Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Dear Ancestor" Poem by Walter Butler Palmer

Dear Ancestor

"Your tombstone stands among the rest
Neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished marble stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn

You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh and blood and bone
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own

Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so
I wonder how you lived and loved
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot
And come to visit you."
-Walter Butler Palmer

About the Author: Walter Butler Palmer  was by b orn,  22 Jun 1868 in Prairie Center, LaSalle, Illinois. He was the son of Ephraim Milo Palmer and Sarah Henderson Butler. He married Irena B. Lardin on 25 Sep 1889. A year and a half later, Irena died on May 1891. He married 2nd wife Mary Frances White on 11 Dec 1894 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois. They were the parents of two children; Burton White Palmer and Margaret Allison Palmer. He was a family historian, breeder of trotting and show horses, and an accomplished poet. He wrote the above poem  "Dear Ancestor" in 1906 while he was visiting the grave of his great grandfather; Ephraim Palmer (1760-1852).   He died  6 Jun 1932 in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.

About the photo: If you look closely, you can see a large headstone and final resting place of  my great, great, great grandfather;  George Washington Burnes.  Buried in Norristown Cemetery, in Shelbyville, Shelby, Indiana.

Keep connecting the dots!! -Sarah


  1. love this poem

  2. love this poem

  3. Beautiful... thankyou. Although I know of, and love, this poem I've never known it's author and origin until now.
    It's particularly important for many of us, here in South Australia, where burial plots are leased and are "re-newed" and often the memorials destroyed in the lease holder can no longer be located... often because they're also dead (sadly)... Is why we have a "Saving Graves - South Australia" group trying to get the law changed.
    Thanks again... Catherine

    1. Thanks Catherine. Many people (including me) have struggled to find the authenticity of this poem. I am glad to have found the rightful Author. I am glad you enjoyed the poem.

  4. Yesterday (January 11, 2014) Genealogy workshop at Chittenango NY Pamela Vittorio start posted on screen this great poem by Walter Butler Palmer

    1. How great! I am so thrilled to know others are sharing his work :)

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  7. I'm going to visit my great grandparents and great great grandfathers grave for the first time tomorrow