Member of a family whose name has been connected through three generations with one of Providence s most important manufacturing enterprises, Julius Palmer was executive head of the firm of Palmer and Capron, manufacturers of jewelry, for many years. His guidance contributed decisively to the continued growth and success of the company, and he himself was widely known as a prominent man of affairs.
Mr. Palmer was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 20, i 854 > son John Simmons and Frances M. (Prentice) Palmer. He was a direct descendant of two of New England’s finest families, tracing his ancestry, paternally, to William Palmer, who came from England in the ship “Fortune,” and to John Alden, of the “Mayflower.”
John Simmons Palmer, the father, was born at Newport, Rhode Island, on March 22, 1824, and died in Providence, on July 8, 1908. It was he who established the firm of Palmer and Stave in July, 1845, which became, in September, 1852, Palmer and Capron. He was apprenticed as a boy, in September, 1840, with the firm of G. and S. Owen, the former being his brother-in-law. Here he acquired a thorough and expert knowledge of the jewelry business, and in July, 1843, began his independent career. He formed a partnership at that time with Christian Stave, a Norwegian toolmaker, who later removed to Wisconsin. Later Mr. Palmer took into partnership, Lucien P. Lamson, and upon the latter’s death, Charles S. Capron became associated with Mr. Palmer to form the firm of Palmer and Capron. This association continued until 1891, when Mr. Capron withdrew because of ill health and his advanced years. The name, however, remained the same through subsequent reorganizations. The founder was connected with this enterprise for more than fifty-five years, and at his death was succeeded in executive control by his son, Julius Palmer.
The company plant is still located on the original site, No. 167 Dorrance Street, Providence, an address which they have made famous in jewelry circles of New England and the East. From the beginning they have specialized in the manufacture of rolled plate and sterling silver rings, and have always been accounted one of the most successful manufacturers in this field. Palmer and Capron were one of the first houses to establish a New York office, opening a branch at No. 20 Maiden Lane, where they continued to do business for sixty years. Their present New York address is No. 9 Maiden Lane.
Julius Palmer, of this record, received his preliminary education in the Providence public schools and later entered Brown University, from which he was graduated in 1877 with the Bachelor of Arts degree. He decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, and after the completion of his education, he became associated with the firm of Palmer and Capron. In 1891, after the withdrawal of Charles S. Capron, Julius Palmer was admitted to partnership along with Fenelon A. Pierce. Finally, when his father died in 1908, he succeeded the elder man as active head of the business. This year also witnessed the entrance into the firm of John Simmons Palmer, II, of the third generation of his family to be connected with this enterprise. Julius Palmer was a man of sound judgment and varied talents. As executive head, he guided the Palmer and Capron Company most successfully, and on January 1, 1916, retired to the leisure he had well earned.
Mr. Palmer’s services were often sought by other important interests. He was a director of the old National Bank of Providence from 1866 until 1912, and from 1896 to 1902 was president of the bank which also benefited much through his services. From 1884 until his death he was a director of the Equitable Marine Insurance Company, and rendered valuable aid in the founding of other important Providence enterprises. Mr. Palmer was a member of the University and the Squantum clubs of this city, and an active contributor to many civic enterprises.
On October 16, 1878, Julius Palmer married Jessie F. Richmond, and they became the parents of three children:
- John Simmons, II.
- Laura Richmond.
- Jessie F.
John Simmons Palmer, II, was born at Providence on February 14, 1881, was educated in the public schools of this city and attended Brown University, which he left in 1904 in his junior year. He began his business career with Palmer and Capron, rose rapidly within the organization, and since 1908 has been a partner in the firm which has been established in Providence for more than three quarters of a century. He married, on June 14, 1911, Abbie Easton Green, of Barrington, Rhode Island. They are the parents of six children:
- Julius, II.
- Jane Easton.
- Ruth R.
- Richard Simmons.
Julius Palmer died on March 29, 1920. At the time of his death he was treasurer of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity in Rhode Island, with which he had been affiliated since his college years. Mr. Palmer s passing removed from Providence affairs a man who had long occupied distinguished position therein. He met the duties of life as they came to him, and the constructive influence of his career contributed appreciably to the city’s progress.
Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.