John Jacob Parmer’s Youth

John Jacob was 13 years old in the last post about him.  Thirteen years old and boarding at someone else’s home.  If you missed that post, you can find it at Bits about John Jacob.  We don’t know much about his early years.  But we can get a little information from the census records.  In 1870, when he was 3 years old, he lived with his parents and younger brother on his grandfather’s property in East Lampeter, Lancaster, PA.  Here’s a snip of a map that shows where the property was located.



Also living there is his Aunt Ann and her three small children, and his two uncles, Abraham and Emanuel.  All of the men are listed as “Laborers”, which means they probably worked for the farmers in the area.

Ten years later, in the 1880 census, John, at 13, is boarding at a neighbor’s home and is also listed as a “Laborer”.  The census was taken in June, and he had been attending school during the year. That was likely the last year he attended school.  According to the 1940 US Census, he had attended five years of elementary school.  If he started school when he was eight years old, and attended for 5 years, he would have turned 13 years old the April before the June 1880 census was taken.  Interesting to note is that Pennsylvania didn’t start compulsory education until 1895 and only required 16 weeks of education for ages 8 to 13 ((Source: Pennsylvania State Education Association Website).  How would your kids feel about attending school for only 4 months a year?  Makes you wonder if all the schooling required today is necessary!  With it being June and summer when the 1880 census was taken, he was likely working on the neighbor’s farm where he was living.


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