Menu Icon

ZIMMER, Johann and Annie

Johann Zimmer (c. 1803-82) was a Wend from Weissig, seven kilometres south-east of Bautzen, arrived in Melbourne from Hamburg aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850, with his wife Annie and at least three children.

Zimmer was naturalized as a New South Wales citizen on 16 December 1850. On 2 May 1851, he purchased 60 acres at Westgarthtown (Lots 3,4, 7 and 8, Section 25, Parish of Keelbundora) for £ 60. Lots 7 and 8, which comprised 10 acres, had been purchased on behalf of Zimmer’s brother-in-law, Johann Rosel (Annie’s brother). To help finance his land, Zimmer, along with four other Westgarthtown settlers, jointly borrowed £ 250 from Charles Payne of Saltwater River, which was repaid in full on 2 June 1853.

Maria Kaiser, whose brother Andreas migrated with the Zimmer family aboard the Pribislaw, was employed by Zimmer at Westgarthtown from her arrival in November 1855 until 1857. In January 1857, she wrote to her parents in Germany stating;

We are harvesting now and everything looks good. I am doing the kind of work which I did at home, farm work. We have eight cows, six calves and two pigs. I milk the cows twice a day, morning and evenings. The rest of the time they are out in the pasture to fend for themselves.

The fruit in the garden is ripe now too, and we have so much that we are feeding some to the pigs. We havegrowing apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, pears, melons, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, figs, grapes, gooseberries and strawberries. Saffron is also growing in our garden.

My employer has 50 shocks of wheat, 8 shocks of oats, and 3 shocks of barley. The oats are also winnowed green and is good feed for the horses.

Maria Kaiser’s sister Anna, who followed her to Australia in 1858, also worked at Zimmer’s for 14 months after arrival.

Zimmer’s son Michael, who initially carted supplies by bullock dray to the goldfields, bought 158 acres at Epping in 1853. He married fellow Wend and Pribislaw passenger Maria Graff in 1858. He established a very successful dairyfarm and became a considerable landowner. He also served for six years as a Councillor for the Shire of Darebin, from 1886 to 1892.

During the 1850s, Zimmer’s two daughters married and moved to Broadford. Maria married Alexander McLeod of Campbellfield and Agnes married Michael Zwar, also a Pribislaw passenger. Two of Agnes’ sons were to become Victorian parliamentarians.

Johann Zimmer was a committeeman for the Westgarthtown Lutheran School (1855) and a foundation synod member (1856) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Victoria. He died at Epping on 21 September 1882, aged 79. Annie Zimmer died at Westgarthtown on 5 December 1878, aged 78. Both are buried in the Westgarthtown Lutheran Cemetery.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)