Dictionary of Louisiana Biography – Z

Dictionary Z

ZARDIS, Chester “Little Bear,” string bassist and tubist. Born, New Orleans, May 27, 1900. He and five brothers shined shoes and sold papers to supplement the family’s income. As a teenager he was sent to the Jones Colored Waif’s Home for involvement in a fight. Here he bonded with Louis Armstrong, who was incarcerated for a similar misdemeanor. Following his discharge, Zardis took menial jobs, buying a used bass in 1915 from Billie Marrero who gave him lessons, despite the disapproval of Zardis’ mother. Later Zardis studied with Dave Perkins who taught him to read. He joined the neighborhood Merit Band, ca. 1918, and was soon discovered by Buddy Petit, who hired him for jobs in Covington, Mandeville, and excursions on the steamer Camelia. From 1925 until the late 1930s Zardis played with Kid Rena, Chris Kelly, Jack Carey, Kid Clayton, Kid Howard, Walter Pichon, and Sidney Desvigne on the riverboat Capitol, often doubling on the tuba. He also performed in Crowley, La. with the Black Eagle Band. In 1935 his own band appeared at Mamie’s Beer Garden. In 1936-1937 Zardis played with Duke Dejean’s Dixie Rhythm Band, and he appeared at the Apollo Theater (New York) subbing in Count Bassie’s band. In 1937-1938 Zardis led his own Gold Diggers Band. His first recording was in 1937 with Kid Howard in two memorable tunes, “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Song of the Wanderer,” issued on Dance New Orleans Style, 1937-1941. In 1942 Zardis was part of the legendary Climax session, jumping up and down energetically enough to knock the recording needle out of its groove. His vigorous slap style, typifying the New Orleans beat, often overpowered the percussion, for Zardis purposefully turned the bass toward the wall for a bigger sound; Zardis was nevertheless very sensitive to the soloist’s needs. Recorded with William “Bunk” Johnson in 1942. He influenced countless younger traditional bassists. Robbie Schlosser, one of his promising students who became a professional jazz band leader in San Francisco, recalled Zardis’ emphasis on always producing a beautiful tone. After military service in World War II, Zardis played with bands in Denver and Philadelphia, and he performed with Herb Morand on the Gulf Coast. He moved to New Iberia, La. in the early 1960s. He joined George Lewis at Preservation Hall in 1965 and recorded on that label in 1966. During his 25-year association with Preservation Hall he toured Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. A documentary was made of Zardis in 1990. His last performance was at Preservation Hall on July 16, 1990. He died of a stroke on August 14, 1990. A.K.S. Sources: Bill Russell, New Orleans Style (1994); Al Rose and Edmond Souchon, New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album (1984); John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (1972); Tom Bethel, George Lewis: A Jazzman from New Orleans (1977); William Carter, Preservation Hall Music From the Heart (1991); Samuel B. Charters Jazz New Orleans 1885-1963 (1963); Barry Kernfeld, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Vol. II (1988); Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, August 16, 1990.

ZEMURRAY, Samuel, businessman, philanthropist. Born, January 1, 1877; son of David and Sarah Blausman Zemurray of Bessarabia, Russia. Immigrated to New York, 1892. No formal education. Peddled bananas in Alabama. Partnership in 1900 to buy steamer to transport Honduran bananas. Formed Cuyamel Fruit Company and became involved in Honduran politics. President, United Fruit Company. Trustee of and contributed over one million dollars to Tulane University of New Orleans. Founded Child Guidance and Mental Health Clinics in New Orleans. Received 1938 Times-Picayune Loving Cup for community service and 1954 Thomas F. Cunningham Award for outstanding service in establishing Pan-American School for Agriculture in Honduras. Served on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fair Employment Practices Commission. Director of Palestine Economic Corporation. Married Sarah Weinberger; two children. Donated Zemurray Memorial Park to Hammond, La., in memory of son killed in World War II. Developed Zemurray Gardens in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. Died, November 30, 1961. W.P.J. Sources: William Perrin, Jr., “Zemurray Gardens” (M.A. thesis, Southeastern Louisiana University); New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 29, 1910; January 11, 1919; July 14, 1932; July 31, 1937; Feb. 1, 1938; March 12, 1945; Aug. 15, 1954; Dec. 2, 1961; States-Item, Dec. 1, 1961; Dec. 13, 1961; Hammond Vindicator, December 16, 1932; March 16, 1945; The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. G; Hermann B. Deutsch, The Incredible Yanqui: The Career of Lee Christmas; Julius W. Pratt, A History of the United States Foreign Policy; Personal interviews, letters and papers.

ZIEGLER, Francis Michael, businessman. Born, Oberndorf-am-Neckar, Württemberg, September 11, 1811. Married Adrianne Weisenburger, daughter of Anton Weisenburger, New Orleans merchant, and Margaret Wugeley, widow of George Schmidt. Children: Francis M., Jr.; Marie (b. 1848), married Charles H. Adams; Charles William (b. 1865), married Elizabeth Lebourgeois Mather; Villa (b. 1856), married Frank Ricket, Jr.; Emile Forno (b. 1858). Partner with William B. Schmidt in wholesale grocery and import business founded in New Orleans in 1845. In 1880s was the Twelfth largest business of its kind in America. The lives of Ziegler and Schmidt were notable in their association. Both were born in Württemberg. Both were immigrants to New York in 1838, where they met, later moving to New Orleans to work for Schmidt’s step-father. Partners in business over 50 years; Ziegler married Schmidt’s stepsister; both served in Civil War as privates, Company F, Orleans Guards; died within a month of one another; buried in identical tombs in Metairie Cemetery. Both men engaged in numerous charitable activities in New Orleans, and both played a role in the erection of Lee Monument in New Orleans. Died, New Orleans, 1901; interred Metairie Cemetery. R.M.K. Sources: New Orleans Daily Picayune, August 9, 1886; June 17, 1901; July 18, 1901; New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 21, 1936; June 28, 1941; New Orleans City Directories, 1845-1901; Southern Historical Association Papers, vol. 14, p. 96.

ZIGLER, Fred B., businessman, developer. Born, Mayville, N. D., May 27, 1899; son of George Zigler (q.v.) and Gertrude Boyum. Education: attended Staunton Military Academy, Staunton, Va.; Gem City Business College, Quincy, Ill. Became vice-president of G. B. Zigler Company at the age of 18 upon his return from schooling. Became president upon his father’s death in 1936. Expanded the company greatly, by pioneering marine transportation in Louisiana, towing the first oil out of Jennings’ field into Texas, and towing the first oil out of the Lockport field (near Lake Charles). Implemented the development of a port facility in Lake Charles. Zigler Company serves the entire Intracoastal Waterway from Brownsville, Tex., to Carrabelle, Fla., and connecting waterways in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida; the Mississippi River system from New Orleans to St. Louis and including the Ohio to Pittsburgh, the Illinois to Chicago, the Upper Mississippi to St. Paul, the Missouri to Kansas City, the Cumberland to Nashville, the Tennessee to Chattanooga and the Kanawaha to Charleston, W. Va. Also active in development of the Jennings Airport; a leader in the movement which secured for Jennings a modern community hotel, which was named the George B. Zigler Hotel. Fred Zigler became president of the Southwest Louisiana Community Hotel Corporation. Married Ruth Burgin (q.v.), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Burgin of Rayne, La. Died, September 3, 1960. H.S. Source: Author’s research.

ZIGLER, George B., businessman, industrialist. Born, Richfield, Pa., August 10, 1864. Removed to Jennings in 1901 and founded the G. B. Zigler Company, involved in marine transportation and dredging operations for rice farming. Married, 1893, Gertrude Boyum. Two children: Ione and Fred (q.v.). Active member of the Masonic Order and a Thirty-second Degree Mason; a member of the Jerusalem Order of Shriners at New Orleans; member of the local Elks Lodge and affiliated with the Woodmen of the World. Died, 1936. H.S. Source: Author’s research.

ZIGLER, Ruth Burgin, philanthropist. Born, Rayne, La. Education: attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana; Palmer Secretarial School; Parsons School of Fine and Applied Arts in New York. Married Fred B. Zigler (q.v.), a well-known industrialist. Mrs. Zigler was chairman of the board of The Fred and Ruth B. Zigler Foundation, whose scholarship program has aided students throughout Jefferson Davis Parish. Also chairman of the Board of the Zigler Museum Foundation, which she established in 1963; president of the Women of the Presbyterian Church, Campfire Girls, Jennings Garden Club and Jennings Library Board; first life member of the National Council of State Garden Clubs in the State of Louisiana; Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star; organized and served as first president of the Arts and Crafts Club of Jennings: recipient of the V. F. W. Citation for Outstanding citizenship in Jefferson Davis Parish for philanthropic work in education and recreation. Named a director of the George B. Zigler Hotel, the Zoning Board of the City of Jennings and chairman of the board of the G. B. Zigler Company until 1965; member, executive board at Louisiana Boy’s Village. Received the Parish Citizen of the Year Award and the Elk’s Outstanding Citizenship Award. Member of the Republican Executive Committee, Jefferson Davis Parish, and was appointed by the governor to the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission. Died, April 21, 1974. H.S. Source: Author’s research.

ZIMPEL, Charles F., surveyor, engineer, cartographer, architect. Probably came to New Orleans as the surveyor and engineer for the course of the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad (now the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line); also spent the years 1831-1832 compiling surveys for the production of the map “Topographical Map of New Orleans and Its Vicinity . . . “, which he had engraved in Prussia, probably his native country. The map includes the first survey of the town of Carrollton (now the upper limits of New Orleans) done by Zimpel. In 1834, he is listed as deputy city surveyor and engineer. Zimpel was the architect for four New Orleans buildings, all designed and built in the 1830s: the Bank of Orleans, Banks Arcade, Bishop’s City Hotel, and Orleans Cotton Press. He also remodeled the Charity Hospital building as the State House. Apparently left New Orleans by the late 1830s. J.A.M. Sources: Louisiana Courier, November 30, 1833, February 20, 1836; New Orleans Bee, February 20, 1836; Friends of the Cabildo, New Orleans Architecture, vol. II: The American Sector (1972); Benjamin Moore Norman, Norman’s New Orleans and Environs; Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Impressions Respecting New Orleans, ed. by Samuel Wilson, Jr. (1951); John Smith Kendall, History of New Orleans, II (1922).