W.A. (Bill) and Lavone Palmer



Bill and Lavone took up joint careers in trading at the Bisti Trading Post around 1948. From that time forward they were business partners as well as husband and wife. They shared a trading heritage; Bill's father, Asael Palmer owned the trading post at Sweetwater, AZ and Lavone's father, Carl Ashcroft owned trading posts at Greasewood Springs, AZ, Bisti, NM, Whiterock, NM, and Tsaya, NM.

They left Bisti and bought the trading post at White Horse, NM about 1953. During this period they also purchased the trading post at Chopo, NM, but sold it after a short time. They sold the White Horse Lake Trading Post in about 1953, and bought a trading post in Crownpoint, NM, renaming it Palmer Mercantile. During this period they began quite a business expansion and just after buying Crownponit they also bought Dunn Mercantile in Fort Defiance, AZ and Sawmill Trading near Fort Defiance.

Bill and Lavone bought a new house in Gallup, NM. Lavone's brother, Lamar ran the store at Crownpoint and Bill ran Dunn Merchantile with a hired manager running Sawmill. They discovered they were too spread out and didn't care for living in town. They sold the house in Gallup after a year and moved back to Crownpoint. They sold Sawmill Trading and hired Al and Ivy Ashcroft to run Dunn Mercantile.

In about 1958, they bought Dalton Pass Trading Post west of Crownpoint and Al and Ivy moved to Dalton Pass to run it and the Palmers moved to Fort Defiance. Tom and Joyce Hoyt were hired to run Crownpoint.

Dalton Pass Trading eventually went out of business and Al and Ivy came to work in Crownpoint.

While at Crownpoint they financed the establishment of a restaurant, which was successful, but they never recouped their investment. Bill served for years as President of the United Indian Traders Association until just before it's dissolution.

Bill and Lavone both spoke the Navajo language, but Lavone was especially fluent. Lavone possessed a deep respect and love for the Navajos and a sense of personal and business integrity learned from her father who she adored and emulated. She established the Crownpoint Rug Weavers Association and Rug Auction as a method for the Navajo weavers to obtain better prices for their product. The Rug Auction containues to this day and has become internationally famous.

Lavone passed away in 1978 and Bill continued to operate Palmer Mercantile until 1986 when he sold out and retired to Kirtland, NM until his death in 1997.

The stores at Bisti, Fort Defiance, Dalton Pass and Crownpoint no longer exist. The existence or condition of the stores at White Horse Lake, Chopo, and Sawmill at unknown.

-- (Text supplied by Stuart Palmer and Kathleen (Palmer) Sherwood)

Articles about Lavone Palmer: