Zeh, Norton

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Norton Zeh was born in Berne[1], Albany County, NY in 1840 to Christopher Zeh (B. Sept 24, 1799, D. Sept 25, 1870) and Mercy Dyer (B. Feb 13, 1799, D. May 27, 1886).[2][3]

Marriage & Children

On November 9, 1867 in Berne, Norton married Katherine L. Wilday (B. Dec 25, 1852, D. May 30, 1931.[2] They had the following children:


Before the Civil War, Norton worked as a farmer[4] or mason[1], and worked as a stone and brick mason for the remainder of his life.[3]

Military Service

Name: Norton Zeh
Place of Birth: Berne, NY[4][1]
Names of Parents: Christopher (Zeh) and Patty Dyer[4]
Marital Status: Single[4]
Occupation: Farmer[4]
Term of Enlistment: 9 months[4]
Bounty Received: $100.00[4]
Enlistment Date: 28 Oct 1862[5]
Enlistment Place: Albany, New York
Enlistment Rank: Private
State Served: New York
Regiment: 177th Infantry[6][5]
Company: Company G[6][5]
Muster Out Date: 10 Sep 1863[5]
Muster Out Place: Albany, NY[5]
Reenlistment Date: 11 Jan 1864[1][7][5]
Enlistment Place: unknown[1]Albany, NY[7]
Enlistment Rank: Private[1][5]
State Served: New York[1][5]
Regiment: 7th Regiment NY Heavy Artillery[7][1][5][8]
Company: Company H[1][8]
Captured Date: 16 Jun 1864[1][8]
Captured at: Petersburg, Va[1][7][8]
Imprisoned at: Andersonville, GA[4][8]
Paroled Date: 20 Nov 1864[1][7] or Nov 14, 1864[8]
Paroled Place: Savannah, GA[1][7][8]
Discharged: Dishonorably Discharged[7][1]
Additional Remarks: Enlisted as a Private on 28 October 1862 at the age of 23.[5] After he was paroled, he was "absent in confinement per sentence of general court-martial at muster out of company, and to be dishonorably discharged, for theft".[1] "Was in prison at Andersonville for six months afterward enlisted in 7th Arty Courtmartialed and sent to Federal prison for three years." [4]
Sources Used: Ancestry.com, American Civil War Soldiers; 1865 census, Berne, Albany Co., NY; Keating, Robert, Carnival of Blood: The Civil War Ordeal of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, Published by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Md 1998; Annual Report of the Adjutant-General for the State of NY for the year 1898; Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War; Civil War Pension Index, www.ancestry.com;

Military Service

The story of Norton Zeh's service in the Civil War is a tragic one. Like many young men in the North, he heroicly enlisted in 1862 for 9 months assuming that the North would quickly win the war. He served in Company G of the 177th Regiment until September 10, 1863. Recognizing that the war would not be won so easily and feeling he should do more, he spent just four months with his family before re-enlisting on January 11, 1864 in the 7th HA Regiment. This regiment was a popular one with the men of the Hilltowns and Albany area, and had had a relatively easy assignment protecting the nation's capital Washington, DC. But Norton's timing was bad as in the spring of 1864 the 7th HA Regiment was sent into battle and it fought in some of the most brutal conflicts of the war over the next few months. Having faced weeks of heavy casualties and brutal conditions, Norton was captured on June 16, 1864 at Petersburg and was sent to Andersonville prison. Conditions there were beyond imagination, but Norton somehow survived. On October 24, 1864, he was admitted to the hospital at Andersonville, which indicates that he must have been near death.[9] Hospitals at prisons with such conditions are a bit ironic, because men were dying every day of starvation and disease throughout the prison. The hospital register documented that he was being treated for scorbutus or scurvy.[9] Scurvy was the second leading cause of death behind chronic diarrhea, and was caused by the starvation rations which generally only included corn meal, bread, or rice with perhaps a bit of bacon, beef or beans and no fresh fruits or vegetables. Norton would have experienced trouble breathing, extreme exhaustion, depression, constant muscle pains and bleeding throughout his body. Apparently the hospital administered even Vitamin C to bring Northon back from the brink of death, only to return him to the horrible prison conditions. But Norton survived, and with amazing luck was part of an prisoner exchange on November 14, 1864.[10] It is hard to imagine, Norton's physical and mental state after his release. But he apparently returned to the 7th HA. At some point he was charged with theft, faced a general court-martial and was imprisoned for three years.[1][4] When his regiment mustered out, he was "absent from confinement."[1] He was dishonorably discharged by the US Army for theft.[1] Only questions remain; what did he possibly steal that could have been worthy of that punishment and how could the military could have ignored this man's earlier patriotism and the brutal conditions that he faced? His dishonorable discharge must have followed him for the remainder of his life as he was surrounded by other veterans of the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment. He was denied all pension benefits despite health issues that must have resulted from his confinement at Andersonville.[11]


After the Civil War, Norton returned to Berne and was living with his parents, sister and grandmother Eva Warner Zeh (B. Mar 6, 1775, D. Sept 22, 1870) in 1865.[12][2] He then married Katherine in 1867 and they immediately began their family. However in 1870, he alone was living with his parents, sister and grandmother.[13] His father Christopher Zeh at age 70 was still working as a farmer on property he owned, Northon was working as a stone mason.[13] By 1880 Norton and Katherine were living on their own with their young family.[14] On August 16, 1890, Norton filed for an invalid pension associated with his Civil War service, but it was denied apparently because of his dishonorable discharge.[6][11] By 1900, Norton and Katherine had moved to Voorheesville in New Scotland, where they rented a house and Norton worked as a mason.[15] In 1910, Norton was still working as a mason at the age of 71 years.[16]


Norton Zeh died at 78 years of age, which was a very long life considering that he was a prisoner of war at Andersonville prison and the starvation and disease ridden conditions he faced there. Norton died in 1918 and was buried at Beaverdam Cemetery in Berne, Albany County, NY.[2] His wife Katherine remarried in about 1919 to Rollo Wright and she lived until May 30, 1931 when she was buried at Beaverdam Cemetery.[2]


Additional Research Notes

"Callers at Norton Zeh's Sunday were Mr. and Mrs. James C. Hayne, two sons Clyde and Franklyn and Miss Smith all of Cooperstown."

"Mrs. Norton Zeh is visiting in Albany." "Mr. and Mrs. Harry Crounse of Oneonto were week end guests of Mr. and Mrs. Norton Zeh."

Additional Media

Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War

Was in prison at Andersonville for six months afterward enlisted in 7th Arty Courtmartialed and sent to Federal prison for three years


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 Keating, Robert, Carnival of Blood: The Civil War Ordeal of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, Published by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Md 1998
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Bernehistory.org
  3. 3.0 3.1 US Censuses
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Ancestry’s Military Databases, www.ancestry.com
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Civil War Pension Index, www.ancestry.com
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Annual Report of the Adjutant-General
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Andersonville Prisoners of War, www.ancestry.com
  9. 9.0 9.1 Andersonville Hospital Register, Civil War Prisoner of War database, www.ancestry.com
  10. Civil War Prisoner of War database, www.ancestry.com
  11. 11.0 11.1 www.ancestry.com
  12. 1865 NY State Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
  13. 13.0 13.1 1870 US Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
  14. 1880 US Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
  15. 1900 US Census, Voorheesville, New Scotland, Albany Co, NY
  16. 1910 US Census, New Scotland, Albany Co, NY