Obituary: Hon. Michael Zimmerman (1798-1878)

The Somerset Herald
Somerset, PA
December 25, 1878

Hon. Michael Zimmerman

Hon. Michael Zimmerman, father of William and John H. Zimmerman, and Mary Ankeny, widow of Peter Ankeny, deceased at the home of his son John near Stoystown on Thanksgiving morning, November 28, 1878, between ten and eleven o’clock at the advanced age of 80 years, 9 months, and 19 days.

The deceased was born one and a half miles west of Stoystown, February 9, 1798. As the Western fever, which took away many a noble youth from Somerset’s beautiful hills to the far, far West never took ahold of him, he died almost in sight of his birth place. He loved his native county, and could never see why any one should leave a county that “flowed with milk and honey, and had coal and sugar in the bargain..” “Her rocks and rills, her woods and templed hills” were especially lovely to him in his latter days. He took great pleasure in relating the events that transpired in those days when the sound of the stage-horn made the valleys and forests of Somerset ring with music.

Judge Zimmerman, as he was most commonly known, was an upright and just man, widely known throughout the county as an exceptionally kind and good man. He was a good host, knowing well how to entertain his guests, and make them feel at home when under his care. He was particularly vigorous old man, and enjoyed excellent health all his life. He never was sick abed a day in his life, except the last day of his earthly existence. He was still able to read the Somerset Herald, the Reformed Church Messenger (in whose weekly visits he delighted), and the many books that filled his library. Without the use of spectacles. Unlike many octogenarians he traveled about a great deal. It always afforded him great pleasure to show the hills and mountains of Somerset to strangers. Seldom would he confine himself to the house. When the great Centennial was in full blast, and thousands were paying their tribute to America’s greatest exhibition, he in his 79th year was among the vast multitudes. Early on a rainy Monday morning he passed through Stoystown arriving in the city on Tuesday evening. While in the city he visited the Centennial grounds every day but one, and apparently took as deep an interest in seeing the grand display as any sight-seer of younger years. On Pennsylvania’s day he remarked, “We must go and make it the greatest of all days. We will beat New York,” and he remained on the grounds and witnessed the fire works, returning home to his boarding place at 12:15 A.M.

Though not a politician, he figured quite prominently in his day in public life. The office of trust that had been committed to his care were faithfully discharged. In 1832 (though this date is in dispute) in his thirty-fourth year, he was chosen County Commissioner. In 1840 Quemahoning Township elected him Justice of the Peace for the first time. Having been found faithful, he was elected to fill the same office twice afterwards, in 1854-55. The most important office held by him was Assemblyman, and in which he performed the most important work of his life – for better or worse, futurity will disclose. To this office he was elected October 8, 1844. It was during the winter of 1845 that the State Legislature vainly balloted 31 times for U. S. Senator. The candidates were Woodward, Cameron, and Cooper. Thirty-one times did Mr. Zimmerman vote for Cooper. On the 32nd ballot he kept tally, and his name being last on the roll, he changed his vote from Cooper to Cameron. Thus all that the Camerons probably are today is due to Mr. Zimmerman.

The last office held by him was that of Associate Judge to which he was elected October 14, 1856. He had been a life-long member of the Reformed Church, baptized in infancy, and confirmed in his 19th year by Rev. Giesy, of blessed memory. In the church as well as in the state he figured quite prominently. At the age of 24 he was elected deacon, and ten years later he was elected to eldership. For many years he was the standing delegate to the Classis and Synods of the church.

Thus has one more of Somerset’s noble citizens gone to his rest. His remains lie in the Odd Fellow’s Cemetery in Stoystown. For a period of more than half a century that he was a full communicant member of the church he never was absent from Communion. What an example! What a comfort to his children and grand-children!
J. H. B
STOYSTOWN, Dec. 20, 1878

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