One of the most prosperous, well-to-do farmers and stockmen of Grant township is A.J. Zimmerman, the subject of this sketch. His beautiful home, "Hillside Farm" embraces a quarter section of land in Grant township, and the same amount in Summit, lying respectively in the southeast and northeast corners of the townships. The original home was school land, receiving a title from the government.
Like the greater per cent of the Kansans, our subject came to the state to build a home and retrieve his lost fortunes. A span of horses, a wagon, and its contents; a stove and a few other articles, with eighty dollars in cash, constituted his worldly goods and chattels. Mr. Zimmerman was married in the state of Iowa, in 1877, and with his bride and two thousand dollars in currency sought a home near Denver, Colorado, where their little bank account seemed to disappear like snow under a summer's sun; not through extravagant living, but he became interested in an irrigation scheme seven miles east of Langmont and his money vanished as it were, until he found himself stranded in the far west. About the time Mr. Zimmerman went to Colorado, a friend emigrated to Kansas. Feeling his position very keenly, he began casting about for new fields and pastures green, as his personal pride would not admit of his returning to the old home. Through correspondence, he learned of his friends prosperity in Kansas and with regret that he had not likewise invested his money wisely, gathered the fragments of his little fortune together and in the autumn of 1878, located on his present farm, then a tract of raw prairie, built a small house and for two years experienced many hardships; often finding it a struggle to keep the wolf from the door. To the kind-hearted generosity of the Layton brothers, Mr. Zimmerman concedes much; in many instances they gave him employment when they would have performed the labors themselves but for making it possible for him to maintain his family. Through their assistance he was tided over until better days came. Mr. Zimmerman relates an incident that is amusing and an illustration of what many old settlers had to undergo. He was without money, his pride would not permit of an appeal to his home in Iowa, and he sought credit by asking Mr. Ansdell, the pioneer merchant of Grant township, for some groceries. It took all the courage our subject could summon up to confront the "store keeper" with a request for credit, and as he stood before him seemed almost speechless; but he nerved himself up to the emergency. There were spectators present, among them Miss Ansdell. In a subdued tone of voice asked, if he could credit him with some goods. Mr. Ansdell, who was hard of hearing, replied in a loud tone - "What you say? Mr. Zimmerman stood abashed, his pride seriously hurt, and as he repeated the question every sound seemed suddenly to cease as the old gentleman thundered out - "What's that you say? Credit? Why yes! of course you can." There was a mixture of comedy and pathos in this experience, but Mr. Zimmerman says, the event was far more of an ordeal than it would be now, to ask a man for the loan of a hundred dollars; he could make the request gracefully and not feel in the least disconcerted.
Mr. Zimmerman was born in Clayton county, Iowa, in 1854. When eleven years of age moved with his parents to Franklin county, where they improved a farm as the son did in Kansas. Prior to this event, his father had been a merchant and proved to be poor material for a farmer. When he entered upon farm life, he was totally ignorant of the management of stock, implements and machinery. He scarcely knew to which end of the plow the horse should be attached. He was of Pennsylvania birth and knew Stephen Girard, the American banker, and founder of Girard College, personally; our subject remembers as a boy how his father entertained him with anecdotes and recitals of that distinguished citizen. The Zimmerman ancestry were members of the reform movement brought about by King Louis, and Loius Philippe of France, and during this period emigrated to America and settled in New York and later Pennsylvania. They belonged to the titled people of the Netherlands and were very wealthy, but were forced to choose between their religion or be banished from their country; they chose the latter, and their property, which represented millions of dollars, was confiscated. The heirs made an effort to recover the estate and it was in litigation for many years, but owing to the system of government there, they have never been able to recover it. Mr. Zimmerman is one of ten children, five sons and five daughters. The sons are all living and when he visited his boyhood home a year ago the five brothers were all assembled there. They occupy various stations in life; the eldest brother is of an inventive turn of mind. Three of the daughters are living. The father died in 1886, but the mother still lives on the old homestead and enjoys life at the age of seventy-four years. Mr. Zimmerman's first wife, before her marriage, was Miss Hattie A. Newhouse, a very estimable woman and member of a prominent Ohio family. She died in the autumn of 1883. Her father was an old veteran and fell at the battle of Stone river, giving his life to sustain the stars and stripes of his country. To this union three children were born; Dr. Vivian E. Zimmerman. (See sketch). The death of the second child, Effie Maude, preceded her mother one year; she died on the farm near Jamestown in 1882, at the age of two years. Minnie, a junior of the Emporia State Normal, is a bright and promising young woman of literary tastes. So marked are her tendencies in this direction that she is designated as the poetess of the normal. She has written some very creditable verses and is endowed with natural talent. Her mother was a woman of rare strength of character and its impress has been left in the individuality of the daughter. She was reared by her maternal grandparents of Abilene, but educated by her father. After the death of his wife, Mr. Zimmerman left the farm and returned to Iowa where he lived until 1889. When he came back he found his farm a wreck; the house having been almost demolished by the tenants. During this interim he was married to Miss Hattie G. Logan, whose lineage was the same as the celebrated Logan family. Her father was a first cousin of General Logan and Senator A.R. Logan. On her mother's side she descended from the Gilruths, another distinguished family of Scotch origin. By this union three children were born: a son who died at eight years, and two daughters, Edith, aged sixteen and Florence, aged ten. Mrs. Zimmerman was deceased in September, 1896. In 1898, Mr. Zimmerman was married to his present wife. Miss Zipporah Dailey, daughter of Pat Dailey. She is a niece of County Commissioner Dailey, and also of Dr. Dailey, of Beloit; they being her fathers brothers. Her parents who were residents of Grant township, Cloud county, for about fourteen years, now reside in Jackson county, Oregon. Her father served during the Civil war in an Iowa regiment of cavalry. To Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman a little son was born to bless their home, but was deceased at seven and one-half months.
"Hillside Farm" is one of the best arranged and best equipped farms in the county; a typical country home. The residence built in 1892, is a comfortable one and as the name implies is located on a prominence of ground with about one hundred and twenty-five feet of frontage. A windmill and tank supplies irrigation for the fine lawn and shrubbery. The coming summer Mr. Zimmerman intends to remodel and refurnish his home, and make it an ideal residence, complete with modern improvements, extensive library, etc. In 1897 he erected a handsome stone barn, one of the finest and most substantial of its size in the country. The shelter afforded for all the stock, the sheds for preserving machinery and implements, the granaries of well stored grain, cattle yards, feeding racks, carriage sheds, and well kept horses, all bespeak thrift and enterprise. His farm is well stocked with a high grade of Shorthorn and Hereford bred cattle.
Mr. Zimmerman is one of the original gold Democrats, but the house stands divided against itself, for Mrs. Zimmerman is a Republican. Our subject is a thorough politician and has given thought and study to political issues. In 1894, when the Populists controlled the state, Mr. Zimmerman received the nomination as a Democrat for county commissioner, but was beaten because he held out for sound money. He has been the county's committeeman for years. Socially, he belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is a member of several fraternal orders. He is a Rebekah and one of the few men who have gone through the chairs of that order. The family are attendants of the Jamestown Methodist Episcopal church, of which Mrs. Zimmerman and the daughter are members.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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