COLUMBIA CITY â Paul and Carol Burkett of Columbia City can vividly remember Elmer Zimmermanâs talk about his mother surviving the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
The presentation was held Oct. 3, 1996 at the Whitley County Historical Societyâs fall banquet at Eagle Glen Golf Course. Carol knew Elmer since her cousin, Helen (Miller) Zimmerman, married him. The Zimmermans lived in Rochester.
Although Elmer is no longer around to tell the story, Paul said he was a very good public speaker. Elmerâs mother was Bertha (Lehman) Zimmerman, born March 31, 1895, in Lotziel, Switzerland.
Berthaâs brother, sister and uncle had already made the journey to Iowa. When Bertha was 17 and had just finished high school, the family decided it was time for her to make the trip.
âShe had a ticket to go on a certain ship, but because of the (1912 Great Britain) coal minerâs strike, that ship didnât sail,â said Carol. âSo they put her on the next available ship.â
Bertha boarded the Titanic in Cherbourg, France as a second class passenger, traveling alone. At the time, she was fluent in French, German, Italian and the Swiss Romany language, but she knew no English.
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