It would be difficult to name few, if any, residents who have been held in higher regard or more genuine friendship than was William ZILM, a man whom to know was to respect and honor, and whose many good qualities won for him a feeling of admiration that was akin to love. He was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, March 6, 1834, and for many years occupied a beautiful home at the outskirts of La Rose. When a youth of nineteen years he left his native country, attracted by the opportunities of the new world. This was in the year 1853, and after crossing the Atlantic he took up his abode in Henry, Illinois. While there he formed the acquaintance or Miss Minnie RINKENBERGER, who was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, June 14, 1839. She came to America in February, 1853, crossing the briny deep on a sailing vessel, which was seventy-eight days in making that voyage. She landed at New Orleans and after spending a year in Chicago became a resident of Henry, Illinois. She had acquired her education in Germany while spending her girlhood days in the home of her parents, George and Barbara (HAUSENHOUER) RINKENBERGER. Her father was employed in a warehouse and died in 1866, while her mother passed away in 1868.
In 1857 William ZILM went to La Rose and was employed on the farm of Abijah SHERWOOD. His sweetheart came soon afterward to La Rose and on the 30th of April, 1857, they were married. For many years they traveled life's journey together, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, adversity and prosperity. This was largely an ideal married relation, their mutual love and confidence increasing as the years passed by. With nothing but their two pairs of hands and their stout young hearts, coupled with their determination and earnest purpose, they started out to make a home and in a few years were able to buy the farm of their former employer, while as the years passed they added to it many acres and placed thereon fine modern buildings and many substantial improvements. In all of his business undertakings Mr. ZILM prospered, for he formed his plans readily and was determined in their execution. Moreover, he was thoroughly reliable and straightforward in all of his dealings and his business integrity as well as his enterprise proved an important factor in his success. The accumulation of wealth was not the sole end and aim of his life, however, for he was a most free hearted and generous man and it is safe to say that he and his good wife gave away as much as they kept for themselves. They were always generous to the poor and needy and no one sought their assistance in vain.
Unto this worthy couple were born nine children, all of whom are living with the exception of William, who died in Streator in early manhood and whose loss came as an almost irreparable blow to the parents. The surviving children are as follows: Mrs. Ellen STUEBING, of La Rose; Mrs. Alvina KOPF, of Streator; Fred, who is living in Lostant; Charles, also of La Rose; Martin, of La Rose; Mrs. Anna MEREDITH, of the same town; Edward, living in Streator; and Mrs. Josie ILIFF, of La Rose. At his death Mr. ZILM also left thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
For about three years prior to his demise Mr. ZILM was in ill health and, hoping that he might be benefited thereby, spent some time at the famous springs at West Baden, Indiana, but all to no avail. His health gradually grew worse and though everything that medical aid could do was done for him he gradually sank and passed away on the 22d of May, 1906. He was a devoted and faithful member of the German Lutheran church and assisted most liberally in its building. The funeral services were there held, the Rev. RUDOLPH addressing the people both in German and English. Fully one thousand people were gathered at the church and upon the lawn to pay their last tribute of respect to one whom they had known and honored. His prominence in the community is indicated by the fact that school was closed for the day and business practically suspended during the hour of the funeral. Mr. ZILM from his boyhood days was a great lover of flowers and plants, which he always had about him in profusion, and there were many floral evidences of love and friendship from those who knew him at his funeral. Knowing that the end was drawing near, Mr. ZILM made arrangements for his interment and at his request six of his old-time friends, Carl WINKEL, C. K. SCHUMACHER, Casper PREIS, Charles WINKEL, Sr., August SCHOOF and Charles SCHOOF acted as his pallbearers. The name of William ZILM will long be honored and his memory cherished in the community where he resided. It is said that there is not a home in La Rose or the surrounding district that has not received gifts from his garden and orchard as an expression of his friendship, and the poor and needy always found in him a friend. He was a gentleman of genial manner, ever ready with a cordial greeting and word of encouragement. His life was crowned with a measure of success and prosperity that made him one of the substantial residents of the county, but, more than that, his life was the exemplification of true and honorable manhood and of Christian faith and purpose.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.