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 Once Hidden Photo in the Spotlight

Guess whose photo came out of hiding?  Although I love finding names and dates of  family members, what is the most enjoyable about family history is learning about people’s lives.  What did they look like? How tall were they?  What did they like to eat? Where did they work?  What did they wear?  I’ve found answers to those kinds of question in various records, like military records and old newspapers.  Of course memories provided by family members are the best.  But memories come and go.  And then they disappear if they are not recorded.  But a picture, well, you know the saying….a picture is worth a thousand words.  Every picture tells a story.  This is the story of Samuel M. Parmer…



Samuel M. Parmer, 1924.


I had resigned to the idea of not being able to find a picture of Samuel M. Parmer, my great, great grandfather.  I’ve researched about him, written about him, and even placed a memorial marker at the cemetery for him.  But I had never met him or seen him.  So when I received a packet of photocopies last week, I was overwhelmed when I opened it.  As I realized who is in this photo, tears came to my eyes.  Nice to meet you grandfather Samuel M.!

And thank you cousin Ronald for thinking of me when you came across the photocopies!  Our family history journeys together have been successful in many ways, and mostly because of your contributions.






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.

robert w tibbles photo age 20

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:

robert w tibbles death cert explanation

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.

khantaak island

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 M. Gets Memorial Marker


samuel m parmer headstone1

Greenwood Cemetery, Lancaster, PA.   Photo compliments of Ronald P. Scott


Doesn’t that look nice?  Samuel’s memorial marker was installed on August 31, 2018, just 87 years, one month and one day after he died.

On my visit to Lancaster in 2015, I discovered that a marker was never installed where Samuel was buried.  Some of his descendants contributed towards the purchase of a marker and now he has one.

It’s never too late to remember those who made our lives possible!

Samuel and Hettie Parmer headstones

Headstone cleaning and photo compliments of Ronald P. Scott.  It looks fantastic!  Thank you!

samuel m parmer headstone

Samuel’s marker in front of Hettie Ann’s,  his wife’s, headstone.  Samuel is buried beside Hettie, who died in 1897.  Photo compliments of Ronald P. Scott.

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 ancestry.com and originally shared by srohrer63





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!

Samuel Needs a Memorial Marker

Samuel M. Parmer needs a headstone!  He died June 20, 1931 in Lancaster, PA.  He was buried next to his wife, Hettie Ann, who died July 25, 1897, 35 years before Samuel.   However, for unknown reasons, perhaps the Great Depression, a headstone has never been placed for Samuel.  We would like to change that and place a memorial marker for Samuel.

Although there is a marker for Hettie, we are not able to use that current marker to add Samuel’s information.  A new granite memorial marker, 24 x 12 in size, is allowed to be placed for Samuel.  We can add Hettie Ann Parmer’s name and applicable dates, at no additional cost, on the new marker in smaller lettering than Samuel’s information.

We can make a difference, even if it has been 86 years!


Hettie Parmer headstone

William’s Beginnings in Lancaster

William was born October 27, 1869, the second child, and second son, of Samuel and Hetty. He is shown with his family in the 1870 and 1880 census. On September 3, 1891, William Eckman Parmer and Emma J. Howe were married by Rev. D.W. Gerhard.  Here’s a photo of William and Emma:


Emma J. and William E. Parmer.  Photo courtesy of Millie Crawford.

Over the next several years, William worked at various jobs until he began working as a clerk at a store.  Here’s what we learn from looking at the city directories:

1892 — laborer at 612 S. Duke

1896 — driver, 31 E King; home at 429 Church — a 6 minute walk from home to work

1897 & 1898 — driver; resides at 339 W Marion

1899 — clerk for W D Sprecher Son & Co; resides at 29 Dorwart

1903, 1905, 1907, 1911 — clerk for Sprecher & Ganss (seed and implement establishment); resides at 507 Green

Over this time, William and Emma had their children–Roy, Guy J., Herbert H., Clarence (Nick), Viola, and Franklin William.

Then, sometime betweeen 1911 and 1913, they moved…..to Florida!


Where’s the Children?

Who are Samuel’s parents?….As discussed in a previous post, it’s hard to positively determine Samuel’s parents, at least from the records I’ve come across.  If only his mother’s name was listed on his death certificate!  In my research, I like to see concrete evidence-something solid and unmistakable.  I just haven’t found that for Samuel’s parents.  But the records do give us enough information to identify probable parents.

Part of the problem with Samuel is that he is not listed by name in any census records as a child with his parents.  The first positively identifiable census record I find for him is the 1870 census that shows him with his wife, Hetty, and two small children, John and William.

1870 census PA cropped samuel m

Notice the numbers at the far left.  They show that he is the 144th family, but that he is living in the home of the 139th dwelling house surveyed.  This census does not state the relationship of people living in the same household, so we are out of luck on getting that info, but we could make an assumption that Samuel Parmer is related to John Parmer, who owns the land, and his wife Martha.  Considering John and Samuel’s age difference, they might even be father-son, especially since Samuel’s death certificate lists his father’s name as “John Parmer.”  Samuel was 31 years old in the 1870 census.  Where was he in 1860 when he was 21 years old?  Or 1850 when he was 11 years old?

The 1860 census has an entry for John and Martha, but Samuel, who would have been 21 years old, is not listed in the home.  I do find John and Martha’s sons, Daniel and Emanuel, and their daughter Barbara.  But John, age 17, Ann, age 15, and Abraham, age 13, are not listed in the home either.

A similar situation is found in the 1850 census entry.  The children listed are John, age 7, Ann, age 5, Abraham, age 3, and Emanuel, age 1.  Daniel, who was 9 years old is missing, as well as Samuel, who would have been about 11 years old.  Daniel and Samuel were likely hired out, at least in the summer when the census was conducted.

I might have found Daniel in the 1850 census.  There is a Daniel Parmer, age 9, living with a couple who has Daniel and two girls living with them on their farm.  I’ve searched the 1850 census many times for Samuel Parmer, but he just doesn’t show up anywhere.  Until this week.

Instead of searching for Samuel Parmer, which usually brings up some name variations, I decided to search for misspellings.  I tried “Palmer”, “Palmel”, and finally, Parmen.  That was worth it!  I found a possible match, shown below.  The indexers decided the name is Samul Parman, and it is just different enough that it wasn’t coming up in my previous searches.

1850 census Samuel M Parmer cropped

Could this be Samuel Parmer?  To me, the last letter of his name as shown does not look like the other n’s of the census taker.   In fact, the last letter looks a lot like the r’s in “Farmer”.  But why is Samuel living in East Hempfield Township, 10 miles away from his family?  And who are John B. and Ann Landis?

According to the “Biographical Annals of Lancaster County Pennsylvania“, published in 1903, John B. Landis was from East Lampeter  Township, which is where John and Martha Parmer lived. The two Johns were close in age.  And John Landis’ relatives lived close by John Parmer in the 1850 census.  Considering all this, I am pretty confident that I’ve found our Samuel Parmer in 1850.

So, were are the children?  They are working.  At 9 and 11 years old, they are hired out and living with someone else.  But we found them!

Another tidbit:  The rest of John and Martha’s sons, who have death certificates to identify them as children of John and Martha, have “M” for their middle initial.  The “M” stands for “Meyers,” Martha’s maiden name.  With Samuel’s middle initial also being “M”, he fits right into the family.

Although I have not seen concrete evidence to attribute John and Martha as the parents of Samuel Parmer, I am willing to make that connection for now.  However, John and Martha have more than one generation of forefathers who were born in Pennsylvania.  I can’t help but think about the couple of census records that state Samuel’s father was born in Germany.  Was he really?  Or was that an error based on the fact that he spoke German?

Someday a record will show up that can answer that.  Do you have a record to share?



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?