Johannes ZIMMER 1832-1872

Johannes Zimmer IV was born in Nieder-Weisel on 5th June 1832. He was the eldest child of Konrad Zimmer II, a tailor, and Maria Katharina nee Hildebrand. A girl, Anna Elisabetha, was born in 1834 and a brother, Konrad Jakob, in 1838, but he died in infancy. Johannes lost his father when he was 7 and was orphaned at 13. Unable to follow his father’s profession, Johannes became a joiner, or cabinetmaker. This usually involved an apprenticeship, followed by journeyman experience (in other villages) for five years. Not being able to buy indemnity, he had to do his military service; this was with an infantry regiment.

On 8th June 1856 Johannes was married to Anna Elisabetha, a daughter of Peter Hauser III and Susanna nee Haub. As part of their marriage contract, Johannes accepted parentage of Susanna Hauser, the 6 months old child of the bride. He had travelled from Worms for the baptism of the child and had admitted being the father. The marriage contract gave Susanna legitimacy and entitled her to the Zimmer name.

Fostering the child to the Hauser grandparents, Johannes and his bride left the village two days after the wedding and travelled to Liverpool. They sailed on board “Star of The East” on 21st October 1856. Other villagers aboard included members of the Riegelhuth and Wilhelmi families. The ship reached Melbourne on 12th January with an extra passenger – the baby daughter of Jakob and Christina Riegelhuth, whom Anna Elisabetha Zimmer had sponsored at her baptism.

Johannes and Anna Elisabetha became part of the gold rush to Ballarat. A daughter, Maria Elisabetha, was born there in August 1857. The family later moved to the Castlemaine area where another daughter, Maria Margaretha, arrived at Fryers Creek in 1860. She was taken to the Congregational Church in Castlemaine for baptism.

By 1862 the Zimmers were in Yandoit, north of Daylesford, where two of Anna Elisabetha’s sisters, Margaretha Fleischer and Anna Margaretha Maas, had settled. Their first son was born there in May; named Johann Wilhelm, he was always known as Will.

During the next five years Johannes worked underground as a carpenter in the gold mines at Rocky Lead, about 15 km further south. Anna Elisabetha in 1864 and Conrad in 1866 were born in Blanket Flat. In 1867, the family circle was broken when Maria Elisabetha died of food poisoning. Soon after this upsetting event, Johannes took his family back to Yandoit. Here they lived in the Camp Road (now Yandoit Creek Road) next to the homes of Margaretha Fleischer and Anna Margaretha Maas, sisters of Anna Elisabetha. A third son, Ernest, was born in their timber-and-iron cottage in 1870. The next year Johannes developed signs of TB, the penalty for seven years of working in unventilated mines. He died on 29th September 1872 at the age of 40, just four months after the birth of his youngest child, Mary.

Johannes Zimmer is buried in an unmarked grave in Yandoit (Franklinford) Cemetery. He was not naturalised; he left no Will, no personal documents and very few assets. There is no portrait or photograph. A hand-carved table bearing his signature is the only surviving artefact. One hundred years after his death only one great-great-grandson could carry on his family name.

View Johannes's Family Chart

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