Norman C. Hinman was born on April 6, 1832, in Lebanon, Madison County, New York, the son of Noble D. (1798-1872) and Priscilla (b. 1799).
New York native Noble and Massachusetts-born Priscilla were probably married sometime before 1822 when their first child Zebulon was born in Madison County, New York. The family lived in New York for some years family before moving to western Michigan where by 1860 Norman was a farmer living with his parents in Sparta, Kent County.
He stood 5’6” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was 29 years old and probably still living in Sparta when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861. Within several weeks of leaving Michigan, however, Norman returned home. Captain Edwin S. Pierce of Company E reported in October of 1861 that Hinman had “been sent home with loss of appetite since July 25, 1861.” In fact, Norman was discharged on October 12, 1861, at Arlington, Virginia for “rheumatism chronic --nervous.”
After his discharge from the army Norman returned to the family farm in Sparta where he resided until he was drafted on June 9, 1864, for 3 years, and mustered on June 23 at Grand Rapids into Company G, First Michigan infantry. He joined the Regiment on September 15 at the Weldon Railroad, near Petersburg, Virginia, and was absent sick at the hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana, suffering from diarrhea from October 19 to 27. On November 1 he was treated for jaundice and the following day for diarrhea. By the end of March of 1865 he was reported to be suffering from a recurrence of rheumatism, but on March 27-28 was alleged to be malingering. He was undergoing treatment for chronic diarrhea from June 21 until he was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, on July 15, 1865.
After the war Norman returned to Sparta where he spent the remainder of his life working as a farmer; he apparently never married. He was living on his own farm by himself in Sparta in 1870. (Next door lived one Alford Hinman, possibly an older brother or cousin.) He was still farming alone in Sparta in 1880 (nearby lived Zebulon Hinman and his family).
In April of 1891 he was examined for his pension application and found to be suffering from “gatherings in his head and discharges into his throat. He has been troubled with rheumatism in muscles of legs ever since 1861.” On examination it was reported that he was “fairly nourished, healthy looking man, hands hard, muscles soft, tongue furred white, complexion tanned, teeth poor, full head of hair. He walks erect and with a fair degree of vigor. . . . Nasal passages clear. Lungs healthy.”
He applied for and received a pension (no. 776412).
In early 1892 Norman testified that in 1876 he had been struck by an attack of “catarrh” which had gradually increased to the present time, affecting his hearing. He also stated that he was affected by “gatherings in my head in consequence of” his diminished hearing. He added that “these gatherings occur from about once a month in winter to about once in two months in warm weather.”
Norman committed suicide on May 23, 1892.
The Grand Rapids Herald reported that Hinman, “an old farmer living about 3 miles northwest of this village [Sparta], committed suicide today [May 23] by blowing off the top of his head. The body was discovered about 3'o'clock this afternoon. Justice Atherton was summoned, but did not consider an inquest necessary. When found the body was lying on a blanket close to a small pile of lumber, with one end of a fish line attached to the trigger of an old army musket and the other to his foot, and his left hand firmly clasping the barrel of the gun. The entire upper portion of his head was gone. No cause is assigned for the act. He was about 60 years of age and a bachelor.”
Norman was buried next to his parents in Greenwood cemetery in Sparta.