FREDERICK C. ZIMMERMANN was one of the stalwart, courageous and upright men of the real pioneer era in Southwestern Kansas. Of the personalities that figured largely in the early life of Dodge City his was one around which center many grateful and interesting memories.
He was born in Prussia, Germany, December 29, 1833, being the only member of his parents' children to come to America. He came to this country at the age of thirty-one, and for some years lived in Connecticut, where on June 14, 1865, he married Miss Matilda A. Messinger, a native of Wuertemberg, Germany. Soon after their marriage they started for the great West, traveling by railroad from Connecticut until they reached the terminus of the steel rails at Laramie, Wyoming. They remained in the Rocky Mountain region for several years, and Mr. Zimmermann had a mercantile experience both at Laramie and at Kit Carson in Colorado.
Mr. Zimmermann came to Kansas in September, 1872, and became one of the pioneer merchants at Dodge City. He opened a general store and eventually drifted into fire arms and later the hardware business and was also a lumber dealer. He was identified with some of the early banking enterprises, and was one of the stockholders and an officer in the Merchants State Bank. In the improvement of local real estate he erected the Zimmermann Building in 1886, a two story brick structure that still stands,
One mile west of Dodge City Mr. Zimmermann took up a homestead and he lived there the rest of his life. He was one of the few "gentlemen farmers" of this region, though his experiments were always conducted in a practical way. He spent both time and money in an effort to produce a grove of shade of the box elder and cotton wood trees, and also planted orchards and vineyards. On the whole his experiments showed that tree planting and fruit culture were not, in this region impossible. Mr. Zimmermann erected a wind mill and tank to irrigate his trees and had numerous fountains scattered about the premises, where birds and poultry could have an ample supply of water. These fountains gave the name "Fountain Grove" to the farm. Mr. Zimmermann was the first to experiment with alfalfa in Ford County, and demonstrated its success. He also did considerable in the way of stock raising.
Perhaps the chief associations with his name are in connection with public affairs. He served as county treasurer and also as county commissioner, his election to the office of county treasurer occurring during the late '70s. While in that office and while on one of his trips about the county when electioneering he was set upon by a band of "bad men" believed to have been inspired by Bat Masterson for the sole purpose of harming Mr. Zimmermann. They laid for him at a lonely spot, and as the county treasurer and his wife approached in a buggy fired a shot in their direction. Mr. Zimmermann at once handed the lines to his wife, jumped from the vehicle with his old bright barreled shotgun and started after his assailants. The glistening of the gun barrel in the bright moonlight revealed the determined character the outlaws had to deal with and they quickly disappeared. He was frequently ordered to leave town by members of this outfit, and on one occasion they sent him a valentine indicating in cartoon how he would be disposed of if he did not go. Mr. Zimmermann labeled the valentine "Bat Masterson" and stuck it up in his window and forgot the threat. He was absolutely without fear, and no threats coming from any man would deter him from his straight and narrow path of duty. He was absolutely uninfluenced by money or personal pleasure and acted steadily upon his convictions of right.
In 1882 Mr. Zimmermann was elected a county commissioner and served on the board with A. J. Anthony and J. D. Shaffer. After his single term on the board he was defeated by H. B. Bell. Mr. Zimmermann was a republican in politics and was a member of the Lutheran Church, but he was a liberal giver to all churches.
On coming to Southwestern Kansas he had to make provision against Indian raids, which were then still more or less frequent in this region. A passageway connected the cellar of his home with a cave in the yard and afforded a ready escape for the family in case of attack. It was not used, however, as the family moved into town for safety during Indian raids. While Mr. Zimmermann was a man of blood and iron and in quality of personal courage equal to any of the characters of his time, he was by no means a professional fighter and did not even find diversion in hunting buffalo or taking part in forays against the Indians.
The death of this prominent old time character occurred January 30, 1888. His widow is still living, making her home in Los Angeles, California. They had five children, only one of whom survives. The deceased children were: Willie C., who died in infancy; Otelia M., who also died in infancy; Arthur C., who died in 1887, at the age of sixteen; and Blanche Alti, who died at the age of three years.
The only surviving child of Mr. Zimmermann is Mrs. Clarissa Rose, who grew up in Dodge City and has spent all her life in this community. She first attended school on "Boot Hill," as the locality was known, and afterward finished her education in boarding schools in Atchison, Kansas, and independence, Missouri. Miss Zimmerman married for her first husband John H. Churchill. Mr. Churchill was widely known over Western Kansas as a rancher and farmer, and at the time of his death was president of the State Board of Agriculture. Mr. and Mrs. Churchill had two children: Blanche H., wife of Harold T. Engle, of Emporia and Beatrice Zimmermann, wife of Harry A. McClure, of that city, and they have a son Allison Churchill McClure. Mrs. Churchill married in 1909 George B. Rose, a prominent Dodge City banker, and has a daughter, Eleanor.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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