COBWEB CORNERS: The general called her ‘Queen’
By Mel McFarland
We know that General Palmer always called her Queen. She died in England in February 1894. She had moved there for her health, locating near facilities that specialized in heart issues. The general had been notified of her failing condition a few days before, and had already started on his way to her.
Mary Lincoln "Queen" Mellen Palmer was the daughter of William P. Mellen, who was one of Palmer's closest associates when he came west and helped him with his railroad. In 1869 Palmer was not yet planning the Denver and Rio Grande, but he would include his ideas for his railroad in letters to her! Queen's father was active in all of the general's western projects. He later had a summer home not far from Dr. William A. Bell's home in Manitou.
Before they were even married, Palmer was scouting a proper home site. One he looked at was about where the Air Force Academy now sits. Later he found what we know as Queen's Canyon. The Palmers at first lived in a tent on the site of downtown Colorado Springs, moving to the loft of the stable at Glen Eyrie until their first house was finished in January 1871.
From the beginning, Mrs. Palmer was the leader in the city's educational and social life. She established the first school, teaching it herself, without wages. She remained in Colorado Springs until 1883, when heart problems forced her to move to a lower altitude. There are tales of how she disliked living in the wilds of Colorado, but the facts seem to counter those. She lived in New York and England, but returned to Colorado Springs several times, the last being a four-month stay in 1885. The family's daughters lived with her most of the time, but visited their father occasionally. He also visited them, even after he had his accident.
The newspaper stories when Queen died all point out her educational contributions. A school in District 11 is named for her. Interestingly, it was originally named for the general, then changed after Colorado Springs High became William J. Palmer High. As a child I attended both, graduating from Palmer High.