YOUR HOST

JIM WALTERS

So who is this guy?

Well, that would be me (the one in the center -- with Goldie and Luther at the local dog park.)

... and why is he doing this?

I'm a former news editor and copy editor at the Los Angeles Times who has been compiled everything I can find about my paternal grandmother's family for about 30 years. In 1998, I made the leap from newspapers to the Internet, taking a position as editorial manager at GeoCities. In 1998, the company was bought by Yahoo! (which hosts The Family Parmelee website) and, like most of the staff, I was laid off the following year. I returned to The Times on a part-time basis in 2000 and taught a copy-editing class at the University of Southern California for several semesters. As circulation at The Times plummeted in recent years, ownership changed and changed again and round after round of buyouts were offered. In the spring of 2008, I decided to get while the getting was good. In May 2008, I landed a part-time copy-editing gig at Orange Coast magazine in Newport Beach, and was named managing editor in December 2009. I retired in January, 2015, and six weeks later I found myself undergoing triple-bypass surgery.

Once that was out of the way, I embarked on a new hobby these past five years: rebuilding the old family homestead in Ohio. It's the house my grandparents moved into in the 1930s, the one my father, an American history teacher, grew up in, and a place with so many great memories.

Walteria, as I've christened it, was built in 1890 and had seen some pretty lean times since the family last lived there in the 1980s. Chimneys were falling in, plaster was crumbling and without insulation heating bills were $600 to $800 a month. So after tearing it back to the studs, building a brand-new house inside the shell and replicating many of the old features, I've got a "new" old home. On the inside. The outside gets tackled this next year.

History has always been a favorite subject of mine. As a grade-schooler, I enjoyed reading biographies of the likes of Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone and Thomas Edison. Our family vacations were destinations such as Gettysburg, Pa., Salem, Mass., and the Badlands of South Dakota. Nonfiction always trumps fiction.

And, after finding a typed, 15-page genealogy of my paternal grandmother's family -- the Parmelees -- I realized that members of my family had also shaped this nation and had their own stories to tell.

This collection/obsession has turned my den into a family office: One computer has a database with 22,000 members of the family (living and dead) who are all linked and another 5,000 who I haven't been able to connect with the tree; a second computer is brimming with stories and maps; five milk crates are crammed with folders, notes, documents and photos, and a bookcase is packed with family lore.

A few years ago I published a family magazine, and since then I've fielded questions from others who are pursuing their Parmelee roots, no matter how they spell it. Although each puzzle has different pieces, the answer nearly always leads back to John Parmelee Sr., one of the founders of Guilford, Conn., in 1635 -- just 15 years after the Pilgrims' arrival.

I'm happy to field questions about the family -- but anything too extensive will have to wait. I'm always willing to give you a family group that shows how you fit into the family. The earliest generations of the family in Guilford or Pennsylvania you'll find here at the website and in the magazine. I've also tried to cover some of the most-asked questions too.

Enjoy your stay with The Family Parmelee.


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Updated Dec. 30, 2019