Ziemer Family of Chicago


of Chicago
Descendants of Martin G. Ziemer
1881 - Present



 Martin Ziemer and Carolyn Bonow Ziemer The patriarch responsible for leading our Ziemer family to America was Martin Gottlieb Ziemer, born in Hinter Pommern  (Eastern Pomerania), Prussia, on January 21, 1851. He married 27-year old Caroline BONOW in the church of Manow, Pommern, on 24 April, 1874. What little is known about his background in Germany and the family's voyage to the U.S.A. was recalled in a Family Chronicle by his son Charles, along with a description of the Ziemer Family in those first years in Chicago.

They settled outside the 1881 city limits in the South Side town of Lake -- an area of new frame houses south of 46th Street on Shurtleff Street (Wells). (By 1889 it was part of Chicago, south of the present-day Comiskey Park, home field of the Chicago White Sox. It is near the borders of the Canaryville and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods, or the official Chicago community of New City.) The family at that time consisted of 31-year old Martin Gottlieb; Caroline, nee BONOW, five years older; and their children: five-year old Charles; Herman, 4; Annie, born in 1879; and the infant Minnie, born in August of 1881. 
Living conditions for the new immigrants must have been harsh, even though Martin was able to earn a laborer's wage at the nearby railroad yards.  Family legend suggests that the two little girls had fallen ill on the long Atlantic voyage, weakened by the deplorable conditions in steerage, the lack of health care and basic provisions. Shortly after their arrival in Chicago, the baby Minnie, ten months and ten days old, died of bronchitis, and was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery. When Caroline returned from the funeral, she found three-year old Annie had also died. In his old age, Charles still recalled the helplessness of the family in their time of loss - new immigrants speaking only German - probably Plattdeutsch - and few among them who could help. And the tragic losses continued. In these early years another son, Otto, was born - but he, too, died in infancy, and was buried at Oak Woods July 21, 1884.Ziemer Family Monument, Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago

Frank Ziemer, the author's paternal grandfather, was born on February 17, 1885. Another son, Willie, was born on October 2, 1887. The last child born was August, on Christmas Day of 1890, but he was not to see his third birthday, joining his three siblings at Oak Woods in November of 1893. The Ziemers had by 1898 joined Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was founded by members from St. Peter's in 1889, at Dearborn and 49th Streets. Louise Bonow, Caroline's mother, Caroline BONOW ZIEMER with William and Margaret ZIEMER had been living with the Ziemers since the 1887 death of her husband Friedrich. The 1900 census shows that the family had moved to the frame two-story house facing the railroad embankment at 4951 Shields Street, where Martin lived the rest of his life. He and Caroline saw their surviving sons find jobs, marry and settle down nearby in the neighborhood, where Caroline's brothers and sisters had also taken up residence (See BONOW Family: August and William Bonow, Johanna Roepke, and Wilhelmina Moll.) Martin G. Ziemer died at home of pneumonia on May 1, 1913, at the age of 62 years. He was buried at Oak Woods May 4 after a service at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Caroline apparently continued to live at the Shields Street house with her son Willie and his wife. However, when Willie died in 1915 she must have moved in with Charles and his family at 8201 S. Carpenter Street. That is where she resided when at the age of 84 she died of nephritis on January 20, 1930. Her grave and those of the Ziemers who had preceded her were marked some time later by the monument visitors may see today. Two German inscriptions serve as epitaphs:

Christus ist mein Leben und Sterben ist mein Genann - Phil.1,21 (To live is Christ and to die is Gain)

Ruhet in Frieden bis zum Tag der Aufereisung (Rest in peace until the day of resurrection)


Martin, Charles, Elmer and  Lizzie ZIEMER

Charles A. F. Ziemer was the eldest son of Martin and Caroline, born in Pomerania on September 5, 1876. He was about five when the family emigrated, growing to manhood on Chicago's South Side. As an adult he worked for the railroad, probably the nearby Rock Island Line, as an accounting and shipping clerk. He married Louise BRUNS at Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church about September 21, 1901. Their two sons were Martin Frederick and Elmer ZIEMER.

The family lived on South Shields Street, where Louise ran a grocery/deli on the ground floor of an apartment building where members of the family lived. Eventually they moved to 8201 S. Carpenter Street. Charles was instrumental in the erection of the family monument for the Ziemers and Bonows in Oak Woods Cemetery. He was also a founder of Bethania Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. In his later years, Charles authored a brief chronicle of his life and the family history. Charles died on August 11, 1954.

  • Martin Frederick ZIEMER married Louise SIMON. They were the parents of Charles O. ZIEMER.
        Charles O. ZIEMER married Shirley VINEY. They are the parents of Martin and Karl ZIEMER.
  • ELMER ZIEMER married Eleanor RUEHL. Their daughter was Barbara. Elmer's second wife was Bernice WEIHER. Their sons were Frederick and Bruce Lee ZIEMER.
            Barbara ZIEMER married Kenneth COOK. They are the parents of Julie and Timothy COOK.
            Bruce ZIEMER married Janice Sue FINDLEY.

    For listing of later generation descendants, see ROOTSWEB GEDCOM  chart.


    Herman W. ZIEMER
    Herman Wilhelm J. ZIEMER was the second oldest son, born in Hinter Pommern, Prussia on March 16, 1877 to Martin and Caroline. He married Minna POST (b.Feb. 8, 1881) on May 3, 1899. They lived for some years at 4449 Shields St. Like older brother Charles, Herman worked as a clerk for the Rock Island Railroad.  
    Herman died December 2, 1942.
    Minna POST ZIEMER died September 15, 1964.

    The Herman ZIEMERS had two daughters:

  • Lillian, born Feb. 14,1900.     Lillian Bertha ZIEMER married Louis Walter SOLDAN (11/30/1898 - 7/31/1964).
            Their children were Louis, Jr.; Pearl; and Donald SOLDAN.
                Louis, Jr. married Theola Gordon 9/26/1944 and they raised two sons.
                Pearl married Frederick CLAUSSEN 11/22/1947 and they had two sons.
                Donald married H'Eloise BAIN 7/26/1952; they have three children.
  • Ella, born 1903.
        Ella ZIEMER married Jack KRAFT. Their daughter was Ruth. Ella's second husband was Art OLSON.
            Ruth OLSON married Joseph Patrick NORWAY and they raised two daughters.

    For listing of later generation descendants, see ROOTSWEB GEDCOM  chart.


    Frank, born February 17, 1885, was baptized Franz Wilhelm Carl at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, 39th and Dearborn, on March 15. His sponsors included cousins Carl and Martha BONOW and William MOLL. Frank's early childhood was at the family's first Chicago home at 46th and Shurtleff (later Wells St.), and after 1893 at 4951 S. Shields. He attended Gethsemane grade school and was confirmed at Gethsemane by Pastor J. G. Nuetzal on April 3, 1898.

    Frank was introduced to Bertha HEINRICH by a mutual friend (Bertha Rahn), at a church picnic in 1902. Five years later they were married (April 10, 1907).Frank ZIEMER and Bertha HEINRICH

    Frank worked briefly as a goldsmith, but it was said that he quit due to physical problems caused by dust in his lungs. The 1910 federal census lists his coccupation as railroad clerk; it would seem that his older brother Chaarles got Frank a job on the Rock Island Line. Bertha and Frank bought a frame house at 6326 S. Carpenter St., and later moved to 6349 in the up-and-coming Englewood neighborhood, which became a prime shoppping district with good transportation via streetcar and the elevated line.

    Four children were born while Frank and Bertha lived on Carpenter Street:

  • Harold Frank, born February 27, 1908. He later married Lydia SAESS.
            Their children were Shirlee, Frank, Darlene, Donald, and Harold.
  • Marjorie Theresa, born October 15, 1918. She died December 19 of the same year and is buried at Bethania Cemetery.
  • Raymond Heinrich, born March 2, 1920. (This is the author's father.) He married Alice M. RADOVAN.
            Barbara, Raymond G., and Susan are their children.
  • Robert Frederick, born April 30, 1924, married Isabelle CLEMONTS.
            Children were Jacqueline, Robin, and Pamela.

    Frank continued in a succession of railroad jobs even through the early Depression years - with the Rock Island Line, the Great Northern, and the Great Western Railroads; he traveled extensively as an inspector of rolling stock for the American Railway Association; and as yard superintendent and car foreman for the Great Western, he was obliged to work through the week in Kansas City, Mo. In June of 1933 he was there in lodgings with the Rev. and Mrs. A. E. Ferber, when he began to suffer from symptoms of appendicitis. Planning to consult a physician in Chicago, he boarded a train for home; the appendix burst while he was en route, and peritonitis caused his death at Evangelical Hospital on June 25, 1933. He is buried at Bethania Cemetery (Lot 66, Section 5A).

    For listing of later generation descendants, see ROOTSWEB GEDCOM  chart.


    Willie ZIEMER

    William August Carl ZIEMER was born on October 2, 1887, the last son of Martin and Caroline ZIEMER to survive into adulthood. His christening was recorded at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church at 39th and Dearborn, on October 23. His sponsors were William BONOW, August FREIER, and Ina RATZKE.
    At that time the family lived at 4607 Atlantic (later Wells). About 1893 the family moved to 4951 S. Shields. Willie's confirmation took place at St. Peter's on March 21, 1901. It has been recalled that he had musical talent, playing several instruments.
    At the age of 21, Willie married Margaretha KAISER, on June 30, 1909. Willie was a plaster mold maker for decorations on Chicago buildings, and his death on October 13, 1915, may have resulted from a health problem caused by inhaling plaster dust. His funeral service was at St. Peter's by Pastor Neutzal, and he was buried at Oak Woods Cemetery. After Willie Ziemer's death, Margaret first moved in with her mother, Victoria Eitler Kaiser, on the South Side. Then about 1923, Margaret married a widower, Anthony Bell, who had two children and owned a home in Jefferson Park on the North Side. Thereafter, that was the home of Margaret and Willie's two children:

  • Margaret L. -- She married Henry BURKE. They had four sons: William; John, who married Marilyn TERSCH and had six children; Richard, whose first marriage to Judy SCHIECE produced three children; and the late Thomas, whose marriage to Arlene BIRK resulted in five children, including the aforementioned Jennifer.
  • William Christie -- He and his wife Betty had two children: Nancy Jane and William Richard; William R's son is William Brandon ZIEMER.


  • One of my research goals had been to discover the later history of Margaretha and Willie ZIEMER's two children, with whom our family lost contact many years ago. I was encouraged in 2003 when Bill Ziemer and Thomas Burke found the web site and recognized their grandparents. After Tom's untimely death (See  Obituaries) in January 2004, his daughter Jennifer McInnis provided their family's genealogy and family photos. Subsequently it has been a great pleasure to hear from Nancy Jane Ziemer, the granddaughter of Willie and Margaret; Nancy has filled in the gaps in the history of the North Side William Ziemer family, and also furnished some of the the great photos recently added to the Ziemer Family Album, including the priceless button photo of Martin and Caroline ZIEMER , seen at the top of the page.
  • The remaining challenge -- tracing the ZIEMER heritage back across the Atlantic to Germany, has had recent success also, with the discovery of the home village in Kreis Köslin as discussed in Pomeranian Roots. As might be expected, finding Martin and Caroline's marriage in the Manow church records has spurred me on to scan the available microfilm of the neighboring villages. I have been recording the names of countless other Ziemers, Bonows, and Krückows to discover more about the family and its ties to cousins around the world.


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