Zimmerman Family

About the Zimmerman Family

David Zimmerman Sr. was a Swiss emigrant to Pennsylvania who settled near Pittsburg Pennsylvania about 1830.  He married Maria Stauffer and the couple had five children before she died in 1842.  David then took his family to Bethel, Missouri to join Dr. Keil’s colony. Although David’s descendants are not as numerous as some of our other family groups, they brought a dedication to the communal ideal that kept them involved in the colony until its formal conclusion in 1883.  The Zimmerman’s, like the Giesy’s, the Vogt’s, and the Stauffer’s, were from Switzerland, and they provided some of the most passionate support for Christian communal living. 

The Isthmus Crossing

David’s oldest daughter Elizabeth was the first Zimmerman to come to Aurora when she joined a party of twenty-two colonists who traveled via the Isthmus of Panama.  They arrived at Aurora on February 12, 1863, then celebrated as Candlemas Day.  Among those who journeyed with Elizabeth was the family of the colony music teacher Henry Conrad Finck.  Elizabeth provided domestic help to the ageing Jacob and Barbara Findling and soon went to work in the new Aurora Pioneer Hotel.  She died in 1883.

The Zimmerman’s Meet the Wolfer’s

David’s oldest son David Jr. married Rudolf Wolfer’s oldest child Elizabeth at Bethel in 1860.  Clark Moor Will, foster son of Elizabeth’s brother George Wolfer, related a story in which Henry Finck’s singing school was going to be rewarded with a trip to a local county fair near Bethel.  However, when it came time to go the young folks learned that the boys would be going on a different day than the girls.  “We boys didn’t want to go nine miles just to see some cows,” George remembered.  But, some of the young men were recruited to drive the wagons and among these were George Wolfer and David Zimmerman Jr.  On the way the girls cajoled the young men into passing another slow moving wagon, an event that lasted nearly a mile as the “old turtle” driving the one being passed got into the spirit of the race.  Elizabeth Wolfer was most likely in that party.

Margaret Zimmerman Stauffer

David Sr.‘s daughter Margaret Zimmerman Stauffer described witnessing the marriage of Christina Stauffer and William Wolfer on September 3, 1876 in front of the great fireplace at the John Stauffer log house. “It was a day of memories for many of the colony folk and the Aurora ‘Pie and Beer’ Band helped brighten up the occasion with lively music.  Long tables loaded with food prepared by the colony cooks awaited the wedding guests and everyone made merry.” 
Later in life, in 1881, forty eight year old Margaret Zimmerman married Jacob “Yokkie” Stauffer, a cousin of William’s.  She lived to be ninety years of age and died April 15, 1927, exactly twenty years to the day that her husband died.

The Zimmerman’s and Tanning

By 1850 tanners and glovers were active at Bethel and their work was so accomplished that gloves made at Bethel won a premium at the New York Worlds Fair of 1854.  By 1863 the tannery business was also extended to Aurora.  Members of the Wolfer and Zimmerman families managed the Aurora tannery and Rudolf Zimmerman, the son of David Jr. inherited the business after the colony ended in 1883.  Rudolf operated a retail harness shop in the village for a short while at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mary Zimmerman

David Sr.’s third daughter Mary remained the closest to her father until his death at Aurora in 1873.  David Sr. and Mary did not come to Aurora until 1867, by then all of the rest of the Zimmerman’s had arrived. She stayed with him at the Tannery and is especially remembered for her devotion to her brother’s children.  In 1913 her niece Martha Zimmerman Giesy wrote the following note to Mary:  “Dearest Auntie: All here are hoping the old rabbit does not forget to lay you some real pretty eggs as you used to do for us some 40 years ago.  Ha Ha!  Along the footpath between your place and ours those days were heaven. I think it does one good to think back.”

Collections Preserved

Jack Fosmark and Mary Ellen Menges have provided the most information and access to artifacts to our Zimmerman family collection at the museum.  Jack is a descendant of the David Zimmerman Jr. family through David’s daughter Kate.  Mary Ellen is a descendant of Christian Zimmerman’s family through his son August.  Their persistent perseverance in their search for family history has greatly enriched our understanding of the Aurora Colony.


More Families

Bachert Family Bair Family Ehlen Family
Forstner Family Giesy Family Keil Family
Kraus Family Miley Family Miller Family
Rapps Family Schuele Family Snyder Family
Stauffer Family Steinbach Family Will Family
Wolfer Family Zimmerman Family