52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 7 ‘Valentine’

The moment I saw photographs of my husband’s great grandparents I wished that I had been fortunate enough to have met them. They seemed to radiate happiness and love for each other, for their family and for life. They are the perfect choice for a post on Valentine’s Day.

Charles & Ella


Charles Stephen Zimmerman and Ella Lucille McMahon were married on 17 May 1919 in Stockton, San Joachin, California. 1 Charles was 22 years old and Ella, 19. Charles was the youngest son of German immigrants, Louis Wendelin Zimmerman and Philippina (Bena) Tischbein, and Ella was the oldest daughter of James Thomas McMahon and Adaline Slater.

Ella and Charles on their wedding trip.

They began married life with a move to Phoenix, Arizona where they rented a small home at North Sixth Avenue. 2

I’m quite sure the house below is not the one they rented but perhaps one they went to see as tourists.

Ella and Charles, tourists.

Their first child, a daughter they named Helen Rose, was born on 26 April 1920 in Phoenix. 3 The family didn’t stay too long, finding the Phoenix summers too hot. By 1921, they had returned to California and made their home in Modesto 4.

They would welcome three more children to their family: Robert in December 1921, Patricia in April 1924, and Jon in August 1934.

Charles, Ella and son, Jon.

Their sweet story plays out in the photographs they left behind. I am sure there was loss and tragedy, hard times and difficulties, tears of sadness as well as joy, but when I asked my husband what he remembers of them, he replied, “They were happy”.


This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 7 prompt: Valentine.



  1. “California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8ZF-457 : 13 February 2018), Charles S. Zimmerman and Ella McMahon, 17 May 1919; citing San Joaquin, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 1,841,865. 
  2. 1920 U.S. Census, Maricopa County, California, population schedule, Phoenix, ED 58, sheet 3A (penned), dwelling 50, family 68 , Charles Zimmerman household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 49. 
  3. Arizona Birth Records, 1880-1935, Helen Rose Zimmerman, 26 April 1920; image,  Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 February 2018). 
  4. 1930 U.S. Census, Stanislaus County, California, population schedule, Modesto, ED 10, sheet 9A (penned), 62 (stamped), dwelling 149, family 148, Charles S. Zimmerman household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 223. 

Discover … The Arizona Memory Project


The Arizona Memory Project is a project of the Arizona State Library, Archives and  Public Records. The site provides access to a wealth of primary source documents, photographs, maps and other multimedia items showcasing Arizona’s past and present.

Az memory home

A specific collection can be searched (of which there are over 270) or a general search of the entire site can be done.  You can narrow your search by creator, coverage, date, subject or type.

AZ Memory search

I conducted a few different searches to see how the search engine worked and was impressed with the results.  From a search on a specific ancestor’s name which resulted in finding an oral interview with an extended family member speaking about a second great grand-uncle and his settling of Alpine, Arizona to a general search on territorial stage-coach routes and a book detailing those routes across Arizona.  A location search for the settlement of Maricopa Wells (a settlement which developed as a watering hole and rest area along the Butterfield Overland mail route and which no longer exists) resulted in several photographs of Indian ruins close to Maricopa Wells as well as photographs of various named and unnamed people standing outside their homes in the area.


A search for a specific event, in this case, for the ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’ yielded scans of original documents including the recently discovered ‘Coroner’s Transmittal Page to the Clerk of the District Court concerning the Inquest of the gunfight at the OK Corral’. These missing documents were discovered in the Cochise County Courthouse in 2010 and were transferred to the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records where they were scanned and preserved.

The Arizona Memory Project is a rich resource for anyone conducting research in Arizona.

Using the Arizona Territorial Census

arizona_seal      Arizona Territorial Census records are unique in that they fall in the interim years between federal censuses.  Arizona became a U.S. territory on February 24, 1863.  By February 1864 Milton B. Duffield, U.S. Marshall for Arizona, provided instructions for the first census to be taken.   The information collected on the census varies from year to year but may include name, place of residence, age, nativity and occupation.  A territorial census was taken in 1864, 1866, 1867, 1869, 1874, 1876, and 1882.  Instructions were given that no settlement, mining district or ranch was to be excluded.  A daunting proposition considering the size of the territory.

Good news for Arizona researchers, especially those who do not have paid Ancestry subscriptions is the partnership between Arizona State Archives and Ancestry.com which makes these Territorial Censuses freely available online to residents of the State of Arizona.   You do need to set up a free Ancestry.com Arizona account which is easily done by going to https://www.azlibrary.gov/arm/research-archives/archives-resources/ancestry-arizona.  The State Archives of Arizona has much more available than only the Territorial censuses so it is well worth a look.

Many Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) families heeded the call to settle parts of Arizona Territory, including the Judd family.  Called by Brigham Young to settle the Little Colorado river area, the first families arrived in Sunset in Apache county, Arizona Territory in March 1876.  Hyrum Jerome Judd, a herdsman by occupation, and his family were living in Sunset, Apache, Arizona Territory when the 1880 U.S. Federal Census was taken.


Hyrum Jerome Judd’s brother, Don Carlos Judd and family had arrived from Utah Territory about 1879 and settled in Smithville (Graham County) on the Gila river.  Smithville would later become the Town of Pima.  Hyrum Jerome Judd and Don Carlos Judd lived about 300 miles from each other in 1880.


These early pioneers faced many obstacles including flash floods, crop failures due to poor soil, long cold winters and summer droughts and by 1881 many had moved on to other areas.  By 1881 the Sunset settlement had failed and the pioneers looked to the settlements in the southern part of the territory as a better option.   The 1882 Arizona Territorial census indicates that by 1882 Hyrum Jerome Judd and his family had moved south to join his brother Don Carlos Judd in Pima.  Their father and mother, Hyrum and Lisania Fuller Judd had also moved to Pima with 4 of their younger children: Lucius Hubbard Judd (24), Daniel Judd (17), Lyman Perry Judd (13), Lafeyette Judd (12).

The Judd’s were only one of many stalwart pioneer families who took on the challenge to settle parts of Arizona Territory.  The Arizona Territorial censuses are unique records that help to find those pioneer settlers in the years between U.S. Federal censuses.

Carter, C.W. Mormon Emigrant Covered Wagon Caravan ca. 1879. Photograph. NARA. American West Photographs. Web. Jan 12, 2017.