Pages 421-422, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




ROBERT ZIMMERMAN—The subject of this sketch furnishes a striking example of what energy, coupled with tenacity and good judgment, can accomplish upon a Kansas farm. Twenty years ago Robert Zimmerman was not a citizen of Kansas. He was a poor laborer struggling with adversity in the mining district of Bureau county, Illinois. He came to the latter place an ignorant, inexperienced young Swiss in the hope of improving a condition of perpetual servitude in his native Switzerland. He was born of poor parents May 6, 1845, and had acquired such school and other advantages, at his twenty-first year, as were common to children in his station. His father, Jacob Zimmerman, died when our subject was a small boy and the needs of the family could only be provided for through the diligence and industry of the children. Robert was one of four and next to the youngest child. In his youth he got into the silver mines of Switzerland and eked out an existence for some years. At the age of twenty-three he decided to come to the United States, if he could make arrangements for the passage money. He secured a loan from a friend upon the promise that it should be returned out of the first money earned in America. He reached this country in 1869 and went direct to the Illinois coal fields and secured work in the LaSalle mines. When he had repaid his passage money he laid by his earnings and soon brought over the mother, one sister and two brothers. The family circle was again united and he devoted his energies to providing the means for a permanent home. By the year 1881 he had amassed a modest sum and with it he came to the friend of the poor man, Kansas. He purchased an unimproved


eighty cheap and from thenceforward was a farmer. His beginnings were very humble and his first years in Kansas were in the nature of a struggle for comfortable existence. He laid then the foundation for the comfortable surroundings, which are his in the years of his decline, and solved well the first problems in American agriculture. Each year found him a trifle in advance of the year before. His accumulations were invested in more land, from time to time, and he now pays taxes on a half section, one of the good farms on Rig Creek. With his surroundings he presents, to a marked degree, an appearance of thrift and comfort. His cribs and mows are filled with the products of the farm and his yards of stock indicate from whence comes the reward for his toil. By close application he has reached a condition of financial independence exceeded by few farmers in his township and he is regarded as one of the full-handed farmers of Elsmore.

In 1871 Mr. Zimmerman was married to Christina Thomas. Their family is a large one, twelve of their thirteen children being alive. They are Christina, Mary, John, Lillie, Clara, Thomas, Ella, Victoria, Olga, Julia, Nellie and Eva. Nine of the number are with the family home while three are married and building homes for themselves.

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