Rural Missouri Magazine

A city forged by history

by Jeff Joiner

One of the first impressions visitors have of Palmyra is how neat and tidy the town is. The second thing people often notice is how historic the town is with a large number of well-cared-for antebellum homes and a beautiful courthouse. In fact, Palmyra is home to more than 200 structures built before the Civil War, several of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places including the town’s museum and visitor center on Main Street.

Founded in 1819 by mostly southern settlers, the town is one of the oldest in northeast Missouri and became the county seat of Marion County in 1835.

Standing in front of the courthouse is a statue (pictured at right) of a Civil War soldier which memorializes 10 Confederate prisoners who were executed by Union forces in 1862 in retaliation for the supposed murder of a local pro-Union man.

The Palmyra Massacre Monument lists the names of those killed while nearby historic signs describe the incident. Because of its southern roots as well as the town’s importance to the Union Army, emotions ran high in Palmyra throughout the war.

The current courthouse, built in 1900, is Marion County’s third. Interesting architectural features of the courthouse are stone faces which welcome visitors entering the doors of the building.

For information about visiting Palmyra contact the Chamber of Commerce at P.O. Box 446, Palmyra, MO 63461; or call (573) 769-2223.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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