| Zimmermans Celebrate Centennial Farm Status
"Zimmermans Celebrate Centennial Farm Status." Napoleon Homestead, 17 August
On June 23, 1905, Jacob Zimmerman applied for application of a
homestead 15 miles east of Napoleon. We can only imagine what this
land must have looked like, and why he homesteaded here. It took
him seven years to have a clear title of the land, which was on
June 14, 1912. This year marks one hundred years of this farm in
the Zimmerman family.
A letter and certificate were received from Roger Johnson, ND Agriculture
Commissioner, to recognize the Zimmerman farm as a ND Centennial
Jacob married Kathrina Pfeifle in 1907. They were blessed with
14 children: Bertha (Job), Julius, Jake, Helen (Schaible), Katie
(Beckstrom), Emil, Lucy (Rohrich), Lillian (Becker), Carolina (Tergeson),
Elvina (Schwartzenberger), Leon, Elmer, Marvin. Their son Leon,
bought the farm in 1957, and now, Jacob’s grandson, Reed and
his family own and live on the original farmstead.
Over the years, many things have changed. Only the original house
is standing a mile east of the farm, where it was moved by horses
across the pasture and rocks in the 1920’s. Jacob had built
a larger house for their family. Emil and Gideon Oldenburger would
go by horse and wagon Streeter to pick up lumber for the house.
In 1998 a new house was built and the old one torn down.
Jacob Zimmerman died at the age of 59, in 1942, leaving the farming
to the children who were still at home. His son Emil was the oldest
at home, along with Lenora, Elvina, Leon, Elmer, and Marvin. Emil
was later drafted into the army. That left Leon, at the age of 17,
the oldest at home to run the business of farming and ranching.
Many children have called this farm “home” and there
have been many happy memories. Lucy wrote: “I remember milking
the cows, dragging, plowing, and working on the header box. When
threshing time came, at 14 years old, I pitched the bundles into
the threshing machine. Dad was the only one around who had a threshing
machine, so we thrashed for other people. Dad and I would go home
at night and get up at 4 AM and go again. Julius and Jake would
stay and sleep in the hay mound. Every time the rig stopped, I got
to use the oil can and find all the running parts on the machine
to oil. There were plenty. I pretty soon knew where they all were.”
Marvin remembers riding to school on the horses. There were no
storm days. They would just bundle up warm and ride to school. One
day after school, it was storming pretty bad. He rode old Amos for
an hour or more and was still not home. It was usually a 15 minute
ride. He had no clue where he was, so he tied the reins around the
horses neck and put his head down on the horse and rode for about
20 minutes. When the horse stopped, he was right in front of the
barn! Marvin’s job was herding the cattle in the pasture so
wouldn’t get into the grain fields. While doing that, things
would get rather boring for a 7 to 10 year old, so for something
to do, he would carry a piece of binder twine in his pocket (this
was standard equipment for every young boy). It was used to make
a loop around the gopher hole, then when the gopher out you would
jerk the rope and have the old gopher on the leash.
Lenore is thankful for her parents, who gave then a Christian heritage.
She says, “Although we were a large family, I cannot remember
going hungry or without clothing, although we went barefoot during
the summer months. We walked to and from school many times, and
it was two miles one way; our parents took us to church, even if
‘by horse and sled in the winter and about ten people in the
car in the summer time’. My Dad could speak the Russian language
very well . . . in Dad’s latter years of life, the only time
he spoke the Russian language was when the Nicholi Nenow family
came for a visit. How we kids loved to hear and listen to them talk,
although we couldn’t understand a word.”
Lillian wrote: “I have 80+ years of memories – hard
work, tears, and also lots of fun times, too. I see the Lord’s
blessing from the first to the third generation.”
The third generation, children of Leon and Gladys, are Rodney, Reed,
Roxanne, Rhonda, Robin, and Russell. Rhonda’s memories included
on Sunday afternoons, her Dad, older brothers and her riding horseback
through the fields “up north”. Even though she helped
in the field, her parents always sent them to bible camp in the
summer, which had a life changing impact on her. Robin’s memories
included riding Little Smokey (the favorite horse) to get the milk
cows in the afternoon and then looking for bird nests in the branches;
also helping cut corn in the fall and missing some school to help
make the silage pile.
Now, the fourth generation calls this homestead “Home”.
They are the children of Reed and Kathleen Zimmerman: Kelsie, 8;
Kyle, 6; Kayla, 5; and Kelly, 3. They are in the process of making
memories. They love to ride in the tractors with their Dad, or with
Grandpa Leon. Picking rocks is the unending chore that was started
many years ago and still continues. They race to see who can find
the next rock or the biggest ever, even this creates cherished memories.
|This photo was taken in about 1942
at the home farm where Ed taught the boys and Caroline how to
Many things have changed in farming over the years. The land was
broke with horse and plow, and now large tractors with implements
behind, till this same ground. But it is not forgotten all the hard
work that it took to make it what it is today. “We are thankful
to the Lord for giving each the strength to do their individual
jobs and for giving all the memories of this farm. The lord has
truly blessed the Zimmerman family through the many years. And as
Jacob’s favorite hymn, that Grandpa Leon taught Kelsie and
Kyle in the tractor, says: When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound
and time shall be no more, when the morning breaks eternal bright
and fair, when the saved on earth shall gather over on the other
shore, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. We
will be there because of the Godly Christian heritage that was taught
through all the years.”
||Aerial view of the Russell
& Kathleen Zimmerman farm today.
The latest generation of kids to grow up on the Zimmerman farm,
Kayla, Kyle, Kelsie and Kelly Zimmerman.
Reprinted with permission of the Napoleon Homestead.