A Little More of Robert Tibbles

Some time ago, I promised a post with more information about Robert Tibbles was coming soon.  Here’s the post.  I know it wasn’t really soon after the first post on Robert, but I guess “soon” can be a matter of perspective.  Anyway, if you didn’t read my earlier post about Robert and the great Alaskan earthquake that caused a giant tidal wave, as well as a landslide that took Robert’s life, be sure to read it.  I’ll post the link at the ned of this post.

Robert Tibbles was born in Lakeview, Montana on March 3, 1913 to Walter Stillman Tibbles and Esther E. Rote.  Esther is the daughter of Margie Parmer, who is Samuel and Hettie Parmer’s daughter.  Lakeview, MT,  which today is near the entrance of both Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, is about 90 miles from Dillon, MT. In 1913, there was no wildlife refuge or national forest, but there was a community of ranchers, railroad workers, and ordinary folks.  The Dillon Tribune reported news from the surrounding areas, including Lakeview.  I always like browsing through old newspapers.  The ads are especially fun to read.  I found copies of The Dillon Tribune at montananewspapers.org, which is a website of the Montana Historical Society.  The Lakeview section of the March 7, 1913 paper has a short announcement of Robert’s birth, shown below.  Small town newspapers are full of gossip.  You want to know who went to the big city to go shopping?  Just read the paper!

tibbles birth announcement

I have not researched if Joe Buck is a relative of the family, or why they were at the Joe Buck home.  However, that name will come up again in Robert’s history.  We do know from some other records that Robert’s parents were “squatters” on a home in the area.

Robert is found in the 1920 census, at the age of seven, living with his family in Grayling District, Gallatin County, Montana.  He lived next to his great aunt and uncle, John and Lizzie Parmer.  It is possible they had lived there for some time because Robert’s younger brother, Howard, was born in the area in 1915. Howard’s birth was not registered until 1941.  In the birth registration, he is listed as being born in the rural part of Gallatin County, MT, with Lizzie D. Parmer as the attendant for the birth.

Walter and Esther divorced in 1923 after Walter became abusive and abandoned the family.  From the court papers, we know that Walter and Esther had 160 acres they were homesteading five miles West of West Yellowstone.  Life in the West was difficult, required hard work, and was subject to the harsh elements of the Montana winters.  There were no modern conveniences.  I’m sure even at 7 years old, Robert was put to work helping the family with chores and such.  At some point, his mother remarried and moved to Wyoming.

In 1930, Robert is 17 years old and living with an aunt and uncle in Lima, MT.  He was working as a farm laborer.  In 1932, he had moved to Monida, a short distance from Lima, and was worked as a ranch hand for Joe Buck.  Remember Joe Buck?  Robert was born at Joe Buck’s home!  He worked for Joe Buck for six weeks, then he got into trouble.  He burglarized a pool hall and stole $24.  As a result, he spent two years in the state prison.

We next find Robert in Alaska.  I wonder–what took him to Alaska?  He must have liked it because it seems that’s where he spent the rest of his life. In 1939, he married Dorothy Pauloff, a Native Alaskan Indian.  They were both living in Kodiak, Alaska at the time, and that is where they are found in the 1940 census.  He had had appendicitis at some point because his WWII draft registration on January 22, 1941 tells us that he had a scar from an appendicitis operation.

Robert and Dorothy had at least two children, but eventually Robert and Dorothy divorced.  In 1947, Robert married Eveline V. Sly.  And the rest of the story is told in my previous post at A Tragedy in Alaska

Life can be rough, and have ups and downs, good days and bad days.  Robert likely had plenty of bad days–witnessing abuse (and possibly being a victim of it himself), abandonment,  burglary, prison time, surgery, divorce, etc.  At the same time, I’m sure Robert had his share of  good days–friends, fatherhood, wedding days, and eating fresh picked berries.  Learning from the bad days, and savory the good, even amidst the bad, is what life is all about.  Savor the good, and all that is before you. Today can be anything you make it.  What will today be like for you?


Luther in Londonderry

Remember, Luther went to the market to buy a pig and he came home having bought a farm.  If you haven’t read about that, it’s at Of Pigs and Farms…   The farm he bought is in Londonderry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  He bought the farm in June 1926.  That’s 94 years ago!  Amazingly, the family retained the newspaper clipping of the public sale of the farm.  Here it is:



Photo courtesy of Ronald Parmer Scott

What a treasure!  We know from this clipping that the house had 5 rooms.  You can see a video tour of the house in it’s present state, with commentary by Luther’s Grandson, Ronald, at Tour of Luther and Edna’s Farm Home

Here’s a photo of the property, likely shortly after it was purchased in 1926.


Photo courtesy of Ronald Parmer Scott


In 1926, things were not too bad in the United States of America.  The economy and industry were growing and farming was decreasing.  So it seems a little odd that Luther bought a farm and began farming.  But having done so may have been a blessing.  Just over three years later, the stock market crash began on October 29, 1929 and ushered in The Great Depression.  The mortgage on the Londonderry farm was just $25 a month, which would be about $360 in today’s dollars.  Luther and Edna struggled to pay that $25 mortgage during those difficult Depression years.  But they were successful!  They farmed.  Edna used some of the farm goods to bake cookies, pies, and other yummy baked goods.  Then every week they went to the Farmer’s Market to sell their goods–farm produce and baked items.  Undoubtedly they struggled, pinched pennies, went without, and were frugal.  And they managed to keep the farm.  How would their lives had been different during the Depression if they had not bought the farm?

The farm continued to be their home until 1957.  It was time to retire from the farm.  They sold the farm, and then had an estate sale, and moved to be closer to their children.

Here’s a newspaper clipping announcing the estate sale:


It’s fun to read what they were selling….cows, a hog, a sow due to farrow in a week, furniture and bedding, pots and pans, sewing machine, etc.  They had accumulated things that they no longer needed or wanted.  And such is life.  I think I would have been interested in the kraut cutter!





Farm Life

Not too long ago, the majority of the United States was made up of farmers. People had gardens and farm animals to produce the food, clothes, and shelter they needed to survive, preserving what they could in root cellars so they had food for the winter.  And they typically grew or raised a little extra, and sometimes a lot extra, to sell and earn some money.  Samuel M.’s father, John Parmer owned land, and John’s father Emanuel owned land, and Emanuel’s father Henry owned land.  But during the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s people began to abandon the farm and move to the city.  It was the Industrial Revolution.  Farmer’s were having a harder and harder time making money by farming, in part from overproduction, tariffs, and monetary policy.  But the cities, with their factories, drew people to them.

Such was the case with the Parmers.  Samuel M. had farmed with his family, and as a hired hand, but at some point, he moved to the city for employment.  Eventually, his parents followed him to the city.  But the farm, working the land, and the beautiful country can be enticing. Such was the case with Samuel M.’s youngest son, Luther.  I’ve already shared a lot about Luther, so if you haven’t read the previous posts about him, take some time to read them.  In Of Pigs and Farms… I talk about Luther’s city life and his move to the farm sometime after 1917.  There’s even a photo of the home where he lived in Highland Township, Chester County, PA, where he worked a farm until 1926, when he went to market to buy a pig and came home having bought a farm.

What was farm life like in Pennsylvania in 1925?  Probably a lot different than farm life today, but maybe not in everything.  Luckily, we have some photos of Luther and his early 1920’s farm life.  Let’s take a look!



Luther at the farm in Highland Township, Chester County, PA.

Looks a lot like some farms might look like today!.

This next picture, I just love!  I love the child surrounded by the animals.


I bet she had some food she was giving them.  Look at all those chickens….and some ducks!  It’s not too common for people to have ducks today, but it once was not uncommon.  I remember having chickens growing up.  We had quite a few that we ended up putting in the freezer eventually.  A few years ago my family had some chickens, but only a few.  We had six, but after the neighbor’s dog had an afternoon in our yard, we ended up with two survivors.  I love the fresh eggs!  I miss having chickens.




Is that a big enough garden?  I love that the two girls, Jean and Mae (Dollie), were enjoying farm life too.



What would a farm be without cows!  Notice her mouth wide open?!  I can almost feel her excitement and joy.




Luther and Mary are on the back row at the right, with their daughters, Dollie and Jean in front.


And that’s what we have to show farm life for Luther and his family.  Although there are a few differences, I suppose much of it would be the same today for those who have gardens and animals. Thank you, Ronald P. Scott, for sharing the photos.  There’s just not a lot of people today who farm, at least not compared to the number of people who farmed a hundred years ago.  Now people pay money to visit farms.  I wonder what Luther would have thought about that!


William and Bessie

Remember William? If you didn’t read my earlier posts about William, you should. I think his life must have been quite interesting, although he likely didn’t think it so special. He married, moved to Florida, became a widower, and moved back to PA. You can read about it all in these three posts:

William’s Beginnings in Lancaster

Orange Groves and a Ghost Town

Cousins and Spouses

After William became a widower, he married his cousin’s widow, Bessie. Here’s a newly found photo of William and Bessie.


Photo courtesy of Ronald Parmer Scott

This photo was likely taken at William’s brother’s, Luther’s, home in Highland Township, Chester County, PA. Notice William holding a croquet mallet and ball. I love seeing little bits of insight into their lives by that little detail. It helps to relate to their lives. I imagine a family gathering much like today–food, games, fun times. The photo is from an album whose photos were taken in 1924-1926. That helps narrow down possible dates for when William and Bessie were married. Notice also that William has his tie tucked into his shirt. He’s wearing the tie like that on another photo at Orange Groves and a Ghost Town. My research found that others during that time period had photos taken with their ties tucked in. Although I couldn’t find a lot of information about tucked in ties during that time period, I did discover that soldiers wore their ties tucked in when they didn’t have a jacket on. I’m happy to have this moment in history preserved and available for us to enjoy.

A Once Hidden Photo in the Spotlight

Guess whose photo came out of hiding?  Although I love finding names and dates of  family members, what is the most enjoyable about family history is learning about people’s lives.  What did they look like? How tall were they?  What did they like to eat? Where did they work?  What did they wear?  I’ve found answers to those kinds of question in various records, like military records and old newspapers.  Of course memories provided by family members are the best.  But memories come and go.  And then they disappear if they are not recorded.  But a picture, well, you know the saying….a picture is worth a thousand words.  Every picture tells a story.  This is the story of Samuel M. Parmer…



Samuel M. Parmer, 1924.


I had resigned to the idea of not being able to find a picture of Samuel M. Parmer, my great, great grandfather.  I’ve researched about him, written about him, and even placed a memorial marker at the cemetery for him.  But I had never met him or seen him.  So when I received a packet of photocopies last week, I was overwhelmed when I opened it.  As I realized who is in this photo, tears came to my eyes.  Nice to meet you grandfather Samuel M.!

And thank you cousin Ronald for thinking of me when you came across the photocopies!  Our family history journeys together have been successful in many ways, and mostly because of your contributions.






A Tragedy in Alaska

Earthquakes can be frightening. Having lived in Southern California, I have experienced a few myself. Some are quick, loud, and jerky. Others are long, quiet, and swayish. In every case, they invoked fear and panic inside me–fear of the unknown.

The recent earthquakes in Alaska reminded me of a relative who lived in Alaska in 1958 during a record breaking earthquake that is still talked about today. I was reminded of the relative because, after the recent earthquakes, the news was reporting the possibility of ground shifting, like quicksand.  Something similar happened in the 1958 earthquake when the side of a mountain fell into the bay and disappeared.

robert w tibbles photo age 20

Robert Walter Tibbles, age 20. Taken from record found at Ancestry.com

Robert W. Tibbles was born March 3, 1913 in Montana. He is the son of Esther Rote and Walter Stillman Tibbles. Esther’s mother is Margie Parmer, who is the daughter of Samuel M. and Hettie Ann Eckman Parmer. Robert moved to Alaska between 1934 and 1939. Eventually he got a job working as a mechanical engineer for the Civil Aeronautics Authority, where he worked for 11 years.

July 9, 1958 must have started off as a fine day. Roberts wife, Eveline, went berry picking on Khantaak Island with a friend, Jeanice Welsh Walton, who was the respected owner of a salmon cannery during a male-dominated industry. I enjoy berry picking and the anticipation of enjoying the berries, as does my family. Perhaps Robert was looking forward to enjoying some berries in the late afternoon when he took a boat out to the island to pick up Eveline and Jeanice.

The 8.3 earthquake, centered 45 miles from Lituya Bay, struck at 10:16pm, a time of day that was still light outside. It caused the hillside at Khantaak Island to melt and plunge into the bay.  In Lituya Bay, 100 miles south of Khantaak Island,  falling rocks created the largest wave–a mega-tsunami–ever recorded on earth–1720 feet high.

Robert, Eveline, and Jeanice were on Khantaak Island’s shore that rose and then plunged into the bay.  They perished and were never found.  Here is a summary of the incident as found on the Presumptive Death Certificate for Robert:

robert w tibbles death cert explanation

Excerpt from the Presumptive Death Certificate for Robert W. Tibbles, taken from Ancestry.com

And here is photo and some information about the incident found on Bob’s Blog.

khantaak island

A photo and the information on the back of the photo as shown on Bob’s Blog.


When an earthquake hits, I think the biggest fear is of the unknown.  Is it going to be the big one?  Or is it just a short period of jerking?  You don’t know until it’s over.

An article about Jeanice Welsh Walton can be found at the Alaska Historical Society website.  You can read more about the big wave at the University of Alaska Fairbanks website. Another post about Robert Tibbles will be coming soon.



Robert’s Family of Military Service


Robert served in the military, as did several of his siblings.  You can read more about the family’s service on my previous post.  Here is a collection of photos regarding Robert’s military service.


Here’s some photos of Robert’s siblings who served in the military.

Millitary photos

Top Row: Harry, Earl, Charles Bottom Row: Harry, Richard, Sam


Thanks for your service men!

Robert’s Photo Legacy

I figured calling Robert would not be a good option based on my previous phone calls.  So we just drove to his home.  He welcomed us in and shared lots of family pictures, some of which I have used in previous posts, including those about Samuel E. Parmer, who is Robert’s grandfather.  Robert’s father is Robert E. Parmer, Sr.

Robert Jr. was interested in preserving family photos.  He decided at some point that it was important to pass on family knowledge to future generations.  So he made copies of family photos, identified the individuals in the photos, and laminated them.  He produced many copies and would give them out at family reunions.  Imagine my joy at seeing all those photos!

Here is a collection of some of his photos, along with an introduction in Robert’s own hand.

Robert's photos intro

Introduction to Robert’s photos.


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