- Fred Carstensen
Palmer, Potter (20 May 1826–04 May 1902), merchant and developer, was born in Potter’s Hollow, Albany County, New York, the son of Benjamin Palmer, an owner of stock farms, and Rebecca Potter. He attended only elementary school and by age eighteen was working as a clerk in a Durham, New York, store; two years later he was in charge. At age twenty-one he opened his own dry goods store nearby in Oneida, then after almost three years moved west to Lockport. After a year there, he sold out and, with $6,000 in capital, headed for Chicago. Palmer believed that the greatest opportunities would emerge in the rapidly developing West; he expected Chicago would be at the heart of that development, that it would become the distribution center for the whole region—thus offering not only larger opportunities in retail, but also unique ones in wholesale. He persuaded his father and some family friends to let him “have their capital for investing purposes,” augmenting his own resources. In 1852 he opened a dry goods store on Lake Street, then Chicago’s commercial center....