Civil War Blog

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Four Men Named Henry Zerby

Posted By on February 24, 2013

Four men named Henry Zerby (or Henry Zerbe) have been found in Pennsylvania Civil War Regiments.  This post will have as its primary purpose to note the ways to differentiate them as well as point out some of the unresolved conflicts in the records.


HENRY ZERBY (c. 1829 – 1919)


Henry Zerby who is buried at the Calvary Methodist Cemetery in Wiconisco, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, was born in 1829 and died in 1922, and according to the stone (pictured above), served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A.  Buried next to Henry, as noted on the stone, was his wife, Sarah S. Zerby, who according other records was Sarah A. Wolf.  Sarah died on 9 November 1906 at the age of 73 years, 3 months, and 9 days.

In a pension declaration made in 1907, Henry Zerby declared that he was 77 years old (born 7 Mar 1829), was born at Wiconisco Township, and was at the time of the declaration, residing in Cass Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  Henry Zerby entered the service on 2 November 1862 – the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private.  He stated that he had resided at Williamstown, Dauphin County, for about 29 years before moving to Cass Township, near Minersville.  His wife, the former Sarah A. Wolf, had been previously married to a man named George Baker, but she had died in 1906 and therefore he was a widower living with his son Oliver Zerby when he made this pension declaration.

Also in the pension file is a physician’s declaration and an affidavit from Oliver Zerby declaring that Henry Zerby died on 4 Jan 1919 – which seems to be inconsistent with the death date on the stone in the cemetery in Wiconisco.  Funeral bills also exist in the file which also confirm the death year as 1919 for the Henry Zerby who served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A.

Henry Zerby, from Wiconisco, is the Henry Zerby who is named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.   Previously, this Henry had also been featured on the blog post, Calvary United Methodist Church Cemetery. This Henry Zerby is currently named in the Civil War Research Project Veterans’ List, [File: CW#Z019].

Only one person named Henry Zerby has been found in the records of the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry.  The in-ground stone at the Calvary Methodist Cemetery is a “government issue” which should have a supporting application.  However, the only application that has been found is for a Henry Zerby who supposedly served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A – but the stone was shipped to New Bethlehem, Clarion County, Pennsylvania in 1938 (see below) and that Henry Zerby appears to be buried in the Salem Cemetery in Frogtown.


Click on document to enlarge.

Clarion County is in western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.


The Pension Index Card (above) from Fold3, confirms the date of death of the Henry Zerby who is buried at Wiconisco as 4 January 1919 but does not explain why the stone states the year of death as 1922, nor is there an explanation as to why a gravestone application was made for a Henry Zerby in 1938 who is buried in Clarion County.


HENRY S. ZERBE (1836-1879)


The Henry Zerbe who served in the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private, is most often found in the records as Henry S. Zerbe.  According to records of the Peifer’s Evangelical Church Cemetery, Herndon, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, he was born 16 April 1836 and died 3 January 1879.

The Pension Index Card (above) available from Ancestry.com, notes that no invalid pension was applied for by this Henry Zerbe, but that his widow, Sarah Zerbe, made application in July 1890 and that she was awarded benefits.


According to information found on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card (above), Henry Zerbe was born in Lower Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County, and at the time of his enrollment in the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, was residing in Jackson Township, presumably Northumberland County.  He was a laborer who stood 5 foot, 9 inches tall, had a fair complexion, light hair and blue eyes.  His given age of 28, is consistent with the birth date from the cemetery records.  His dates of service were 17 March 1865 when he was mustered in at Harrisburg through the date of his honorable discharge on 29 August 1865.  Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Cards are available on-line from the Pennsylvania Archives.

In 1890 Sarah [Messner] Zerbe, the widow of Henry S. Zerbe who served in the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry, was living in Mandata, Northumberland County.  Records indicate she lived until 1913.

Henry S. Zerbe is currently listed in the Gratz Historical Society‘s Civil War Research Project [File: CW#Z013].


HENRY ZERBE (1844-1914)

Henry Zerbe who is buried at Shamokin Cemetery, Shamokin, Northumberland County, was born 22 September 1844 and died 6 April 1914.  He served as a Corporal in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company L, as noted on his grave marker.


The Pension Index Card (above, from Ancestry.com) shows that Henry applied for and received a pension based on his service in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and his widow Phoebe [Allman] Zerbe received the benefits after his death in 1914.


Information on his Veterans’ Index Card indicates that he enrolled at Northumberland County, Pennsylvania on 8 October 1862 and was mustered into service at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on 29 October 1862.  His promotion to the rank of Corporal came on 1 June 1865 and he was discharged as a “super-numerary” on 24 July 1865 by General Order #83.  His age, given as 18 at his enrollment, is consistent with the year of birth of 1844 given on his grave stone.

A mention is made of a Henry Zerbe in the Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County Pennsylvania, page 490, as “a soldier of the Civil War.”  This Henry Zerbe was the son of Joseph Zerbe and Catherine [Meck] Zerbe , a branch of the Zerbe family in Lower Mahanoy Township.  It is believed that this is the same person as the one who served in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Census records note that Henry Zerbe worked in and around the collieries as a laborer, slate picker, and coal miner.  At least one child was born to the marriage between Henry Zerbe and Phoebe Allman – a daughter, Phoebe Zerbe, born about 1866.


To show how much confusion exists between and among the records of men named Henry Zerbe, the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Burial Record Card for the Henry Zerbe who is buried in Shamokin is pictured above.  It correctly notes that Henry served in the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry – his only known service – but incorrectly notes that he also served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry.  These cards, which were compiled by volunteers and kept at the Pennsylvania Archives, are available on Ancestry.com.  The cards contain many errors.

Finally, the tablet for the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg does not indicate Henry Zerbe was at the Battle of Gettysburg, although his regiment was there.  There are two persons with the Zerby surname on the tablet – Percival Zerby and Levi Zerby – both listed in Company L and both listed on the company roll as Privates.

Henry Zerbe will be added to the Gratz Historical Society‘s Civil War Research Project [File: CW#Z012.8].


HENRY ZERBY (c. 1835- c. 1881)



The final person with the name Henry Zerby is one who first enlisted in the 62nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K, as a Private and on 2 July 1864, transferred to the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company B, eventually being discharged on 2 June 1865, according to some records via a Surgeon’s Certificate of Discharge and to other records via General Order.  All available records point to this being the same person as a Henry Zeely, who was drafted in western Pennsylvania and enrolled at Washington County.

The Pension Index Card (above) gives a date of 1881 when the widow applied for benefits, possibly meaning that the veteran died that same year (or before).  The Veterans’ Index Card gives an age at enrollment of 28, indicating a possible birth year of 1835.  The widow’s name was “Annie E,” which according to a mis-filed page from the pension file of Henry Zerby (1829-1919), was “Annie E. Allen.”  That mis-filed page was a marriage certificate for Henry Zerby and Annie Eliza Allen and is shown below.


Click on document to enlarge.

No accurate birth year or death year has been identified for this Henry Zerbe and no cemetery has yet been identified where he might be buried.  Since this Henry Zerby is from western Pennsylvania and no clear connection has been made to the Lykens Valley area, perhaps he should not be included in the Civil War Research Project.  However, he may be the person who is buried at Salem Cemetery, Frogtown, with the government-provided marker indicating that he served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry (see above).

Henry Zerby will be added to the Civil War Research Project [File: CW#Z019.5].


Clearly, there are four separate men who were named Henry Zerby (or Henry Zerbe) who served in Pennsylvania regiments during the Civil War.  The available records are not always clear as to which one served in which specific regiment, but hopefully, the information presented here will help in proper identification.  Readers are invited to share any further information, including pictures and stories, about these four men in the hope that further clarification can be made about them, their military records and their families.


One Response to “Four Men Named Henry Zerby”

  1. Mike Zerby says:

    Sir, Henry Zerby is burried in the Salem Cemetery in Frogtown Clarion County PA. The headstone incorrectly indicates the 172nd PA Inf. I can email you photos of the headstone

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