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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BISHOP BENJAMIN F. ZIMMERMAN has, since 1892, filled one of the highest positions in the Mennonite Church, of which he has been a minister since 1887. He was born April 4, 1851, in Fairview township, York county, son of Peter and Barbara (Hess) Zimmerman.

The Zimmerman family is of Swiss extraction, but has been known and honored in Pennsylvania for a great many years. The founder of the family in America was Peter Zimmerman, the great-great-grandfather of Bishop Zimmerman, who settled about 1735 in the Conestoga Valley, in Lancaster county, where he engaged in farming. He also was one of the early introducers of the tenets of the Mennonite faith. John Zimmerman, one of his three children, born and reared in Lancaster county, had three sons, Christian, John and Peter.

Peter Zimmerman, grandfather of Bishop Zimmerman, was also born in Lancaster county. In 1814 he moved to Lower Allen township, Cumberland county, where he purchased a tract of 300 acres of land, which remained in the Zimmerman family for eighty-nine years. In 1903 a portion of it was sold to Congressman Olmstead, of Harrisburg, who erected a summer home upon it. Peter Zimmerman married Esther Martin, of Lancaster county, and they had children as follows: Christian; Peter; Martin, who moved to Ohio in 1869; Samuel, a Mennonite minister, who died in 1877; Emanuel; Esther, wife of John Weaver; Mary, who married Abraham Weaver, and had one son, Henry, a minister of the Mennonite faith; Barbara, who married Jacob Hershey, a minister in the Mennonite Church, living near Manheim, Lancaster county; Annie, wife of Jacob Burkhart; Julia, who married Christian Hess, and has one son, Samuel, a minister of the Mennonite Church; and Miss Elizabeth, who lives at Carlisle.

Peter Zimmerman, the father of Bishop Zimmerman, was born Jan. 5, 1802, in Lancaster county, where he was engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was twice married. His first wife, a Miss Weaver of Lower Allen township, bore him the following children: Moses, now a retired farmer of Warren county, Ill.; Henry W., a farmer of Cumberland county, who sold the homestead; Peter, a farmer of Lower Allen township; Esther, who died unmarried at the age of twenty-nine years; Mary, who died at the age of three years; and Magdelina, who died unmarried, Jan. 1, 1902, aged sixty-four years, four months, seventeen days. The second marriage of Peter Zimmerman was to Barbara Hess, daughter of Christian and Elizabeth (Martin) Hess, farming people, of Lancaster county. Six children were born to this union, as follows; Samuel, a retired farmer of Dauphin county, who married Eliza Shope; Christian, a retired farmer of York; Amos, who owns a part of the old homestead, and lives in Lower Allen township; David, deceased; Benjamin F., mentioned below; and Elizabeth, wife of Martin L. Miller, of Lancaster county. Peter Zimmerman passed away Sept. 14, 1874, when more than seventy-two years of age. His widow survived until June 27, 1896, dying at the advanced age of eighty-three years. They were buried in the Slate Hill Church cemetery, in this county. Both were members of the Mennonite Church.

Benjamin F. Zimmerman was educated in the public schools of York and Cumberland counties, his school days ending at the age of fourteen years. Had he been like many his mind would have stood comparatively still since that time, but such has not been the case. Much reading and close study have developed him not only along religious lines, but have made of him an educated and forceful man. His trained faculties and intelligent comprehension, together with a noble piety, have served to fit him well for one of the most responsible and honorable positions in the Mennonite Church.

After leaving school he assisted his father on the farm and worked at the carpenter’s trade, occupations which gave much opportunity for quiet, serious meditation. This resulted in his turning toward the Christian ministry, and in 1887 he was ordained a minister of the Mennonite Church. This was followed by his elevation to the Bishopric, in 1892. Since 1875 he has resided in Hampden township, his present home being a compact little farm of forty-five acres, carefully cultivated and well improved, but his name is known through church circles all over the State.

On Nov. 4, 1873, when in his twenty-third year, Bishop Zimmerman was united in marriage with Mary E. Eberly, a daughter of Samuel and Susan (Garber) Eberly, of Sporting Hill. Two children were born to this union, namely; Cora E., who resides at home; and Samuel, who married Mary Brinton, a daughter of William Brinton, of Shiremanstown, and has two children, Clarence and Ruth, both at home. Bishop Zimmerman attributes his success in life to his earnest striving in the direction of honesty, frugality, industry, sobriety and piety.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

View additional Cumberland County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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