Life Sketch of George Gotlieb Zimmerman
George Gotlieb Zimmerman was born in Ludwigsburg, Wuerttemberg, Germany, on July 23, 1781. He was the son of John George and Rosina Pregizer Zimmerman. He learned the trade of shoemaking in his youth. He was educated for the profession of teaching, was master of four languages, German, English, Latin and French. At the age of 21 he was pressed into the service of his country against Napoleon Bonaparte, who was invading Germany at that time. He was taken prisoner by the French and remained in prison for several months, during which he learned the saddler’s trade. He was treated so kindly by the French that he ever after loved the French people. When prisoners were exchanged he was again in his own country. He so disliked Army life that he resolved to escape at the first opportunity. While his regiment was encamped near a seaport, a vessel taking passengers to America anchored there. He and his comrade made arrangements to leave with the vessel, and got permission from his Captain to go to a dancing party that night but instead of going to the dance they sailed out of the harbor and when daylight came they were on the mighty deep bound for the free land of America. This was in 1804.
Having no money for his passage he was sold to a business man in Philadelphia by his Captain to redeem the cost of his passage as was the custom in those days. He labored one year for his indebtedness, then remained several years longer in the employ of the firm, as they operated a large tannery and shoe factory, and he was skilled in the making of leather goods. He then followed the profession of teaching. He taught in the High Schools and Seminaries in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
He married Juliana Hoke in 1816, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where they made their home. He was a member of the Lutheran Church. He had a strong social status and would favorably entertain his friends especially his own countrymen and the French, and assisted them always when in need.
In 1841 the Mormon Elders, Jacob Foutz and Daniel Kerns came to their home bringing the Gospel as was proclaimed by Joseph Smith the Prophet. After several months he was baptized by Levi Thornton. In 1844, they moved to Illinois, lived in Ogle County two years, then lived in Garden Grove, Iowa, for five years.
In April 1851 they left Garden Grove with the Saints to cross the plains, to Utah in Henry Walton’s company. The family now consisted of eight persons, including a widowed daughter and one grandchild. They had one wagon, two yoke of oxen, two yoke of cows, and they had to walk most of the way to lighten the load. Johnathan Starley was their teamster, but was so cruel to the animals and so profane that they discharged him and secured Albert Clyde. They arrived in Utah September 25, 1851, and made their home in Lehi, Utah County, Utah. Being seventy years of age now, he followed only the trade of making shoes. He was also superintendent of the Sunday Schools in Lehi. He was the first keeper of the toll bridge over the Jordan River.