England, Joseph Palmer emigrated to America in 1746 with a
brother-in-law, and the two pursued a variety of manufacturing
ventures together. In 1752 they built a glassworks in Germantown,
now a part of Quincy, where they went on to build a chocolate
mill and spermecetti and salt factories as well. By the 1770s
he had become an ardent supporter of American independence:
he fought at Lexington and served both in the Massachusetts
Provincial Congress and on the Cambridge Committee of Safety.
His military service included commissions as a colonel in
the Massachusetts militia and later as brigadier for Suffolk
County, both in 1776. He also undertook intelligence-gathering
missions in Vermont and Rhode Island and, as brigadier-general,
led a failed attack on Newport, Rhode Island. After the war,
Palmer returned to his factories, but poor health and heavy
financial debt plagued him such that he could not work and
had to leave Germantown. He started a salt factory on Boston
Neck in 1784 and died four years later at his home in Dorchester.
Johnson, Allen and Dumas Malone, eds. Dictionary of American
Biography. New York: Scribner's, 1937.