John J. Gets Married

Somehow, somewhere, John Jacob met Elizabeth “Lizzie” D. Ebersole.  They fell in love and got married on Christmas day 1887. John Jacob was 20 years old, and Lizzie was 22. Their marriage license shows that they both lived in Witmer.  Their minister was D.W. Gerhard, a minster of the Reformed Church.  Many of John Jacob’s siblings were married by Rev. Gerhard.  Here are a couple images of their marriage certificates.  The pictures of them on the horses were taken many years later in Montana.




They were married in Lancaster, PA at 131 South Duke Street.  When I visited Lancaster a few years ago, I took a video and walked along the street where they were married 128 years prior.  You can watch the video at my previous post at Marriages, the Minister, and the Church.

Things change over the years–modes of transportation change, types of jobs change, ways of communicating change–but family relationships continue.  It’s likely the wedding ceremony that John and Lizzie had was different than wedding ceremonies today, even if just a little different, but the purpose remains the same–uniting two people in marriage, as husband and wife.  Certainly they experienced the same joy, excitement, and love that married couples experience today.  By remembering their story, I feel that I get to share a little bit in that excitement.  Hooray!  Congrats John and Lizzie!

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.


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, 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?


Samuel, Son of Samuel

Samuel E. Parmer was born August 22, 1874.  That’s what his death certificate says, as well as his headstone.  Some records indicate he may have been born in 1875.  It’s so hard to pinpoint birthdays for that time period!  I’m going with 1874.  His marriage certificate says he was born in Mount Sidney, East Lampeter.

Samuel E. is the fifth child of Samuel M. and Hetty Ann.  His brother John Jacob was 7 years old while his sister Martha was just 10 months old.  William would have been almost 5 and Margie almost 3 years old.  Hetty was a busy mother!

Undoubtedly named after his father, Samuel M., Samuel E’s middle name is Elwood, as shown on his World War I draft registration card, which interestingly lists his birthday as 1873.  In 1918 when the card was completed, he was medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and black hair.


More posts on Samuel E. are coming.  Do you know anything about Samuel E. Parmer?  If so, please share in the comments or the Contact page.  We would really like to get to know him!

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?


Marriages, the Minister, and the Church

Young couples–they fall in love and get married.   Some of Samuel and Hettie’s children were married in Lancaster by Rev. D.W. Gerhard.  He served several congregations in the Lancaster area.  Excerpts of the marriage licenses shown below record the marriage taking place at 131 South Duke Street in Lancaster.  This might was likely the home of Rev. Gerhard.

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I thought it might be fun to go and walk along South Duke Street where so many of my relatives walked many years ago and where some houses that were standing way back then are still standing.  As I walked, I video taped.  Here’s the video:


Rev. D.W. Gerhard’s brief biography is available in the  “Biographical Annals of Lancaster County” published in 1903 and can be read by clicking here.  He was a minister for the German Reformed Church.

The German Reformed Church was formed during the Protestant Reformation when people broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.  Their teachings were influenced by Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. The Church has gone through many changes over the years, including name changes, mergers with other churches, etc.

Were the Parmers members of the German Reformed Church?  They may have attended the German Reformed Church, or Rev. Gerhard may have been a popular minister for performing marriages.  That is yet to be discovered.




Of Pigs and Farms…


One valuable resource for learning about ancestors in Lancaster is the city directories.  They were published periodically and included the address of residents as well as their occupation and, occassionally, where they worked.  They were sort of precursor to telephone books.  I don’t know if the directories were all-inclusive, meaning all households were included; so it’s possible there were families living in the area that were not included in the directories.  Nevertheless, with “Parmer” being a sort of unique surname,  the whole list of parmers is on a page or two.  I like to look at the list and see who lives with who and how their residence changes from year to year.

A 1903 city directory shows Luther, now about 18 years old, boarding at 522 Dauphin St, the home of John J. Parmer, his brother.  According to, the home there was built in 1900 so it would be the same home that they lived in.  You can see a picture of the home by clicking here.  It’s the home to the left of the tree, with the green chair in front.

In 1907, Luther is shown at the same address of his brother, Aldus.  In 1911, he is at the same location, but Aldus has moved.  It’s interesting to note that in the 1910 census, Luther lives with his father, Samuel M., who the census notes owns the home.  Yet Samuel is not listed in the city directory for either 1907 or 1911.

Over the years, Luther worked at several jobs, including those listed below from the city directories:

1903   Cork maker

1907   Works at cork factory

1910   Salesman at a feed store (from census record)

1911   Driver

1913   Warp hanger

1916  Warp hanger

1917   Boiler maker

Sometime after 1917, he may have gotten tired of city life because he moved to the country and worked on a farm.  A photo of the home where he lived is shown below.  When he lived there, it likely did not have the addition at the right end.

Farm home first rented

Finally, in 1926 Luther came upon an opportunity that would hold his interest for the remainder of his working career.

The story goes that he went to the market to buy a pig and he came home having bought a farm!

What a surprise that must have been for his family!




Bits about John Jacob

I used to have a really good memory.  I couldn’t understand how someone could not remember the details of what happened in certain situations.  Now I wonder how I can forget a password that I created just the day before.  What has happened to me?!

One lesson I’ve learned in researching family history is this–Unless it’s written down, it gets lost.  And the longer we wait to write family history, the more that gets forgotten, or not passed on.

Another lesson I’ve learned–people don’t talk much about their childhood or their past.  Even fewer people write it down.  This was especially the case with the Parmer family history.  Many times in interviewing people, they have said, “People just didn’t talk about that back then.”  I’ve even seen death certificates where the child of the deceased individual was the informant and did not know the name of his grandmother.

Fortunately, I was able to get a short biography of John Jacob from his granddaughter Joy.  It provides a little bit of information about his childhood, stating,

“As a small boy he loved engines and things affiliated with engines….John Jacob was ambitious and thrifty.”

Just a couple short statements that may have seemed meaningless when spoken are so valuable to those of us who want to know him.  That’s all I have found so far of his childhood.

In the 1880 census record shown below, we find John, at 13  years old, living as a boarder with the Isaac Landis family.  John is listed as a Laborer.  The census record, which was taken in June, states that John had attended school during the year.   It is possible that he was working on Isaac’s farm for the summer.


via – 1880 United States Federal Census

Today that might seem a young age to be hired out and living away from home.  But back then, that was common.  In fact, his father may have been hired out at 10 years old.  I wonder how my almost 10 and almost 13 year old would feel if I sent them off to live with and work for someone?  What a difference in childhood over the last 150 years!

Also of note on the census record is John Parmer and his wife Martha, who may likely be John Jacob’s grandparents.  Also, two pages over on the census record is the rest of John Jacob’s family.  So they were close by.

Do you know any tidbits about John Jacob’s childhood?  If so, please share them in the comments section.




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.