Gypsy Surname List
Origins: England to America-Palmer, Boswell (England-Mississippi-Indiana-Minneasota-Nebraska-California),Stewart (England-Nebraska-Texas-Montana-Utah-Wyoming-Oregon-Washington-California) http://gypsyjib.wikifoundry.com/page/Palmer+family+USA
Onnar Palmer Boswell Queen of Gypsies d/o King Palmer (Hamline & Dessie Palmer)
Walter Boswell “Prince of a Tribe of Gypsies” s/o Onnar Palmer, Death came today and took Walter Boswell, a prince of the nomadic family, son of Onnar, Queen of the tribe, herself a daughter of the great King Palmer, whose death occurred a few years ago. [San Francisco Call, 4 Feb 1901 page 7 col 4] Oakland. Feb 4 – Guarded by dark and swarthy members of a mourning tribe of wanderers, the body of Walter Boswell, prince of the Palmer gypsies, rests in a rich and elegant casket that would grace a nabob’s bier. In the strangely contrasted group of flimsy tents, their canvas sides barely shedding the dripping rain, a picture of wildness is presented to the eyes of those who pass the nomad’s camp at Spring and Adeline streets. In spite of every evidence of poverty and lowly habitation, the funeral of the dead tribesman will be conducted with all of the ceremonial of the highest ritualism of the Church of England. The gypsy followers of the departed leader will follow the remarkable customs of their organization, and will give a burial which represents the very best of undertaker’s art, combined with the solemn services for the dead.
The funeral services will be held tomorrow afternoon at 10 o’clock, and the officiating clergyman will be the Rev. Martin N. Ray, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church of this city. For years the Palmer tribe have made their headquarters in Oakland, no matter where they roamed. Out in Mountain View Cemetery there is a large plat bought many years ago by the Palmers. Here were laid to rest the king, Hameline, and his queen, and the dead prince’s grandparents, with others of the tribe who have long since passed away. Here also will be buried the body that now awaits the last rites.
Strange customs mark the gypsy life of these wanderers on the face of the earth. The half a dozen tents where the Boswells make their home are tightly closed against all comers today. In the dingy canvas funeral hall the casket rests in state. At the head of the bier is an improvised alter, upon which is a lighted five-branched candelabrum. Back of that, in a small annex, also canvas, are the mourners. The father, 87 years old, with the Queen Onnar, 78 years of age, parents of the dead prince, are holding their vigil over the departed, while the other members of the camp support them in their sorrow.
The history of the Palmer tribe is shrouded in deep mystery. More than three score years ago Hameline Palmer, the dead king, came from England, descendant of those roving wanderers that for hundreds of years had strolled over the country without any home but the spot upon which they pitched their camp. Eventually the forerunners of the present gypsy tribe broke up into various bands, scattering throughout the United States. They married and intermarried. The offspring were numerous, but strange to relate the ties of blood were strong enough to withstand all the inducements of society and domesticity among which many of the children had been born. There is not a record among these nomads the case of a single descendant of the old Palmers who has forsaken the tribal relation, or abandoned the tents of the family during a period covered by an ordinary life.
The gypsy prides himself upon his station. Walter Boswell, the dead prince, was no exception. He was born thirty-five years ago while the parents were making a temporary camp at Stockton. He was reared in the camp and grew to manhood. Blood told, even if it was gypsy blood, and Boswell was as true to the customs of his people as were any of his ancestors. The young man had talent as a musician, and by that pursuit he contributed to the support of the camp of which he was a member. When the spirit moved the gypsy clans to move, they moved, and from town to town they traveled these many years, eking out an apparently meager existence by their horse trading, fortune telling and bartering.
The Palmer gypsies are reputed to have wealth. Certain it is that they have always been able to make a lavish display at the funerals of their dead. When King Hameline died suddenly in San Francisco seven years ago he was accorded a burial that would have done credit to a Lakeside millionaire. He made a fortune in horse trading and was accounted a clever speculator. At the race course he was a striking figure and the story runs that he turned over several hundred thousand dollars in his day.
Fifteen years ago the first Queen of the Palmers died in Minnesota, shot to death by a renegade gypsy from another tribe. Her remains were brought to Oakland and interred in the cemetery plat at Mountain View. Her body was encased in a magnificent bronze casket of the finest manufacture.
The casket containing the remains of Prince Walter is almost as elegant in appointment.
The fatal illness of the Prince began about three months ago at Ione. Recognizing that he was in a serious condition, the camp was broken there and the gypsies returned to Oakland after many months of wandering. A superstitious regard for custom and habit much as anything else prompted the move. But the disease was so deeply rooted that Boswell slowly sank, dying within twelve hours after the trouble reached an acute stage.
At the funeral tomorrow, as many gypsies as can be assembled will be present. There are a number of bands throughout the State, but they are, for the most part, remote. At the services there will be a strict adherence to the ritualistic order of the church. The gypsy of English descent maintains a strong regard for the religion of his forefathers, and he appeals to the consolation of the church when death takes one of the tribe. [San Francisco Call: 5 Feb 1901 page 9. cols. 5-8]