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Palmer House


The "dean" of all Brighton houses was the Palmer House. It was erected by a man named Goulding in 1828. He traveled the torturous road to Alton by ox team and hauled the bricks for the foundation. The frame house was made of hand hewn oak timbers of hugh proportions, with very thick walls. Some black walnut was used and held together with wooden pins. This venerable structure stood on the site of the present Arthel Akers home. The goulding family owned it for over a decade. When it was sold to James Palmer, its most colorful exsistance began.

For over a hundred years a red cedar stood out among the others in the front yard, as having been blazed by the pioneer, as he marked his way through the trackless forest, when the Indian Trail was unsafe for the white man. All these years the blaze was clearly discernable; until destroyed by the windstorm.

The palmer house became a tavern and headquarters for the coaches which ran between Alton and Greenfield. Fresh horses were acquired here, and sometimes travel-worn drivers rested. There was much "hustle and bustle" when arriving coaches pulled up and the hostler came out to care for the weary horses. The huge barn accommodated 34 horses, as well as providing space for the livestock. The dealers drove their cattle and hogs to St. Louis by way of Brighton. This was a long slow trip on foot. Drivers were both in front of the drove and in the back. Wagons always brought up the rear to accommodate the animals that could not move on from sheer exhaustion.

The huge barn contained a hay of unusual size, that was constructed with a cap stand sweep and had a rock weight that would drop 60 feet to press the hay into 300 pound bales.

The Palmer house, like most old houses, had its tales of the supernatural, which of course could never be verified. One of the legends said that in the small wee hours of the night a shot rang out and an investigation showed that a mother had murdered her baby. Ever afterward, an occupant of that room could hear a baby wailing through the night hours. Chains rattled down the stair case at night, and the door at the foot of the stairs could never be latched permanently. Time took care of these weird tails, as time does, but there was something in the cellar that was more than superstition. When one of the owners was excavating deeper in the old cellar he found an opening that proved to be a tunnel that led from downtown Hill House up to the Palmer House. This was part of an escape used by fleeing slaves from the south and these two old houses were part of the underground rail road operated by Brighton's abolitionists.

North of the Palmer House stood a dilapidated cabin with its sides decaying, and the roof falling in. In the long past some white man had tried to live there. To the rear, where the railroad tracks are now, was a slough, a favorite camping place of the Indians. When it was filled with water, the taverns' guests could watch the flicker of their campfire at night and see them sealthily moving to and fro.

The first Independence Day in Brighton was celebrated in the yard of the Palmer House in 1838. Seventy-five years later, in 1913, when the D. Blodgett family occupied the place, another 4th of July was held. It was sponsored by the Lovejoy Circle of the Ladies of the G.A.R. This observance was continued by the organization for some years afterwards.

Herman Griggs and Mary Starkweather were married at the Inn on Sept. 14, 1838. This was the first wedding in the village.

At one time, Atty. Asa Potter owned the place, but the longest ownership was three generations of the Blodgett family. Daniel Blodgett, first postmaster in 1837, one of the villages early settlers. Before his marriage, he lived at the Palmer house, but when Miss Isabel Ann Peter became his bride, he moved to the building just north of the place. He ran a general store for some time. Mr. Blodgett later bought the Palmer House and ended its reign as the chief drinking place of the town. From Blodgetts hand, the home passed to his son, D. Newton Blodgett, whose family occupied it for forty years, then to his son Frank Eberhardt. He razed the old place and built a modern colonial type house in 1938. Alvin Schroeder bought the place from Eberhardt.

In 1910 the large barns were destroyed by lightening. With the passing of the original Palmer House, the deanship went onto Hill House which was erected a few years later.
DONATED BY: STEVEN - Pard4fun@aol.com - Copyright 2005.


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