LaSalle County


A successful business career reflects credit not only upon the individual who has achieved it but also upon the community in which he has prospered. The business interests of Christian Zimmermann have been indissolubly entwined with those of Peru and LaSalle county for more than half a century, and his name is one of the best known in this portion of Illinois.

The paternal grandfather of our subject was born and died in Germany and his maternal grandfather, who was a farmer, was at one time mayor of the village of Horkeim, and died when in middle life, in his native land. Michael Zimmermann, father of our subject, fought in the German army, under Napoleon, against Russia, and lost a brother in that memorable campaign. The father of Christian Zimmermann was born March 12, 1787. He had two brothers and one sister, and with them grew to maturity in Germany. After farming there for a number of years he came to the United States, in 1847. Locating at first in LaSalle, he later came to Peru, where he died of the cholera, June 28, 1849. His wife, whose maiden name had been Katherina Fredericka Kuhner, was born in the Fatherland, December 18, 1785, and died at Peru, September 28, 1872. They were Lutherans in religion, and were honest, upright citizens, respected and highly regarded by all. Six of their nine children have passed into the silent land; Mina is the widow of William Scherzer, a former jeweler of Peru; and Caroline is the widow of Otto Winheim.

Christian Zimmermann was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, May 30, 1823, and received a liberal education in the government schools. He was reared on a farm, and when old enough spent two years in the regular army. In 1847 he came to America with his parents and after spending a short time in LaSalle came to Peru, where he has made his home ever since with the exception of a period of ten years, — from 1856 to 1866, — when he was the proprietor of the Zimmermann Hotel in LaSalle. Selling out in the last named year, he returned to Peru, and in 1867 embarked in the lumber business, which has since claimed his attention. He deals in various kinds of builders' supplies, — lath, shingles, doors and blinds, sash and lime, — and has an extensive trade in lumber and coal. He owns farm lands in Minnesota and elsewhere, and has been very successful in his investments. In every sense of the word he is a self-made man, and he attributes his rise to wealth and prominence to hard and persistent work and application, coupled with common sense and a desire to meet the wishes of his customers.

On the 24th of January, 1854, Mr. Zimmermann married Miss Louisa, daughter of Jacob and Barbara (Walter) Gmelich, all natives of Germany. The Gmelich family came to the United States in 1852, when the parents were well along in years, and, after visiting relatives in Ohio they came to Peru. The mother died here in 1869, aged about three-score and ten years, and the father died in 1872, when in his seventy-fourth year. They were members of the Lutheran church, and in that creed Mr. and Mrs. Zimmermann were reared; but they are now members of the Peru Evangelische Lutheran church, which they assisted in building. Mrs. Zimmermann came to America one year before her parents. The eldest son of this worthy couple, Charley, was killed by the cars when he was a most promising young man of twenty-five years; and Robert, the third son, died at the age of sixteen and a half months. Christian, Jr., who has been in business with his father since a lad of twelve years, is now managing the affairs of the same, and has relieved his father of many of the responsibilities pertaining thereto. He wedded Anna Lassig and has two sons, — Arthur and Harry, Albert, the youngest child, is unmarried, and is a successful architect in Chicago.

Until recently Mr. Zimmermann was allied with the Democratic party, from the time that he received the right of franchise, but in 1896, believing in McKinley and the principles which he represents, he had the courage to turn his back upon his own past political record and cast his ballot for the great man of whom the whole nation is proud. For a score of years he has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Prior to his marriage he built a house on First street, and lived therein for a short time, and subsequent to his return from LaSalle he continued to dwell there until 1879. He then removed to a stone house, adjoining his present modern, beautiful home, which he built in 1894 and has since occupied. It is finely situated at the corner of Third and West streets, and is furnished with elegance and excellent taste.

Extracted 13 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 650-652.

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