The story of the Zahn family in Moers begins with Franz Ludwig.

He was born in 1798 in the parsonage of the small village of Wasserthaleben near Sondershausen in Thuringia. His father Gottlieb was a pastor there, as his father Volkmar and his father Johann Michael before and his son after were Lutheran clergymen, 147 years, four generations pastors in one place. Franz Ludwig has 12 siblings, six sisters and six brothers. The first school lessons begin in the parsonage at home, then transfer to the grammar school in Greußen.  His father Gottlieb was a rationalist, and Franz Ludwig later said that he had never really learned to pray at home. After graduating from high school in 1815, he moved to the University of Jena to study law. A religious life was foreign to him. After graduation, he worked for some time at the Saxon patrimonial court, after which he settled in his native Thuringia as a lawyer.1822 marks a decisive turning point in Franz Ludwig's life. His older brother Adolf, who had studied theology, opened up the world of Christian faith to him. Franz Ludwig gave up the law and went to Berlin to study theology as well. He falls into the pietistic circle of Baron von Kottwitz, into whose house he is taken, and he time life Franz Ludwig "a loving father." In 1824 Franz Ludwig Zahn completes his theology studies. The theologian August Neander, who was famous at the time, tried to persuade the 26-year-old to pursue an academic career. But Zahn had other plans, and from then on he was interested in education. In 1825 Wilhelm Harnisch hired him as a teacher at the seminary in Weißenfels. Through him Franz Ludwig Zahn learns the "real Pestalozzi". A good national education can only grow on a living Christian faith. With this conviction Zahn moves to Dresden in 1827 as head of Flettcher's teachers' seminary. Prior to this, on July 1, 1827, he married Anna Schlatter, a Swiss woman who had lived as a tutor with the von der Groebens in Breslau. Anna met Frau Ludwig through his brother Adolph, who was married to Anna's sister Kleophea. Anna was a daughter of Anna Schlatter, a Pietist known far beyond the borders of Switzerland in her time, who came from the Bernet family in St. Gallen. Three children were born to the young couple in Dresden. The family stays on the Elbe for five years. Franz Ludwig Zahn begins writing in Dresden, where he works diligently on his books.

In 1832, Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III appoints Franz Ludwig to succeed Adolf Diesterweg as director of the teachers' seminar in Moers on the Lower Rhine, where he lives until the end of his life. Here in Moers, he develops an incredible activity: He establishes a publishing house, three newspapers, a print shop, a school bookstore, and at Gut Fild, which he acquires in 1837. Here the Filder Erziehungsanstalt and the foundation of the Waisenberg were established. He builds three more buildings opposite the main house, which he needs for his teaching purposes.

To name the titles of all the books he has written would be going too far here; they reach millions of copies and are even printed in America.

One of his newspaper foundations, "Der Grafschafter," still lives on today in the Rheinische Post, which is published with a Moers local edition. Generations of elementary school teachers are trained in Zahn's Moers institutions. In 1845, a memorandum "Über die Leitung des Volksschulwesens" ("On the Management of the Elementary School System") marks the beginning of an extensive dispute with the Prussian cultural bureaucracy. This dispute was to continue, with interruptions, until 1857.

Anna Zahn died in 1853 at the age of 53. With the permission of the Prussian king, Franz Ludwig was allowed to bury his wife on the Fild estate, thus laying the foundation for the Zahn family's private cemetery.

In 1857 Franz Ludwig Zahn resigned as seminary director, but continued to live at Gut Fild. Until his death, he devoted himself to his literary activities and occasionally climbed into the pulpit to preach.

In his memoirs of his grandfather, Hans Zahn, grandson of Franz Ludwig, writes: "The Filder world that Zahn created for himself was for us, his grandchildren, as it were a sacred precinct that compelled silence and reverence. He strode through his world of almost paradisiacal beauty, often talking aloud to someone who could not be seen. When I once dared to ask him to whom he was talking, he answered: "The Lord is always with me. But you do not understand that yet".