Where’s the Children?

Who are Samuel’s parents?….As discussed in a previous post, it’s hard to positively determine Samuel’s parents, at least from the records I’ve come across.  If only his mother’s name was listed on his death certificate!  In my research, I like to see concrete evidence-something solid and unmistakable.  I just haven’t found that for Samuel’s parents.  But the records do give us enough information to identify probable parents.

Part of the problem with Samuel is that he is not listed by name in any census records as a child with his parents.  The first positively identifiable census record I find for him is the 1870 census that shows him with his wife, Hetty, and two small children, John and William.

1870 census PA cropped samuel m

Notice the numbers at the far left.  They show that he is the 144th family, but that he is living in the home of the 139th dwelling house surveyed.  This census does not state the relationship of people living in the same household, so we are out of luck on getting that info, but we could make an assumption that Samuel Parmer is related to John Parmer, who owns the land, and his wife Martha.  Considering John and Samuel’s age difference, they might even be father-son, especially since Samuel’s death certificate lists his father’s name as “John Parmer.”  Samuel was 31 years old in the 1870 census.  Where was he in 1860 when he was 21 years old?  Or 1850 when he was 11 years old?

The 1860 census has an entry for John and Martha, but Samuel, who would have been 21 years old, is not listed in the home.  I do find John and Martha’s sons, Daniel and Emanuel, and their daughter Barbara.  But John, age 17, Ann, age 15, and Abraham, age 13, are not listed in the home either.

A similar situation is found in the 1850 census entry.  The children listed are John, age 7, Ann, age 5, Abraham, age 3, and Emanuel, age 1.  Daniel, who was 9 years old is missing, as well as Samuel, who would have been about 11 years old.  Daniel and Samuel were likely hired out, at least in the summer when the census was conducted.

I might have found Daniel in the 1850 census.  There is a Daniel Parmer, age 9, living with a couple who has Daniel and two girls living with them on their farm.  I’ve searched the 1850 census many times for Samuel Parmer, but he just doesn’t show up anywhere.  Until this week.

Instead of searching for Samuel Parmer, which usually brings up some name variations, I decided to search for misspellings.  I tried “Palmer”, “Palmel”, and finally, Parmen.  That was worth it!  I found a possible match, shown below.  The indexers decided the name is Samul Parman, and it is just different enough that it wasn’t coming up in my previous searches.

1850 census Samuel M Parmer cropped

Could this be Samuel Parmer?  To me, the last letter of his name as shown does not look like the other n’s of the census taker.   In fact, the last letter looks a lot like the r’s in “Farmer”.  But why is Samuel living in East Hempfield Township, 10 miles away from his family?  And who are John B. and Ann Landis?

According to the “Biographical Annals of Lancaster County Pennsylvania“, published in 1903, John B. Landis was from East Lampeter  Township, which is where John and Martha Parmer lived. The two Johns were close in age.  And John Landis’ relatives lived close by John Parmer in the 1850 census.  Considering all this, I am pretty confident that I’ve found our Samuel Parmer in 1850.

So, were are the children?  They are working.  At 9 and 11 years old, they are hired out and living with someone else.  But we found them!

Another tidbit:  The rest of John and Martha’s sons, who have death certificates to identify them as children of John and Martha, have “M” for their middle initial.  The “M” stands for “Meyers,” Martha’s maiden name.  With Samuel’s middle initial also being “M”, he fits right into the family.

Although I have not seen concrete evidence to attribute John and Martha as the parents of Samuel Parmer, I am willing to make that connection for now.  However, John and Martha have more than one generation of forefathers who were born in Pennsylvania.  I can’t help but think about the couple of census records that state Samuel’s father was born in Germany.  Was he really?  Or was that an error based on the fact that he spoke German?

Someday a record will show up that can answer that.  Do you have a record to share?



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