In Climbing My Family Tree I share stories of my ancestors as I discover them, so the posts are sporadic. My family history is a work in progress, and I might have to backtrack occasionally if (when) I make mistakes, so if we share a branch or two I encourage you to double check the research sources rather than accepting mine wholesale. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit often to find new posts. I enjoy sharing them with you!
Ancestor Highlight: Henry Y Zimmerman, 1795-1853, my 3rd great grand father
I don’t know as much about Henry Zimmerman as I do about
John Erwin. There has been much less written about him, and I’m struggling with
applying the “Does this make sense?” standard (see the blog article Anne's Top Ten Rules For Growing Your Family Tree)
to the facts I did find. But the man intrigues me…perhaps because of the
contradictions and mysteries. I have spent a more time on him than anyone else
thus far, trying to resolve the contradictions and get through the mysteries. I
need to let him go for now, to move on now, and maybe by the time I get back to
him, something will have been dug up and digitized that will help me crack the
conundrum. However, in order to be able to leave him (I even dreamed about
researching him last night!), I must write about him.
obtained information from his census records and death records through
Ancestry.com’s little wiggling leaves.
Henry Y Zimmerman was born in about the year 1794 or 1795. I
know this in part because he said in the 1850 Census on September 13, 1850 (in
Chester Township, Wayne County, Ohio) that he was 56 years old. Simple math
puts his likely birth year at 1794. On that Census, he also said he was born in
Maryland, and that he was a farmer. It also says that his wife, Frances, is 50
years old and was born in Pennsylvania. It lists his children as Henry, 20;
Caroline M., 17; Susanna, 15; Hiram F., 14; Martin V., 12; Oliver P, 9; and Juliann,
7. The first two children were born in Pennsylvania, and the rest of them were
born in Ohio. I descend from Juliann (later designated as Julia A Zimmerman).
have him, and probably most of his family, in Chester Township, Wayne County,
Ohio, in 1840, but that Census form was not nearly as detailed as the later one;
it consists of numbers in columns indicating how many people in his household
in certain age ranges.
the information that I obtained along with his death and burial information
that starts bringing in the contradiction and mystery. Through Ancestry.com I
have a record of his death and burial place from the Ohio Obituary Index kept
at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (it describes its source as
Wayne County Grave Registration Cards) and I have a record of his burial place
through a link provided by Ancestry.com to Findagrave.com which has a memorial
page for Henry Y Zimmerman with a picture of the cemetery, it’s name and
address. Through these sources I have his birth year as 1795 in Maryland, his
age at death as 58, and his death date as September 12, 1853. He was buried at
Eight Square Mennonite Cemetery, Lattasburg/Chester Township, Wayne County,
Ohio. The Findagrave.com memorial lists his wife and children, and they match,
so I know he’s my Henry Y. Zimmerman. Apparently, he’s Mennonite; that’s
interesting (later research into his wife shows she’s Mennonite and buried
there as well). Both death records
contain the note that he served in the Army in the war of 1812 under the
command of Captain George Sanderson.
Mennonite soldier? This is where it stopped making sense.
The Mennonites are a peace church. They don’t
fight in any war. I knew this because when I was young I was a member of the
Church of the Brethren, and even attended a Church of the Brethren affiliated
college (Juniata College - great school & experience!). As one of the three historic peace churches, the
Church of the Brethren has often partnered with the other two (Mennonite and
Quaker) in their peace efforts. But just to be sure I’ve spent a lot of time
reading Mennonite histories in the past week, and a lot of time reading about
the War of 1812.
checked to see whether I could find out if Henry Y Zimmerman did serve in the
War of 1812. Per addendums to a lecture given before the Lancaster Literary
Institute, by George Sanderson, Esq., in 1851, titled “A Brief History ofthe Early Settlement of Fairfield County" which was subsequently printed
in the local Lancaster PA paper, "with added facts", "H.
Zimmerman" was a private in the campaign of 1813-1814 I then remembered the luck I had in finding digitized enlistment rosters for my
ancestors in the Civil War and looked for any records relating to enlistment
rosters for the War of 1812, and there I found “Served In 1813 and 1814:
Private Henry Zimmerman”. Excerpted from Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War of
1812, 27th United States Infantry, Roll of Capt. George Sanderson's Company, And
Zimmerman Enlisted June 7, 1813”, per 1880 History of Franklin & Pickaway
Counties, Ohio; Military Record (See http://www.genealogybug.net/FrankPic/military.htm).
That was the muster center for Ohio. He was honorably discharged in Detroit in
1814, per A History of Fairfield County Ohio, Chapter XVIII, The War of 1812
and The Mexican War (see http://www.perrycountyohio.us/fphhistory/fphpart3chap18.htm)
In doing this research, I also found
out that there are a whole bunch of
Henry Zimmerman(s) in that time frame (it was a very popular name – though seemingly
only one with a middle initial Y) – so it could still be someone else. On the
other hand, the Ohio Society of the United States Daughters of1812, include Henry Y Zimmerman’s grave on
their Online Index to Grave Records of Servicemen of the War of 1812, for the
State of Ohio. (See http://ohiodaughters1812.org/graveindex/displaygravedetail.php?req_id=2581)
And I would assume they check these things out pretty carefully.
started looking up variations of War and Mennonite and American, and skimmed
two histories of the Mennonites I’d earlier picked up via Google books. I found
that, while in Ohio, as of 1803, Quakers, Mennonites, and “Dunkers” were exempt
from military duty in the state militia in lieu of a three dollar annual
payment, that didn’t apply to federal call ups, and it wasn’t until WWII that a
formalized alternative service was created. I did see several rather entertaining
complaints of senior officers throughout various wars whose rolls contained
Mennonites, Quakers or Brethren that they were “near deadweight” as they wouldn’t
pick up a gun and had to be put to cleaning, grave-digging or cooking duties. According to Notes on the Ohio Militia duringthe War of 1812 by James T. Brenner much of the Ohio militia was relegated to building roads, convoying supplies,
and manning blockhouses, causing one Ohio officer to remark, “The militia of
Ohio have been made pack horses and merely served as convenience for others to
receive the honor and glory.” I could see a Mennonite soldier serving his draft duty in such a way, such that
the contradiction becomes somewhat more plausible.
I don’t feel that the contradiction is resolved, but perhaps
it is as resolved as it is going to get. I know it is as resolved as it is
going to get right now. Now to the mystery: I can’t find anyone beyond him. I
hit a brick wall. Hopefully, I’ll be able to dismantle it later but not right
now. In my search I saw other people putting posts on genealogical forums
seeking information on him too. Many postulate that Fanny is his second wife
and that the first two children, born in PA, are from an unnamed first wife.
Later research into his son Henry showed that he was born in Westmoreland
County PA, but I can find nothing about Henry Y there. At least I am not alone;
those other people can’t find his parents in Maryland, or anywhere else,
If anyone has any more information on my 3rd great-grandfather Henry
Y Zimmerman than I do, I would love to hear from you!
The direct descent line is:
Henry Y Zimmerman (1795-1853) – Frances “Fanny” Speicher (1801-1876)