In 1863, at the age of six, Peter P. Zeeh came to Kingston from Pittsburgh with his father and mother, John J. Zeeh and Anna Zeeh, who were both from Prussia (Germany). A brother George was born in 1868. In the Kingston Directory of 1871-72, John J. Zeeh is listed as a laborer with a residence on German Street. In the 1872-73 directory he is listed as a cigar maker. In the Kingston Directory of 1877-78, John J. Zeeh is listed as a manufacturer of cigars and a dealer in tobacco, confectionary, and fruits; his home and business was on Abeel Street. In the directory for 1879-80 John’s son, Peter P. Zeeh, is listed as a cigar maker.
In 1883, Peter P. Zeeh and John Bruck started Bruck and Zeeh, a soda-water manufacturing company on Abeel Street. Peter’s younger brother George worked at the company. In 1902, the Kingston City Directory lists Peter P. Zeeh as the sole proprietor of the Crystal Bottling Works, still at the same Abeel Street address. By 1910, the Zeeh’s Bottling Works had relocated to 47 West Union Street. Peter P. Zeeh and his wife, Genevieve Spatz Zeeh, lived next door at 41 West Union. Peter P. Zeeh died in 1948 at the age of 92. He was a longtime volunteer firefighter and past president of the Rapid Hose Company on Hone Street, and served as a seventh ward alderman and as a member of the City Board of Police Commissioners. He was a member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Wurts Street. He and his wife Genevieve are buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery on Pine Grove Avenue in Kingston. Genevieve Zeeh died in 1959 at the age of 101. According to her great grandson Joseph Richard Zeeh, Jr., who worked weekends and summers at the bottling works, Genevieve mixed the syrups for the sodas in the basement of the family home.
Peter P. and Genevieve’s two sons, John Leo Zeeh and Joseph P. Zeeh, spent their working years with Zeeh’s Bottling Works and became partners in its operation. A daughter Anna Margurette Zeeh Kearney and her husband Thomas Kearney were also involved with the bottling works. John Leo Zeeh had three sons: Joseph Richard Zeeh who went into the insurance business, and John P. and Joseph Raymond Zeeh who worked as drivers of the two Zeeh’s trucks and as sales representatives for the business. Joseph Richard Zeeh, Jr., the nephew of Joseph Raymond, recalls that Raymond could carry two loaded cases of soda bottles in each hand when making deliveries.
Zeeh’s carbonated sodas came in a standard bottle size of 7 ounces as well as several larger sizes; the bottles were reused. The signature 7-ounce bottle had a red and white checkered label with two small white dogs holding a circular sign reading “Zeeh’s Beverages.” The manufacturing process consisted of making concentrated syrup with sugar, mixing the syrup with water in a large vat, utilizing a bottling machine to fill the bottles, adding carbonation, and labeling and putting caps on the bottles. Among the soda flavors were orange, root beer, birch beer, fruit punch, and sarsaparilla. Deliveries were made in Kingston and the surrounding towns. An advertisement in Kingston’s Daily Freeman in 1953 stated that Zeeh’s Soda Water was “Bottled in Kingston with pure filtered Catskill Mountain Water.” During the time that Zeeh’s Bottling Works was in operation, there were other local soda manufacturers such as Wood‘s Bottling Works, which had been in business since the 1850’s in Kingston, and the Spatz Beverage Bottling Company in Saugerties. With the deaths of the brothers John Leo Zeeh and Joseph Peter Zeeh in the mid-1960s, Anna Zeeh Kearney, daughter of the original founder Peter P Zeeh, and Hazel Zeeh, wife of John Leo Zeeh, assumed management of Zeeh’s Bottling Works. The business ceased operations in the early 1970s. Its last listing under “Bottlers-Carbonated Beverages” was in the Kingston Directory of 1971-1972. A brick factory building built in 1931 by the company still stands at the back of the property at 47 West Union Street in the Rondout section of Kingston.
For ninety years, four generations of the Zeeh family ran a successful soda-manufacturing business in Rondout distributing a popular product to the citizens of Kingston and surrounding communities.
Interviews with Joseph Richard Zeeh, Jr., great-grandson of Peter P. Zeeh, the founder of Zeeh’s Bottling Works. November 15, 2015 and August 7, 2017. Four photos of the Zeeh family were scanned. One photo from 1940 shows four generations of the Zeeh Family beginning with Peter P. Zeeh.
Kingston City Directories from 1871-72 to 1974-75.
The Kingston Daily Freeman searched through FultonHistory.com and Newspapers.com. Multiple articles were read including:
“60th Wedding Anniversary Celebrated,” November 24, 1941.
Peter P. Zeeh Obituary. June 8, 1948.
“Do You Remember,” Sophie Miller. November 16, 1956.
Genevieve Spatz Zeeh Obituary. February 5, 1959.
John L. Zeeh Obituary. June 14, 1965.
Zeeh Soda Advertisement. May 28, 1953.
Ancestry.com. Multiple searches for Zeeh family members.
This written and photographic history of the Zeeh’s Bottling Works and the Zeeh Family compiled by Peter Roberts of the Friends of Historic Kingston. August 9, 2017.