Moving West

As their granddaughter Joy notes in an obituary of John Jacob, “in 1913 the spirit of adventure penetrated the Parmer family.  Father John and mother Lizzie packed up their belongings and their eight living children and moved to West Yellowstone, Montana.  From then until 1917 the Bar N Ranch was under John’s management.”

Certainly life in the west had it’s challenges, particularly without our modern day conveniences.  Keeping a house and just providing food for a family was a lot more physically involved than most people have to do today.  Remember John and Lizzie were accustomed to the city.  We even saw some of the homes they lived in (see previous posts).  They also had lived on a farm in Pennsylvania before moving to Montana.  But I imagine they had no idea what the “Ranch” life would be like when they moved West.

This next photo is one of my all-time favorites.  I love that it catches a moment in time.  Notice Lizzie is wearing her prayer cap, which again has the black tie strings.  The laundry goes through the ringer and falls into the laundry basket, which isn’t much different than some laundry baskets today.  Doesn’t the porch look tidy?  A few items are hung and a few items are tucked under the bench and the rest of the washing items are on the bench.  I wonder what the temperature was like that day….and whether or not the porch was in the sun or on the shady side of the house.

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Lizzie do laundry on the porch.  West Yellowstone, Montana

The bucket furthest right says “Swifts.”  At first research, I noticed some Swift Borax brands, so I thought it might be the laundry soap.  But upon further research, it is a bucket for lard.  Could you imagine getting a bucket of lard that big?  Here’s a close up of a Swifts Silverleaf Brand Lard bucket I found online.

bucket

I find it interesting that people of that time ate what we call terribly unhealthy food, and they still lived long lives.  Makes you wonder if the bad rap those kinds of fats get has any truth to it.  Reduce, reuse, recycle was a necessity then, not an option like it is today.  Only then, instead of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” it was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”  Some of you may have heard that before.  Lard wasn’t wasted when butchering, but was put to use, and an empty lard bucket wasn’t wasted either, but was put to use.

What drew the family West?  It may have been family.  John Jacob succeeded the Abraham Rote family at the Bar N Ranch.  Abraham Rote was the husband of John Jacob’s sister, Margie Alice. Ted says in his history that the Rote family moved to Montana 6 years previous to 1913.  So it is likely John and Lizzie were persuaded to move West and work for the Bar N.  The Bar N Ranch is still around.  You can stay there for a fee.  The website is  https://bar-n-ranch.com/

The Bar N Ranch was a cattle ranch seven miles west of West Yellowstone, but it was also used for hay that the L.A. Murray Co. freighted into Yellowstone National Park for the work and stage horses.  The Ranch was originally homesteaded by Mattie Canton, the mother-in-law of L.A. Murray.  The Parmers stayed at the Bar N Ranch for three years.  When the Hebgen Dam was built, Hebgen Lake flooded the meadows that were used for Hay.  Without hay for the cattle, the cattle were sold.

PTDC0226 (3)This photo could be of the Bar N Ranch or the Murray Hay Ranch.

John and Lizzie decided to move to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where they stayed until 1920.  During that time, John worked as a butcher.  Here’s a photo in Idaho Falls.  Notice Lizzie has on her prayer cap.

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Lizzie and her daughter, Violet “Doll” Parmer.

 

In 1920, the family moved back to the Madison Basin to work at the Murray Hay Ranch.  The hay was sold to the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co Stage Line.

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When the buses took over the stage line, there wasn’t as much need for hay. Then John and Lizzie decided to get their own homestead. More about the homestead will be coming up in the next post.

I haven’t found much written record of their life between 1913 and 1920, but I’m grateful for these few photos.  They really help to imagine what life was like for them.

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?

 

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

 

 

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.

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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!

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 ancestry.com.

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:

annie-school-in-newspaper

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…..

 

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.

 

 

 

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 Ancestry.com, 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 Ancestry.com.  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 Ancestry.com.

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.