1909 – A Bad Year For Parker Zimmerman

     1909 was probably the worst year of Parker Lonzo Bator Zimmerman’s life.  He lost both his ten month old daughter Ida May Zimmerman and his second wife Mellie Bollinger Zimmerman.  Before Parker’s death in the Cape Giraurdeau Tornado of 1949, he would bury two more of his children.  Both of them were adults.  I can only imagine how hard 1909 was for Great Grandpa.

     The year actually began with great promise.  On January 11, 1909, Ida May Zimmerman was born to Parker and his second wife Mellie.  Parker’s first marriage to Victoria Harris lasted only a few months and produced no children.  Parker married Mellie on March 31, 1902.  They had Lonzo Bator Zimmerman in 1904. William Reuben Zimmerman followed in 1905.  Twins Ollie and Dolly were born in 1907.  Ida joined the growing family in 1909.


Mellie Bollinger Zimmerman from Collins Cemetery

     Great Grandpa, who was a farmer and owned a store in Advance, must have felt like he was on top of the world.  However, Parker Zimmerman would suffer the first of dual tragedies on October 14, 1909.  Barely ten months old from an unknown illness, Ida May Zimmerman passed away.

     For years, I had the wrong date of birth for Ida.  I thought she was born in 1900 instead of 1909, which did not make much sense.  However, Ida’s head stone cleared up my confusion.

     Tragically, Great Grandpa Parker was due a second devastating loss.  In December 1909, Mellie Bollinger Zimmerman’s skirt caught fire, when she was washing clothes in a tub.  Mellie died from her injuries on either December 15 or December 25, 1909.  Many sources have her date of birth listed as June 27, 1879.  They also list her date of death as December 15, 1909.

     However, her head stone, which must have been very expensive, lists the date of birth as July 27, 1879.  It also lists her date of death as December 25, 1909.  I am using these two dates for her date of birth and date of death.  I don’t think Great Grandpa would allow such a mistake on her head stone.

     If Mellie actually died on December 25, 1909, her death must have been brutal for Parker.  I believe the accident occurred on December 15, 1909.  I can’t see Christmas Day being a laundry day.  If Mellie lingered in that kind of pain for ten days, it would have been excruciating with the medicine of the day.  To imagine Parker sitting by her bedside, while she was in constant pain without the benefit of today’s anesthesia, is too cruel to contemplate.

     Great Grandpa laid his beloved wife to rest in Collin’s Cemetery next to their daughter Ida May.  Parker’s parents, Samuel S. Zimmerman and Sarah Catherine Fisher Zimmerman, were also laid to rest in the same cemetery.


Soldiers, Sailors and Scott City: The Deweese and Zimmerman Family Histories in paperback

     In time, Parker would marry his third wife, my great grandmother Dolly.  They would have seven more children including my grandfather, Frank Otis Zimmerman.  But before he could regain some of his happiness, he had to walk through 1909 in circumstances, which would break many other men but Parker persevered.

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