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.



Robert’s Family of Military Service


Robert served in the military, as did several of his siblings.  You can read more about the family’s service on my previous post.  Here is a collection of photos regarding Robert’s military service.


Here’s some photos of Robert’s siblings who served in the military.

Millitary photos

Top Row: Harry, Earl, Charles Bottom Row: Harry, Richard, Sam


Thanks for your service men!

Robert’s Photo Legacy

I figured calling Robert would not be a good option based on my previous phone calls.  So we just drove to his home.  He welcomed us in and shared lots of family pictures, some of which I have used in previous posts, including those about Samuel E. Parmer, who is Robert’s grandfather.  Robert’s father is Robert E. Parmer, Sr.

Robert Jr. was interested in preserving family photos.  He decided at some point that it was important to pass on family knowledge to future generations.  So he made copies of family photos, identified the individuals in the photos, and laminated them.  He produced many copies and would give them out at family reunions.  Imagine my joy at seeing all those photos!

Here is a collection of some of his photos, along with an introduction in Robert’s own hand.

Robert's photos intro

Introduction to Robert’s photos.


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Meet Robert Jr.

Meet Robert.  Here’s a picture of him and me on July 3, 2015.

Robert E Parmer Jr with Heidi

Meeting Robert E. Parmer Jr., July 3, 2015


Robert was 95 years old and going strong.  He lived by himself in an upstairs condo and still drove himself around.  Do you see the sandwiches on the counter in the background?  He was preparing his lunches for the week.

Robert E. Parmer Jr. was born on September 13, 1919 to Robert E. Parmer and Esther Suter.  He is the grandson of Samuel E. Parmer and the great-grandson of Samuel M. Parmer.

On my initial visit to Lancaster, PA, Robert was on my list of people to hopefully visit.  I had cold-called him on the telephone before visiting Lancaster, but he had a hard time hearing and understanding what I was saying over the telephone.  So on my last day  in Lancaster, I told Ronald that I’d like to visit Robert.  I’m so glad we did!

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.

Homes With Loved Ones

The 1920 Census shows Rebecca works as a cigar maker and daughter Mildred (Myrtle) works as an assistant for a dentist.  The census also shows that the family rented a home at 542 Dauphin.  By February 1921, they became homeowners at 37 Washington.  According to Zillow.com, the home currently at 37 Washington was built in 1885.  Here’s a picture of the home from zillow.com.

37 washington lancaster pa

On January 1, 1945, Samuel’s wife Rebecca died at 64 years old.  This was undoubtedly a difficult time for him as well as his family.  He and Rebecca had been living at their home at 37 Washington.  By the time the 1946 city directory was published, Samuel had moved to 462 S Ann to live with his daughter, Pearl, and her family.  He continued to work as a janitor at Franklin and Mary College.  He also continued to live with his daughter, including later moving to a new home at 604 W Lemon, until he died on May 17, 1949.

He and Rebecca are buried at Mellingers Mennonite Cemetery.

samuel and rebecca headstone

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





Whooping Cough Claims A Child

Rebecca and Jack

Jack Samuel Parmer with his mother Rebecca Ruth. Photo courtesy of Robert E. Parmer Jr.


Tragedy hit in 1921 when son Jack Samuel died of whooping cough at age 1 yr 7 months 22 days.  Whooping cough has been around at least since the middle ages.  Vaccines were not developed until the 1930-1940s, so in 1921, vaccines were not available.  Whooping Cough outbreaks were not uncommon and the vaccine,  understandably, was welcomed.  What sorrow must have ensued for the whole family.  He is buried in Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery.


Jack S Parmer headstone

Memorial for Jack– Born 30 June 1919,   Died 22 Feb 1921