I used to have a really good memory. I couldn’t understand how someone could not remember the details of what happened in certain situations. Now I wonder how I can forget a password that I created just the day before. What has happened to me?!
One lesson I’ve learned in researching family history is this–Unless it’s written down, it gets lost. And the longer we wait to write family history, the more that gets forgotten, or not passed on.
Another lesson I’ve learned–people don’t talk much about their childhood or their past. Even fewer people write it down. This was especially the case with the Parmer family history. Many times in interviewing people, they have said, “People just didn’t talk about that back then.” I’ve even seen death certificates where the child of the deceased individual was the informant and did not know the name of his grandmother.
Fortunately, I was able to get a short biography of John Jacob from his granddaughter Joy. It provides a little bit of information about his childhood, stating,
“As a small boy he loved engines and things affiliated with engines….John Jacob was ambitious and thrifty.”
Just a couple short statements that may have seemed meaningless when spoken are so valuable to those of us who want to know him. That’s all I have found so far of his childhood.
In the 1880 census record shown below, we find John, at 13 years old, living as a boarder with the Isaac Landis family. John is listed as a Laborer. The census record, which was taken in June, states that John had attended school during the year. It is possible that he was working on Isaac’s farm for the summer.
Today that might seem a young age to be hired out and living away from home. But back then, that was common. In fact, his father may have been hired out at 10 years old. I wonder how my almost 10 and almost 13 year old would feel if I sent them off to live with and work for someone? What a difference in childhood over the last 150 years!
Also of note on the census record is John Parmer and his wife Martha, who may likely be John Jacob’s grandparents. Also, two pages over on the census record is the rest of John Jacob’s family. So they were close by.
Do you know any tidbits about John Jacob’s childhood? If so, please share them in the comments section.