What an amazing spring day. One of the most celebrated days in Palmyra was not an event for a celebration, but for a funeral. For the people of Palmyra, they had been told that the beloved Adm. Wm. T. Sampson died. Sampson was born in Palmyra on February 9, 1840, on the corner of Johnson and Vienna streets to his immigrant father and mom, who had come to Palmyra from the North of Ireland. In 1845, the small barefoot 5-year-old attended the Throop Street one-room school house.
He was a hard worker, making brick and building the new family home with his father, as well as planting the garden and sawing wood. What made him so special? He did hard work, reading continually when there was time, and did well in school. He went into the U.S. Navy through Annapolis, where he studied hard and seemed to be a natural for a naval career. No one could imagine how this barefoot boy in tattered clothes from a poor family became one of the well-respected admirals in the U.S. Navy, sailing into battle as the commander of the Atlantic Fleet and being credited with planning the battle strategy for the victory of the Spanish-American War in 1898. As Thomas Cook, author of Palmyra and Vicinity says, “He (Sampson) devoted to his country unsparingly, a brilliant intellect, cultivated by learning, directed by industry, and inspired by patriotism.”
Moving on to other dates in Palmyra, we found that on May 7, 1855, the local fire department
was reorganized into the Continental Fire Co. No. 1. May 9, 1841, Liberty Street was surveyed,
and May 9, 1843, the village votes to spend $500 to buy and maintain the village cemetery. This was done under the leadership of Village President Draper Allen. On May 10, 1861, Railroad Avenue was re-established, and just one week later, on May 16, 1861, the Company B of the 33rd Regiment left for the Civil War under the command of Lt. Col. Joseph W. Corning. There was a march down Main Street under a stream of banners, with incredible speeches, prayers and music; American flags lined the street proudly waving. This sendoff shared the heartfelt dedication to the sound of freedom for all, and the restoration of the U.S. This
march would take these men and boys into places they never thought they would travel, in situations they could never imagine and in conditions no man nor beast should withstand. The tears of the mothers, wives, sisters, fathers, brothers, pastors and all those wishing they
could go as well, tears flowed freely continuing far past the last recruit passed. Many would
not be back home, would certainly not be the same as when they left and would wear the scars of this Civil War to their dying day. All of Palmyra went to war that day in some way or another. Those left behind would carry on and keep the home fires burning. They would keep raising the families, planting the fields, milking the cows and running the businesses; only showing their fear and sadness in the dark shadows of the night alone.
The museums will open with their summer hours May 10. The museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays until October 31. If you haven’t seen the five museums of Historic Palmyra, come on down Market Street and begin your journey to the past, see who made our future great and who continues to keep our Palmyra the ”Queen of Canaltowns.” We offer research, information and dedicated, helpful docents to make you tours incredible. No additional Ticket to Ride tours are being offered until the next school year. Tours are always welcome by school children, however, there will be a small fee not covered by the grant.