Senator David James Palmer View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 11/19/1928
Party Affiliation: Republican
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 24 (1892) - 27 (1898)
Home County: Washington
David James Palmer
Washington County


MR. PRESIDENT: Your committee appointed to prepare resolutions commemorating the life, character and public service of Col. David J. Palmer of Washington, Washington county, Iowa, begs leave to submit the following report:

David James Palmer was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, November 15, 1839, and died in Washington, Iowa, November 19, 1928. He was with his parents, Samuel R. and Margaret (Munce) Palmer, in their removal to Carrol county, Ohio, in 1842 and to Washington county, Iowa, in 1856, where they located on a farm near the town of Washington. He attended public school in Ohio and in Iowa, and helped on his father’s farm. He attended United Presbyterian College in Washington in 1859 and 1860, and taught school in 1860 and 1861.

On July 10, 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company C, Eighth Iowa Infantry, and was promoted to corporal September 9, 1861. On April 6, 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh he was severely wounded and left on the field for dead, captured by the enemy, his wounds neglected for two days, when in the maneuvers of the battle he found himself as near his comrades as his captors, crawled to the Union lines, where he was cared for, and weeks afterwards was sent home. When the Twenty-fifth Iowa Infantry was organized that summer Corporal Palmer, who had organized Company A of that regiment while his arm was in a sling, was elected its captain. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the regiment when less than twenty-four years old, June 9, 1863. He was with his regiment, commanding it all of the time, in its great history at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Columbia, and at the grand review at Washington, and was mustered out June 6, 1865. He then returned home and devoted himself to farming and stock raising. He was elected county auditor of Washington county in 1875 and was reelected in 1877, serving four years. In 1884 he was elected a presidential elector, running as a Republican.

In 1891 Mr. Palmer was elected Senator and was reelected in 1895, serving inclusively from the Twenty-fourth to the Twenty-seventh General Assemblies. He resigned as Senator at the close of the Twenty­seventh and accepted the appointment by Governor Shaw made on March 22, 1898, as a member of the Railroad Commission. By reason of election he continued to serve in this position until 1915.

The Palmer farm home was only a few miles from Washington, but the last twenty-five years of his life he and his wife, who was Letitia Helen Young before their marriage in 1866, and who survives him, resided in the city.

Mr. Palmer was outstanding and useful in church work, in politics, in social life, and in every other useful activity of the community. He was a life-long member of the United Presbyterian church; for over thirty years was superintendent of the Sunday School, and for practically all his active life was a member of the church choir. Popular with all classes because of his fine personal qualities, he was an especial favorite among his war comrades. He had few equals as a camp fire speaker. He received the highest honors the Grand Army had to bestow, being commander of the Department of Iowa for the years 1907-08, and grand commander of the national organization in 1914-15.

It might well be said of Colonel Palmer, the words that were spoken of our first President, that he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” His devotion and loyalty to his neighbors and friends not only in his home county but in his state was always uppermost in his mind, and his integrity and faithfulness in his home and public duties was always of a high order and above reproach, and in his passing his community, his state, and nation have lost a most valuable and loyal friend.

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be spread upon the Journal of the Senate, and that the Secretary be directed to send an engrossed copy thereof to the family of the deceased.