Parmer Siblings

Children of Samuel M. Parmer and Hetty Eckman: Siblings, below, clockwise from top left: John Jacob Parmer, Luther James Parmer, Samuel Elwood Parmer, Aldus Arthur Parmer, Margaret Alice Parmer Rote, William Eckman Parmer. Siblings not pictured: Martha Parmer (died in childhood 1877), Annie E. Parmer, Harry Allen Parmer.

Gray-Eyed Aldus Parmer

Aldus made his entry into this world on November 28, 1880. That was a Sunday and just 3 days after Thanksgiving day. He arrived into Samuel and Hetty’s home with 6 living siblings. One sister, Martha, had previously died in 1877 at 3 years of age. The oldest sibling, John Jacob was 13 years old. His mother, Hetty, must have been very busy because her two youngest children at the time were not very old–Annie was not quite three years old and Harry had recently turned one year old. Samuel was five, Margaret was nine, and William was eleven.

A new baby brings lots of joy, and, as every new mother knows, a lot of exhaustion and sleepless nights. I’m sure the children had chores and helped out. Still, cooking and cleaning were a whole lot different then. There were no refrigerators for home use yet–that wouldn’t be for about another 25 years–but the home may have had an icebox. The stove would likely have been a cast iron or steel stove that burned wood or coal (Source). And doing laundry? That was a lot of work. A pail of water, a plunger, and a washboard were the common implements, along with homemade lye soap, which was quite a process to make too (Source).

In 1918, according to the draft registration card, Aldus had black hair and gray eyes. The gray eyes is interesting. I was born with dark brown eyes and had dark brown eyes for many years. Somewhere along the line, my eyes have changed color and are now more hazel. I wonder when Aldus’ eyes became “grey.” He’s also shown as medium height and slender build at registration.

The WWII draft registration card is more specific. Aldus is included in the April 1942 “Old Man’s Registration.” This draft was the Fourth Registration and was for men ages 45-64 who were not already serving in the military. At that time, he was 61 years old, standing 5’5″ tall, weighing in at 190 pounds, and had gray hair and, still, gray eyes. He also has a scar on the end of the index finger on his left hand.

WWII draft registration card. Image from “United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 March 2020), Aldws Arthur Parmer, 1942; citing NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

So it appears that Aldus grew up with black hair and gray eyes. Tragically, when he was 16 1/2 years old, his mother died. We don’t have any information regarding her death in 1897. If mothers were as central to their children’s lives then as they are now, I imagine that had a profound affect upon Aldus.

What was life like for Aldus after his mother died? We’ll take a looks at his life in the next few posts.

A Week About Annie–Home And Children

So what did we learn about Annie?  She lived in a few locations during her lifetime, but they were all in the same general area.  Remember from the previous posts,  Annie got married in 1895.  Her groom was Amos B. Brackbill.  Later that same year, Annie’s daughter Mabel was born in Whitehorse, according to Martin.  Luckily, we can find her in several census records that tell where she lived over the years.

  • 1900 Census in West Donegal township
  • 1910 Census in East Hempfield township
  • 1920 Census in Salisbury township

In the 1920 census, it’s interesting to note that Mabel, Annie’s daughter, was not working at age 23.  Neither were Annie’s 16 year old and 7 year old sons.  In the early 20th century, many people and organizations were lobbying against child labor.  However, in 1920, according to an NPR article, about 1 in 12 children were employed.  Annie’s family must have been well off enough that the children did not have to work.  That’s quite a difference from Annie’s father, who was likely hired out as a farm worker at age 10. Remember from some earlier posts that some Parmer children worked as young as 9 years old.

Annie and Amos had four children–Mabel, Amos, Elias, and Howard.  Here’s a photo of Mabel and son Amos with, I believe, their grandfather, Amos Brackbill.  The photo is labeled on the back as Amos, Mabel and Amos.  Mabel appears to be no more than five years old, considering that she was about 2 years and 4 months older than her brother Amos.  Their father Amos would have been about 28 years old and their grandfather about 60 years old.  Since the Amos in the photo appears more like a 60 year old than a 28 year old, I believe this is grandfather Amos with his two grandchildren, Mabel and Amos, about the year 1900.


Mabel was Annie’s only daughter.  She married Martin Wanner, and they farmed, as noted in previous posts.  Here’s a picture of Mabel, Martin, and their son Martin.

Mabel, Martin, and Martin Wanner on their farm. Photo compliments of Martin Wanner.

Father Amos had a blacksmith and mechanics shop in Intercourse, PA.  When he died, his sons continued on the business.  Son Amos continued the mechanic shop in Intercourse, and his sons continued the shop after him.  Son Elias took over the welding portion of the business.  Son Howard took over the mechanic business in Gordonville.

Here’s a couple pictures of advertisers for Brackbill’s Garage.

A Week About Annie–A Widow

In November, of 1928, Annie’s husband, Amos, died of pneumonia at the age of 56.  That must have been a difficult year.  Her youngest son would have been about 15 years old. In the 1930 census, Annie and her son were living in Leacock township with Annie’s daughter, Mabel, who had been married two years. Mabel’s husband, Martin, was a farmer.

A fun note about the 1930 census–it records whether or not there is a radio set in the home.


Amos and Annie headstone

Pequea Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  Photo compliments of Ronald P. Scott.



Pequea Presbyterian Church

Pequea Presbyterian Church.    Photo compliments of Ronald P. Scott.



A Week About Annie–A Trip To The Movies

Once a week Annie would go to Lancaster.  Sometimes Howard would pick up Annie (or Nancy, if you prefer) and take her to Lancaster.  He’d drop her off and then go pick her up and take her home.  Sometimes she would ride the bus, catching it at Lemon place.  On occasion, she would take her grandson, Martin, with her.  Martin says they would go shopping and get a soda fountain drink.  One time, she took Martin to his first movie–Gone With the Wind.  They walked out of the movie when people in the movie started getting their legs cut off!



Martin, Annie’s grandson, and I in July 2015


A Week About Annie–Did She Like Her Name?

That’s a good question!  Do you like your name?  Janet told us that Annie liked to be called Nancy.  Not sure why.  So I recently looked up information on nicknames, and I discovered that Nancy is a nickname for Ann.  But in the census records, she is always listed as Annie.  Seems a bit strange today for someone named Annie to be called Nancy, but it wasn’t so strange for Annie.

She had some very large old photos in frames.  One day she took the photos with her when she left the house, and, when she came home, she didn’t have the photos anymore. No one knows what happened to them, whether she gave them to someone or sold them at the antique shop.

I was really hoping to find a photo of Annie, but she didn’t like pictures.  She was very private.  If you asked her a question about her family or her life, she would wheel around and walk away.  Nevertheless, her family was important to her.  Her kids would come once a year for a little reunion.  And she and Mabel were close, visiting often with each other during the day.

Annie was about 95 years old when she died on May 1, 1972.  She was undoubtedly loved, appreciated, and missed.


A Week About Annie–Fireflies!

Annie lived with her daughter, Mabel, in a little apartment at the back of Mabel’s house. So Annie’s grandson, Martin, got to know her very well.

She would tell Martin stories, like the story of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse.  Several versions of the story are online, one of which can be found at this link to the Library of Congress.

The house is still there!  Here’s a few picture, compliments of Ronald P. Scott.

Wanner home 1

This is a side view of the house, where you can see the back apartment.

Wanner home 2wanner home 3


Behind the house in the last picture is some of the farm land that Mabel’s husband, Martin, farmed.  When I was there, the field was all aglow.  It was on fire with fireflies!  I had never seen fireflies before, and they were truly magical. Ronald was amazed that I had never seen fireflies.  I tried to take a photo of them, but it didn’t turn out too well.  I could have watched them all night!






A Week About Annie–Meeting Her Grandchildren

One of the greatest joys of family history is meeting and talking with newly found relatives.  When you’ve seen a name for years, and then you meet someone who knew that person, feelings and emotions previously unknown flood your entire being.  It’s hard to describe really.  Then you talk, and out comes the photo books, and it’s like you’ve know the family for years even though you are meeting them for the first time.  You might almost feel like you are sitting where they sat……

I was able to meet several of Annie’s descendants.  And it all started by looking in the phone book.  On my first adventure in July 2015, my newfound cousin, Ronald, called a number in the phone book, and we reached a cousin, James!  He was just a short distance away, so we went to visit him.  Then he sent us to another cousin, Janet, a short distance away.  Then she sent us to another cousin, Martin, a short distance away.  And by the end of the day, we had learned quite a bit about Annie.  What a joy it was to visit so many newfound cousins in one day!

As we sat and talked with Martin about Annie, he said, “Well, you are sitting in her chair.”  What?!  I was sitting where she sat!  That was euphoric.



Annie’s Chair


So what did we learn about Annie?  More to come this week….

Do You Remember Your Age?

Do you ever forget how old you are?  I cannot seem to remember my age.  I mean, I know how old I am, give or take a year.  Usually if someone asks my age, I take a minute to calculate it.  Does age matter?  Turning 10 years old matters–your first year of double digits!  Turning 13 years old matters–your first official year as a teen.  At 16 years old, many are allowed to date–definitely an age that matters to a 16 year old.  And 18 years old matters–adulthood!  But after, say, 25 years old, what does it matter?

Young people often want to be older.  And older people often want to be younger.  Will Rogers  is quoted as saying “Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.”

In family history, age can be very important.  When I search for Mary Smith born in Massachusetts in 1700, over 60,000 records were identified.  Identifying your ancestor might come down to knowing their age, especially if you don’t know their exact birth date.

Annie’s birth date is a little hard to pin down.

As mentioned in the previous post, she is shown in the 1880 census as being 2 years old. Other records show the following:

  • Marriage certificate shows age 21 in April 1895
  • 1900 census shows age as 24
  • 1910 census shows age as 33
  • 1920 census shows age as 40
  • 1930 census shows age as 54
  • 1940 census shows age as 57
  • Social Security Death Index shows birthday of 18 January 1877
  • Funeral program shows birth date of 18 January 1875
  • Headstone says born 1876

via Annie E. Parmer Brackbill (1876 – 1972) – Find A Grave Photos

So from 1880-1895, which is 15 years, her age changed 19 years.  From 1895 to 1900, which is five years, her age changed 3 years.  From 1900 to 1910, her age changed 9 years, which is reasonable depending on when the census was taken.  Then from 1910 to 1920, her age changed 7 years.  From 1920 to 1930, her age changed 14 years.  From 1930 to 1940, her age changed 3 years.  Something’s fishy here!

I feel like the 1880 census, with her age listed at 2 years old, is probably the most reliable.  If we use the Social Security Death Index birthday, she would have been 3 years old at the 1880 census.  That’s pretty close.  In 1895, the year she married, she would have been 17 or 18 years old and probably would have needed parental permission to marry, like some of her sisters who married at that age.  My guess is that, for some reason or another, she couldn’t get that permission and did what was required to get married–change her age.

Of course, for the censuses, whoever gave information to the census taker could have simply given the wrong information.  But I can’t help think that maybe Annie was a little like myself–a person who forgets her age.

What does age matter anyway?



Appreciation to cousin Janet for sharing so much family history with Ronald P. Scott and I when we showed up on her doorstep.





Annie’s in the Newspaper!

Old newspapers are very interesting.  They can draw interest in people never heard of before.  Reading them is like taking a step back in time, but it seems as though it’s the present.  You can learn all kinds of things in a newspaper–theft, the price of crops, and who was arrested for drunkenness, among other things.

Annie Parmer was the third daughter and the sixth child of Samuel and Hetty.  She was born one year after her older sister died at age 3 years and 3 months.  I cannot help but think that her mother must have been grateful for another daughter.  Since Samuel had a sister named Ann, it’s possible his new daughter was named after his sister.

Annie’s exact birth year is a little hard to pin down.  We first find Annie in the 1880 Census at age 2, shown below in the census excerpt taken from

1880 Census Samuel and Hetty cropped

The family lived in East Lampeter Township, but the census taker did not record the street.

The 1888 Williams’ Lancaster City Directory lists Samuel Parmer living at “Rockland n Old Factory”, which translates to “Rockland Street north(of) Old Factory.”   It’s possible they lived at that location for the 1880 census.  But we have a second record that confirms they lived there in 1888.

On October 4, 1888, the Lancaster City School Board met.  The meeting, and various reports given at the meeting, were reported in detail the next day in the Lancaster Daily Intelligencer.  The City Superintendent’s Report began with statistical information about how many students attended school. Several options existed for school then, just like today.  The report included students attending high school, grammar school, secondary school, ungraded school, intermediate school, and primary school.  A little research is needed to learn the difference between them, but that’s part of the fun of learning history!  My favorite–ungraded school. Students are not grouped by grade, but by what they need to learn.  Once they learn a topic, they move on to the next group. So if they are grouped in the subtraction group, and they master subtraction, then they might move to the multiplication group.  Just a fun fact!

After reporting the number of students, the newspaper listed the non-resident students by name. Here’s an excerpt taken from the October 5, 1888 Lancaster Daily Intelligencer digitally located on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website:


Do you see the Parmers listed as non-residents attending the Rockland Street Primary School?  There’s Annie, along with her brothers Harry and Aldus.  Also, did you notice that none of Annie’s siblings were attending the Rockland Street Intermediate or Secondary schools? Annie would have been about ten years old at the time.  Her brother Samuel E. would have been about 14 and her sister Margie would have been about 17 years old.  They possibly were not attending school anymore.  Or they could have been attending school at night.  Night school?!  Yup.  The report indicated that 203 students, including 45 under the age of 14, attended night school.  But then the older Parmer children would probably still be listed as non-residents. So it’s likely they did not attend school at all and that Annie was then the oldest of her siblings still in school.

The fact that Annie, Harry, and Aldus attended Rockland Street Primary School is consistent with their home’s location. The Rockland Street School was created for students in that area, as noted in the quote below from One Hundred and Fifty Years of School History in Lancaster, Pennsylvania by William Riddle:

The first move for the erection of what is hereafter to be 
known as the " Rockland Street " school house, came at the 
February meeting of 1869, as a motion from Robert A. Evans, 
requesting the Superintending Committee " to inquire into the 
matter of more convenient school accommodations for the 
children who reside on the ' Old Factory Road ' and its vicinity 
and make report to the board when convenient."

The school was completed in 1876, just 12 years before Annie (and her brothers) were listed in the newspaper.  Why were they listed as non-residents?  I don’t know.  Maybe they lived outside of the city limits.  After all, the city directory listed them as “north of” Old Factory Road.

And that’s all we know about Annie until we find her marriage license in 1895.  If she was two years old in 1880, then in 1895 she would have been about seventeen years old. At seventeen, she would likely have needed consent to marry.  But did she get it?

That’s a question for the next post…..