Life Sketch of George Gotlieb Zimmerman

George Gotlieb Zimmerman was born in Ludwigsburg, Wuerttemberg, Germany, on July 23, 1781. He was the son of John George and Rosina Pregizer Zimmerman. He learned the trade of shoemaking in his youth. He was educated for the profession of teaching, was master of four languages, German, English, Latin and French. At the age of 21 he was pressed into the service of his country against Napoleon Bonaparte, who was invading Germany at that time. He was taken prisoner by the French and remained in prison for several months, during which he learned the saddler's trade. He was treated so kindly by the French that he ever after loved the French people. When prisoners were exchanged he was again in his own country. He so disliked Army life that he resolved to escape at the first opportunity. While his regiment was encamped near a seaport, a vessel taking passengers to America anchored there. He and his comrade made arrangements to leave with the vessel, and got permission from his Captain to go to a dancing party that night but instead of going to the dance they sailed out of the harbor and when daylight came they were on the mighty deep bound for the free land of America. This was in 1804.

Having no money for his passage he was sold to a business man in Philadelphia by his Captain to redeem the cost of his passage as was the custom in those days. He labored one year for his indebtedness, then remained several years longer in the employ of the firm, as they operated a large tannery and shoe factory, and he was skilled in the making of leather goods. He then followed the profession of teaching. He taught in the High Schools and Seminaries in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

He married Juliana Hoke in 1816, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where they made their home. He was a member of the Lutheran Church. He had a strong social status and would favorably entertain his friends especially his own countrymen and the French, and assisted them always when in need.

In 1841 the Mormon Elders, Jacob Foutz and Daniel Kerns came to their home bringing the Gospel as was proclaimed by Joseph Smith the Prophet. After several months he was baptized by Levi Thornton. In 1844, they moved to Illinois, lived in Ogle County two years, then lived in Garden Grove, Iowa, for five years.

In April 1851 they left Garden Grove with the Saints to cross the plains, to Utah in Henry Walton's company. The family now consisted of eight persons, including a widowed daughter and one grandchild. They had one wagon, two yoke of oxen, two yoke of cows, and they had to walk most of the way to lighten the load. Johnathan Starley was their teamster, but was so cruel to the animals and so profane that they discharged him and secured Albert Clyde. They arrived in Utah September 25, 1851, and made their home in Lehi, Utah County, Utah. Being seventy years of age now, he followed only the trade of making shoes.

George Gottlob Zimmerman

George Gottlob Zimmerman, son of Johann George Zimmerman and Rosine Margarete Pregizer, was born 23 July, 1781 in Ludwigsburg, Germany. He was educated in the Universities of Germany. He spoke German, English and French so perfectly that he could pass as a native of all three. He was also a master of the Latin language. During the Napoleonic wars he was drafted into the services, and was soon taken prisoner to Paris. Here he was treated so kindly that he resolved not to reenter the army against the French. When the two countries exchanged prisoners, instead of returning home he managed to escape on a vessel bound for America. Having no money to pay his passage, he was sold as an indentured servant for one year to a tanner in Philadelphia. After serving his time he remained several years with this tanner and then drifted into a little Dutch settlement near Harrisburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Here he took up his profession of a school teacher, his life's work.
While there he met Juliana Hoke whom he married. She was then 17-1/2 years old, he was approaching thirty five.

Juliana Hoke was born in Wuerttemberg Germany, on November 25, 1798, in a town within 15 miles of the place where grandfather was born. (They did not know each other existed until they met in America.)

Juliana's father, Lorentz (changed to Lawrence in America) Hoke, a carpenter by trade thought to better their condition financially by coming to America. They crossed the ocean in 1804, the same year as George Gottlob Zimmerman. They made their way about sixty miles west of Philadelphia, to the Blue Ridge Mountain district of Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Lawrence Hoke invented and patented the first threshing and winnowing machine in the United States while Thomas Jefferson was President. A copy of the patent is held as a relic by our Dr. John Zimmerman Brown.

Grandpa and Grandma made their home in Franklin County Pennsylvania for 27 years, having married April 4, 1816. They were the parents of 12 children and reared seven of then to maturity. The family, with the exception of John, joined the Church at a time when persecution was running high. Grandma, who belonged to the United Brethren, was baptized first, January 1843 by Daniel Garn and confirmed by Jacob Foutz, whom she had known when he was a boy. Grandpa, who was a Lutheran, was baptized in June 1845 by Levi Thornton. He said that the pamphlet "The Voice of Warning" did more to convince him of the truthfulness of the gospel than anything else. The next year they moved to Illinois, but not to Nauvoo.
They gathered with the Mormons fugitives in Garden Grove in 1846. They remained there a few years in order to get an outfit to come to Utah.

In Aunt Linoni's memoirs she had this to say about Nauvoo. "While I was there I went to meetings in the grove and in the Temple when it was dedicated. When we went to Garden Grove mother left all her folks. It was a great trial for her. She loved them all, but she never saw any of them afterwards....We lived in our wagons and tents all summer. In the fall Father and Levi Thornton put up a log house, one room for each of us. Sometimes the snow would sift in through the boards. I remember one night it snowed all night and the wind blew. In the morning the snow was half a foot deep on our bed. Mother brought us dry clothes to put on for ours were covered with snow."

While in Garden Grove Grandpa went to Missouri to teach 'among strangers' in order to help us get together enough things for the trek west.

The girls learned to spin and weave and make their own clothes. Juliana went to Missouri to learn to weave coverlets. Aunt Libbie says of this period, "We had a lovely time there, there were so many young folks lived there. They did not care to get married until they got to their journeys end. My brother John got married (in 1850) and stayed one year after we left." Elsewhere she writes "as soon as our corn was large enough to grate we grated it on graters and made bread of it. Then as soon as it would do to shell we ground it in our hand mills. I have walked miles with a bucket of corn two of us together and ground it to make bread. The mill was fastened to a tree. After a while there was a horse mill put up."

Christina had married in 1843 and was widowed in Garden Grove in 1850.

Aunt Libbie met Suel Lamb for the first time in Garden Grove. She was 15, he was 13. Later the Lamb's wound up in Lehi also.

On May 17, 1851 they left Garden Grove with the Saints to cross the plains to Utah in Harry Walton's company which consisted of 67 wagons and about fifty families. Harry Walton had been to California in the gold rush and had gone back east to get his family. While on his way back to California he was hired out as guide of a company. He was not a member of the Church.

Our family for the journey consisted of the following: Grandfather, who was 70 years old; Grandmother, 53; the widowed Christina, 33 and her daughter Sarah Julia Stevens 2; Julia Ann, 22; Elizabeth, 19; Margaret, 14; Susan, 12; and Rosannah, 10.

They had one wagon, one yoke of oxen, one yoke of cows, and a horse, so they had to walk most of the way to lighten the load. After discharging one teamster for being cruel and profane to the animals they secured the services of Albert Clyde. Because of Grandpa's age and never having been around cattle it was impracticable for him to drive his wagon to Utah. Aunt Libbie tells us that it was interesting to see some of the young inexperienced teamsters get into trouble when the going was tough.

Their supplies consisted of flour, meal, beans, dried bread, crackers, dried apples, sugar and milk with some butter and bacon and a few dried parsnips. On the way one of the men killed a large tortoise which he divided with 5 or 6 families. Our family got some of it and reported it to be very tasty. From time to time they had bison meat which they enjoyed very much.

All of their experiences with the bison were not as enjoyable, however. Oftimes they could hear their roaring noises for miles away and could hear them as they would pass the camps of the way to the watering holes at night. More than once the wagon train was cut in two so the herds of bison, up to 5,000 or more could go rushing through. Stampedes among the cattle and oxen were common things. During one of these stampedes caused by the bison we have this incident reported by Aunt Libbie. "One woman by the name of Ellen Weingsley jumped out of her wagon as she did so the next team and wagon ran over her and she never breathed again. . . It was hard for them to leave her behind in a lonely spot. . .She was washed and dressed and some goods boxes put in the grave and she was put in and left."

Our folks had good health all the time and also had their share of narrow escapes. A number of deaths occurred enroute as well as a few births. While travelling they came across many graves left there by the companies that had proceeded them.

There were two good fiddlers and several good callers in the company, so that many enjoyable evenings were spent in dance and song to bolster their courage and make their sorrows lighter.

It is interesting to note that they didn't seem to mind using buffalo chips to cook on, but when they first reached the sage brush region they did not like either the smoke or the taste that it gave the food. They became used to it somewhat by the end of the journey however.

It is a long time from May 17th to September 25th for a family group of nine who have all their earthly belongings in one wagon, who range in age from a mere child of 2 to a courageous man of determination of seventy summers. Through swollen rivers of late spring and dusty insect infested plains of summer, up the eastern slopes of the rockies, down the precipitous ravines of the Wasatch they struggled. Sometimes they would pass beds of salaratus or natural soda which they gathered to leaven their bread. Oft times they had only the water of stagnant pools to quench their thirst. They boiled the water and then tried to cool it enough to try to satisfy their parched throats.

After staying in Great Salt Lake City a short time they then went on to Lehi. Lehi was settled about a year before and contained about 15 families in the town at that time. Aunt Libbie's account reads, "We lived in one of Samuel White's rooms the first winter. They let us have half of their house only ours did not have a floor in it. They were willing to live and let live. They did not charge us rent. Father made and mended all their shoes and us girls helped do her washing and would milk and help her. Mother did lots of knitting so we paid our way. The Bishop offered to help us with tithing and donation but we would not take anything. Father got plenty of shoemaking to do. (It should be said here that he learned the trade from his father, who was a master shoemaker and had a number of men working for him back in Germany.) There were good crops raised that summer. Such fine squashes, we dried the tithing squash on shares. In the spring father got a lot and put a house on it. I slept in a covered wagon 2 winters. In the spring of '53 we moved into the fort."

Back to top