Genealogy — Research family history

ivyIn addition to being the official voice of the 2006 Reunion Planners, this web site was created to inform and educate the descendants of George Zimmerman about their family history. Now that the reunion is past, we look forward to collecting and sharing more articles, stories, historical documents, and photographs.

Extensive genealogy research has been done through the years by several of your Carpenter cousins. Thanks to the wonders of the Electronic Age in which we now live, this information — some well-documented and other ideas still being researched — can be shared with everyone. Discussions and efforts to discover new information and to verify established data is ongoing. Continue to check this page on your website to see what questions are under review. Maybe you will have the key to solving a genealogy question! Maybe you have a box in your attic with information about George's first wife. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we knew her name and where she is buried?

One thing we do know is our common ancestor is George Zimmerman. He was of German origin, and lived in Switzerland before emigrating to America

We know that George Zimmerman had two wives. His first wife, whose name is not known, is thought to have died on the ocean voyage, and she was mother to George Jr. and John. His second wife was Anna Schöttly, who was mother to the rest of his eleven children. The children of George Zimmerman were: George Jr., John, Conrad, Anna, Margaret, Adam, Elizabeth, Barbara, Salome "Sarah", William, and Henry.

We know very little about many of George Zimmerman's children. However, we do know that Adam, Conrad, and John moved to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War and founded a settlement known as Carpenter's Fort, also known as Carpenter's Station, which became a trading outpost. If you are a descendant of the same George Zimmerman as the rest of us, then you might be able to track your roots back to Carpenter's Fort along at least one branch of your family tree. You may even have descended from cousins who married each other way back when, and then you can track your lineage back more than one line.

If you have a web page of your own that highlights members of the Carpenter-Zimmerman family, please contact us and we might arrange to link to your pages. Or, perhaps you would like to submit an article to appear on this site? Check out our Articles page and see what we have collected so far.

You can also contirbute directly in the Family Forum, or send us your stories by Email and we will add then to the growing collection of information about this family.

Deb Wake submitted this possible answer to the question of why the name was changed from Zimmerman to Carpenter:
Fri, 25 Feb 2005
Most of what I have read says that where people were close to the source, they stayed true to tradition. So, in PA where there was a steady influx of Germans. Names, for instance retained their German spelling. In Virginia, they were further removed, and because of this, assimilated more quickly.
--Deb Wake, a Carpenter Family Genealogist

(Read A George Zimmerman Biography from Compiled Resources by Deb Wake.)

Surname Origins and History

We also know that George Zimmerman later changed the family surname to Carpenter. We do not know exactly why George Zimmerman changed his surname, but the German "Zimmermann," translates loosely as "Door Maker," which in English becomes "Carpenter," as in wood worker. We can easily imagine how George Sr., like so many other immigrants desiring to make a new life here on this continent, may have chosen to change his name simply to fit in. This is a reasonable assumption, especially considering that he changed his name after his surname survived immigration.

"Surname spelling and pronunciation has evolved over many centuries, with our current generations often unaware of the origin and evolution of their surnames. Among the humble classes of European society, and especially among the illiterate, individuals had little choice but to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks, and priests who officially bestowed upon them new versions of their surnames, just as they had meekly accepted the surnames which they were born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Halifax, Quebec City, Ellis Island and elsewhere in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization, though not as often as professed. Many of the Anglicizations came from the immigrant who themselves chose to better fit into the mosaic."
-- GEN-FIND Research Associates, Inc..
(Modified Tuesday, October 05, 2004 21:37:22. Accessed March 16, 2005 01:14.)

This page has already changed several times as people discuss this very question, and then submit "corrections." Some genealogy questions may never find definitive answers. This question about why the surname changed would make an excellent genealogy forum topic, where different theories can be debated and research notes compared.

For example, several different versions of the same anecdotal information might appear from different sources. Then the genealogists will be able to compare and contrast the way the same story changed as it was passed down different lines of the family tree.

History will continue to change as research tools and interests evolve. We want this website to become a dynamic genealogical record, available to all of us, to our children, and to our children's children.

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