Jacob Zimmerman (1816-1899) was born in Baden, Germany, in Hoffenheim. As a young man, he learned the machinist trade in his native land.
In 1843, Jacob Zimmerman sailed to America and settled in Philadelphia, PA. Jacob immediately applied for U.S. citizenship. In 1845, Jacob married Lebolina (Lena) Schoepfel (1827-1887) who was also a Baden native. By 1849 Jacob’s citizenship was granted and he and Lena were living in Cincinnati Ohio. In 1851 Jacob and Lena and two children, William J. and Frances S., joined a wagon train of immigrants bound for the Oregon Territory.
Zimmerman Heritage Farm Timeline
The family arrived in the Willamette Valley on October 10, 1851. Late in the same year the Zimmerman family settled on Hayden Island in the Columbia River below Portland. Jacob was disappointed when, in the spring/summer of 1852, the Columbia River flooded his early farming attempts. He relocated about 10 miles east of Portland on a 320-acre Donation Land Claim, south of Fairview Lake.
The Zimmermans were one of the five founding pioneer families of Fairview, Oregon. Jacob and Lena’s son George Henry (1852-1915) was born on this land. Sometime during the period between 1857 and 1869, Jacob traded this farm for a larger farm nearby, and continued farming until 1868, at which time he moved to Portland and worked at the Oregon Iron Works Company. In December 1869, Jacob purchased the Robert P. Wilmot donation Land Claim and moved onto the farm site in 1870. The family lived in a log cabin until the original farmhouse was built in 1874 by James S. Love. Jacob continued to farm until renting the farm to his son, George in 1881.
George Zimmerman at age 30 married Jessie M. McCall (1862-1943) in 1883. Jessie had been born in Kilmarnock, Ayshire, Scotland. She immigrated with her family to Canada in 1868 and later to the United States in 1871. By 1881/1882, the McCalls moved to the Rockwood area in East Multnomah County.
George and Jessie would have four daughters, Jessie May (1884-1968), Olive Hope (1889-1980), Mabel June (1891-1914), and Isobel Faith (1899-1992). George enlarged the farm to 660 acres and carried on a profitable dairy business. The house underwent a major remodel in 1899 by Jack Brown. It was during this remodeling that most of the “gingerbread” and other architectural details were added.
The early 20th century brought many changes, adventures, and tragedies to the Zimmerman Family. In 1906, the eldest daughter, Jessie May was married to Thomas Millar under the grape arbor. George, Jessie, and the three unmarried daughters took an extensive overland trip during August 1909 through 1910. They traveled across the Canadian Rockies, through the northeastern and southern United States, and then back through the southwestern portion of the country. Eventually, they returned home from San Francisco by ship. One of the first stops on this trip was to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, Washington.
In 1911, George, Jessie, and the youngest daughter, Isobel, cruised from San Francisco to Hawaii aboard the S.S. Sierra. Tragically, in 1914, Mabel June Zimmerman, the third daughter would die at the age of 23, and in 1915, George would pass away at the age of 63.
As time went on, oldest daughter Jessie May and her husband Tom Millar would moved back home to operate the dairy. Sometime in the early 1920’s George’s widow, Jessie, decided to lease the farmland and dairy buildings. Several different Swiss dairymen operated their businesses at the Zimmerman Farm, thereafter.
The last to live in the grand home, Isobel graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree teaching math and science in 1921. She followed her sisters Olive and Mabel who both graduated from the University of Oregon in 1913. Isobel taught science at Franklin High School in Portland from 1930-1960. Never marrying, Isobel continued to live in the family house until her death in 1992 at the age of 93.