The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950 Page: 226
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The chronological outline of Palm's life is simple. In any list
of his life's main dates, many entries mark the growth of his
library, for his most memorable days had to do with books.
Born in Basthult, Sweden, on January 31, 1815, Palm came to
the United States in 1844.3 He first settled in La Grange, Texas,
where he said his main undertaking was to "keep the roof over
sugar and flour, coffee and letter mail, not very profitably."4 In his
storekeeping, he arranged to set aside one shelf for books, which
he had no intention of selling.
Four years after his arrival in this country, Palm came to
Austin to undertake for his prosperous nephew, S. M. Swenson,
a new venture in storekeeping. In planning his business quarters
he now set aside a small room for books, but his scholarly career
was interrupted in 1849 by the only adventuring of his life in
the new country. As secretary in the diplomatic service, he went
to Panama. Days before his departure there was high argument
between him and his immediate superior, Colonel Thomas Wil-
liam Ward, about the practicality of his taking a wagonload of
books, Palm was persuaded to leave them behind.
Panama held Palm only a year. In 185o he returned to Austin,
where he lived the remaining forty-nine years of his life. Until
1854 he continued a bachelor. In that February he learned that
Agnes Alm, to whom he had become tentatively engaged thirteen
years before, had arrived in La Grange. Though his courtship
had been leisurely, he went at marriage with businesslike dis-
patch.5 Until 1881, when she died, Mrs. Palm's simplicity and
grace bore out her family's tradition that their earliest Finnish
ancestors had been of very high estate. More important for her
life in Texas, she had developed the special sense of values and
and conversation with Palm's relatives and friends. The essay is one of a series
of studies in the background of the Rare Book Collections at the University of
Texas. I am indebted to the University's Research Council for a grant which has
enabled me to complete this and other studies in that series. Under that grant I
have been ably assisted by Mrs. Ann Wilkins Young.
3A letter of credit in the University of Texas archives, made by S. M. Swenson
in anticipation of Palm's coming to Texas, indicates that the journey was considered
for several years before he left Sweden.
4Letter to Nils Nelson, October [2o], 1883.
5Accounts differ widely on the month and year of his marriage. According to
the records of the Fayette County Court Clerk's office (Volume B, p. 105), the
license was issued on March 11, 1854.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950, periodical, 1950; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101126/m1/302/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.