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Johann Zell was born about 1837 in Germany.  At the age of 47, he immigrated to the United States, arriving in November 1884, with his second wife, Frederica Fulmer; son, John Christian Zell; daughter, Minnie; and aunt, Mary Eurcie.  
  • Ship: S. S. Hermann
  • Port of Arrival: Baltimore, Maryland

Johann and Frederica Zell

The Zell family settled on the Tom Bean Ranch in the community of Farmington near the town of Tom Bean. Mr. Tom Bean sponsored their trip to America. The family was to work a certain period of time that would cover their travel expenses to America in Grayson County. After two years, that debt was satisfied and the family members were free to work and live where they chose. However, Zell and his wife chose to stay on the Tom Bean Ranch and work for Mr. Bean until Johann's death before 1900.  He is buried in the old Cottonwood Cemetery on Ida Road in Grayson County.

The eldest daughter, Marie "Wilhelmina" Zell, was born in 1865 in Germany. She married Fritz "Fred" Koym about the time of her family's departure to the United States. She and Fritz arrived in the United States in 1890 after their son, Herman (1889) was born. Marie died the same year.

On 24 January 1892, Fritz married the younger sister of his deceased wife, Minnie Zell, in Grayson County, Texas. Fritz and Minnie did not have any children. The couple lived in Grayson County until Fritz's death in December 1932. After her husband's death, Minnie moved to Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas to live with her niece, Anna Mae Zell Pennington, where she died in November 1953. Both Fritz and Minnie are buried in West Hill Cemetery, Sherman, Grayson County, Texas. Fritz and Minnie would help raise Minnie, John and Anna Mae Zell.

Minnie Zell Koym with her brother, John Christian Zell

The only son and middle child of Johann Zell, John Christian, was born July 3, 1866 in Kelle, Mecklenburg, Scherwin, Germany. He was eighteen years old when his family arrived in the United States in 1884. By about 1890, John had joined the Sherman Germania Band, organized in 1888.

Six years later, John Christian Zell married Hannah McKinney on November 28, 1890 in Grayson County, Texas. Hannah was one of seven daughters and one son born to James B. McKinney and Diana Elizabeth Hanner.
Hannah McKinney ZellJohn Christian Zell

John Christian Zell's petition for Naturalization, dated 1940, describes him as fair complexioned with blue eyes and light brown hair; standing at 5'8" and weighing 152 lbs. He had a prominent mole on the front of his right cheek.

Hannah died just nine years later and was buried in old Cottonwood Cemetery, Grayson County, with her father-in-law. After John Columbus Zell moved back to Texas from California, he received a phone call telling him that someone had bulldozed the tombstones in the Cottonwood Cemetery where his mother, Hannah McKinney Zell, was buried. He traveled to the location and found the tombstones pushed into a washed out area; Hannah's tombstone was found and taken to Parker County and set in Johnson Cemetery where her son, John Columbus Zell, would be buried in 1984.
Minnie Zell
1891 - 1902
John Columbus Zell
1893 - 1984

Almost two years after Hannah's death, John Christian Zell married Hettie Brumley in Brown County, Texas. In December 1902, John and Hannah's only daughter died and was buried in the Gunter Cemetery, Gunter, Grayson County, Texas.

John Christian and Hettie Brumley Zell had a child that was born and died in 1903 and another daughter that lived to adulthood. John moved to St. Louis, Missouri before the 1910 World's Fair in order to find work. The children stayed with family members while John was in Missouri. After the Fair, he returned to Oak Cliff, Texas, residing some time before he moved to Tarrant County where he remained until his death.

John Columbus Zell, son of John Christian Zell and Hannah McKinney, was born in Grayson County February 1893. He was married at the age of nineteen to Alice Glenora Files in Childress County, Texas. They had three daughters and one son.

John Columbus and Alice Glenora Zell

The family lived in Wheeler, Texas. Before 1940, John Columbus Zell and Alice Glenora Files were divorced.

Before 1940, John Columbus Zell married Marion C. Poole Smith. They lived in Los Angeles, California for many years. They returned to Texas and settled on a farm near Dennis, Texas. They lived in Parker County for the remainder of their lives.

John Columbus and Marion C. Zell

German Families

Biography Index

Elaine Nall Bay

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