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 loved ones.
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.