German Family Stories

I do not know if the family story I am sharing today is any relation to me but my ancestry includes Zimmermann’s from in Illinois.  My great-great grandfather Herman Wm. Neunaber married Helena (Lena) Heyes Zimmermann in Madison Co, Illinois 1883.

Herman Neunaber and Helena (Lena) Zimmermann’s grave in Bethalto, IL

Rev. Christian Zimmermann, author of Hostage in a Hostage World: Hope Aboard Hijacked TWA 847 is a friend and distant cousin. If you are unfamiliar with the incident, Christian was one of the pilots on the 1985 flight bound for Cairo that was hijacked by terrorists. One was later identified as Mohammed Ali Hamadi, who was eventually captured and sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany. There have been a couple movies about the hijacking, The Delta Force film of 1986 is based on the TWA 847 hijacking and The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story . But if you are interested in Rev. Christian Zimmermann’s account, I recommend reading his book.

The following delightful story was shared by Douglas Shrank on Facebook last week and I am sharing it here with his permission.

My Grandmother’s name was Gertrude Zimmermann and I remember this story she always told me. She says it was true, so I have no reason to doubt it.

There was a Lutheran Pastor from a congregation in a small community in South Texas. The congregation was in a German speaking community, rich with old world traditions. Just like the church I grew up in, everyone spoke German after church and the pastor would frequently speak German throughout his sermons.

Then one day, the pastor received a call from a young growing congregation in Austin and after much consideration, decided that accepting the call would offer a new experience and a chance to grow the ministry. The pastor was installed, and he and his wife were excited to get to know the people in the new church. There were many differences between the congregation he had been serving and the new one. Most of the people in the new church were younger and hardly any of them had knowledge of the German language that was so much a part of his life.  So right away, he decided that he should get to know everyone. One of his first acts was to invite the elders over for dinner after church. His wife had bought a goose and was preparing it for the special meal with the elders.

As the pastor was getting ready, his wife told him to remind her not to forget about the goose in the oven. But they were both pressed for time and hurried over to the church to begin the services. The service began and after the first hymn the pastor looked over the congregation to recite the liturgy. The pastor saw his wife and suddenly realized that he had forgot to remind his wife about the goose in the oven.  With no other way to remind his wife, the pastor, being one of the traditional ministers who chanted the liturgy, thought fast. Instead of chanting “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”, he chanted “haben Sie die Gans aus dem Ofen genommen”, (which translates to “have you taken the goose out of the oven”), to which the congregation responded A – – – men. The wife hurriedly went back to the house and saved the goose from being overcooked!

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