Culture Oral History Transcribed Interviews
Photographs of Walter and Doris Zimmerman
History taken from the book, Children of Balthasar
G. Zimmerman (January 22, 1871 - January 24, 1936) and Barbara
Wahl (October 28, 1874 - March 29, 1931).
Balthasar and Barbara (Wahl) Zimmerman lived in
Friedentstal, Bessarabia, in the late 1800s. Balthasar's ancestors
came from Gronau, Württemberg, Germany, to South Russia and Bessarabia
about 1832. There were encourage by Catherine the Great to settle
there and were to be exempt from the military service.
Balthasar's parents were Johann Gottlieb Zimmerman
and Anna Justine Forchert. They were married on December 12, 1896,
at Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia.
In Friedentstal, Balthasar was a farmer and a shoemaker.
His reason for leaving Russia was that he had to serve in the
Russian Army, but he did not want that to happen to his sons.
So in the spring of 1911, the Balthasar family
consisting of Gottlieb, Israel, David, Emelia, Alexander, and
Bertha made plans to immigrated to the United States of America.
Gottlieb (13), the odest child, was not permitted to go with the
family because of an eye infection which was first detected in
Bremen, Germany, the port city where they were to board the ship
"Kaisere Wilhelm II." When the infection cleared up several weeks
later, Gottlieb made the trip alone to south central North Dakota.
The ocean voyage took about a week and they landed
at Ellis Island, New York, on June 10, 1911. Experiences on Ellis
Island for immigrants were varied and traumatic. In fact, Ellis
Island was also known as "The Island of Tears" because often a
below family was rejects and sent back never to be reunited with
The family left New York by train for North Dakota.
Balthasar already had two brothers, Gottlieb and Konrad, living
on farms near Lehr, North Dakota. They stayed with Konrad and
Christine Zimmerman until they made a sod house on a farm about
nine miles south and east of Lehr.
They farmed with horses, crude plows, milked cows,
raised chickens, and grew gardens. Balthasar also worked hard
at having an orchard of choke cherry plums, gooseberries, grapes,
June berries, watermelons, and muskmelons. Oscar, Ida and Jake
were born in Lehr.
Walt & Doris Zimmerman family members: (l-r):
Neil (son), Carleen (wife) & Christopher & Eric (sons); Doris
& Walt Zimmerman; Merle (son behind Doris); Patrick & Catlin
(children), Vicki (wife) & Wayne (son); 50th Wedding Anniversary,
October 18, 1996.
Doris & Walt Zimmerman, married
on October 18, 1946 at the Baptist Church, Lehr, ND. Photo
taken on January 14, 1999, Mesa, AZ.
Alexander & Pauline (Kranzler) Zimmerman,
parents of Doris Zimmerman. Alexander was born at Friedentstal,
Bessarabia, immigrating to North Dakota at age four. Alexander's
parents were Balthasar & Barbara (Wahl) Zimmerman. Pauline
was born near Hosmer, SD.
Alexander Zimmerman, father of
Doris, Ashley, ND, April 13, 1991.
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