and Emily Hays. It was a very special part of our tour. Lost soul Irene always ask that they be remembered and we stop and bring a flower or just say hello.
    Page 2 of 2 - Last but certainly not least are our two ladies bickering over a wagon accident that occurred in the 1820’s. Eliza Jane Durfee and Eramus Peters are still determining whether the strap breaking on the wagon was deliberate or accidental. We will never know. Thanks to Judy Zanin, Marie Fessler, and Michelle Hays for their amazing story. Behind the scenes are many Ed Plesa, Justin Mitchell, the young Elders, Kathi Woodlock, Gary Hopkins, Sister Howell, Elder and Sister Hyne, Breen's Market, Irene Unterborn, Larry Langdon, Cheryl VanDenburg, Bill Unterborn, Mike Dunn, Mike and Greg Hays and Sister Veatch. Many hands and hours go into this and a special thank you to those that attended and supported Historic Palmyra by your presence.
    The Holiday Bazaar is Nov. 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with luncheon served both days from 11:30 a.m. until gone, and Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a kid’s craft event from 10 a.m. to noon. Come on down all and shop and eat. Call 597-6981 for details and information.

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