From a set of notes written by Fannie Morris Smith, circa 1915, talking about her Grandmother (Charlotte nee Calkins, m1 Palmer, m2 Norton), the mother of Julie Palmer Smith, born 1804 and died 1874.


“Grandmother, like my mother, was a born nurse. In the frontier community where she lived people in an emergency came from far and near to ask her help. She enjoyed it as a spree, would put on her black silk dress and gold watch, and ride off to preside over life or death as the case might be.

Her life with John Palmer did not last long. His business in Brockport (furniture) went on the rocks and soon after he died. (I have a candle stand with exquisitely turned stem – the top one beautiful maple board – which he made to please his young wife.) Not long after his death she married Henry Pitkin Norton, a young lawyer. They had hard work to make a living at first, and grandmother raised canary birds, which, as she improved their song by whistling and singing to them, so that they had many beautiful notes, found ready sale. Every scrap of kitchen fat was saved and tried out, and in the spring the winter’s store of wood ashes was tried out and the lye boiled down to make a soft soap, which found ready sale, so did her vinegar, made of the odd spoonful of juice left from the preserves on the supper table.

Grandmother’s two leisure arts were quilting counterpanes – she drew her own patterns (one of her quilts is in the Conn. Historical Society collection) – and transferring embroidery on new linen to make fine collars and handkerchiefs exquisitely done. She used to knit red and white woolen stockings for her grandchildren, and make jars of preserves and pickles to send us. Nelley aged eight emerging from a stolen visit to the cellar, and exclaiming, “pickles, I love you!” comes back among my memories.”

*Charlotte married John Palmer at age 14, she had her only child: Julie Palmer Smith at age 15.  I think she married Henry when she was perhaps 19 or so.