Frederick Carl Zimmerman was born in Germany in 1833. As a young man he became an expert in the trade of locksmith and gunsmith. He worked for a time in the eastern part of America, but after marrying, headed west to practice his trade which was highly sought after. F.C. and his wife Matilda came to Dodge City with their two small children when it was not much more than some hastily built frame buildings, a few dug outs, a sod house and some tents. He first set up business with $3000.00 inventory in guns. His shop was easily found along Front Street because of the large wooden gun hanging out front. He dabbled in selling groceries and general goods, but later found success in hardware and lumber. His lumberyard was located at the corner of 5th and Front Street.
In contrast with the gunmen and notorious characters which gave the community its lurid reputation in its early days, Zimmerman stood for order and for only those business enterprises which were legitimate. Zimmerman’s stance against gambling and carousing brought much unwelcomed attention, and left him on not good terms with none other than Bat Masterson. There was a group of bad men who had been “inspired” by Bat to have a sole purpose of harming Zimmerman. They would shoot at Zimmerman and his wife at night and frequently ordered them to leave town. On one occasion, they sent him a Valentine indicating in a cartoon how he would be disposed of if he did not go. Zimmerman, unfazed, took the Valentine, labeled it “Bat Masterson” and stuck it in the front window of his business for all to see, disregarding the threat.
Zimmerman allowed no threats coming from any man to turn him from his path of duty. He could not be influenced by money or personal pleasure and acted steadily in the light of his own convictions of what was right. In spite of his personal courage and respect people had for him, he was not a fighting man. He was one of the few true gentleman farmers in the area of those days. He was especially proud of his homestead he established. He was the first homesteader to be recognized in this area. His farm known as Fountain Grove, located just north of today’s Wyatt Earp Boulevard and 14th Ave, was named because of the fountains and irrigation he had in place. He experimented with Cottonwood and Box Elder trees, along with planting an orchard of fruit trees.
The Zimmerman’s had 5 children during their marriage. Three died in infancy, a son died when he was 16 when a horse fell on him, leaving the only surviving child, a daughter, Clara. F.C. passed away in 1888. His funeral had to be moved from the Presbyterian Church to the McCarty Opera House to accommodate the large crowd that came to pay their respects to one of the true founding fathers of Dodge City. Heine Schmidt wrote of Zimmerman, “The men who fought and died and were buried on Boot Hill may have given Dodge City her fame as the “bibulous Babylon of the West,” but it was men like F.C. Zimmerman who built for the future-for present time and our future-the businesses and the society that is Dodge City and Western Kansas.”