A city situated at the junction of the main line and the Hannibal branch of the Hannibal & St. Joseph division of the Burlington Railroad, fourteen miles west of Quincy, Illinois, and the same distance from located was originally settled upon by Hugh White, who, on March 24, 1819, conveyed it to Samuel K. Caldwell and Obadiah Dickerson. Later an interest in the land was sold to Joel Shaw and John McCune and the town was laid out. In 1827 it became the county seat of Marion County. It is delightfully situated in the “elm lands,” and the streets are regularly laid out, well shaded and kept in excellent condition. In the early days of the county, Palmyra was a very important town. In 1836 it had a population of 1,500, was a lively business place and had three brick churches, Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal and Baptist. It then contained several sawmills, and a flourmill to which the people for forty miles around carried their grain to have meal and flour made. Owing to the close proximity of Hannibal and Quincy the city has not increased materially in population for the last thirty years. It has waterworks, electric lights, a fine graded-public school, eleven churches, an opera hall, lodges of the different fraternal orders, two weekly newspapers, the “Spectator” and the “Herald,” and about ninety business houses, including two banks, three flouring mills, a sawmill, two planing mills, two wagon factories and numerous stores and small shops. There are two hotels in the city. The population in 1900 was 2,323.
Source: 1901 Encyclopedia of Missouri