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 Granddaughter’s Memories, and A Great Granddaughter’s

Who was a messenger, a salesman, a dishwasher, an umbrella factory worker, a taxi driver, a stamp collector, and a veteran of the Great War?

That is Herbert H. Parmer, born June 21 1895 to William Eckman Parmer and Emma J. Howe.

Herbert H Parmer

Herbert H. Parmer.  Photo courtesy of Sarah (Parmer) Constein

The earliest record I could find for Herbert is the 1900 census, which shows him at 4 yrs old with his parents at 29 Dorwart Street.  The current home at that address was built in 1910, so it wouldn’t be the home he lived in.

The 1910 Census taken April 22, 1910, shows him at 14 years old living at 507 Green St., which is the address where his family lived for many years.  He had not attended school during the September 1, 1909 school year, but he was employed and is recorded as not being out of work at all in 1909.  He was working in an umbrella factory.  I can’t make out what his type of work was at the factory.  Can you read it in the image below in the first column?

herbert h job in 1910

A year later, in the 1911 city directory, he was listed as working as a messenger.  He would have been 15 years old.  The directory lists his address, 507 Green St., which is likely where he lived until he married.  It’s interesting to note that at 15 years old, he is listed like an adult in the city directory, along with his 17 and 20 year old brothers and his parents.  What a difference it would be today!

On June 23, 1916, Herbert H. enlisted in the National Guard at the age of 21.  He was in Co K 4 Inf PA National Guard until August 10, 1916.  Then he was in M G [machine gun] Co 4 inf PA National Guard until October 21, 1917, when that company became Co A 109 M G Bn until his discharge.

But first, wedding bells rang.  The 1930 census asks what age you were at your first marriage.  Herbert is shown as 23 at his first marriage and Florence Ruth as 17.  I couldn’t locate a marriage record for them, but they were likely married in 1918 before he left on May 7, 1918 to serve overseas in World War I.   A great granddaughter shares some memories of Florence Ruth Parmer:

I have vague memories of Grandma Parmer. I was named after her. I remember going to her house where she had a cedar chest full of greeting cards. She would allow me to look at the cards if I was very careful! I loved this memory so much that I saved every card I was ever given in MY cedar chest so I could do the same with my grandchildren. Unfortunately I won’t have grandchildren so the cards became a casualty during one of my cross country moves but my son still has the cedar chest which is full of family mementos like pictures and Bob’s and my graduation caps and yearbooks. I do have one of her recipes passed down from Mom. She apparently catered for some fancy dinners for the Watts and Shands (of Watt & Shand fame), among others,  and came up with an hors d’oeuvre consisting of pineapple rings stuffed with cherries and cream cheese on a bed of lettuce. We make it at Easter. Mom says she was very proper and fancy.  (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)

The war ended in 1919, and Herbert returned to the United States in March 1919, being discharged from the military in October 1919.

The 1920 census shows Herbert is married at 24 years old, living with Florence Ruth and son Harry, who was one year old.  He was a novelties salesman. They lived at 647 Chester Ave (might actually be Street), next to her parents and siblings.  He’s still listed as a salesman in the 1927 city directory.

Eventually, his family bought a house.  In the 1930 census, his family is shown at 21 East Liberty Street, where they owned a home valued at $8000.  He was 35 years old and was a taxi driver for “Taxi Cab Co.”  The census record states he is a veteran of the World War.  His family lived at East Liberty Street for several years.  The current home at that address, according to, was built in 1930, so it would be the same home that the family lived in.

21 east liberty

21 East Liberty is the cream colored house on the left.  Photo from

His granddaughter said he suffered from “shell shock”, had TB (possibly from the trenches and gas during the war) and spent time in a sanatorium (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”.  This is consistent with his filing for veterans compensation in 1934 while living at the VA hospital in Coatesville, PA.  In addition, the 1940 census shows him as an inmate at the Veterans Administration Facility in Chester County at 1400 Blackhorse Hill Road, Caln Township, PA, near Coatesville, where patients were first admitted in 1930, and which was dedicated in 1932.

His granddaughter “said he lived with them in West Willow when she was a kid and she has fond memories of him. She loved him very much.”  She “remembers he used to get his pension check once a month and take them to the West Willow fruit stand to buy them fruit.”  She says one “month he told them he could not take them for fruit and she remembers that night Pappap told them he had died.”  (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”  Herbert died June 24, 1957 while living at 1938 Willow Street Pike, West Lampeter Township, according to his death certificate.

His granddaughter “credits him with teaching her about edible plants like dandelion, berries, poke, “mustard” and pawpaws. He would take her for long walks in the wood and show her what she could safely eat as well as teach her about other plants like Jack-in-the-Pulpet. (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”  Also, “He kept an army trunk at the foot of his bed. He would call the kids into his room to sneak Hershey Kisses to them. Nanny (Violet) would holler not to give the kids candy but he would fib that they were playing jacks. He would then throw jacks on the top of the trunk to cover his story! (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”

jack in the pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo compliments of here.


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…..


A Patriotic Family and Blue Eyes


Happy Independence Day!

Having a family connection to an event always makes it more meaningful.  Finding a connection to 1776 can be a bit tricky.  How patriotic were the Parmers?  Tracing back that far is a bit difficult for the Parmer family.  But many Parmer descendants have served in the military and defended freedom.  Samuel M. Parmer’s son, Robert E. Parmer, had six sons serve in World War I.

Robert E at war memorial

Standing from left, Robert Parmer Sr., wife Esther, son Harry, daughters Myrtle and Mary.  Sitting from left, daughter Betty, granddaughter Shirley, daughter Nancy, son Earl, and daughter Gail.  Children not pictured are Elwood, Robert Jr., Charles, Kenneth, Richard, Samuel, and Jerry.  Taken August 20, 1944 at the dedication of the original World War II memorial in Lancaster, PA.

The photo above was published in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal on May 23, 2004 with an article about Lancaster’s World War II memorial.  According to the article, “The memorial was erected to honor those from the Cabbage Hill neighborhood of Lancaster who served during the second world war.  The names of 160 men are inscribed, including nine who were killed.”  Six of Robert Parmer Sr.’s nine sons served in World War II.

In 1863, the Union instituted a draft for men ages 20-45.  John Parmer, the probable father of Samuel M. Parmer, was 46 years old at the time.

Samuel M. Parmer was 24.  He would have been required to register.  Below is what likely is his record of registration, along with his brother, Daniel.

civil war draft registration excerpt

I could not find any record of Samuel serving in the military, nor could I find any record of his children serving in the military.  However, I did find records of several of his sons’ draft registrations.  All Samuel’s sons who registered for the World War I draft did so in the third draft on September 12, 1918.  Those who registered for the World War II draft did so in the fourth registration, also known as the “Old Man’s Draft,” which was not to enlist soldiers but to determine the skills and abilities of men who could support the war effort at home.

Draft registrations are fun to look at because they have valuable family history information that is not usually found elsewhere, like physical characteristics.  Here’s what we learn from Samuel’s sons’ draft registration cards:

John Jacob and William E. were born after the Civil War ended and were past the age of the draft for the World War I.

Samuel E., World War I registration on 9/12/18, blue eyes & black hair 45 years old, lived at 542 Dauphin Street, worked as a watchman at Donovan Co., a garment manufacturer.

Harry, World War I registration on 9/12/1918, blue eyes & dark hair, 39 years old, lived at 439 E Mifflin Street, worked as boiler foreman at Lancaster Iron Works.

Aldus, World War I registration on 9/12/1918, grey eyes & black hair, 37 years old, lived at 507 Green Street, worked as an auto machinist at Queen Motor Co.

World War II registration on April 27, 1942, 5’5″ tall and 61 years old, grey eyes and grey hair, physically identifying characteristic was  a scar on the end of his index finger on his left hand.  He still lived at 507 Green street and was working at Lancaster City Water Works.

Luther, World War I registration on 9/12/1918, blue eyes & dark hair, 33 years old, lived in Coatesville, worked as a boiler maker at Midvale Steel and Ordinance Company.

World War II registration on April 27, 1942,  5’6″ tall and 56 years old, blue eyes and grey hair. Self employed and living on his farm in Londonderry  Township.

It’s interesting that many of the brothers had blue eyes and dark hair.  And they were not very tall.  I love that this information is preserved!  What do you remember that can be shared and preserved?


Samuel and Hetty’s children


It’s fitting for my first post to be about Samuel and Hetty.  As I began my quest to find living Parmer relatives in Lancaster, PA, my starting point was Samuel Parmer  and Hetty Eckman.  Nine children were born to them in Lancaster.  Surely some descendants would still be living there.

The 1870 census excerpt below, from, is the first census record showing Samuel and Hetty together.  Their sons, John and William are also shown.

1870 Census Samuel and Hetty cropped

By 1880, John was living as a boarder down the street from the rest of the family.  William still lived at home, along with Margie, Annie, Samuel and Harry, shown in the 1880 Census excerpt below, from  Missing is Martha S., born in 1873, after the 1870 census.  She died in 1877, before the 1880 census.

1880 Census Samuel and Hetty cropped

Samuel and Hetty had two more children, Aldus and Luther.  Aldus was born in 1880 after the census was taken.  Luther was born in 1885.  They would have shown up on the 1890 census, but much of that census record was destroyed in a fire.  Aldus married in 1899, before the 1900 census, so he again is not shown living with Samuel.  But the 1900 census does show Luther living with Samuel, as seen in the excerpt below, taken from

1900 Census Samuel Parmer

With Samuel and Hetty’s children identified, I began my quest.  Little did I know that finding living relatives is a bit more difficult than finding those who have already passed on.