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.

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.

Cork Cutter, Night Watchman, & Janitor

Over the years, Samuel and Rebecca lived in various houses as they raised their children, living for a time near Samuel E.’s brother, Luther, and his father, Samuel M.  Samuel E., like his brother Luther, worked in a cork factory as a cork cutter.  Here’s a photo of some cork cutters at work at Armstrong Cork Company.


Pittsburgh 1909. Photo in public domain.

Samuel appears to have worked as a cork cutter for some time.  In both the 1900 and the 1910 censuses he is listed as a cork cutter.  For some reason he changed jobs.  Maybe he got tired of cutting cork.  Or maybe he was just looking for something that could provide a better living for his family.  At some point between 1913 and 1916, Samuel E. became a night watchman at Donovan Co., a department store.  Here’s a 1918  newspaper ad for Donovan’s:

There’s also a photo of Donovan’s and other department stores at the time here.

Between 1929 and 1930, Samuel changed jobs again.  Maybe being a night watchman was catching up to him.  It’s not easy to stay up at night.  Teenagers seem to be able to do it, but it’s not so easy as you get older!  Samuel would have been about 55 years old.  He became a janitor for Franklin and Mary College.

Samuel Janitor

Photo from and originally shared by srohrer63





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?


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!




Work and Family…

Luther is the youngest son of Samuel M. and Hetty.  He had just turned 12 years old about a month before his mother passed away.  She was fairly young–56 years old.  That was 1897.

Three years later, at 15 years old, Luther is learning at school.  He very likely had summer jobs before then.  Children were commonly, at one time in our nation, expected to work and earn money to contribute to the family income.  As mentioned in another post, being hired out at a young age was common at the time.  In fact, the 1900 census asks for the “occupation, trade, or profession of each person 10 years of age and over.”  For Luther, who would have been almost 15 when the 1900 census was taken, his occupation was “At School” and, according to the census, he had been out of work for 8 months, which would be about the period of school.

Another three years later–Luther is 18 years old.  He’s no longer “at school”, but working as a cork maker.  Quite possibly, he worked for Armstrong Cork Company, which was in operation at the time.  The link below has a brief history and some photos of the cork factory in Lancaster.  The building is still there today, but it’s now a mixed use property, with apartments, commercial space, a hotel, restaurant, etc.  In 1907, Luther still works at a cork factory, according to the city directory.

1895: Armstrong Cork Company begins production at Place with the purchase of Lancaster Cork Company and other local cork companies.

via About – Cork Factory Hotel – History and Honor

also via Urban Place – About

Wedding bells ring in 1909.  Luther and Mary Edna Jury get married on February 24.  Maybe Cupid’s arrows got them on Valentine’s Day!

Luther and Mary Edna

Photo taken February 6, 1953.  Luther, age 67.  Mary Edna, age 61.  Photo compliments of Ronald P. Scott.

Luther’s Girls

Luther Parmer daughters

Photo courtesy of James Watkins.  Photo taken May 1940.

Luther James Parmer and Mary Edna Jury Parmer’s girls. (rear) Ruth Annabeth Parmer Scott. (front) L/R Mae Elizabeth Parmer, Jean Edna Parmer.   Luther and Mary Edna also had a son Ellwood James (Buddy) Parmer born Oct 22, 1911.  He died Apr 17, 1917 at 5 1/2 years old.

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.